There are only 364 shopping days left until Christmas. But we’ve decided to beat the rush and hand out some special awards today with the third annual Obnoxious Boston Fan “Obbie’’ awards, covering some of the best and worst in Boston sports for 2013. And 2013 represented both the best and worst in Boston sports. The Red Sox turned Torii Hunter and the rest of the baseball world on its head by going from worst to first and winning the World Series Cup.
The city’s largest, oldest and most-prestigious sporting event was targeted by two explosions that left three dead and scores injured. The accused bombers then allegedly killed MIT police officer Sean Collier, triggering a region-wide manhunt and city shutdown.
Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard and Lu Lingzi lost their lives in part because they were just being “fans.’’ They, and the injured survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings, just wanted to be there. To see friends or family members run, or just to be part of the crowd and watch a sporting event that has taken place 117 times and included thousands of participants and millions of fans. Collier, who died three days after the race while doing his duty as a law enforcement officer, was an uncommon man, who was like so many others when it came to his passion for Boston’s sports teams, particularly the Red Sox and Patriots. He was also an avid auto racing fan and lover of the outdoors. He grew up in New Hampshire, enjoying both as a boy and young man.
The collective memory of Krystle, Martin, Lingzi and Sean, and the struggles and triumphs of the survivors of the bombings, rightfully dominate any talk of Boston sports awards in 2013.
We give them their proper place, first, here.
Now, it’s on to the rest:
The Orson Welles Trophy
To those in the media who perpetuated the “Curse of the Dempstino,’’ which was poised to hit the Red Sox in the aftermath of Ryan Dempster taking four pitches to plunk Alex Rodriguez in August. After that game, won by the Yankees thanks in part to an A-Rod home run, a panic similar to that of Welles’ immortal “War of the Worlds’’ broadcast was stirred up by State Run Media and others as the Yankees won five of their next seven games.
Of course, the Yankees had won five of seven heading into that Sunday night win over Boston. The Yankees would never threaten in the AL East before finishing in third place and missing the playoffs.
The Carl Crawford Memorial Award
In the biggest non-surprise of the offseason, Jacoby Ellsbury bolted the Red Sox to sign a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees. There was less-than-zero chance of the Red Sox re-signing the center fielder given the dynamics of the free-agency market, his $20 million-plus annual salary and desperation of the Yankees to do anything positive after their disastrous 2013.
The fallout of the Carl Crawford contract all but drove Ellsbury to the airport for good after the Duck Boat parade.
Motor Trend Car of the Year
One of this summer’s great debates raged over the merits of the Red Sox’ deal that sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit and brought pitcher Jake Peavy from Chicago. Iglesias made the final out for the Tigers in Boston’s pennant-clinching victory in Game 6. After the Red Sox World Series victory parade, Peavy shelled out $75,000 and bought the Duck Boat he rode. It was last seen cruising past the falls on his farm in Alabama.
Duckboat gettin it’s first introduction to the Falls! pic.twitter.com/7Ogj8rSjdS— Jake Peavy (@JakePeavy_44) November 21, 2013
Team of the Year
The Red Sox won the World Series. But the Team of the Year in Boston is made up of all the local and state first responders, “regular citizens’’ and medical personnel who kicked into gear after the Boston Marathon bombings. People leapt to the aid of the injured with no concern for their own safety. Doctors kept running until they reached the closest hospital to help. Law enforcement agencies from throughout the area teamed up during the manhunt.
And MIT police officer Sean Collier gave his life in the line of duty when he was confronted by the Brothers Grim. The iconic photo of the Boston Police officers Javier Pagan and Rachel McGuire and detective Kevin McGill reacting to the explosions in Copley Square by Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki became the signature image of that horrible day.
Athlete of the Year
Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron didn’t win the Stanley Cup nor did he hit .688 against the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, but no one in Boston played with as much skill, tenacity, toughness and dedication this year in this city than did Bergeron. By the time the Stanley Cup finals had ended, Bergeron was playing despite suffering a punctured lung, a broken rib and torn cartilage, and a separated shoulder.
Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz missed three months because he slept funny. No. 37 is headed for the rafters at TD Garden. One question remains: Will Zdeno Chara’s No. 33 get there first?
Most Obnoxious Story
Rolling Stone magazine obliterated the lines of tact and journalism with a puff piece that offered little new information on the surviving member of the Brothers Grim. The cover of its August issue featured a Jim Morrison-like selfie of the surviving alleged Boston Marathon bomber and murderer of Sean Collier. [We have not mentioned his name on OBF Turf and have no plans to change course here.]
The use of visuals is a vital part of storytelling and journalism. The image used on the magazine’s cover was not simply a gimmick to sell magazines and generate publicity. It WAS an editorial statement and part of the magazine’s effort to endear its readers to the cover subject.
Mayor Menino, who has made a career of flubs and faux names, nailed it here in one sentence. “The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel Rolling Stone deserves them.’’
The Best [Expletive] F-Bomb Ever
2013 was a big year for f-bombs. We heard them during the Stanley Cup Final. During the Red Sox season and throughout the football season. David Ortiz forever christened Boston as “our f—king city’’ on at Fenway Park on April 20, which the day after the lone Boston Marathon suspect was apprehended, and a city-wide shutdown. It was also Ortiz’s first game of the season.
His speech consisted of just 54 words, but left an impact that will echo across Boston for as long as the Red Sox call America’s Favorite Ballpark home. Ortiz got a free pass from the FCC commissioner for the f-bomb, even though he’s not subject to its jurisdiction. Only over-the-air broadcast stations who aired the speech are subject to FCC rules. The game itself was shown on cable.
Most Obnoxious Call of the Year
And we mean this in a very, very, very good way.
We’ve got a tie.
Sharing the award are Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots announcing team and NESN Bruins announcer Jack Edwards.
Edwards’ call of the year came after Boston’s 5-4 win in Game 7 against Toronto, which was also NESN’s final hockey telecast of the 2013 postseason before the Bruins shifted to NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports Net, NBC Shopping Channel and the 14th Hour of the TODAY show.
Zolak got mildly excited when Tom Brady found Kembrell Thompkins for a game-winning touchdown with five seconds to go against the Saints on Oct. 13.
“Unicorns! Show ponies! Where’s the beef?’’ – https://soundcloud.com/airchecked/tom-brady-to-kenbrell
Need we say more?
Most Obnoxious Walk-Off
The Red Sox thrilled themselves and their fans with a never-ending stream of come-from-behind victories, and walk-off wins at Fenway Park. But the biggest walk-off of the year in Boston sports came when Celtics coach Doc Rivers bolted from what looked like a sinking ship in the Celtics while he still had three years left on his contract and headed to Los Angeles to run and coach the Clippers.
Rivers gave a litany of reasons why he left town – including the classic “It was just time…’’ and bristled at any suggestion he “bailed’’ on the Celtics. Eventually, Rivers admitted as much and got a well-deserved tribute and ovation upon his return to the Garden earlier this month.
All is forgiven when Boston is on top of the sports world.
The Kiss My Extra-Crispy Fried Posterior Award
No one experienced the blessing of redemption more on the Boston sports scene in 2013 than John Lackey. The $82.5 million bust-until-2013 was the poster boy for all that was wrong with the Red Sox this time last year: Overpaid, underperforming and oft-injured.
But Lackey showed up in Fort Myers 20-or-so pounds lighter and fully healed from his Tommy John surgery. After an early-season stint on the disabled list, Lackey roared back, chewing up innings and keeping his calm despite the fact the Red Sox averaged just 3.72 runs in his 29 starts. Lackey earned the balance of his Red Sox contract in the postseason [3-1, 2.77 ERA]. The team won four of the five games in which he appeared, including Game 6 of the World Series. He dominated the Cardinals that night, going 6.2 innings and giving up just one run.
“I’m going to enjoy it more celebrating with my teammates, and the people that have always been with me,’’ he said after the game. That didn’t include most of us.
Moment of The Year
When it comes to moments to remember on the field, court, diamond or ice, 2013 had a decade’s worth for Boston sports fan. There was the Bruins’ Game 7 over Toronto, their sweep of Pittsburgh [“Is Owen there?’’] and their Game 3 victory over the Blackhawks at TD Garden. The Patriots have made the last-minute comeback a routine, delivering thrilling victories against New Orleans, Denver and Cleveland.
But it was the Red Sox who spent the spring, summer and first five weeks of the fall coming up with one spectacular moment after another. By the time Koji Uehara recorded the final out against St. Louis, Boston’s victory was a foregone conclusion.
The signature moment of Boston’s baseball season – and 2013 – was the grand slam David Ortiz hit in Game 2 against the Tigers that set the “Improbable Dream’’ into motion. The blast tied the game at 5-5, woke up a weary Red Sox Nation exhausted from the Patriots’ win earlier the same day, and brought the Red Sox’ offense to life against the Tigers. The exalted arms of Boston police officer and bullpen cop Steve Horgan forever defined this postseason.
Best Use of Facial Hair
Nearly every player on the Red Sox let their facial hair spread as the season extended into late October. The Bearded Boys of Summer began what they hope will become a Duck Boat Dynasty. The Red Sox’ beards took on a life of their own, as did the fad they inspired.
Thousands of real and not-so-real beards filled the stands at Fenway Park. Mike Napoli’s beard grew so large and unwieldy it was eventually given its own zip code. Not really, but it did have multiple unofficial Twitter accounts.
The Red Sox’ beards were given credit for just about everything this season. Team chemistry was all the rage, but it was physics that made the real difference. Nonetheless, watching Napoli yank with all his might on the beard of Jonny Gomes after Gomes hit a three-run homer against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series make it all worthwhile.
The WTF Just Happened Medal
All it took was 17 seconds. The Bruins appeared headed for a Game 7 matchup with the Blackhawks as they held a 2-1 lead with 77 seconds left in Game 6 at TD Garden. Their confidence was bolstered by the fact they had just killed off a penalty.
Then Boston’s dream of a second Stanley Cup in three years hit a brick wall, or was it a “Bick’’ wall. Chicago’s Bryan Bickell took a behind-the-net feed from Jonathan Toews and tied it with just 1:16 left to play. As the Bruins tried to regroup, Dave Bolland fired a shot the richocheted off the post into the net.
“I felt like we had it, you know,’’ Bruins center David Krejci said. While the loss was stunning, it lacked the devastation of 18-1, the agony of Game 6 against the Mets in 1986 or even the Celtics’ collapse against the Lakers in 2010.
But was a historic bummer nonetheless
Snafu of the Year
Brad Stevens was supposed to lead the Celtics right down the path to a high lottery pick and slews of Ping Pong balls in the upcoming NBA draft. Stevens, the youngest NBA coach at age 37, has instead cobbled together an lineup that missed the memo about tanking this season.
The Celtics also enjoy the good fortune of being in the NBA’s Atlantic Division, which is the equivalent of the AFC East. Heading into Christmas, the Celtics were a mere half-game out of first, despite being five games under .500, and 40 wins might be good enough for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference this season. Boston had lost three straight, so perhaps Stevens and his team is finally coming back to Earth, which is located several hundred feet below sea-level this NBA season in Boston.
The Capital One Credit Card Medallion
Ben Cherington began assembling the 2013 Red Sox with the Great Organ Transplant/Salary Dump of 2012, that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford, Josh Beckett [along with Nick Punto] and their absurd contracts to the Dodgers. The Red Sox GM then spent the offseason wisely shopping around, acquiring the likes of Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, [eventually] Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, David Ross and several other players, all of whom would contribute in vital ways toward Boston’s championship season.
All summer and into the fall, the phrase “Ben Cherington doesn’t get enough credit’’ was as common as “America Runs on Dunkin’’ during Red Sox telecasts.
Well, Cherington finally got the credit he deserved, along with a World Series ring he can call his own.
Mike Napoli’s shirtless, post-Duck Boat parade through the Back Bay on Nov. 2 became the stuff of city and social media legend. The #DrunkNapoli hashtag exploded across Twitter, along with photos of Napoli downing shots with his fellow patrons at McGreevy’s on Boylston Street and tending bar sans shirt at Daisy Buchanan’s on Newbury.
The antics further elevated Napoli’s stature among many Boston fans who appreciate any multi-million dollar athlete who isn’t afraid to down a few with the fans who pay his salary and lose his shirt in the process. Now, if he could only cut down on those strike outs . . .
Catch of the Year
After police had exhausted their search for the lone surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect and Gov. Deval Patrick lifted the curfew that shut down Boston and the surrounding communities, Watertown’s Dave Henneberry was finally able to go outside his home and enjoy a cigarette. Henneberry noticed the tarp that covered his 22-foot pleasure boat — a white Seahawk with blue trim and a fiberglass hull — was out of place, he decided to see what was wrong.
He climbed a ladder, looked in the boat and eventually saw a body. He quickly dialed 911 and police eventually nabbed their suspect. Henneberry’s good deed was not unnoticed. An online fund set up to buy him a new boat raised more than $50,000, which he accepted after refusing multiple offers for financial help.
He also deserves free Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and Camels for life.
David Ortiz has become both the face of the Red Sox and of Boston sports. His bat powered the worst-to-first Red Sox to the World Series. His leadership skills were evident April 20 when he gave his immortal “City Speech’’ and again throughout the season. He delivered another speech, one fit for a king , that helped to inspire and wake up the Red Sox during their 4-2 victory over St. Louis in Game 4 that evened the World Series. His words of inspiration before the sixth inning were plain, yet effective. He told his teammates, in essence, “this is our f—ing series,’’ or something very close. “It was like 24 kindergarteners looking up at their teacher,’’ Jonny Gomes said.
“That’s why we call him Cooperstown. The guy does it every day,’’ added David Ross.
But Ortiz was certainly the biggest reason why 2013 a Hall of Fame year for Boston sports.