Howard Herman: One last look at the champion Red Sox


It isn't very often that Red Sox president Larry Lucchino is at a loss for words.

But when Lucchino was asked to put the 2013 World Series championship into perspective, he thought for a moment.

"I'll screw it up trying to translate it into words," Lucchino said on the field at Fenway Park Wednesday night. "The sense of achievement that we feel for coming back from where we were and the sense of connection to the city and the region was never stronger in my whole career than it was this year here.

"This team was playing for the city in a very meaningful way, and the city fell in love with this team."

The love affair began amidst the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings. Every sports team in New England stepped forward to help -- either financially or by helping improve spirits. The natural bond between the Red Sox and its fandom was strengthened in the aftermath of the tragedy.

More than 38,000 fans were jammed into every nook and cranny of Fenway for the World Series clinching game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Then on Saturday, there were people in Boston for as far as the eye could see for the rolling rally and duck boat tour the Sox players, management and families got to take.

It was a far cry from April and May when the team's sellout streak came to an end, and you started to see ticket and food specials designed to bring paying customers into the park.

The team's play on the field, not the bargains of the spring, is what brought the sellouts back to Fenway. Fans were rewarded by the team with the third World Series title of the 21st Century.

But if you ask Lucchino -- and I did -- if he saw this coming, the honest answer was no.

"We thought we were going to be better," he said, and how could they not be.

After all, you don't get through a season winning 69 games and firing your manager, without expecting improvement the next year.

"We knew we'd be better, but I know none of us were smart enough to predict this," he said. "There's so much randomness and uncertaintly in baseball to ever predict a turnaround like this."

The architect of that turnaround was general manager Ben Cherington. Cherington and Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington come out of the Amherst College baseball-UMass graduate school pipeline.

All through spring training, I was of the opinion that Cherington put this year's Red Sox team together with a great deal of care. After the Bobby Valentine disaster, I believed that it was more important to get a good clubhouse than it was to get a good team. When the two came together, you get a championship.

"Once we got into the season, of course you don't know the outcome of what it's going to be, but we felt like this was a different group of people," said Cherington. "The way they were coming together, the way they were giving up for each other, completely selfless. A team with this many established and talented players to be as selfless as they were, it was a lot of fun for us to be around."


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