At the end of the almost seven month journey spanning from the last days of March until the last days of October, the 2013-14 Major League Baseball season closed another chapter on this past Halloween eve. And the phrase that captivated and drew together so many individuals on a fatal April 19 day in Boston, Massachusetts became the headline for what was arguably the greatest triumph in Boston sports history.
Boston Strong. On April 20, one day after the Boston marathon bombings, the Red Sox took the field playing for more then just themselves. They played that day and ever day after for their city. David Ortiz, who became the only player not on the Yankees to win three championships on one team since Jim Palmer did it in the early 1980's with the Baltimore Orioles, used said six very well chosen words that acted symbolized the thoughts of all Bostonians. "This is our fu**ing city." After finishing in last place in the AL East last season, the Sox retooled this past offseason adding manager and brought in guys who wanted to play in Boston. Their improbable world series run included a David Ortiz grand slam in the 8th inning of game two of the ALCS which optimized what made the Red Sox so good. During their run, consistent A-grade pitching and more than anything timely hitting was the key. They didn't care if it didn't look pretty, much like how they didn't care if they didn't look pretty thanks to the jungles growing on their faces. They only cared if they got the job done, which they eventually did defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games to take their 3rd title in 10 years after what was prior to 2004, an 86 year hiatus. One of the most special moments of the Sox 2013-14 campaign came after the games were finished being player. When there championship parade stopped on Bolyston street, the sight of thefatal bombings, as two Red Sox players Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both placed "Boston Strong 617" jersey's on top of the World Series Trophy. The song "God Bless America" was piped over the loudspeakers and World Series MVP David Ortiz ran across the finish line. "Boston, man," Ortiz said, "It means we stay together, a family. We fight against the world. You guys start it, we finish it."
Another year-long sentimental moment during the 2013-14 MLB season was the entirety of the Mariano Rivera retirement tour. The recently named 2013 AL Comeback Player of the Year award winner didn't miss a beat in the 2013 season after missing the 2012 campaign with a torn ACL. Statistically Rivera was as good as ever finishing the year with a 6-2 record with a 2.11 ERA and 54 strikeouts and nine walks. Rivera could easily become the first unanimous Hall of Famer. His career finishes without a hint of scandal or bad blood. All year long he was revered by not only his teammates but his opponents as well. Everywhere he and the Yankees went Rivera received gifts. An autographed placard of the Fenway scoreboard in Boston, a custom fishing poll and a video tribute from Rachel Robinson thanking Rivera for his service from the Los Angeles Dodgers, a chair of broken dreams from the Minnesota Twins, a surfboard from the Oakland Athletics, a gold record of Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' the track Mo entered to for his entire career among other gifts and donations to his foundations. Every stadium thanked Rivera in their own way and he thanked individual fanbases by spending time interacting with ticketsalesmen, food sellers, equipment managers, and of course fans.
Quick Pitch notes: After 20 consecutive losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally made the postseason. After not making the playoffs since 1992, the Buckos took a huge step forward in the 2013 season winning 94 games emerging as a team to reckon with in the coming seasons. The Pirates lost to the Cardinals in the ALDS and their flaws emerged but with a taste of success in the mouth of the fans and players, the Pirates will surely be back next season.
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness." Magic Johnson and the rest of the Los Angeles Dodgers would quickly disregard this notion. After continuing to spend big money on their entire, the Dodgers were two games away from reaching the World Series. The Dodgers led by the best pitcher in the league Clayton Kershaw and a star-studded lineup were able to battle through some of their early season woes to win 92 games. Even after coming up short, the Dodgers are the early favorites to win next seasons title and 7-to-1.
Matt Harvey brought the New York Mets a sign of hope only to have it be wiped away thanks to Tommy John surgery. Harvey the young phenom made 26 starts accumulating a 9-5 record with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts. Harvey started the All-Star held in Citi Field for the NL and looked poised to dominate hitters for the next decade. But thanks to Tommy John surgery, Harvey will miss all of next season and his absence will put a damper on whatever light the Mets fans and orgainization had even after a more successful 74 win season. The Mets lineup was their problem all year, ranking 23rd in runs, 29th in batting average, 25th in on base percentage, and 29th in slugging percentage, look for them to try to retool their lineup in the upcoming offseason.
The Washington Nationals were a national disappointment in the 2013 season. The pre-season favorite Nationals had a poor season by their standard, they would a mere 86 games and missed the playoffs. The team was plagued by injuries to ace Stephen Strasburg and young star Bryce Harper. The Nats bats struggled all year and even after a late run in August and September ran out of gas derailing any chance they had of making the postseason.