World Series 2013: This is it - An oral history of the Red Sox' season so far

Winslow Townson

How we got here.

The story of the 2013 Red Sox season will be over in two weeks. At that point, the definitive history of the season can be written. You will note that this post promises "an oral history," not "THE oral history," and it is merely one, zooming in on some events and out on others. The quotes are not precisely in order, and some have been lightly edited while some have not, to emphasize the spirit in which they were written. It turns out this season has been so compelling that in a straightforward retelling, using the words of the times, the story reveals itself plainly enough.

Prognosis Negative

Jonah Keri, Grantland: Pitching injuries are the story in the AL East as the season gets under way. The worst news comes out of Boston, and Boston's thinning pitching depth reminds us that the team didn't meet all its offseason goals.

Ben Reiter, Sports Illustrated: A return to the playoffs wouldn't be entirely shocking, but more likely is that 2013 will be a season for the Red Sox to firmly establish that they are back on the right long-term track, even if they end up home for their fourth straight October.

20130325_kkt_sv7_876Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Pouliot, HardballTalk: What we'll find out over the next six months was whether the Red Sox were right to add $60 million in non-superstars. If the team contends and keeps fans interested to the point at which soon-to-be snapped Fenway Park sellout streak proves to be nothing more than a minor dip, GM Ben Cherington will be praised. But this looks to be more of an 80-85 win team as presently constructed, and if that holds up, the Red Sox will kick themselves for thinking more about 2013 than 2014-15.

Marc Normandin, SBNation/Over The Monster: Maybe now expectations can be a more enjoyable realistic. At least until someone riles up the torch and pitchfork crowd, anyway.

Ben Buchanan, Over the Monster: Best case: Everyone is healthy. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Dempster provide a formidable front three, Felix Doubront takes steps forward, and John Lackey is serviceable bringing up the rear end of the rotation. David Ortiz, Will Middlebrooks, and Napoli knock in Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia so many times that it overshadows the decent contributions from the likes of Drew, Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Victorino, leaving the Red Sox surprise winners of the East.

#BostonStrong

David Ortiz: This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you, Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. This is our fucking city. And nobody's gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.

Patton Oswalt, comedian: I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem.

Julius Genachowski , FCC Chairman: David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston.

167101335Photo credit: Jim Rogash

Oswalt: But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet.

Will Middlebrooks: I wanted to live here. I moved here last offseason. I just wanted to be a part of the city. I get how resilient this city is and how strong [people] are. I just wanted to let them know that I knew that, and just to stay strong, as hard as it may be sometimes.

Oswalt: The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

There is a light that never goes out

Ethan Percy, BMoretoBoston:Take that experts! I feel pretty good considering I kept saying that I liked this team and it’s makeup in the off-season. We got back to basics with scrappy, hard working guys and pitching. John Farrell has revived Buchholz and Lester and it looks like Lackey has remembered how to pitch.

So it obviously begs the question, one month in, how good can this team be? With Big Papi rolling so far and a team that seems to be enjoying itself again, I think they keep on keepin’ on. The only thing that’ll slow this team down is injuries but that’s true for every team in the league. The nice thing about this squad is that it has depth all over the place. There are players in AAA that could step in now if needed and potentially fill a roll. There’s money to spend if we want to upgrade at or before the trade deadline.

171895184Photo credit: Jim Rogash

Most importantly though, they’ve gotten back to having fun. Now, I know it’s fun while you are winning, but isn’t that the point I’m trying to make? The Red Sox have been good for a long time. Even last year they were a team that on paper was supposed to win, but they weren’t having fun. I believe those two go hand in hand for this organization. It’s a tough town to play in and our players should reflect the hard working, blue collar people of Boston. Right now they seem to be just doing that. Being more like players like Dustin Pedroia and less like last year’s team as a whole. Letting leaders like Papi keep the clubhouse loose but backing it up with fire when he’s on the field.

So I think they’re going to keep winning and go to the playoffs. I know it’s early but this team has the mental makeup to be successful. Gone are the Beckett’s and Gonzalez’ and Crawford’s who for whatever reason couldn’t handle the spotlight (in Beckett’s case I think the relationship soured.) Young guys who have grown up in the organization mixed with guys who give 100% has lead this team to the best record in the bigs and there’s no reason it can’t continue.

All in the game

Dirk Hayhurst, Blue Jays announcer: I just saw video of Buchholz loading the ball with some Eddie Harris worthy slick'em painted up his left forearm. Wow.

Jack Morris, Blue Jays announcer: The guys on the video camera showed it to me right after the game," he said. "I didn't see it during the game. They showed it to me and said, 'What do you think of this?' and I said, 'Well, he's throwing a spitter. Cause that's what it is."

Clay Buchholz: Loading up with what, rosin? I get wet from my hair. Are they talking about the stains on my shirt? There probably are stains on my shirt, because I've been wearing the same shirt for the last three years.

I'm doing the same thing right now as I did in 2008, when I was sent down to Double-A. But I guess something's got to be wrong, right?

Craig Calcaterra, HardballTalk: Worth noting:

  1. No Blue Jays player or coach accused Buchholz of anything;
  2. No umpire was asked to inspect Buchholz’s arm, which allegedly had goop on it;
  3. Buchholz’s pitches did not appear to be doing anything out of the ordinary;
  4. Buchholz’s explanation — that it was rosin on his arm — satisfies my Occam’s Razor requirements and has the benefit of appearing to be true, which is always good.

Dennis Eckersley, Hall of Famer/Red Sox Announcer: I was upset during the game when we found out what was happening with Jack Morris, and the more I saw it, the more I started thinking about it, it made me more and more angry about Jack Morris. To me, that’s clueless on his part. If he knew anything about Buchholz, he knows how nasty he is. His ball doesn’t dance all over the place. The guy paints. He’s got nasty stuff. [Morris] should know that, and he’s gotten carried away. It becomes about Jack Morris almost.

Where’s Jack Morris been all these years, anyway?

20130515_kkt_sx9_562Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Morris (about Buchholz): I told him I was sorry that I had taken attention away from what he was doing -- that's not what I was trying to do.

We're cool. He was cool with it. That's all that matters to me. As long as he's cool with it, I don't care what anyone else thinks.

Gordon Edes, ESPN Boston: Buchholz was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for April, going 5-0. He improved to 6-0 after the May 1 victory in Toronto.

It comes to us all/it's as soft as your pillow

Boston Red Sox: Placed OF Ryan Kalish on the 60-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Placed SS Stephen Drew on the 7-day DL, retroactive to March 27.

Boston Red Sox: Placed LHP Craig Breslow, LHP Franklin Morales and DH David Ortiz on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 22.

Boston Red Sox: Placed RHP John Lackey on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 7.

Boston Red Sox: Placed RHP Joel Hanrahan on the 15-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Placed RHP Andrew Bailey on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 29.

Boston Red Sox: Placed RHP Joel Hanrahan on the 15-day DL.

168200082Photo credit: Jim Rogash

Boston Red Sox: Placed C David Ross on the seven-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Placed OF Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 21 and 3B Will Middlebrooks on the 15-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Placed RHP Clay Buchholz on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 9. Placed C David Ross on the 7-day concussion DL.

Boston Red Sox: Transferred C David Ross to the 60-day DL. Placed LHP Franklin Morales on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 23

Boston Red Sox: Placed SS Stephen Drew on the 15-day DL (retroactive to June 29).

Boston Red Sox: Placed LHP Andrew Miller on the 15-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Transferred LHP Andrew Miller from the 15- to the 60-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Placed RHP Andrew Bailey on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 13.

Boston Red Sox: Placed LHP Matt Thornton on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Aug. 5.

Boston Red Sox: Placed INF Brandon Snyder on the 15-day DL.

Boston Red Sox: Transferred RHP Andrew Bailey and RHP Clay Buchholz to the 60-day DL..

Koji!

Joe McDonald, ESPN.com: The Boston Red Sox on Tuesday officially announced the signing of right-handed reliever Koji Uehara to a one-year contract that a source says is worth $4.25 million

Koji Uehara: I am really grateful for the Boston Red Sox expressing the strong desire to acquire me and giving me this new opportunity. It's my responsibility to meet their expectation and to give my best performance without getting injured.

Keri: New closer Andrew Bailey is expected to miss three to four months with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. Losing 30 innings from a closer doesn't have to be all that painful, and the Red Sox traded for Mark Melancon and scrapped plans to make Alfredo Aceves a starter to cover for just such an emergency.

Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com: One day after removing the struggling Andrew Bailey from the role of closer, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters on Friday that he has tabbed Koji Uehara as his new closer.

Evan Drellich, Masslive.com: Detroit's Jim Leyland is managing the American League All-Star team this year, and Red Sox manager John Farrell, like most any skipper, has some players he's stumping for. Farrell has called Leyland to discuss the matter.

John Farrell, manager: Koji and I think Daniel Nava deserve consideration. Those are the two guys that quickly come to mind.

Pete Abraham, Boston Globe: Koji Uehara finished a distant fourth in the online voting for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. He didn't get the news until after he was picking up his latest save for the Red Sox.

Uehara needed only 13 pitches to retire the Mariners in order in the bottom of the 10th inning of an 8-7 victory Tuesday.

20130709_mje_ab9_944Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Uehara: I wish I was able to become an All-Star.

It's stressful but I'm enjoying it in the best way I can.

Ben Buchanan: In 1963, Dick Radatz did a remarkable thing for an entirely unremarkable Red Sox team. Over a one month period, starting on May 13 and ending on June 14, Radatz appeared in 14 games, threw 33 innings of baseball, and allowed not a single earned run. He struck out 43 batters, walked seven, and allowed just 11 hits. It stands as the most impressive streak of relief pitching by any player in Red Sox history, matched only by three starters: Pedro Martinez, Luis Tiant, and Babe Ruth.

Koji Uehara, however, is getting really close.

Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus: On Tuesday, Koji Uehara allowed a baserunner. Before that, he had retired 37 batters in a row, setting a Boston record and getting within a good week of the all-time record, 45, by Mark Buehrle. Before that, he was still one of the stories of the season, a flash closer who had gone from low-leverage innings in Texas to Boston's ninth inning within a year. And before that, he was one of the most interesting pitchers in baseball, going months at a time without issuing a walk and producing historically great FIPs and the best strikeout-to-walk ratio ever.

David Waldstein, The New York Times: Long, bushy beards have become the unifying trademark of the 2013, Boston Red Sox, but the most valuable player of their American League Championship Series victory stands out for more than his pitching.

The series M.V.P., the cleanshaven closer Koji Uehara, was given a pass on the team’s unofficial pro-beard policy because most of his teammates thought he was incapable of growing one.

Weirdbeards

Marc Normandin, SBN/OTM: You might have noticed at some point this summer that beards are a big deal for the Boston Red Sox.

Scott Cacciola, The New York Times: The Red Sox’ fun with facial follicles started innocently enough when Napoli and outfielder Jonny Gomes grew beards during spring training. It became something more than a fad when Pedroia, a second baseman and one of the team’s most popular players, joined Napoli and Gomes in taking a sabbatical from shaving cream.

There was suddenly the sense around the clubhouse that beards were not merely a fashion accessory but a way to build stronger bonds after the Red Sox’ struggles last season, when they lost 93 games, finished last in the A.L. East and bid adieu to Manager Bobby Valentine.

180968258Photo credit: Winslow Townson

Pete Abraham, Boston Globe: Several Red Sox — David Ortiz and Andrew Miller, most notably — were bearded before it became the thing to do. Miller looked like a tall version of Jim Morrison in spring training before getting a trim.

"I was ahead of the curve," he said. "Now everybody is doing it."

The beards aren’t why the Sox are in first place in the American League East. But it is further evidence that this group of players genuinely gets along.

@TravisRodgers: Mike Napoli's beard is beyond ridiculous.

@Trenni: I'm half expecting a gnome to emerge from Mike Napoli's beard.

@LJ670: My teacher is goin to look like Mike Napoli if his beard keeps growing :P

Trollin'

Keith Olbermann: I mean, I'm not a Yankee fan, and these farewell tours are inherently tedious, and it's a retirement ceremony for a visiting player, and these things always have a clunky feel to them. Because, frankly, what are you going to get for a guy who's career earnings are an estimated $169, 441, 825? Still, it's the thought that counts, and the primary thought should be--(you know what? let's move on)

It was our fucking city

AP: The Red Sox clubhouse was quiet after the team clinched its first postseason berth since 2009, about as quiet as the Orioles' bats were against John Lackey.

Boston has much bigger goals.

Pete Abraham, Globe: As his players mashed together in the middle of the clubhouse, joyously spraying each other with bottles of expensive champagne and cans of cheap beer on Friday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell watched from the doorway of this office with a smile.

The Sox [had] completed their improbable last-to-first journey, clinching the American League East with a 6-3 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays. It touched off a raucous party on the Fenway Park lawn that lasted nearly to midnight.

Jon Lester: This is different because in years past it was almost expected. To go through some of the things we’ve gone through the past three years, the injuries and nonsense and everything, to finally be back at this point is very, very rewarding.

We’re going to sit back and enjoy this and really let it soak in.

AP: The end came quietly for this year's New York Yankees. No celebrations. No titles. No October baseball.

Joe Maddon: A big part of the problem is the Red Sox, obviously. They're playing at a really high level. You have to look at the foe itself. There's certain teams you might be more confident against, just based on where they're at, how good they are. They're good. They're real good right now. They were good all season. And not only that, they have a lot of battle‑tested fellows on that team. That presents more of a concern or problem.

Torii Hunter: I feel like I played a football game.

184431245Photo credit: Al Bello

Bill Baer, HardballTalk: Shane Victorino stopped switch-hitting again. For the Red Sox, it's a good thing he did. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Victorino drove a Jose Veras curve down the left field line into the seats atop the Green Monster. The Red Sox took back the lead, 5-2 with six outs left in the game.

The seventh inning started with Max Scherzer looking to continue his sterling performance against the Red Sox, but Jonny Gomes led off with a double off of the Monster, just inches from becoming a game-tying solo home run. After Stephen Drew struck out, Xander Bogaerts impressively worked the count to draw a walk, ending Scherzer's night.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in lefty Drew Smyly to face the left-handed Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury hit a rocket back up the middle, but shortstop Jose Iglesias was able to field it cleanly. In an attempt to shovel the ball to second baseman Omar Infante, the ball got away from Iglesias, so the Tigers weren't able to record an out anywhere, loading the bases.

Leyland came out again to bring the right-handed Jose Veras into the game. And that is where it was lost. Victorino watched the ball sail deeper and deeper into the left field, pumping his fist as it landed in the seats. It is his second career post-season grand slam, joining Jim Thome as the only two players to have two career grand slams in the playoffs. Victorino hit one off of CC Sabathia, then with the Brewers, in the NLDS back in 2008. It is also the second timely grand slam in the ALCS for the Red Sox, as David Ortiz took Joaquin Benoit deep in Game 2.

If the Red Sox can record six more outs, they will be on their way to the World Series.

This is it

Matthew Kory, Over the Monster (e-mail list): This has been an amazing season, and all of you are a big reason why. Congratulations to you, and congratulations to the 2013 American League Champion Boston Red Sox!

Ben Buchanan, Over the Monster (e-mail list): SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF LOVE YOU GUYS SHANF SHANF SHANF SHANF

Brendan O'Toole Over the Monster (e-mail list): This is just... It's been a pleasure all year. Let's keep it going.

185381693Photo credit: Al Bello

Matt Collins, Over the Monster (e-mail list): Best year ever, guys. Can't even believe this is actually a thing that is happening.

Matthew Sullivan, Over the Monster (e-mail list): I have no words. Just thrilled to be watching.

lone1c, Over the Monster (e-mail list): GO SOX!!!!!!!

Marc Normandin, Over the Monster (e-mail list): Baseball!

Star-divide

Baseball! A pleasure. Best year ever. Go Sox.

Now bring us that trophy.

Read more Red Sox:

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