It's amazing how things have changed in such a short amount of time. After spending decades worrying that I'd never get to see my Red Sox win a Championship, I've now seen two in my lifetime!
This one started over the winter with the international pursuit of Japanese pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka and the resulting media frenzy. While Dice-K had a solid first year, when the season started it was his countryman Hideki Okajima who stole the show as a key member of the league's most dominant bullpen. The Japanese imports weren't the only rookies to make an impression. After a slow start, second baseman Dustin Pedroia won over fans with his hitting, his fielding, and his "dirt dog" attitude. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was called up mid-season and wowed fans with his speed and the spark he added to the lineup. Pitching prospect Clay Buchholz arrived in August, and threw a no-hitter in just his second career start. Toss in the dynamic duo of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, then add the veteran leadership of Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, Mike Timlin, and Tim Wakefield, and the Red Sox got off to an early lead and finished with the best record in baseball.
They won the Eastern Division for the first time in twelve years (after which we were introduced to Jonathan Papelbon's victory jig), and swept the Angels in the Divison Series. They fell behind the Cleveland Indians three games to one in the ALCS, but the eight returning members of the 2004 team knew a comeback was possible. They rallied to win the series in seven games, thanks to the brilliant pitching of Josh Beckett, who cemented his place as one of the all-time best postseason pitchers, and Curt Schilling, who had earned that title over the course of his illustrious career. It was on to the World Series, where they swept the Colorado Rockies. Everyone on the roster contributed, from Bobby Kielty's pinch-hit home run, to Jon Lester's Game 4 start, to clutch two-out hits up and down the lineup, to Papelbon's strikeout of Seth Smith to end it.
Now it's on to another off-season of celebration - the parade, the trophy photo ops, the hunt for the perfect commemorative souvenirs - and it truly does not get old. In the coming days, this section of RedSoxDiehard.com will contain all the box scores, game recaps, players, parade coverage, pictures, and stories of the 2007 post-season.