We have only a few days left in 2017, a year that flew by and using strictly baseball to judge was a pretty good year. Using other things to judge, well, yeah...
Anyway, the Red Sox also had a pretty strong year and one that had plenty of ups and downs. It was something of an exhausting year, though most of the time that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. With just three more days remaining in this calendar year before we flip over to 2018 and start looking ahead rather than looking back, let’s go back through some of the bigger moments of 2017.
Pablo Sandoval is slim
There wasn’t a whole lot happening in the lead-up to spring training, but one big story was how Pablo Sandoval would come back at third base. It was seen as a key to the season, and the disappointing free agent showed up in January as slim as we’d ever seen him. There was no way that would be a bad sign! Well, we all know how that worked out...
Kyle Kendrick is a thing for a minute
Looking back at the last 365 days, this was the one that I had blocked out of my memory. Most of us knew what was really going on at the time, but the veteran righty who had been signed to a minor-league deal was making a real name for himself in spring training. The Red Sox needed a starting pitcher to step up from the back of the pack, and Kendrick was mowing down spring training lineups and causing people to argue that he should be part of the Opening Day rotation. Of course, he wouldn’t do that, though he did make the majors for a quick blip. It....well, it didn’t go well.
Pitchers get hurt in camp
This was the real story of camp, as one after another some of the pitchers that were expected to be big players in spring training went down with injuries. They weren’t all serious, but Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and David Price all left camp with at least some bumps and bruises. Price, of course, suffered an elbow injury that would affect him for almost all of 2017. Despite all that, Boston was still carried by their pitching all year.
Jerry Remy is diagnosed with cancer again
This was probably the worst story of 2017 and a real gut punch when it happened. Late in March, the Red Sox color broadcaster announced to the world that he had been diagnosed with cancer yet again. He would start the year in the NESN booth but eventually needed to take a lot of time off for himself, leading to a revolving door next to Dave O’Brien in the booth. Eventually, towards the very end of the year, Remy returned for a few games where he and Dennis Eckersley combined for a wildly entertaining three-man booth.
Chris Sale mania begins
Once the regular season began, it became clear right away that Chris Sale was going to be the story of the season. There was a certain electricity around whatever park he was pitching in whenever he took the mound, and it was unlike anything we’d seen since Pedro was at his peak. Things got worse later in the year, but at the start he was unstoppable, striking out 95 batters in his first nine starts.
Red Sox-Orioles gets crazy
Early in the year, it seemed as if the Red Sox and Orioles were playing a series every week through the first few months. That led to some tensions between the two sides, all starting with a questionable (but ultimately accidental, in my eyes) slide from Manny Machado that ended up with a spike to Dustin Pedroia’s knee. This led to multiple batters being hit, a fight between the two sides and Pedroia insisting to the Orioles that he did not want any of this to happen. That, in turn, led to the beginning of some of the Red Sox fan base to start turning on the veteran second baseman.
David Ortiz has his number retired
It was pretty clear throughout the entire season that this Red Sox offense was missing David Ortiz perhaps even more than we could have anticipated. Throughout most of the first half (and beyond, for some), there was a vague hope that the slugger would come back and be inserted right back into the middle of the lineup. When his number was retired in June, it was the first time it really felt as if it was all over for the Red Sox legend.
We all lost our minds about David Price/Dennis Eckersley fiasco
I almost didn’t include this because it was so annoying at the time and I didn’t want to bring it up again. I couldn’t do it, though, because it was clearly one of the biggest stories of the year. And that’s all I’ll say on it. If you want to learn more about it or re-live the horror for some reason, Google is your friend.
Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nuñez provide a much-needed spark
Many times fans and pundits can exaggerate about a certain event being a #turningpoint for a team, but the Red Sox had a clear and legitimate one in late-July. At this point in the year, the offense was stuck and in need of some real help. Rather than making a big trade, Dave Dombrowski called up top prospect Rafael Devers and trading for the speedy Eduardo Nuñez. Both players raked upon their arrival and sparked a season-changing run for the lineup and the team as a whole. Devers in particularly was electrifying early on, all culminating in an incredible game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in Yankee Stadium.
Christian Vazquez walks off a wild win against the Indians
I was trying to think of some of the crazier games of the year when putting together this list, and I kept coming back to this Indians-Red Sox game in August. This was supposed to be a hell of a pitching matchup between Sale and Corey Kluber. Instead, both aces got shelled, as did both bullpens. It was non-stop action and it ended with a walk-off blast from Christian Vazquez. Dude only hits clutch home runs.
The Red Sox got caught in the stupidest sign-stealing scandal of all time
Ah, the Apple Watch scandal in which the Red Sox were actually using a Fitbit and stealing signs from the Yankees (and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, most likely other teams as well). When the story first broke in September I was expecting a firmer reaction from the league, but instead they didn’t much care and simply slapped the team on the wrist. What a dumb scandal in a dumb year.
Hanley Ramirez walks off a 19-inning game
The other crazy game I keep going back to was this 19-inning affair against the Blue Jays on September 5. I mostly remember the game lasting beyond 1:00 AM and me having to wake up two hours later, but it was mostly worth it due to the Red Sox taking home the victory. It was so frustrating all night long until Hanley Ramirez finally came through with a game-winning single in the 19th inning.
Chris Sale strikes out number 300
While Boston’s ace wasn’t quite himself for most of the last six weeks, he was still able to rack up plenty of strikeouts and he was still the story of the Red Sox in 2017. So, it was incredibly satisfying to see him put together a historic season that culminated in his 300th strikeout, a truly incredible accomplishment.
The Red Sox clinch the division for the second straight year
If you talk to Boston fans right now, you’d think the sky was falling and the Red Sox failed to make the postseason for a decade straight. While things could be better, it’s hard to brush aside the fact that they’ve won the American League East two years in a row for the first time in team history. (They finished in first twice in the early 1900’s before divisions were a thing, too.) That’s very hard to do with 162 game seasons, and while we’re all a bit spoiled by the Patriots run over the last couple decades this two-year stretch is nothing to sneeze at.
The Red Sox get eliminated in the ALDS for the second straight year
All of that being said, the goal is to make it through a long run in October and the Red Sox simply haven’t been able to do that in the last couple of years. For the second straight season, the Red Sox ran into a hot team that was ready for a run to the World Series and they failed to put up much of a fight. They did take one game in 2017, but the Astros were just way too much.
John Farrell is let go
After another early exit, it was time for a change in Boston with John Farrell getting let go from the Red Sox dugout. The manager was a polarizing figure in Boston sports with some fans showing truly passionate hatred towards his decision-making. He wasn’t my favorite, but I also didn’t think he was the sole cause of the team’s shortcomings. That being said, it was time for a change and probably the right call by the team.
Alex Cora comes on as the new manager
Despite some flirtation with some managerial candidates such as Ron Gardenhire, it was pretty clear from the beginning that former Red Sox infielder and 2017 Astros bench coach Alex Cora was going to become the team’s new manager. The announcement finally came after the ALCS and he was introduced after the World Series, with a new era of Red Sox baseball officially being ushered in.
Red Sox fans become pros at twiddling their thumbs
After Farrell was fired and another early playoff exit, I think many of us were expecting a loud offseason from Dave Dombrowski. Instead, the team has done a whole lot of nothing. To be fair, it’s been a quiet offseason for the league as a whole, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with as a fan. Let’s make early-2018 much more exciting than late-2017, yeah?
Let me know in the comments all of the stories I forgot, of which I’m sure there are a million.