They are an empire, all right, these revisionist Red Sox of Manny and Papi, of Tito and Tek, of magic and might. Whether they are an Evil...
DENVER — They are an empire, all right, these revisionist Red Sox of Manny and Papi, of Tito and Tek, of magic and might.
Whether they are an Evil Empire, as their president, Larry Lucchino, once so famously labeled the hated Yankees, is subject to your nationality.
To those in Red Sox Nation — yes, I loathe that title, too, but we’ll give them a pass today — the Sox have become the antithesis of what they used to be.
Breakers of hearts. Killers of dreams. The cursed underdogs.
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That was the baggage of another generation. These Red Sox, after all, haven’t lost a World Series game since Oct. 27, 1986 — when the Mets finished them off two days after the infamous Buckner game.
The Red Sox have finally learned how to finish, with machinelike efficiency. Two World Series appearances, and two sweeps, under the new ownership of Tom Werner and John Henry, and the brain trust of Theo Epstein, and the button-pushing of Terry Francona, and the big-bopping of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
“When our organization started adding pitching, the curse kind of went away,” said Francona, who is 8-0 as a World Series manager.
To those on the outside, especially those charged with overcoming the new Boston machine, the Red Sox have become something frightening: a big-market powerhouse with smarts. A shrewd, forward-thinking organization with money.
The chic thing to say is that the Red Sox, who wrapped up another devastatingly easy World Series title on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the overmatched Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, have become the Yankees.
There is more than a shred of truth to that, though Epstein protested that comparison Sunday.
“If someone wants to compare us to Yankees based on winning and results, that’s a compliment,” he said. “They’ve set an incredible standard throughout the history of the game for winning championships. If our name comes up in that sentence, that’s fantastic.
“If they want to compare us to the Yankees in how we do things, that’s a little more off base. We have our own philosophies, our own beliefs, and our own processes that we believe in.”
For the Red Sox, the results were sublime Sunday, once they got past the heart-in-the-throat moment of Jamey Carroll’s near tying homer in the ninth. But it was grabbed at the wall by Jacoby Ellsbury — astutely subbed for Ramirez — and it was soon mayhem redux.
This celebration was perhaps not quite as passionate as the one three years ago in St. Louis — how could it be? — but it was rowdy enough.
“I don’t have words to describe this,” said winning pitcher Jon Lester, who capped a heroic season with 5-2/3 scoreless innings.
“Maybe it will sink in when we ride around Boston with the trophy. Right now, it’s just a lot of fun.”
Ortiz doused Tim Wakefield with a bucket of ice. Alex Cora yelled, “We’re going to do it again next year!”
And champagne, of course, sprayed freely and recklessly in the Red Sox clubhouse. Back out on the field, Red Sox fans ringed the stands and were still whooping and hollering a good hour past the last out. When last seen, they were in the midst of a boisterous chant of “Don’t sign A-Rod! Don’t sign A-Rod!”
“It’s just phenomenal, man,” said Jonathan Papelbon. “For once, I’m at a loss for words.”
The Red Sox like to point out that their payroll — $143 million at the start of the season — pales in comparison to the Yankees’ $190 million. But compared to everyone else, they are in another league, with all the financial resources they need to compete.
The Red Sox are a dangerous combination. They fully embrace the statistical analysis that is revolutionizing the game. Yet the Red Sox also embrace old-school baseball values, and their farm system churns out prospects.
They won Sunday behind a brilliant performance from Lester, a second-year pitcher who overcame cancer and now has a limitless future.
“I’m so proud of Jon Lester,” said Francona. “The way he pitched, the way he composed himself, the way he competed, I thought it was very appropriate he got the win.”
Boston’s first run was scored by a rookie, Ellsbury, who appears to have star power. The five-out save was by Papelbon, who in his second full year has become, along with the Mariners’ J.J. Putz, one of the two best closers in the league.
Dustin Pedroia is the likely American League Rookie of the Year, and with Hideki Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka, it could be a Boston 1-2-3 sweep.
Throw in resident superstars Ortiz and Ramirez, and the Red Sox have the mix of veterans and youth that teams kill for. Especially if they bring back their lone impact free agent, Mike Lowell, who set a Boston record with 120 runs batted in by a third baseman. Lowell capped his season by being named the Most Valuable Player of the World Series, his solo homer in the seventh clinching the honor.
In other words, they have dynastic potential — at precisely the same time that the archrival Yankees are in the biggest state of upheaval since their latest championship era began in 1996.
Boston has gained eminence over the AL East, and by extension, the AL.
Asked before the game what it would mean if the Red Sox added their second title in four years, Epstein replied, “Perhaps that it wasn’t an accident. Perhaps it demonstrates that the process is sound, and that a lot of people have poured their heart and soul into making something happen.
“It symbolizes success that is sustained, which is our goal: Build something that will be here long after we’re gone.”
The Red Sox are well on their way, a powerhouse that may not be evil, but is definitely becoming an empire.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Boston Red Sox won a seventh World Series and second in four years after an 86-year drought (the franchise was known as the Pilgrims in 1903):|
|2007||Colorado Rockies||Mike Lowell||4-0|
|2004||St. Louis Cardinals||Manny Ramirez||4-0|
|1918||Chicago Cubs||Babe Ruth||4-2|
|1916||Brooklyn Robins||Ernie Shore||4-1|
|1915||Philadelphia Phillies||Harry Hooper||4-1|
|1912||New York Giants||Smokey Joe Wood||4-3*|
|1903||Pittsburgh Pirates||Cy Young||5-3|
|* Series included one tie game|