Times Record: Boston Strong (Oct. 31, 2013)

Here’s what we wrote in this space on Aug. 19 under the headline “Staying on the ball” —

You have an undefeated pitcher on the disabled list; you lost not one closer, but two, to injury; your cleanup hitter is one for his last 33; and you recently lost three of four to the perennial American League doormat Kansas City Royals.

If you’re the Boston Red Sox, you’re also in first in your division by four games.

It’s hard not to lapse into pre- 2004 paroxysms of doubt and loathing with this team. They don’t appear to possess enough power hitting. Their platooning catchers don’t throw out a lot of base stealers. Of the 10 or so starters, the operative ace might be John Lackey, who’s coming off serious arm surgery and has a record barely scratching .500.

There’s no way this is one of the best teams in the American League.

And yet.

The selection of John Farrell as manager was a stroke of genius — though a year late — as he’s been able to properly manage the members of a pitching staff he helped create while eschewing the media hype that followed his predecessor around like the digestive remains of too much dugout beer and chicken.

The effort of those in uniform continues to impress.

Shane Victorino is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. Dustin Pedroia is the clubhouse motivator, leading by dirt-uniformed example. Will Middlebrooks is having a disappointing year, but at least he’s on the field, A-Rod.

Off the field … no more behavioral or steroid scandals and a new GM who has exceeded expectations filling in for Boy Wonder, also known as Theo Epstein.

Wednesday was the 19th time in 72 victories this season the Red Sox have won in their final at-bat, meaning more than a quarter of their wins have come at the last opportunity.

It was also the 28th comeback win of the year for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who have overcome deficits in seven of their past nine victories.

Here’s hoping for October baseball at Fenway.

*******

Ever hear the phrase “careful what you wish for, you just might get it” — ?

October baseball! Boston and New England are in rapture today over the Hometown Team’s third World Series title in nine years. Where generations came and went without a Red Sox championship, we now have not only “reversed the curse” but also come to a sense of entitlement, as well.

There’s no entitlement. Baseball is a game in which greatness and mediocrity both dance at the head of the same pin, and either fate is possible with every pitch.

A swing and a miss is only a slight bit different than a swing and a long home run. The keys to winning — perseverance, endurance, longevity, teamwork, chemistry — can be seen in any great organization, not just in baseball, not just in the 2013 Boston Red Sox.

Baseball fates can be cruel — but not today.

Coming as it does just five months after a terrorist bombing during the Boston Marathon and a Patriot’s Day Red Sox game, this World Series championship carries extra meaning. In fact, seeing the smiling victims — some dismembered — on the Fenway Park field prior to Game 2 was as powerful and enduring an image from this World Series as David Ortiz whacking another fast ball onto Lansdowne Street or Jonny Gomes streaking to the plate, beard flapping in the wind.

To many fans, baseball is life, and there are plenty of parallels. Make your best pitch, work hard, have fun, enjoy your teammates. You’ll go far — farther than anyone thought. Thanks, Red Sox, for helping us keep the faith — again.

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