With the loss by the Red Sox in the American League Division Series to end another local season, it makes one fan wonder what memento or two a collector could save as a remembrance of the past season.
In 2004 and two years ago it was easy as the Sox won the World Series. In 2007, great performances from Rookie-of-the-Year Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon, along with the usual numbers of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez led the team to the title. Tickets and programs from any winning game would be the keepsake along with any of the post series bobbles, pennants or shirts.
In seasons not so obvious, making the playoffs is nice, but not the goal. Just making the playoffs and not getting to the series means you lost along the way. So you might look for something more positive. In 2008, like 2001 and 2002, the no-hit performances of Jon Lester, Hideo Nomo and Derek Lowe, respectively, come to mind.
Sox fans were also lucky to see Pedroia win the Most Valuable Player award and Kevin Youkilis give serious chase (although many will argue he deserved the MVP). A great keepsake is seeing a homerun milestone and that happened in Baltimore on the night of May 31, 2008, when Ramirez recorded his 500th homerun. Who cares that he was gone two months later?
This year is a different story. The Sox had a great start, but began to stumble in late June and then played inconsistent the rest of the way. Losing 9 of the last 10 matchups of the season to the New York Yankees after winning the first 8 meetings was a real disappointment. Losing too many games to Tampa Bay, Toronto (at the end) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was also a bummer.
Manny’s replacement Jason Bay put up great numbers, but lost some luster with his summer swoon. Youk missed some time on the disable list or his numbers would probably have been the same or slightly better than the previous year. Pedroia’s stats were off a bit from 2008, particularly hits and batting average, but he still turned in a solid and reliable performance.
Papelbon kept us on edge when he pitched, but do you realize that his ERA was the same as 2007 (1.85) and he had less blown saves than last year? Daisuke Matsusaka had a dreadful year, but gave promise for better things in 2010. Although Beckett had a better season than the year before, his late season problems tarnished what might have been another 20 win effort.
J.D. Drew, well J.D., and still hasn’t shown anyone why Theo thought he was worth five years, $70 million (but maybe he will before he leaves town in two years).
Jason Varitek got off to a good start, but then became what we expected. Adding Victor Martinez to the team was a nice development during the season and it will be nice to see him for a whole year.
It also looked like Ortiz has reached that point in his career we hoped was still a few years off. However, in his defense, and despite a horrendous start to the season, he still had 28 homeruns and 99 RBI’s!
Nick Green is to be commended for holding down the shortstop position early in the season before tailing off. It was nice to see Alex Gonzalez again, but once again the Sox will have a shortstop debate going into spring training.
The bullpen had both ups and downs and although it probably protected more leads than lost (we have to remember the Sox did win 95 games), many inherited runners did score during the year.
That brings it all down to probably the most amazing feat for anyone who has ever followed the Sox for any time exceeding a couple decades. Who ever thought we’d see a player with 70 steals? This season will best be remembered for Jacoby Ellsbury and his prowess on the base paths.
No playoff pennants or shirts, just a bobblehead of Ellsbury on the mantle or shelf, who not only was a master thief, but also made countless great catches and batted over .300, is probably the best way to remember this past season.
Top left: Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury watches his triple against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the American League division baseball series Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 in
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson) Anaheim, Calif.
Lower right: Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury, center, steals second base as Cleveland Indians' Jhonny Peralta looks for the call in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009, in
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