EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 17, 2013

'I knew Sox would be good, but not this good'

The Fan's Perspective
Ed Warnshuis

---- — These 2013 Boston Red Sox have exceeded the expectations of even the most cock-eyed optimist, which would be me.

In early April, I penned an article in the Eagle-Tribune listing five reasons to “love” the 2013 Boston Red Sox, the first one being their starting pitching would be much better than most pundits surmised.

Little did I know then that Clay Buchholz would miss three months with a sore shoulder and Jon Lester would spend July and most of August trying to decide what pitch to throw. That’s exactly what happened.

But great spot starts from unlikely guys like Alfedo Aceves, Clayton Mortenson, Steve Wright and Brandon Workman, and the emergence of Felix Doubront kept them in the thick of things when a losing streak seemed on the horizon.

Of course, neither I, nor anybody else knew then that we would lose not one, but two closers. But we did, and manager John Farrell (the anti-Bobby Valentine) puts this 38-year-old guy, Koji Uehara, with his “paltry” 88-mph fastball, who goes beserk every time the Sox win a game, in the most important position in the bullpen. And what does Koji do? The Japan native strings together the most remarkable run of 20 saves I’ve ever witnessed. Forget about not walking guys, I’m not sure he’s ever gotten to ball three.

I said we’d run the bases well, but in addition of going from first to third on singles on a regular basis, these guys have stolen the last 30 bases without getting caught — with Jacoby Ellsbury hobbling around in an ankle boot for the last week. Who’d a thunk it? Not me.

But here’s where I really missed the boat. I said this team would have trouble scoring runs, reasoning that the only seasoned run-producer we had was the aging David Ortiz, and he couldn’t do it alone. Well, he didn’t have to. This team leads the majors in runs scored and has more extra base hits that any other team by a very wide margin.

There’s a new hero every night. One night it’s Johnny Gomes, then Mike Napoli, then MikeCarp, then Daniel Nava, then Steven Drew.

This gets us to the biggest reason these guys are where they are today: The one thing Bill James and Stats, Inc. can’t quantify, can’t analyze, and can’t predict, but you know it when you see it, is clubhouse chemistry. From day one, these guys have liked each other, believed in each other and gone to battle each and every day with one thing, and only thing only on their minds: “Let’s go out and win this baseball game.”

For this, general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell deserve all the credit.

So here we are in mid-September, with the playoffs a surety. If you didn’t enjoy the ride, shame on you. I gave you all a heads-up in early April. But the fun part is still to come. Buchholz is back, the pitching is all lined up and the hitters are one fire. This team is built for October.

Come on! Jump on the band wagon!! Seasons like this come once in a life time.

Ed Warnshuis has B.S. from Emerson College (’65), worked for 30 years in sales and marketing with Agfa/Compugraphic and spent the last 13 years doing community action work in Lawrence. He founded “Stand and Deliver — Corporate Campus Mentoring,” presently working with Lawrence High principal Paul Neal on a Peer Mentoring program at Lawrence High. He has been married 47 years to his wife Joan. They have two daughters and three grand children.

Editor's note: Periodically we will run columns by readers. If you have an idea or column, send it to Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.