Boston hosts World Series clincher for home club for first time since 1918
BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes caught the first two outs of the ninth inning, doing his small part to help his team creep closer to reaching the official end of a magical year.
If body language was any indication, the Red Sox left fielder was having a hard time containing himself. He caught the first out -- a fly ball from Jon Jay -- and briefly, as if by reflex, pumped both arms. The second out was a fly ball that hung up for a while, long enough for Gomes to somewhat dramatically spread his arms wide, eagle-like, as he carefully watched the ball land in his glove.
Gomes wasn't anywhere near the ball when the third out was made, but just as soon as Matt Carpenter struck out, Gomes took off running, needing only around five seconds to get to the team-wide scrum that had formed near home plate.
The scene from there was relatively typical in terms of World Series clinchers: pitcher and catcher leap into each other's arms, the home dugout empties, players run onto the field with fists raised in the air.
But this celebration was also highly unusual, in that it was taking place at Fenway Park, which hadn't seen a World Series celebration for the home team since 1918. The Red Sox won it on the road in 2004 and '07, accepting the Commissioner's Trophy in front of subdued and disappointed opposing fans. This year, the Red Sox celebrated with their own, adding an obvious festive flavor lacking with the last two after Wednesday night's 6-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 6.
"We Are the Champions" blared as the stage rolled in from center field and David Ortiz's prize for being named Most Valuable Player -- a brand-new Chevy Silverado -- was driven in from left. Papi's speech was similar to the one he gave when the Red Sox clinched the pennant, repeating, "This is our bleeeeeeeep city," while tipping his hat to a city of Boston that endured the worst of tragedies earlier in the season.
Party time in Beantown
The Red Sox clinched a World Series title on their home field for the first time since Sept. 11, 1918
Bos. 6, Stl. 1
Bos. 4, Col. 3
Bos. 3, Stl. 0
Bos. 2, Chi. 1
Bos. 4, Bro. 1
Bos. 5, Phi. 4
Bos. 3, NYG 2
Bos. 3, Pit. 0
Hunt. Ave. Grounds
"This town, we struggled early this year with the situation all of us went through," Ortiz said, referring to the Boston Marathon bombings. "We kept ourselves together. Here we are. Enjoy your time."
Ortiz then thanked "the best fans in baseball," which, of course, was met with thunderous cheers.
"Without you guys' support, I don't think we'd be where we are right now," Ortiz said. "You guys are the greatest of all time."
The players eventually were ushered to the clubhouse as "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley & The Wailers took over on the loudspeaker. As the crowd sung along -- "Don't worry ... 'bout a thing ... 'Cause every little thing ... gonna be all right" -- the large outfield video board showed the scene unfolding inside the Red Sox's clubhouse.
Here's a hint: It was wet. And loud. And messy.
Players wore goggles and helmets with little video recording devices attached to the top, an interesting look combined with the unruly Boston beards they've been sporting all month.
The chaos was in full force. Players. Wives. Kids. Coaches. Front-office workers. Reporters. Secretary of State John Kerry. All smooshed into one confined space in the clubhouse area of modest Fenway, where few were spared champagne showers from crazy, and euphoric, Red Sox players.
The Red Sox improved to 4-0 in World Series Game 6s at Fenway Park
Bos. 6, Stl. 1
Red Sox in 6
Bos. 7, Cin. 6
Reds in 7
Bos. 8, Stl. 4
Cardinals in 7
Bos. 2, Chi. 1
Red Sox in 6
A lot of the talk was focused on not only what the city of Boston had to endure this year, but what the Red Sox's players had to do to erase the bad taste of last year's last-place finish and return to the respectability they have gotten used to by being an elite organization the last decade.
"We got better as the season went on," Mike Napoli said. "We learned how everyone plays. Just go out every day and try to win. We never got ahead of ourselves. Things kept rolling, and now we're world champs."
"This team has got its place in history," manager John Farrell said. "And I think as the year went along, the fans really recognized and appreciated the way we played the game. They saw that there was a connection between each and every guy in our uniform, and I think they identified with that. I know our players thrived on the energy they create. To have it culminate in this, it's truly special."
Not surprisingly, Ortiz, the only holdover from both the 2004 and '07 championship clubs, garnered the most attention during the celebration. If there was a particular place in the clubhouse where more champagne seemed to be flying than others, there was a good reason -- Papi.
"We have a lot of players with heart," Ortiz said. "We probably don't have the talent that we had in '07 and '04, but we have guys that are capable to stay focused and do the little things. And when you win with a ballclub like that, that's special.
"You have those funky years that you put a really good team together and you don't make it to the playoffs, and you have those other years that you let a big player go and all of a sudden you're in the playoffs. This organization, as long as I've been here, has been a box full of surprises."