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In 2004 the Boston Red Sox changed their identity. In 10 days they went from long suffering franchise to one of the regular contenders for the World Series. They made the greatest comeback in the history of baseball by beating the New York Yankees for game to three in the American league Championship Series. They followed that up with a four game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years. The Yankees series was amazing, as the Red Sox were down three games to none and trailed 4-3 in the ninth inning facing the greatest postseason closer of all time. That amazing comeback and subsequent four wins were among the most memorable in sports history, not just baseball.
So how do the Red Sox top that? They were able to deliver another championship to their fans in 2007, this time in slightly less dramatic fashion as they only trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 before making a comeback in that series. They then swept the Colorado Rockies, who came in as the hottest team in baseball, to take the World Series once again. It seems like the Red Sox now measure themselves against only the rival Yankees, which is one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sport.
Boston is also built to be a contender for years to come. They have made the playoffs each of the last two seasons, but have not been able to break through with a World Series win. In 2008 they came up short against the upstart Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series. In 2009 they fell to the Anaheim Angels in the Division Series, thus denying them a fourth playoff chance against the Yankees in 10 years. It is almost disappointing when the Yankees and Red Sox do not get to play each other in the playoffs because they are such memorable games.
Like most good teams, the Red Sox are balanced by good hitting and pitching. David Ortiz struggled last year, but came on in the second half of the season to show that he is one of the game’s most feared hitters. JasonBay came over as a quality addition and will now look to provide even more pop. On the mound, Josh Beckett is one of the best postseason pitchers in the game today. He already has a pair of World Series rings with clutch performances to earn each. His 2003 complete game shutout of the Yankees in Yankee Stadium to win the World Series for the Florida Marlins is one of the best postseason performances ever. With him on the mound, the Red Sox have a chance to win any game. Jonathan Papelbon is also a key element to Boston’s continued success. Papelbon is still younger than 30, but he has developed into one of the game’s premier closers. When he enters the game you know it is over. As long as Boston can get him the lead in the ninth inning they will continue to win a lot of games.