|(Photo courtesy of the Boston Red Sox)|
As the 2014 season nears, it's officially time to put the 2013 season to rest. What a magical year it was in Red Sox Nation.
There's nothing quite like Opening Day, and the 2013 season opener brought promise with an 8-2 win in the Bronx against the hated rival New York Yankees. Jon Lester provided a glimpse of what he was going to do and the team showed from Game No. 1 that everybody would contribute in some way.
Then, on April 15, 2013, the Red Sox walked-off on a Mike Napoli double, sending fans into pandemonium on Patriots Day. Less than an hour later, chaos ensued when two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox were on their way to Cleveland and the city was in shock.
A word used by John Farrell during Spring Training would be prevalent over the remainder of the year for both the team and the city of Boston. Resilience. A rally cry - Boston Strong - could be heard and seen throughout New England.
The Red Sox battled adversity, injuries and gut-wrenching losses, but in the end prevailed as the East Division champions. Boston Strong, indeed.
During the 2013 playoffs, the Sox took down East rival Tampa Bay in four games. In the ALCS, David Ortiz once again stepped to the plate and put the team on his back. Down 5-1 in Game 2 to Detroit, Ortiz smacked an eighth inning grand slam into the Red Sox bullpen with Torii Hunter flipping over the wall and bullpen cop Steve Horgan throwing his hands up in excitement - a picture that expressed the feelings of so many of those in Boston.
The series turned on that home run and Boston went on to claim the AL pennant. The Sox would then face familiar World Series foe, St. Louis, as the two best teams in baseball all season met up in the Fall Classic.
More thrilling finishes ensued - the obstruction call in Game 3; Jonny Gomes' three-run blast and Koji Uehara picking off Kolten Wong to end Game 4; David Ross' go-ahead double in Game 5; and Shane Victorino's bases-clearing double to put an exclamation point on the series in Game 6.
Seeing John Farrell hoist the World Series trophy just a season after the Boston Red Sox finished with 69 wins was a sense of fulfillment. The Red Sox were the best team in baseball once again. For the third time in a decade, Boston was on top.
So as we begin this journey in 2014, let's remember 2013 with pride, passion and joy. Collectively, we all played a part in the rebuilding of a team and a city. On Friday, April 4, the Red Sox will receive their rings and raise another banner. There will be a video montage, some tears and lots of cheers.
The journey of 2013 will officially be complete. And 2014 will only have just begun.
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