The World Series is in full swing, and none of us would have imagined a year ago that the Red Sox would be the odds-on favorite to win the trophy.
This band of bearded Bostonians has blasted its way to the World Series with an impressive number of walk-off home runs, playoff grand slams, smart moves on the roster and yeoman work through the dog days of the summer — the time of year when many teams start to fade and crash.
Boston sports fans are once again living the kind of sports fantasy story that for most sports towns is only seen in a storybook movie. We celebrated this same improbable story line with the 2001 New England Patriots and again in 2004 with the historic Red Sox “Idiots” who broke the curse of the Bambino. The same formula exists this year, as if by design.
A story like this year’s Sox can only be born from the ashes of disaster.
Let’s turn the clock back to those ashes of one year ago. Clubhouse bickering, management dysfunction and bad chemistry landed the team in last place. It was the bookend to an embarrassing collapse in September 2011, when the Sox spun out of control amid clubhouse binges on fried chicken, beer and childish behavior. Both collapses cost the Sox managers — first Terry Francona and then Bobby Valentine — their jobs.
This year was supposed to be the start of a recovery, under a new coach with many new players. It was supposed to be the “rebuilding year” that would see the Sox emerge from the dark basement and perhaps peep a bit at the light. But sports chemistry can be a strange thing — as bad as it can be, it can also coalesce into a perfect solution. And that is what this year’s Sox became.