I'd be hard-pressed to choose any other team over this year's group.
What is your favorite Red Sox team? Is it the 2018 edition that met every challenge along the way, the team that set a record for victories in the regular season then vanquished all opposition in October? I've given it a lot of thought, and I'd be hard-pressed to choose any other team over this year's group.
But what about the '04 team, the team that broke the dreaded curse of the Bambino and made the most miraculous comeback in baseball history in the process? How could you vote for any team over that one?
And how about the 2013 bunch, that motley crew of overachievers who nobody expected to do much but who kept on over-achieving until they held the trophy in their hands? Would I vote any other team over that one? Never.
Let's not forget the '07 team, the one that seems to get lost in the shuffle. All that team did was go out and do its job. It tended to business and it got the job done. You can't ask more that that of any team, and to leave it off any list of favorites is to do it an injustice.
You know something? I don't have a favorite Red Sox team. I love 'em all. And that goes for the teams that preceded the winners of the twenty-first century. The Red Sox of the late forties were my first baseball love, and you know what they say about first loves -- you never forget them. That's how I feel about those great Red Sox teams. Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky instilled in me my love for the game. I'll always be indebted to them because baseball has been such great gift for me.
There is also this about first loves -- it isn't the first person to whom you give your heart that you remember, it's the first person who breaks it. The Red Sox of those days broke my heart again and again. There was Enos Slaughter's mad dash for home in 1946; the inexplicable decision to start Denny Galehouse in the '48 playoff game; the two game fade against the Yankees at the tail end of '49. But my heart was never hardened by those heartbreaks; I loved those Red Sox teams back then and I still love them 70 years later.
There were, of course, the barren years of the '50s and well into the '60s when the Red Sox stunk; worse, they didn't seem to care that they stunk. Once Ted Williams retired there was no reason to go to Fenway Park, and nobody did. The park became an ideal place to hide out from the cops; nobody would think to look for you there.
Then came the great resurrection of 1967, when Carl Yastzemski and Jim Lonborg led us back to the promised land. We didn't quite get all the way there, Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals slammed the door shut in the seventh game of the World Series, but we didn't even care. Baseball was back in Boston and it has never left. Yaz, Lonborg, Rico, Tony C and the others restored our faith. We owe them all, big time.
The '75-'78 Red Sox were perhaps the most talented teams of my lifetime. Rice, Lynn, and Evans were in the outfield; Pudge Fisk was behind the plate; on the mound, Luis Tiant; Rick Burleson might not have been quite the shortstop that Nomar was and that Xander is but he was a heck of a player. And, of course, the Red Sox still had Yaz. I will never forget the prediction that the late Ray Fitzgerald, the great columnist of the Boston Globe, made during spring training of 1978; he wrote of the newly acquired second baseman, "You're going to love Remy." We did -- and we still do.
The 1975 World Series against Cincinnati's vaunted Big Red Machine of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, et al, and which featured the famous Fisk home run in the 12th inning of game six, was perhaps the greatest ever played. Red Sox fans came away from it with the feeling that the Sox won it, three games to four.
In August of 1978, the Sox had a 14 and a half game lead on the Yanks but there was trouble ahead. Fisk cracked a rib, third Baseman Butch Hobson developed bone chips in the elbow of his throwing arm, reliever Bill Campbell had a sore arm. Then, on August 27, Dwight Evans was beaned and began suffering dizzy spells. The best right fielder in baseball started dropping fly balls. But they all remained in the line-up -- and the Red Sox started to lose. By mid-September their huge lead had turned into a three and a half game deficit. Then they turned it around. They won 12 of their last 14 games and came back to tie New York, setting up the Bucky Dent playoff game -- and more heartbreak for Red Sox fans.
1986 is remembered for more of the same -- heartbreak -- when the ball rolled through Bill Buckner's legs, but let's not forget that it was the year Roger Clemens came of age and developed into the best pitcher baseball had seen in years. Wade Boggs had become the perennial American League batting champion. The Red Sox that year came so near -- and yet, so far.
I loved all of those teams. They didn't win it all, as the teams of the 21st century have done, but they didn't cheat us, either. I, as are all Red Sox fans, have been lucky to be along for the ride.
I started this by asking what Red Sox team is your favorite. It is none of my business what your answer is because I don't have one. I have a whole bunch of them.
Dick Flavin is a New York Times bestselling author; the Boston Red Sox “Poet Laureate” and The Pilot’s recently minted Sports’ columnist.
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