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Ring it in: Sox receive championship bling

April 9, 2019

BOSTON -- The Red Sox got their shiny new rings on Tuesday afternoon in front of an enthralled audience at Fenway Park. It was, as the author of the bulletin-board reminders in the clubhouse put it, a "reminder of how good we are."

BOSTON -- The Red Sox got their shiny new rings on Tuesday afternoon in front of an enthralled audience at Fenway Park.

It was, as the author of the bulletin-board reminders in the clubhouse put it, a "reminder of how good we are."

After the bump in the road that was the season-opening 3-8 road trip, perhaps the reminder couldn't have come at a better time.

The 2018 season, one in which the Red Sox notched a franchise-record 108 wins and then rampaged through three quality postseason opponents (Yankees, Astros and Dodgers) at an 11-3 clip, will be forever remembered.

And on Tuesday, prior to the home opener against the Blue Jays, the players who created those memories had a chance to savor them before getting back to the business of the 2019 season. Considering that Boston took a 7-5 loss to Toronto that dropped its record to 3-9, the pregame festivities were a welcome diversion from the club's current reality.

"The ceremony was beautiful," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "That's how we do it here. They do an outstanding job on those days and it was very special."

As musicians from the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus churned out a stirring rendition of "We Are the Champions," banners of all the team's early championships (1903, '12, '15, '16 and '18) were unveiled on the Green Monster.

Then, in dramatic fashion, a giant World Series 2004 champions flag was hung over the entire Monster. Then came '07 and '13. With a pause for dramatic effect, the flag everyone came to see ('18) was draped proudly over the wall, covering all the others.

Former fixtures including David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell and Mike Napoli walked in from the outfield to represent the recent champions.

Wait, Ramirez? The enigmatic former slugger doesn't come around very often, but when he does, it's a treat.

What does Manny being Manny consist of these days?

"Right now, I've got a family. I've got three kids and I've got a wife, and that's the most important thing in my life," Ramirez said. "That's what I enjoy right now. Being with my family, being with my mom. I thought playing against the Yankees was going to be tough, but raising boys is something different."

"Very surprising when I saw Manny," said Cora. "I didn't expect that one, and [I'm] glad that he was here. Mikey [Lowell], usually he texts me or calls me and he hasn't called me in two weeks, so I should have seen that coming. Schilling was also a surprise. It was tremendous. Obviously we accomplished something that was great. We got our rings and now we need to get back to playing good baseball."

Cora and his coaching staff came out first to get their rings. David Price was the first player to get one. American League MVP Award winner Mookie Betts went last.

"Great celebration," said Betts.

The rings made by Jostens were crafted in 14-karat white gold. The "B" logo included 21 custom-cut genuine rubies, representing the four titles the Red Sox have won since 2004.

Seven princess-cut diamonds accented each side of the ring top.

"They've done a pretty good job the last whatever 15, 16 or 20 years. It's only the fourth one, so they have a pretty good idea how to do it," quipped Cora.

At the table where the rings were stationed was a welcoming committee that included Commissioner Rob Manfred, Red Sox owner John Henry and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

Of course, seeing how Boston has become titletown in the 21st century, it was not surprising that the celebration was extended beyond the Red Sox.

The Patriots, fresh off winning their sixth Super Bowl title in the last 18 seasons, gathered around the mound to participate in the ceremonial first pitch. All six Super Bowl trophies were there with them.

Rob Gronkowski, the monster tight end who is freshly retired, threw his pitch to World Series MVP Steve Pearce. Stephon Gilmore fired one to Jackie Bradley Jr., which was fitting because they are both renowned defenders. Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman fired a strike to Betts.

"First thought is [that] it's cold," said Bradley. "Then enjoying the moment, not thinking too much in the past, not in the future and just focusing on the accomplishment."

The Boston sports landscape has changed quite a bit since Ramirez came to town at the turn of the century.

"I remember my first time when I came here in 2000, everyone was talking about the curse and we never thought about the curse," Ramirez said. "We came, we won two and now they've won two more. And it's awesome when you see those trophies, then you realize it was worth it coming here."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.