Nothing — no charity, no benefit, no rally and certainly no championship — will ever change that simple fact. But there are ways in which we, as a community, can mitigate the pain and move forward following events like this year’s Marathon bombings. And for that reason, the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series triumph truly transcends sports.
“I have to say that God never left his kids alone,” David Ortiz said shortly after Wednesday’s series-clinching victory. “This is a city that we’ve been through a lot of situations. … Sometimes, bad things got to happen for us to get the message. And we got the message. Everybody stayed together, and it showed the whole world that this is the best of every place.”
Ortiz has made his fair share of contributions to the Red Sox during his 11 years with the organization. He’s won three championships, been selected to nine All-Star Games and now has a World Series MVP to his credit. There could — and should — be a spot for him in Cooperstown when his career finally wraps up. But Ortiz’s impact extends beyond the lines, and it became apparent this year more than any other.
Ortiz is the Red Sox’ vocal leader and someone who other players look up to. Many of his teammates used the term, “superstar,” throughout the postseason in reference to the slugger, which seems entirely accurate. A true “superstar” uses his star power for the greater good, and Ortiz’s declaration of, “This is our [expletive] city,” prior to the Red Sox’ first home game following the Marathon bombings will stand as an iconic symbol of Boston’s recovery effort.
“In a time of need, in response to a tragedy, I go back to our players understanding their place in this city,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday while reflecting on the events that shook Boston in April. “They kind of — for lack of a better way to describe it — they get it. They get that there’s, I think, a civil responsibility that we have wearing this uniform, particularly here in Boston. It became a connection initially, the way our guys reached out to individuals or to hospital visits and it continued to build throughout the course of the season. I think our fans, they got to a point where they appreciated the way we played the game, how they cared for one another, and in return, they gave these guys an incredible amount of energy to thrive on in this ballpark.
“I’m sure that everybody in our uniform, whether they are here going forward or elsewhere, they’ll look back on the events that took place and the way things unfolded as a special year. There’s no way we can say it any other way.”
The image of Ortiz standing in front of the Fenway Faithful with a microphone in his hand — rattling off an impromptu F-word to really hammer home his point — stands out. But it’s just one example of the Red Sox spreading the, “Boston Strong,” mantra. Their efforts extended well beyond the immediate aftermath.
“Sometimes, you recognize baseball history as its being written,” Red Sox vice president Charles Steinberg told USA Today. “This year, we were recognizing American history as its being written.
“For the Red Sox to have the honor of playing a small role in the healing of the city, is something that each of these players should really be proud of for the rest of their lives.”
Indeed, as Steinberg put it, the Red Sox played a “small role” in Boston moving past the inexplicable events that took place in April. But just as the Red Sox proved on the field throughout their improbable worst-to-first turnaround, the sum is greater than its parts. And that sum — with the addition of a title and, more importantly, the morale boost that a World Series provided — is stronger than ever.
The Red Sox are strong. Boston is strongest.