By Kevin Aherne (@KAherne17)
Without the bitter, the sweet ain't as sweet. And for Red Sox fans, the bitter has been in high supply for the past few seasons. They suffered through three seasons without a postseason berth, with each year worse than the previous. It began in 2010, with a season that yielded 89 wins, leaving them just outside of October baseball. 2011, things got worse; with the Wild Card all but locked up, the Sox dropped 18 of 24 in September, ousting themselves and their manager in one fell swoop. Then came the Booby Valentine disaster of 2012, and we all know how that one turned out.
So in 2013, with another new manager, a turned-over roster, and a region covered by a blanket of skepticism, the Sox set out to reverse their misfortunes...
It would have been extremely difficult for the Sox to lower the bar any further following 2012. The only thing that would have been more of a challenge would be to accomplish exactly what they did in 2013; win the AL East with the best record in baseball.
I don't know who to give the credit to. Was it John Farrell's ability to manage his pitching staff? Or how about Ben Cherington and his off-season moves, bringing in some great value in the form of Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew, Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Napoli? Or how about the veterans; David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and John Lackey, and Jon Lester, who kept this clubhouse together, leading the youngsters by example? Whoever you give credit to, this team is running on all cylinders. They improved their record by an incredible 28 games, marking the 6th best record in the club's 113 year history.
The Sox were able to keep the train rolling into October, finishing off their division rivals from Tampa in four games. Great starting pitching and timely hitting allowed Boston to breeze through the series, outscoring the Rays 26-12 on their way to their first ALCS since losing to Tampa in 2008. So now, the Red Sox sit around and wait. They will take on the winner of the Detroit/Oakland series. The Sox lost to the A's the last time they met in the ALCS, and they have never played the Tigers in the postseason.
So, with momentum on their side, I see the 2013 Boston Red Sox making their 12th World Series appearance. Who will they play? I say the Dodgers... welcome back to Boston Adrian and Carl!
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