When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 just about everyone outside of New York was happy for them. The long-suffering franchise cursed by a trade made almost 100 years earlier, they had finally overcome all of the superstition. Another World Series Championship came in 2007 with a lot of the same players. Most recently the Red Sox won in 2013 with many new players on the roster since winning in 2007. Unlike those previous championship teams, the 2013 Red Sox were not so lovable.
The story of the 2004 Red Sox was a remarkable one. Down 3-0 against the hated New York Yankees in the League Championship Series, the Red Sox bounced back to win four straight games and eventually land in the World Series where they would defeat the St. Louis Cardinals. Everything about this journey was perfect, including the key players.
The 2004 Red Sox were the anti-Yankees with their big beards, sideburns, and dreadlocks. Stars like Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz shined throughout the season. Locker room heroes like Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, and Johnny Damon further helped create great team chemistry, the main reason why they were able to overcome their adversaries. Of course, the pitching staff had Pedro Martinez along with Curt Schilling and his bloody sock. This was a team of misfits easy to fall in love with.
Three seasons later with a roster looking a bit different, the Red Sox won again. Ramirez and Ortiz were still there however Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia had now made their way into the starting lineup on a nightly basis. The team’s new Kevin Millar became Mike Lowell, who had a remarkable 2007 season which included 120 RBIs.
The starting rotation looked a lot different, Josh Beckett taking on the role as the team’s ace. Winning 20 games in 2007, Beckett made up for the absence of Pedro Martinez. The bullpen as a whole was strong, Jonathan Papelbon succeeding in his second season as the team’s closer.
Undoubtedly this 2007 team was not quite as much fun as they were in 2004, but it was still a team full of players we thought of as true representatives of Boston baseball.
Finally the most recent championship team, the 2013 Red Sox, projected an image different from the past two times they won it all. There was never a true identity for the 2013 team. While team ace Jon Lester was homegrown, his low profile made him a quiet leader. The rest of the starting rotation seemed different from starting pitchers in the past. John Lackey pitched well yet struggled to win games while Ryan Dempster was average at best. Clay Buchholz was unstoppable when healthy, something he was unable to stay for too long.
The lineup had changed a lot too, specifically in attitude. Ortiz and Pedroia remained while the rest were players from other teams or players who became starters after 2007. Mike Napoli was the new locker room leader along with Shane Victorino playing the role of a veteran with a good attitude, much like Johnny Damon. The personality on this team was much more boring and since they were not expected to win, it’s a surprise they were so hard to love despite overcoming the odds. They were essentially a weaker version of what they used to be.
After the season though, it has become clear what made this team different. Shortstop Stephen Drew proved his selfishness by refusing to sign until mid-May of 2014, which essentially cost him $4 million. Jacoby Ellsbury pulled a Johnny Damon, signing with the hated Yankees for 2014. And with the way the 2014 Red Sox are playing it’s looking more and more like their World Series win was somewhat of a fluke.
This was simply a team put together to have someone there; they just happened to make the best of it in a season where no other team could.