The San Francisco Giants are your Boston Red Sox of yore.
An underperforming, washed-up former ace who rises to the occasion in feel-good redemption? Derek Lowe, meet Barry Zito.
A seemingly so-so manager who failed to impress in his former gig before finding success a few hundred miles to the north, delivering a pair of World Series wins? Bruce Bochy, Terry Francona.
A midseason infield pickup who helps bring your team to the pinnacle? Marco Scutaro is your Orlando Cabrera.
Coming back from an improbable League Championship Series deficit to sweep the World Series opponent? Giants, 2012 = Red Sox, 2004, 2007.
In winning their second World Series title in three years, the Giants not only secured a modern-day Major League Baseball dynasty, but they reminded us of all that was once so good (no Sweet Caroline pun intended) with the Red Sox. We’re not just talking World Series wins either, but playoff baseball, the postseason that comes around every October and reminds us with vivid fashion why we love this sport.
The Red Sox haven’t won a playoff game since Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. That’s the longest stretch since not winning one from Game 5 of the World Series in 1986 until Game 1 of the 1998 ALDS. In the midst of that streak, of course, Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco looked about as inept in the 1995 ALDS against the Indians and Tigers Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder managed against the Giants. As Dan Shaughnessy would pen, “It’s always about us.”
The World Series stunk. But damn, what a postseason, no?
In the midst of turmoil and potential rectification on Yawkey Way, we were reminded, as we are every harvest season, why baseball fascinates and captivates us. It truly remains the only game where anything can happen, where a journeyman can lead, and where aces can discover mortality. Those story lines happen in other sports, of course, but nary with the played-out drama that exists in baseball.
Maybe we need a step back from time to time to appreciate those moments, but the fact remains, for a franchise that loves to preach about their success over the past decade, the Red Sox have not sniffed the postseason since 2009, a three-year stretch that ranks as the longest since 2000-02. I know, wahhhh, especially when you consider the folks in Toronto, Kansas City, and Queens. But can we all agree on the hierarchy of Boston sports these days?
3. Bruins (even in the despicable NHL dormant mode)
4. Red Sox
6. Whatever college sport of your discretion.
Five years ago, when Boston was celebrating its second World Series title in four seasons, could you even fathom such a discombobulated order of importance?
The fall from grace is parts apathy for a franchise that has lost its way, parts success of the other franchises in town over that time period. “Wait ‘Til Next Year” used to be a phrase uttered from October until spring training drills. Now, that faithful mantra seems to have merged into, “Well…ummm.”
By the time the Red Sox once again make the postseason, David Ortiz could be watching from under a mango tree. Jacoby Ellsbury could be a grizzled veteran playing in Los Angeles, and John Farrell could be come and gone. This is not a quick fix by any stretch. You want to hope it is. It isn’t.
But the Giants delivered a reminder about how good it once was with a cast of characters Bostonians can relate to. It’s been less than a decade since the ’04 win under the red moon in St. Louis (eight years to the day last Saturday), but it seems so much longer. It is going to be a fascinating offseason not only because the team needs to be rebuilt, but because the aura of what the Red Sox once were needs to be completely re-shaped.
This was one fun October for baseball. Time for Boston to get back into the festivities. Whenever that may be.