Red Sox Season Begins, Fans Talk Sox

By Iris Moore
BU News Service

The Red Sox season has begun and Fenway is busier than ever. BU News Service reporter, Iris Moore, talks to fans outside of Fenway Park

Red Sox Looking Strong As They Get Ready for Home Opener

Red Sox are 2-1 heading home.

By Andre Khatchaturian
BU News Service

Koji Uehara once again made it look very easy when he recorded his first save of 2014 as the Boston Red Sox wrapped up their first series win. The team also pounded out 14 hits. The way they won made it seem like the party from 2013 was carrying over to this year.

Sure, there are still 159 long games left in the marathon season. However, the series showed that the Sox may have been hammered after winning it all last year, but they took their hangover pills and are ready to play the same way they did in 2013.

No team has repeated as champions since the Yankees did so in 2000. Since then, six of the 13 champions failed to even make the playoffs. The 2005 Red Sox and the 2002 Diamondbacks made the playoffs but both were swept in their respective League Division Series. Just two – the 2001 Yankees and the 2009 Phillies were able to make it to the playoffs. These teams were established powers at the time and had the firepower to get that far.

The Red Sox, as almost every fan knows, overachieved last year. No one expected them to do what they did. Everything clicked, the bullpen got hot at the right time and they completed a worst to first season. Generally when that happens, one can expect a regression to the mean during the following season, especially when the team loses one of its best players like the Sox did with Jacoby Ellsbury. It really wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if the Red Sox slip from last season.

That said, after the first three games, the Red Sox still look like the team from last year. David Ortiz is tearing the ball up as he’s reached base seven times in his first 15 plate appearances. Xander Bogaerts continues to show signs of a promising career with an OBP of .667. The bullpen hasn’t allowed a run. And finally, the starting pitching held a powerful Baltimore Orioles lineup featuring Chris Davis, Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, and Delmon Young to just seven earned runs over a three game span.

Even the bad looks the same. Jonny Gomes has only one hit and Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks have struck out for a combined seven times.

No, the Red Sox aren’t undefeated, but the way played against Baltimore was similar to the way they played all season long last year. Nothing has changed. They’re still getting contact on pitches they swing (80.4 percent contact rate – third best in the majors even though, yes, it’s a small sample size) and they’re taking the first pitch 78.3 percent of the time – fourth highest in the league.

The Red Sox have a special way of playing. They take bad pitches and swing and get contact on the good ones. When they’re on “their game”, they end up getting W’s. It doesn’t seem to matter if Jonny Gomes or Jacoby is leading off in the lineup. The formula worked last year, and John Farrell’s boys are trying to make it work again this year.

The team is sticking to the championship script and after their first series against a pretty good Orioles team who will likely stick around until September, things are looking up. If the Red Sox are going to repeat this season, they need to stick to that script.

Thousands Jam City Streets to Celebrate Sox

The "Red Sox bullpen cop," Steve Horgan, took his signature pose during the parade. (Photo by Dana Hatic)
The “Red Sox bullpen cop,” Steve Horgan, strikes his signature pose during the parade. (Photo by Dana Hatic)

By Nick Hansen
BU News Service

As hundreds of thousands of fans lined the city’s streets loudly cheering them on, the Boston Red Sox’ “Rolling Rally” snaked through the city on Saturday to celebrate their World Series victory. A fleet of “duck boats,” which travel on land and water, carried the players, staff, and a few musicians from Fenway Park down Boylston Street, the site of the Boston Marathon bombings, into downtown Boston, and then for a ride down the Charles River.

“I wanted to be here because everybody else was,” said John Hanes of Concord, Mass. He had seen earlier World Series victories by the Red Sox, but he was especially impressed with this team. “This year you felt like it wasn’t about the money,” said Hanes. (Even though the Red Sox had the fourth-highest payroll in Major League Baseball this season.)

The day’s atmosphere reflected the quirky nature of this year’s team. There were fake beards, ski goggles, and clever signs everywhere. Fans held signs reading “Beard Champs,” “Worst to First,” “Big Papi for Mayor.” One congratulated the “World Series Cup Winners,” tweaking Boston Mayor Tom Menino for a gaffe he made earlier this week. One man walked down Boylston street shouting, “Game seven tickets, get your tickets,” even though the team won the game in six.  There were also “rally monkeys” for sale along with loud vuvuzela horns. A man in a Wheaties Box costume that showed pictures of this year’s team was greeted with cheers walking down Boylston Street.

The victims of the Boston Marathon bombings were remembered when an announcement came over the loudspeakers hooked up to each of the duck boats asking for a moment of prayer. The crowd joined in a rendition of “God Bless America.” Further down the road, in one of the most touching moments of the day, Red Sox players Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia got out of their boats and placed the World Series trophy at the Marathon finish line along with a jersey that read “Boston Strong 617.” Boston’s area code is 617. 

Forum restaurant and bar, which was the location of the second marathon explosion, was packed with parade watchers. Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster pointed at the crowd standing on the patio and cheered them on.

The parade was extra special to some. “This year it means a little bit more,” said Heather Rakoski from Onset, Mass., who wished she could be celebrating with her niece, who was studying abroad in Australia.

Many fans didn’t expect this day to come, as the Red Sox were predicted to finish last in their division after a dreadful 2012 season. Kyle Rigsby, Todd Daron, and David Harr, who have been friends since high school, were in town to play a baseball tournament at Fenway Park on Sunday. “We thought we were going to play in October, but it kept getting pushed back because they were doing so well,” said Rigsby. “It’s surreal to be here,” he added.

Duck Boats Roll for Red Sox Victory Parade

Fans Unite at Fenway After Tumultuous Week

Flag Roll from Billie Weiss on Vimeo.

Nick Hansen
BU News Service

One of the most notable lyrics from the unofficial Boston Red Sox anthem, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, is “good times never seemed so good.” That line rang especially true on a cool Saturday afternoon in Fenway Park. Red Sox fans were happy to be watching baseball back at their home stadium after the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, which killed three people and injured over a hundred more and resulted in a manhunt that brought the entire metro area to a standstill on Friday.

The day was an emotional release, an opportunity for remembrance and to say thanks, and a symbol that things were returning to normal in Boston.

“We need our routine back,” said Sarah Carroll, a Red Sox Foundation volunteer who was wearing a Boston Marathon volunteer jacket and collecting donations for Mayor Menino’s One Fund on Yawkey Way plaza prior to the game. Carroll had also volunteered for the Marathon handing out medals to finishers.

“It kind of gives you the chills, but it’s also invigorating,” she said, describing Saturday’s atmosphere.

The logo “B Strong” spread across the park, appearing on posters handed out before the game, on hats, and on a new sign displayed proudly on the Green Monster.

The Red Sox paid tribute to the first responders, marathon volunteers, and those affected by this week’s events in an emotional pre-game ceremony that featured an appearance by Governor Deval Patrick.

“Today we gather as one and we affirm to ourselves and to each other that we are one: one community, one nation, one world, full of love, full of compassion, and full of generosity,” said the Red Sox public address announcer. “We will run another Marathon. It will be bigger and better than ever,” he said.

Three people who were affected by Monday’s events threw ceremonial first pitches: Matt Patterson, a firefighter from Lynn, Massachusetts, who saved multiple lives after hearing the blast from a restaurant where he was eating with friends; Steven Byrne, a spectator from Lowell who was severely injured by shrapnel while watching the race near the finish line; and Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-son tandem who have taken part in 31 marathons. Dick rolled his son onto the field in his wheelchair.

During an a cappella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, which was announced as a new Boston tradition, volunteers unfurled a giant American flag over the Green Monster wall in left field. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz finished the ceremony by thanking Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino, and members of the police. “This is our [expletive] city and nobody gonna dictate us with it,” said Ortiz to a cheering crowd.

Fans were not deterred by the increased security presence at the game. Many happily welcomed the uniformed officers, and fans gave fist bumps and handshakes to many of the Boston police officers at the game as a few officers posed for pictures with fans.

Many people relished the opportunity to come to the park.

“There is literally no other place I’d be on this earth rather than right here at Fenway,” said Michael Walters Young, a twenty-something Brighton resident originally from Lawrence, Kan. Michael said he usually favored the visiting Kansas City Royals. He wore a powder blue Royals T-Shirt and a Red Sox hat with a blue and yellow ribbon, a symbol of the Boston Marathon recovery efforts. “Normally, I’m all clad in power blue, but not after this week’s events,” he said.

Mary Bouvier, a Red Sox fan from South Portland, Maine, has been coming to games at Fenway for over 40 years and said she had never seen anything like it.

“Not even the World Series or playoff games felt like this. There is something extremely special about this game,” she said prior to entering the stadium.

The Red Sox jerseys read “Boston” instead of the usual “Red Sox” to give a sense of unity to the day, which was highlighted by an appearance from Neil Diamond, who sang Sweet Caroline in the middle of the eighth inning.

Even though the Red Sox won 4-3 after Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, the final score did not seem important to most people: some fans had other things on their minds. A tweet displayed on the jumbotron in the middle of the game simply read, “Healing at Fenway.”