I did not see this coming. Not one bit. No one did. When I wrote my article about the Sox a few months back, I wasn’t even sure if they’d be good enough to make the playoffs. Boy am I happy I was wrong. The Boston Red Sox are officially headed to the ALCS, their third ALCS appearance in the last decade. They’ve proven everyone, including many members of Red Sox Nation (be honest, it was a lot of us doubting them) wrong.
THE RED SOX ARE GOING TO THE ALCS!pic.twitter.com/71eA9Q65nK— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) October 12, 2021
This team is special to say the least. To go from being as bad as they were in the second half of the season, barely sliding into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, to where they are now is unreal. This team has defied the odds all season. Who really thought back on Opening Day this was possible?
Coming off that horrific, COVID-riddled 2020 season, expectations were low for Boston. ESPN had the Sox ranked 19th in their Opening Day power rankings, with a 14.7% chance to make the playoffs. Bleacher Report also had Boston ranked 19th in their power rankings. Yet, here they are one of the final four teams standing in the race for the title. Absolutely incredible.
What’s even more incredible is that this isn’t the first time the Red Sox have defied all expectations en route to a magical playoff run in the last decade. Anyone remember 2013? The 2013 Boston Red Sox were one of the most random World Series Champions ever. What I mean by this is, no one ever really saw it coming. Sound familiar?
The Resemblance is Scary
The more and more I’ve watched the 2021 Red Sox, the more I have noticed the abundance of comparisons to that 2013 team. Similar to today’s team, the national media did not think too highly of the club. In 2013, Bleacher Report ranked the Sox 14th coming into the season. ESPN had them at 15th. Neither one of those mega media outlets had Boston smelling the postseason.
And why would they? The Red Sox were coming fresh off the dreadful 2012 Bobby Valentine season where they had a winning percentage of just .426. The 2020 Red Sox, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Alex Cora scandal, had a winning percentage of just .400. Just wait, there’s more.
The 2013 team had a weird roster makeup. They were built up of veteran leftovers from the 2007 championship team (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester), young stars (Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts) and some random journeyman players (Jonny Ghomes, Shane Victorino, John Lackey).
Flash forward to now, and you’re looking at almost the same thing. You’ve got your veteran leftovers from the 2018 championship team (J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi), young stars (Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, Bobby Dalbec), and some random journeyman players (Kike Hernandez, Kyle Schwarber, Hunter Renfroe, Travis Shaw).
Oh, and both teams also had former Red Sox coaches returning to Boston to help lead these playoffs runs (John Farrell in 2013, Alex Cora in 2021).
Guess who the Red Sox played in the ALDS in 2013? It was the Rays. How many games did they beat them in? Four. Ring a bell? That last one is just a coincidence, but you get my point. These teams are practically cousins.
Why Does It Matter?
Why I’m making this comparison at all is to show a glimpse of what could be. This team just has a certain feeling around it. Underdogs to the Yankees in the Wild Card game, underdogs to the Rays in the ALDS. If the Astros hold on and win that series, I’m sure the Sox will be underdogs to them as well.
I speak for Red Sox Nation here when I say, we wouldn’t want it any other way. The 2018 season was awesome, but there’s something about these 2013 and 2021 playoff runs that are just so magical, words can’t effectively describe the feeling.
As a lifelong Sox fan, I’m happy to say that I’m along for the ride once again. I’m not sure how far this ride could go, but if this team is anything like it’s 2013 counterpart, we still got plenty of track to go.
Photo by Matthew J Lee/Boston Globe Staff
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