clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Top Moments of the Decade #1: Koji Forever

The improbable, incredibly lovable, champions

2013 World Series Game 6: St. Louis Cardinals v. Boston Red Sox Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB via Getty Images

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. In other words, i’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.

I feel like it’s not particularly controversial to expect 2013 will be the most fondly remembered Red Sox team of this past decade. They clearly weren’t the best team, but then we know that’s not really the most important thing in the long run. In the previous decade, for example, the 2007 team was better than the 2004 team (or at least more dominant), but we know which one we think about more.

The 2013 team wasn’t historic in the same way as 2004, of course, but the story for this team was incredible. There’s no other word for it. Obviously, the biggest reason for this was the aftermath of the marathon. We all know that story by now, and if you don’t there’s writing all over the internet about it. I won’t be able to do it justice in this small space, but anyone who experienced it can tell you what it was like in the Boston area after that Marathon, and what it was like seeing the Red Sox ascend throughout that season with that hanging over the city.

It wasn’t just the marathon that made that season so special, though. It also came out of nowhere. The Red Sox were generally projected to finish third or fourth in the division and were fresh off the disaster of a year that was the Bobby V 2012 season. It was understandable to think the franchise was heading in the wrong direction at this point. They had restocked the roster with interesting free agents thanks in large part to the Punto deal the previous summer, but the new names weren’t exactly game-changers. Or at least that’s what we thought. That group of new additions along with the mainstays who had produced so much disappointment over the last season-plus ended up putting together a year of delightful domination.

Think about that roster for a second. If we think about the most enjoyable players from the last decade, I can guarantee a disproportionate number of those players will have been on this roster. There were the new faces like Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara and Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino and Mike Carp and Stephen Drew and David Ross and Ryan Dempster. There were the stars coming back to stardom like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroi and Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. There was John Lackey improbably getting back into our good graces. There was Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller forming a dominant setup duo. There was Jarrod Saltalamacchia giving the Red Sox their first solid post-Varitek catching production. Everything about this team was just so special.

The result was a dominant, 97-win season that saw the Red Sox win the AL East and eventually get set for an ALDS matchup with the Rays. Boston mostly dominated the first two games at home before dropping a heartbreaker in Game Three that ended on a Jose Lobaton walkoff. Some teams would have let that sink them. The Red Sox came back the next day and won the series on a late-game rally.

Next up was the Tigers in a classic ALCS which we’ve already talked about a few times in this series. As mentioned, this was the best version of that Tigers team that was a contender for so many years in this past decade. They weren’t favorites in this series, but in the gambling world at least it was viewed as basically a toss-up. It ended up going six games with the Red Sox winning a couple of classics as well as the series as a whole.

Then, it was the World Series. The first two World Series of this Red Sox run since 2004 played out in a similar fashion. That is to say both teams had played in tense ALCS’s before winning it all in anticlimactic World Series. That wasn’t the case here. Boston did run away in Game One, but the Cardinals came right back and took Game Two and Game Three. From there, the Red Sox turned it on.

It all led to a Matt Carpenter at bat in a 6-1 game in the bottom of the ninth at Fenway Park with Koji Uehara on the mound. Remember, both of the World Series wins from the previous decade (and 2018s, for that matter) came on the road. Also remember that 2018 Uehara was one of the dominant relievers the league had seen. There was only one way it was going to end. Carpenter saw seven pitches, but it ended on a Uehara splitter, as it should be. Carpenter swung through it, David Ross ran out and Uehara jumped into his arms with one finger extended high in the air. A picture-perfect ending to a picture-perfect season, and the number one Red Sox moment of the decade.

Here’s the full list:

HM: Daniel Nava’s first homer

HM: David Ortiz wins the Home Run Derby

HM: The Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford acquisitions

HM: Daniel Nava’s post-Marathon game-winnter

HM: Pedro makes the Hall of Fame

HM: David Ortiz reaches 500

HM: David Ortiz plays his last game

HM: Rick Porcello wins the Cy

HM: The Chris Sale trade

HM: Mookie for MVP

10: Theo and Tito forced out the door

9: Shane Victorino hits a slams

8: Steve Pearce’s big night

7: Game 162

6: The Punto deal

5: David Ortiz and the Bullpen cop

4: The Catch

3: David Ortiz grabs the mic

2: Manny Machado down by way of the K

1: Koji Forever