With Boston winning the world series the other night, the 2013 MLB season has officially come to an end – for everyone. However I suspect that there are a few hard feelings on the part of Baltimore Orioles fans given that Boston is a franchise that the O’s appeared to have by the throat last year, and now they’re world series champions. One thing that we’ve heard over the past couple of days is how great of a franchise Boston is, with “character guys.” First off, there are some character guys on that team, starting with Dustin Pedroia. However overall, what makes one a “character guy?”
I would submit that people could still look to the 2011 Orioles for true grit and character. That was a team that had no reason to play hard down the stretch, yet they taught a lesson in humility in how hard they played. It’s kind of the whole argument of “what do you do when people aren’t looking?” But while there are some stark differences between the 2012 and 2013 Red Sox in terms of personnel, there are also some similarities. Let’s not allow 2012 to be lost in the sense that this was a team who probably didn’t like their manager (Bobby Valentine) from the get go. However I wouldn’t even say that the team quit on the manager last season – they flat out never showed up.
If the goal of the 2012 BoSox was to get rid of Valentine, then I guess you’d have to say that their season was a rousing success. In fairness, Valentine didn’t exactly come across as easy to deal with; I believe that the highlight of his season was lifting Kevin Youkilis from a game just before he was traded, giving him a chance to bow before the Fenway Faithful. This doesn’t dim the accomplishments of the 2013 BoSox, however we shouldn’t forget that this was a team that internally had a mutiny one year prior.
Were the 2013 Red Sox better than the Orioles? In a sense they were if the final outcome means anything, although the O’s had a winning record against Boston this year. But I would submit that a lesson in team character can still be learned by the Red Sox in looking at the 2011 Orioles, who defeated them to keep them out of the post season on the final day. That Orioles team didn’t give up even given the stakes for which they were playing, and started the moniker of “play until the final out” which we’ve come to know so well.
I would submit that character counts in all things, although I’m sure Boston fans are probably saying we’ll take our ring while you tout your character. And that’s a very good point, given that just like anything else sports is a results-based business. However I’ll also say that when the BoSox played at the yard back in June, John Lackey showed through body language on numerous occasions that he felt he was being let down by teammates. I said at the time on twitter that I wasn’t a big fan of that kind of thing because it shows you standing apart from your team. Lackey and his buddies may well be champions now, and they’re certainly to be congratulated for a job well done. However do you really want someone in the foxhole with you who’s going to be that fickle. Character counts.