The Boston Red Sox’s unexpectedly dope start to the 2013 season is further cause for doubt that Nostradamus could somehow predict the future.
Entering the 2013 campaign, all of baseball’s highly paid soothsayers foresaw a rebuilding Boston franchise that would struggle to reach the .500 mark. Maybe even a repeat of last season’s circus – when the franchise’s experiment with the unorthodox and unpredictable Bobby V ended in an unfathomable last place tank job.
The prevailing thought was that Boston needed to clean house and spray Fenway Park down with Lysol. New skipper John Farrell had other ideas. He assumed control of a dreadful situation with a goal to return stability and calm to the front office, the players and Red Sox Nation.
He blasted out of the gate this season with a 20-8 record, and despite cooling off, Boston has settled into familiar surroundings at 28-19 – just half a game behind the AL East-leading Bronx Bombers.
It seems like things are getting back to normal in Beantown.
“I think it’s just an attitude (with) which we go about our work, and that started in day one of spring training – how we prepare prior to every series, every at-bat that’s taken by each guy nightly, every pitch that’s thrown from a mound,” Farrell told CBS Sports Radio’s Jim Rome in an April 17 interview. “We have guys that are not only talented and have won in the past, but they’re very good teammates. They sacrifice for one another, and they’ve got one another’s back. And I think that all goes into that relentless approach that we’re in this together to hopefully achieve something special.”
First Terry Francona got iced. Then GM Theo Epstein bounced for Chi-Town. Eventually, most of the crew like Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek and ace Josh Beckett were gone, too. Last season’s plummet marked the end of the most glorious and charismatic time in Boston Red Sox history.
Entering this season, most Boston fans were drinking the media Kool-Aid and bracing for disaster. After all, Toronto made some big-name acquisitions, the Tampa pitching is top-notch and Baltimore’s on the come-up. Interestingly enough, NY was the only team most experts predicted Boston as having a chance to finish ahead of.
Question marks surrounding Boston’s young talent, its pitching staff, patchwork lineup – and the ability of their meat-and-potato guys, Pedroia and Big Papi, to perform at all-star levels – made it no surprise most picked them for last place.
Boston’s answered these questions in the first 50 games. Big Papi, in his 17th season, has returned from injury wielding a mid-2000 thunder stick. He’s hitting .351 and has 31 RBIs in 28 games. Dustin Pedroia’s always been the soul of the squad and, after a so-so 2012, is back to MVP form.
Discounted in the assumed misfortunes of the Red Sox, was the positive impact Papi’s and Pedroia’s presence would still have on the squad. Farrell has successfully preserved everything that was “good” with the past regime, blended it with young blood and sealed it together with championship-tested, low-cost vets like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli (team-leading 35 RBI).
Clay Buchholz is killing the league so bad, cats are accusing him of cheating. He’s a diamond-studded 7-0. Jon Lester’s rebounded from a 9-14 record and at 6-1, should be headed to the All-Star game, as well.
Overall, Boston has done it with the steady hand of Farrell, and balance. They are second in the AL in runs (228), fifth in team batting (.262) and ERA (3.78) and ninth in homers (50).
The on-field product is looking official. Most of the faces are different, but the team is back in the mix. This Red Sox team was supposed to be a tie-over until better things arrived. Instead, it looks like Fenway Park will once again be popping in September.