The press box at Fenway Park is on the fifth floor, and there are two ways to get to the field, an elevator or the ramps that run behind home plate.
On most nights, I take the elevator after the game because the ramps are full of fans heading out and it’s slow going. On Wednesday night, there was a long line for the elevators, so I decided to take a chance with the ramps.
There were two people on the ramps, a couple from St. Louis, who were on their way out. Beyond that, they were empty. Every person had stayed in the park to watch the celebration, and the noise was like a wave.
This is not an exaggeration, Game 6 may have been the best atmosphere in the history of Fenway. The fans were on every pitch from the start and clearly played a role in rattling young Cardinals starter Michael Wacha.
When Shane Victorino came up in the third inning with the bases loaded and two outs, it felt like the place was going to burst, that’s how loud it was. As Jonny Gomes slid in safely at the plate and Victorino pounded his chest at third base, it was a moment that rivaled anything that happened in 2004 or 2007.
Nothing will top 2004. People cried when the Sox won that season and hugged their parents and grandparents, letting loose emotions bottled up for decades.
But let’s not forget that the 2003 Red Sox were a 95-win team. The Sox were loaded up with star players in 2004 and underachieved to fall in that 0-3 hole against the Yankees in the ALCS. The 2004 Red Sox scored 949 runs. They were not the little engine that could.
The 2013 Red Sox opened spring training with the simple goal of being competitive. Not one player predicted the playoffs back in Fort Myers because if they had, it would have been a big story. The idea was to return the organization to some manner of respectability after the epic collapse of 2011 and the abject disaster that was 2012.
It took Boston a while to warm up to this team because there were so many new faces. But once the fans embraced this team, they didn’t let go.
Did you ever think you’d hear 38,447 Bostonians singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” even after the music stopped? Or see dozens of women in fake beards happily walking into the park? Could you ever imagine a city loving a .247 hitter like Jonny Gomes? That guy will never buy a drink in this town for the rest of his life.
David Ross said a few days ago that when he’s out in Boston, people come up and shake his hand and thank him for this season.
“I’m a backup catcher,” he said. “That never happens to me. I can walk around all I want usually and blend in. But not here. It has been pretty cool for all of us.”
The 2004 Red Sox brought tears. The 2013 Red Sox brought laughter and joy.
A lot — maybe too much — was made about the Red Sox helping heal the city after the Marathon bombings. But hopefully this team played some role in helping everybody smile a little more.
A few notes, quotes, and observations:
• The Dropkick Murphys were terrific with the anthem before Game 6 in the ALCS and again on Wednesday. Ken Casey and the band were in the clubhouse after the game and doused Gomes in beer.
You don’t have to love their music to appreciate the Dropkicks loving the Sox and the city.
• Victorino seemed overwhelmed by the achievement, unable to speak to reporters and staying on the fringes of the clubhouse celebration.
• Koji Uehara is certainly one heck of a pitcher. But he’s also a delightful guy and perhaps the funniest person in the clubhouse. At one point last night, he was pouring champagne over the head of a teammate and looked over at a small group of reporters.
“Day off tomorrow!” he said in English.
• Jon Lester’s transformation has been interesting to watch. He was a very serious, almost dour, person for years. Even after games in which he pitched well, Lester would find a negative aspect to speak about, and he seemed to keep people at a distance.
It was a puzzle. Lester was a terrific pitcher and has what seems to be a wonderful family. Whenever the Sox are in Seattle, Jon is surrounded by family and friends. But why was he so grouchy?
That changed this season. Lester seemed to accept his fame more readily and became one of the team leaders. He said several times that this was the most fun he has had playing baseball.
After Game 5, Lester met the media in St. Louis with his son Hudson sitting on his lap and cracked a few jokes along the way. Good for him. He deserved to be MVP of the Series as much as David Ortiz did.
• Ben Cherington, ever on point, was talking after the game about things the team needs to improve. This was on the field with fireworks going off. The life of a general manager has little room for jumping around like a crazy person.
• Red Sox fans gave umpire Jim Joyce a lot of grief for his obstruction call, which he got right. He was pretty well perfect on the plate in Game 6, too.
• How big was Ortiz’s homer in Game 2 of the ALCS? There’s a decent chance none of this happens without that shot.
• John Lackey is never going to lead the Boston Chamber of Commerce. But the ovation he got in the seventh inning and that tip of the cap seemed like a forgive-and-forget moment for all parties.
“It was nice,” said Lackey. “They’ve understood what I’ve gone through, I guess, and this is a town that likes a winner and we’re winners.”
• A lot of was made about Xander Bogaerts. But fellow rookie Brandon Workman threw 8.2 scoreless innings in the postseason with a WHIP of 1.15. He has a bright future, perhaps as a starter.
• If you will pardon a little boasting:
• Finally, thanks to everybody who read Extra Bases and the Globe all season. Nick Cafardo and Julian Benbow add their thanks, too. We appreciate everybody who reads and comments.
Here’s hoping you follow the coverage during the offseason, too. This is a great city to cover baseball in because of you.
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