Craig Breslow’s Playoff Blog: A winning culture and a championship
|11.01.13 at 6:00 am ET|
Red Sox left-hander Craig Breslow will contribute regularly to this blog throughout his team’s postseason run. In addition to his work on the mound, the eight-year big leaguer also is the founder and executive director of the Strike 3 Foundation, a charitable agency that heightens awareness, mobilizes support and raises funding for childhood cancer research. To learn more about the Strike 3 Foundation, and its new Play It Forward program, click here.
Winning a World Series is winning a World Series. But the opportunity to have done it in front of the hometown fans at Fenway Park feels so special because of the rarity of it. This city has been through a lot this season, and so it’s an amazing feeling to be able to take part in such an enormous celebration here.
To me, the kernel of this championship team began with players. I give John Farrell a ton of credit for the way he managed personnel. He demanded accountability. But accountability starts with the players, and guys believed from day one of spring training that we had a chance to do something special. When you talk about something enough and you think about it enough, you start to believe it, and that’s what we, as players, did. And our shared sense of purpose helped to define a winning culture.
I’ve always thought that there’s a place for chemistry on a baseball team. Some people can argue that chemistry comes from winning. Some people can argue that winning comes from chemistry. But what I don’t believe you can argue with is the fact that chemistry, guys willing to play for each other and therefore willing to play the game right and not trying to do too much, has quantifiable, tangible, palpable results — a collective approach that impacts individual performance. Advanced analytics and sabermetrics focus on the on-field results, but they don’t necessarily explain the process for how they come about. I think there’s a place for chemistry there, and I think that there is evidence of its impact in what we did in 2013.
At the beginning, an important message that John Farrell impressed upon us was that we had a great opportunity in front of us. It didn’t really matter where we were last year or where we came from — we had so many guys that hadn’t lived through what happened here last year. The importance of rendering that insignificant was perfectly appropriate. We had the 2013 season in front of us, and from the beginning, that’s where our focus was.
Winning the World Series is obviously the culmination of a spectacular season. And it was great that the win, like the season itself, featured contributions from so many of our players: A great start from John Lackey, a big out by Junichi Tazawa, a great inning from Brandon Workman and then Koji being Koji. There’s nobody on the planet who would have wanted to pitch to David Ortiz by the end of the World Series, and so we scored runs in other ways, with Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew all delivering huge hits, in a game that was emblematic of our year. Winning the World Series was a great feeling not just for the moment but because all 25 guys on the roster truly can point to some point in the season where they helped us get here.
Still, the moment itself — at Fenway — was spectacular. The sprint from the bullpen to the field to join our teammates in a giant pile in the middle of the field was an unbelievable feeling — a moment of total selflessness and that represented a group that completely bought into winning and putting the team first. To a man, everybody in this organization did that and the result is a championship.
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