In a vein similar to Mudville, there is no joy in Boston right now—or at least among Red Sox fans. It’s party time for Celtics and Bruins supporters, but this is not a Celtics or Bruins site now is it?
With star free agents signing elsewhere and franchise icons saying “toodaloo,” the 2023 season is looking more and more like a bleak proposition. I sit here writing this realizing that we, as Red Sox fans, need a pick-me-up.
What better way to do that than to hook ourselves up to some good ol’ nostalgia?
Christmas movies you grew up with and past Red Sox seasons have the potential to be the Jordan-Pippen combination of trips down Memory Lane. A combination as essential to the season as a warm sugar cookie and a cold glass of milk. In times like these, it’s reminisence that gets us through.
To prevent myself from getting too repetetive, let’s cut the ado and jump into the comparisons between past Red Sox seasons and classic Christmas movies and specials.
2023: Any Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas Movie
Fielder’s choice to get us going here. Any holiday flick released on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime will fit the bill for this upcoming campaign.
The 2023 Red Sox, like these cheesy movies that seem to multiply every time you turn them off like the heads of the hydra, will be produced with a slim budget and will star one or two names you recognize. Is that the likes of Lacey Chabert and Corbin Bleu in the heart of the lineup? Buddy, you better believe it. Frustrating evenings of baseball could become as common as the inevitable cup of hot chocolate that the grandparents of the movie (maybe Rich Hill gets a casting callback?) always seem to be sipping on in perpetuity.
The real question is: when his contract is up, will Rafael Devers choose to become the publicist of a major legal firm before going back to spend the holidays in his small hometown and falling head over heels for a old flame who teaches him the true meaning of the season? Tune in and find out.
2021: Klaus (2019)
When you’re scrolling through Netflix this December, trying to figure out what to watch to get in the holiday spirit, Klaus inevitably will cross your desk. You might think it’s an unassuming film and shrug it off before putting on another Christmas-themed episode of The Great British Bake Off (which, to be fair, I wouldn’t blame you if you did).
Do yourself a favor: don’t pass over Klaus.
Like the 2021 Red Sox season, I went into Klaus without any high expectations and ended it knowing I had just seen a film that instantly would make my annual rotation. The 2019 movie and the 2021 campaign are not cracking my Mount Rushmore lists anytime soon, but they both provided delightful rides that I didn’t anticipate at first. Both very worth of positive recognition.
2020: The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
Don’t even bother.
It’s short. It’s scary. It’s bad. It’s not worth your time. It’s best if we just move on right away.
2019: The Polar Express (2004)
Here’s the deal with Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express: It’s not a bad movie. It’s solid enough. It’s one that I like to endulge in this time of year.
But watching it now as an adult, don’t you notice something a bit......off.......with it?
The movie—along with the 2019 Red Sox—had all the right pieces in place. An A-list actor in the starring role and a franchise player coming off an MVP award, alongside a high-profile director who won an Academy award and a core that basically stayed in tact following a World Series victory, plus a widely beloved sorce material and the makings of a team that could potentially turn into a dynasty. It all should’ve been a slam dunk (err, wrong sport).
But The Polar Express is, for lack of a better term, unsettling at times. Look into the eyes of some of the characters.
There’s nothin’ upstairs for those fine folks up at the North Pole. There is no life behind those eyes of the conductor. Bone chilling stuff.
I’ll be watching it again this year at some point, but not without a shiver or two going down my spine. An 84-78 record is not bad, but the 2019 Sox had no business being that creepy and souless.
2018: Elf (2003)
Star-studded casts, great content from start to finish, what an elite run for both this movie and this team. Both will consistenly be heralded as one of the best ever in their respective categories for years to come. This was an obvious comparsion.
There are times where you may ask yourself if Elf truly deserves the hype. Then you flip it on and—much like the answer to the question, “Want a Sprite Cranberry?”—the answer is clear. It still holds up to this day and it’ll be a movie you tell your kids and your kids’ kids about.
The 2018 Red Sox were the same way. You don’t need me to explain to you how special that run was.
2017: The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
David Ortiz’s 2016 campaign was one to remember for a plethora of reasons. His final season in a Red Sox uniform was arguably his best in terms of his offensive output. He posted a .401 OBP, 38 home runs, and 127 RBI at the age of 40 while also leading the league in doubles (48), SLG (.620), and OPS (1.021—but you already knew that if you did the math, smartypants). That exclamation point at the end of a Hall of Fame career was good enough for a 6th place finish in the American League MVP race—no small feat for a designated hitter.
So one can imagine how the Red Sox’s offense regressed the following year. After leading MLB in team OPS+ in 2016 (112), Boston was below the 2017 league average in homers and SLG while hovering around the league average in RBI, runs, and OBP. While it was enough for 93 wins and another AL East title, the team’s collective OPS+ fell to 92 in the season following Ortiz’s retirement.
Point is: it was clear that the lack of a large, jolly man with an infectious laugh was something felt by both the 2017 Boston Red Sox and the entire world for a hot second in this classic claymation Christmas special. Luckily for both, their situations were alleviated when a big guy stepped in to save the day. Thanks again, J.D. Martinez!
2014 and 2015: Christmas Vacation 2 (2003) and A Christmas Story 2 (2012)
Do you remember these movies at all? Not their clearly superior predecesors, no, I mean these garbage sequels. Hell, did you even know they existed? I’d venture to guess you didn’t!
Following a magical run in 2013, the next two Red Sox seasons are now better left to fade into irrelevance. We don’t need to relive those memories, and we certainly don’t need to put on these two movies this holiday season. It’s best if we just forget they ever happened in the first place and look back on what transpired beforehand: the seasons/movies we’ll remember forever.
2013: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
And speaking of 2013!!!!
After the disaster that was the 2011 collapse and the 2012 *gestures vaguely* everything, the Red Sox entered this year with lower expectations than we had become accustomed to. Various sources and outlets (including SB Nation!!!!) had Boston’s preseason championship odds at around 25 or 30-1. The roster filled with the likes of Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, and other characters didn’t exactly scream “World Series contender” prior to Opening Day.
Yet here were the residents of baseball’s island of misfit toys, rattling off 97 wins on the road to another Duck Boat parade. Koji Uehara leaped into the arms of David Ross—like a cowboy who rides an ostrich—as the Red Sox clinched the title for the first time at Fenway Park in nearly a century.
These guys, much like the misfit toys, ended up finding a home full of people who will cherish them forever.
2007: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
An installment to a beloved franchise that, while is not as great as the original, is still very worthy based on its own merits: that’s both this flick and the 2007 Red Sox.
Both feature the return of fan favorite characters and the introduction of new ones. Manny, Varitek, and Papi for baseball along with Kevin, Buzz, and the Wet/Sticky Bandits are now joined by folks such as Mike Lowell and Daisuke Matsuzaka, or Tim Curry and some anonymous steak salesman.
Many of the same gags and bits from their older counterparts made their way back with modern tweaks—think of walk-off homers
over the Monster above the giant wall in left against the Angels in the ALDS along with decapitating paint cans scrambling the brains of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
Both predecesors were greater stories, but Home Alone 2 and the second Boston title bid in the new millenium are both now staples of their respective seasons.
One major difference between the film and team, though? The ‘07 Sox were never Lost in New York—the Yankees couldn’t even get out of the first round that year.
2004: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The cream of these two different crops, the 2004 Boston Red Sox and The Peanuts’ classic special are perfect examples of why we love baseball and the holiday season respectively. They’re the gold standards upon which everything else is compared to. It’s rare when something can be even in the same neighborhood as that season or that special, but nothing surpasses them.
Images of the 1965 special and the 2004 run have been etched into the lore of both the holiday season and the entire Red Sox legacy. Small trees, dancing characters, and the true meaning of Christmas time have become iconic, as have the bloody sock, The Steal, and the greatest comeback in the sport’s history. Hell, both A Charlie Brown Christmas and the 2004 Red Sox have soundtracks that are widely played to this day!
Both the team that broke the Curse of the Bambino and A Charlie Brown Christmas perfectly encapsulate what we collectively do. We watch Christmas movies and specials to recall fond memories with loved ones and to recapture that warmth they’ve given us time and time again. We watch this team night in and night out because
we are too far gone in our sickness we know how euphoric those highs can feel.
That’s what Christmas (and baseball) is all about, Charlie Brown.
Happy holidays, everyone!