EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 20, 2013

True grit

BOSTON — Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer’s lips said it all, about two minutes after Shane Victorino’s eventual winning grand slam in the seventh inning: “Unbelieveable! Unbelieveable!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

From where Scherzer sits, there is no plausible explanation for what transpired last night and really the last week. He pitched two of the best games of his life, in the postseason, leaving the game allowing only one run. But he flew home early this morning with nothing to show for it.

We’ve seen a lot of this around here since the turn of the century. Our teams — only one (the Celtics) of which had some substantial championship hardware in their modern history — go bonkers when it came to competing for and/or winning their sport’s Holy Grail the last dozen years?

Well, if you want to pick through our championship teams the last dozen years you’ll see a trail of superstars, Hall of Fame head coaches and character guys when the Duck Boats were running through downtown Boston.

You don’t win without some upper tier talent.

But here’s another abstract quality that is oftentimes forgotten but might trump them all come Duck Boat time:

Toughness.

And I’m not referring only to punches, elbows or plowing over people. And not the imposing bushy beards either.

Did the Patriots roll over and play dead in January of 2002, in Pittsburgh, with a Super Bowl at stake? No, they beat the Steelers up before doing the same thing two weeks later against the “unbeatable” St. Louis Rams.

Did the Red Sox call it a night after falling behind their American League Championship Series with the Yankees in 2004, 3-0? No, they won seven straight games and their first title in 86 years.

Was there a tougher team than the Celtics in 2007-08, Year 1 of the Big Three?

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