It takes a very special person with a very special mindset to be a true Red Sox fan. While I could ramble on about what doesn't make a true fan (some recent nasty fan comments, attitudes and behavior fresh in my mind), I'll instead point out one huge positive characteristic: an insane, stubborn optimism that the Olde Towne Team is going to rise to the occasion and prevail.
But not even in my wildest, craziest, reality-defying moments of optimism and wishful thinking did I think the Red Sox would win the American League pennant. Just..no. No way. And I'm a big fan.
When you consider that the best mental picture of the 2012 Red Sox would be a herd of several dozen irritated, underachieving cats being unsuccessfully herded by a deranged, grinning circus clown with a non-functioning internal editor button, the idea of them having a season where the best outcome could be for them not to embarrass themselves for two consecutive years was all any true fan could hope for.
One of my co-workers, a dyed in the wool superfan who leaves me in the dust, was so disgusted with 2012 that he said the Sox would be lucky to win 70 games this year. I disagreed, and said that they would a) finish above .500, b) make the playoffs via the Wild Card, and c) get eliminated in the American League Division Series.
After all, they finished with a 69-93 record in 2012. And in a "Well that bloody well figures" department, 2012 was Fenway's 100th anniversary, and beloved Red Sox veteran Johnny Pesky died in August. I mean, talk about a season where it would have been a really good idea to not bite the large one and become mass victims of the St. Bobby Valentine Day Massacre! Pesky passes away and his last impression of his beloved Red Sox is them doing a convincing impersonation of the Houston Astros.
And so, now look at the Sox. Booby (sic) was given his walking papers, where he would eventually go on to just making stupid statements in public and actually putting me in the uncomfortable position of sticking up for and sympathizing with the New York Yankees in the wake of Valentine's comments about 9-11. The underachieving players, the dead wood, the "I'm not comfortable on this team" people were traded away, and players were brought in who could really work together and brought a level of energy and joy to their playing.
Bringing in John Farrell was a stroke of genius. Sure, he was "only" the pitching coach for the Sox previously, but he knew the team, knew the division rivals, and had the respect of the Sox veterans still on the team. Not only that, pitching wins championships, and even though he wouldn't be returning as the pitching coach, you can't tell me that he didn't offer opinions and suggestions for the pitching staff.
But wow...seriously? American League champs? A rematch in the World Series with the Cardinals? UM..ok....yeah sure, I'll take it!
Yet as far as I'm concerned, this has already been an amazing season. It could end right now, and I'd call the 2013 Red Sox a raging success. This team is fun to watch, a joy to root for, and made up of genuinely likeable players. Being half-Portuguese, I have to root for Shane Victorino (of course, after his heroics in ALCS Game 6 that's easy to do!!); players like Mike Carp who were in essence salvaged from the scrap heap; young 21-year old gifted rookies like Xander; Big Papi with his "This is our #%^% city!" in the wake of the Marathon tragedy, as we all struggled to come to terms with the bombing and were eager to start the healing process. The high-five happy, hug-happy, Koji "Jonathan who!?" Uehara. Guys like Nava, Gomes, and of course the ever-colorful Pedey. I mean, come on...these guys have personality and character! Hell, they ARE characters!
Of course, every victory comes at a price: we're now stuck with Tim McCarver for at least four more games.
So, congratulations to my guys! Whether you win the Series or not, you're all winners already!
Oh, and...Sox in six. Just saying.