Why this Red Sox celebration was unlike the others
|09.21.13 at 3:16 am ET|
David Ortiz had to cut his interview short.
“These goggles are fake,” he said. “The champagne is coming through.”
And with that, the Red Sox’ resurgence had been punctuated. Their biggest worry was the integrity of their celebratory scuba gear and any eye-stinging a bit of stray Dom Perignon may cause.
How times had changed.
Even that, however, couldn’t stop these Sox (as was evidenced by John Lackey who strolled by Ortiz moments after the end of the designated hitter’s declaration).
“I don’t like goggles,” the pitcher said while running between champagne raindrops. “I like the way it feels.”
The goggle conundrum used to be old hat in the Fenway Park home clubhouse. From 2003-09 the Red Sox bust out the champagne an estimated 13 times. Some of the participants in the Sox’ latest postseason-inducing party, like Ortiz, knew their way around a Fenway celebration. Others, such as Lackey, had executed the ritual with other teams.
“It’s like riding a bike,” said Lackey, who hadn’t gotten the chance to bust out the bubbly since doing so in the Fenway Park’s visitors clubhouse as a member of the Angels in ’09. “I’m good at this. It feels good, that’s all I can tell you.”
But this one – following the Red Sox’ 6-3 win over Toronto Friday night, handing John Farrell’s team the American League East title — wasn’t like the others. Just ask the owner.
“I think this is the best feeling since we won the World Series in 2007,” admitted Red Sox principal owner John Henry.
“We’ve been through a lot of [expletive],” said Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy.
Such celebrations as the one witnessed Friday night are often times simply ritual. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you win something. But for this group – both the 11 players still leftover from the ’11 collapse, and those brought in to help erase the memories of ’12 – it was the first punctuation for one of the most improbable stories in the organization’s history.
The Jonathan Papelbon Bud Light box head-wear had been replaced by Jonny Gomes’ Army helmet (supplied by a friend who had served overseas) and Mike Napoli’s shirtless sprint onto the field. In the end, however, there was no comparison.
When you turn 93 losses into 94 (and counting) wins in less than a year, the champagne spraying is going to seem just a tad more genuine.
As Kennedy said, the Red Sox have gone through “a lot of [expletive]”.
“To go through some of the things we’ve gone through the past three years, injuries, nonsense and all the other stuff, to finally be back at this point is very rewarding,” said Red Sox starter Jon Lester, who conducted interviews while holding a young son who wasn’t in this world the last time his dad found himself in such a situation.
The execution of the celebration came in various forms.
Dustin Pedroia reveled in his 3-year-old son simulating the champagne spraying with a bottle of water.
Japanese relievers Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa doused the Fenway fans in back of the home team’s dugout.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington sat back in the Sox’ dugout, with his wife by his side, simply observing the jubilation on the field in front of him.
Twenty-year-old Xander Bogaerts joined in the fun while only standing out because of a lack of any alcoholic beverage in his hand.
Third base coach Brian Butterfield sat back and observed, simply reciting the words, “So nice. So nice. So nice,” while trying not let his emotions get the better of him.
And then there was Farrell.
Earlier in the night he had once again helped define his team. This time it was leaving in Lester for 123 pitches, although, by some accounts, the pitcher didn’t leave his manager with much of a choice.
After throwing 109 pitches through six innings, Lester came back to the dugout where he was greeted with Farrell extending his hand in an attempt to signal the end of the starter’s night.
“I’m not coming out of this [expletive] game,” the pitcher exclaimed on the way to the bench.
Three, seventh-inning outs later, the Red Sox had yet another defining moment.
“When Jon Lester got out of that bases loaded jam, the emotion he showed on the mound kind of epitomizes the grit and the determination and the willingness to execute in the moment of this team,” said the manager, citing the moment as his most memorable moment from a wave of unforgettable instances Friday night.
Farrell would join his team on the field after the division-clinching win, going from interview to interview while occasionally getting to enjoy the moment with his wife. But in between on-field conversations he paused. Was celebrating as a manager in ’13 anything like experiencing the moment as a pitching coach in ’07, ’08 and ’09?
“It feels different,” he said.
He wasn’t alone.
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