It is now December in the year of our Aceves 2019, which means that everyone who is anyone is doing some sort of content creation to mark the end of the decade. It is horribly unoriginal, which I do not say derisively because I’m doing it too! It’s practically legally obligated! Anyway, I’m going to be counting down the top moments of the decade for the duration of the month. We’ll start with our honorable mentions in which I’ll put down my numbers 11-20 moments of the decade and then after that each of the top ten moments will have their own standalone post. This is all totally subjective (obviously), and it’s also specifically not the best moments. It’s not all good, though most of it is. Okay, that’s enough, right? I don’t need to explain the concept of a top moments of the decade series, right? You get it.
Note that the following are not in order of significance but rather simply put in chronological order.
Daniel Nava’s first career home run
It feels fitting that this entire series is going to start with Daniel Nava, the most improbable contributor of the entire decade. Everyone knows the Nava story by now, going from not making his college team to not being drafted to being purchased for a dollar by the Red Sox to getting called up to the majors in the 2010 season. He made his debut on June 12 of the 2010 season and according to Wikipedia Joe Castiglione told Nava to swing hard at the first pitch he saw because that’s the only first pitch in the majors he’d ever see. Nava did just that and lifted a grand slam on that first pitch off Joe Blanton becoming just the fourth player of all time to hit a grand slam in their first major-league at bat and just the second to do so on the first pitch they saw. This is not Nava’s only appearance on this list, either.
David Ortiz wins the Home Run Derby
The Home Run Derby is one of those things you either love or hate, and baseball fans are sort of split on it. There is also the myth that it ruins players in the second half, so a lot of people don’t want to see their favorite players in it. I gotta say, though, it’s extremely exciting watching one of your team’s players win. That’s what happened in 2010 when David Ortiz beat future teammate Hanley Ramirez in the finals to become the first (and to this point, the only) Red Sox player to win the event.
Red Sox acquire Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez
This was incredible at the time. The Red Sox were coming off a 2010 season which was fine but ultimately disappointing. They had sort of sputtered along after their championship 2007 run, winning 95 games in both 2008 and 2009 but losing before the World Series in both seasons. After winning 89 games but missing the playoffs in the 2010 season, they decided it was time to push some chips in. It started with a trade with San Diego in which they sent Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Raymond Fuentes to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez. A few days later, they signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal. We know now what would end up happening with those acquisitions, but at the time it was thrilling and led to some, uh, overzealous headlines.
Daniel Nava’s Marathon homer
There’s that man again. The 2013 Marathon bombing was obviously a lot bigger than baseball and just an overall terrifying moment in this city’s history. The area was shaken up, and as is so often the case sports were there to ease some of that tension, even if just temporarily. There is another moment from this day higher on the list (I’m sure you know the one) and the Bruins national anthem was unforgettable. After the pregame ceremonies, though, there were games still to be played and Nava made the Red Sox’ first one special. In the team’s first game after the Marathon, five days after the bombing, Nava came up with his team down by a run with two men on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth. He smashed it into the bullpen to give the Red Sox the lead, with Don Orsillo exclaiming “Boston, this one’s for you!” one of the top moments in a season full of them.
Pedro gets inducted
There are a whole lot of reasons why baseball is important to me, but if there was one player in particular who could be held responsible for my obsession it was Pedro Martinez. His ascendance to legend-status with the Red Sox perfectly coincided with the start of my baseball-watching life, and he’s always been a tremendously important part of my story despite having never met the man. There was never a doubt he would make the Hall of Fame, of course, but seeing him inducted in 2015 will always be a special moment.
Ortiz hits number 500
From a current Hall of Famer to a future one, Ortiz hitting this milestone was another moment that wasn’t exactly a surprise. We all knew it was coming at one point or another, but it is still a special moment for the player who really defined two separate decades for this organization. It was a bit of a shame that the 500th couldn’t come at Fenway, but it didn’t take too much shine on the moment. He crushed one out to the power alley at the Trop against Matt Moore in a 7-0 game in 2015, making him the 27th player in history to get to 500 and he is still the most recent to do so.
Ortiz’ final game at Fenway
Who ever could have believed David Ortiz would make this list three times, eh? This is one that really felt like it should have been in the top ten. If we were just talking about the impact of the moment moving forward it would have been. David Ortiz isn’t the best Red Sox player I’ve ever seen, but he is sure as hell the most important and by the end of the 2016 season the thought of watching a Red Sox team without him was unimaginable. We knew it was coming, though, and unfortunately he didn’t get the sendoff he deserved. The Indians were celebrating their ALDS sweep on the field, and as that celebration made its way into their clubhouse Ortiz re-emerged one last time. With tears in his eyes he tipped his cap to the Fenway crowd for a couple of minutes, and that was that.
Rick Porcello wins the Cy Young
The Red Sox are not exactly strangers to the Cy Young award, with Jim Lonborg winning in ‘67, Roger Clemens taking three in the late-80s and early-90s and Pedro taking two back-to-back in ‘99 and 2000. Nothing was as improbable as Porcello winning in 2016, though. Now, as many non-Red Sox fans will tell you he may not have deserved it that year. I probably wouldn’t have voted for him. But that narrative has been misconstrued to say he won only because he had 20 wins, which is just not fair. Porcello’s Red Sox tenure, if it is indeed over, was a rollercoaster and the arguments for and against his contract being worth it both have merit. No one can take away that 2016 performance, though, and even if it was in a down year for pitchers a Cy Young is a Cy Young is a Cy Young.
The Chris Sale Deal
Dave Dombrowski had made big deals before, but this was the one that he’ll be most remembered by. David Price was disappointing in his first season with the team, and while Porcello had just won that Cy Young the Red Sox still wanted a true ace at the top of their rotation. It’d be hard to find one as impressive as Chris Sale, who was made available by the White Sox. Boston gave up a bunch to get him — the deal was, of course, highlighted by Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech — but it was worth it. Sale would go on to electrify Fenway every time he took the mound, and while things are a bit more dicey for the lefty at the moment there’s no taking away the electricity he’s created that hasn’t been matched since Pedro.
Mookie Betts wins MVP
Just like Porcello in 2016, there is an argument that Betts may not have deserved his MVP. Unlike Porcello in 2016, there is no argument he did not have a typically MVP-caliber season. Mike Trout was Mike Trout just like he always is, but this was the rare occasion where you really didn’t need to stretch to say Betts was better. Either way, Betts led the team to a historic season and eventual playoff run and had one of the best single seasons in recent memory in the process. In fact, by fWAR it was the best single season of any player in the majors this decade and you’d have to go back to Ripken in 1991 to find a non-Bonds year that was better. We don’t know Betts’ future, but whatever happens we got to watch one of the best seasons of all time as it unfolded, and it was pretty neat.