2013 Was an Exception for the Red Sox

For Boston and the rest of Red Sox Nation, 2013 was a season none of us will forget. Amid the tragic events of April 15th of that year, the Red Sox and their beards captured our imaginations and united a city en route to a championship over the St. Louis Cardinals. A fluke? No. They were definitely deserving of the championship that year. But it was the exception to the rule, unfortunately. If you subtract the World Series year, the Red Sox are 103-149 since September 1st, 2011 according to MassLive.

In a big market like Boston, you expect more. Dating back to the Terry Francona/TheoRed Sox Epstein years, the Red Sox were challenging for the division most years, if not winning it. Even though they missed the playoffs a couple of years, they were still relevant, and a few poorly timed injuries kept them from being a perennial post-season team. At least until the September 2011 collapse. That changed everything for the Sox.

2012 was a complete disaster under Bobby Valentine, which was marked by him calling out his players publicly, notably Kevin Youkilis. Cue John Farrell, who managed the team to their 3rd World Series crown in the new millenium in his first season back with the club. However, the Red Sox struggled in 2014, dropping back to last place in the division. This year? A continuation of 2014’s struggles, which reached its peak last Friday night, when the Red Sox blew an 8-1 lead en route to a 13-10 loss. I wasn’t the only one banging my head against the wall on Friday. But that game encapsulated their season for me – they give you a flicker of hope, then they take it away.

Unless they do something fast, we can expect a 3rd last place finish in 4 years, which isn’t what most Red Sox fans want to see, nor is it what we expect from a team with a payroll at approximately $181 million. Normally, I try to take the optimistic approach, but Friday night’s loss zapped me of any hope I had that they may turn things around.

Spinners to Give Away World Champ Replica Rings

Lowell spinners World Series Replica Ring

First 1,000 fans to receive replica ring from Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union

LOWELL, MASS. – The Lowell Spinners, Class-A affiliate of the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, announced as the Red Sox staff and players from the 2013 World Series Champions received their World Series rings Spinners fans will receive a ring of their own this summer, thanks to Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union.

 The first 1,000 fans through the gates Saturday, July 26 will receive a replica of the ring earned by each of the 2013 World Champions. Among the ring recipients Friday afternoon at Fenway Park are Spinners alumni Clay Buchholz (2005), Felix Doubront (2007/2008), Will Middlebrooks (2008), Jackie Bradley Jr. (2011), Brandon Workman (2010), Arnie Beyeler (2000/2001), Drake Britton (2008), Alex Wilson (2009) and Ryan Lavarnway (2008).

“We are so thrilled to have so many of our alums earning World Series rings,” said Spinners President and General Manager Tim Bawmann. “This is something every little boy dreams about as a child and something they will remember for the rest of their lives. We are even more excited to be able to offer a replica of this accomplishment to our fans this summer.”

The ring, produced by Success Promotions, will also be given away by the Red Sox prior to their May 20 game, but fans who miss that opportunity will have a second chance at the Spinners this summer. The rings will be given to the first 1,000 fans through the gate July 26, a day where the athletes from LIAM Nation will also be honored.

“We were as excited as anyone to see what the rings look like,” said Bawmann. “We knew we are giving it away, but just like everyone else, we had not seen the rings until the players received their rings this afternoon.”

The replica ring giveaway is one of many Red Sox World Series themed giveaways and tributes planned during the Spinners season as we celebrate both the 2013 World Series title and the 10th anniversary of the 2004 title. In addition to the Replica Ring giveaway, the team will hold Dave Roberts “The Steal” Bobble Head Night (August 7) and Pedro Martinez Bobble Head (June 26) from the 2004 team and the 2004, 2007 and 2013 World Series trophies will be on hand Monday, June 23.

The Spinners kick off their 19th season of baseball in Lowell when they host the Vermont Lake Monsters Friday, June 13. Tickets for all 2014 home games are available now, starting at just $7, at www.lowellspinners.com.

At Fenway, a celebration short on words, but not class

Fenway Park Ring ceremony Ortiz

Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Red Sox outdid themselves Friday at Fenway Park with their Opening Day and World Series ring ceremony under a sun-splashed sky and chill that for two centuries has defined April baseball on Yawkey Way.

The ceremony was classy. It was touching.

The irony? Hardly a word was spoken. And that’s the best part.

The Red Sox’s 2013 World Series celebration didn’t need words. Just images. Smiles. Hugs. Laughter. Tears. Applause. Goose-bump music.

On the big screen in center field, the Red Sox simply showed each player’s 2013 montage as that player emerged from the dugout and received their World Championship rings. No announcements necessary.

On the field itself, the Red Sox brought out Boston Marathon bombing victims, their families and heroes from that day, like Carlos Arredondo, who leaped into action last April and saved lives. No introduction needed. Everyone knows Carlos. Everyone feels for the families, especially the Red Sox, whose players greeted each family member as if they were their own.

Also on the field was the Boston Fire Department, including members from Engine 33, Ladder 15 — the very same crew that serves to protect Fenway. They lowered the American flag in center field at half-mast in honor of their fallen firefighter brothers, Michael Kennedy and Ed Walsh, each of whom died fighting a fire in the city last week.

And of course, there were the iconic sounds synonymous with Boston music: The Boston Pops Orchestra and Dropkick Murphys. Conductor Keith Lockhart and crew belted out an awesome rendition of Richard Strauss’ 1896 “Also Sprach Zarathustra” as massive world champion banners from 2004, 2007 and 2013 were draped over the Green Monster. The Dropkicks performed “Shipping up to Boston” with help from the Pops.

This is all we needed. Sights and sounds.

Words? Not on this day.

We don’t even need to say “Boston Strong” anymore. It’s inherent in Bostonians now. In our veins, like it always has been, even before the marathon bombings.

The Red Sox reminded us of all this with one awesome ceremony and one very touching scene from Fenway Friday. Even if it was short on words.