If this picture doesn't sum up the 2007 Boston Red Sox, I don't know what does.
Guy on the left? 20 game winner, workhorse, and should be the AL Cy Young winner.
Guy on the far right? Stud closer, certified whack job, and the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera as the dominant closer in the game.
Guy in the middle? A late pickup off the scrap heap who I THINK pinch hit once and whose claim to fame with the Red Sox is the phrase "How you gonna tell me I ain't got my taco yet?"
Josh Beckett, Jonathon Papelbon, and Royce Clayton: 2 stars and a bit player who most likely will be playing somewhere else next season. Just 3 of the cast of characters, goofballs, and professionals that made up this team.
Manny and Papi, the 21st century version of the Babe and Gehrig, just with a little more facial hair, dreadlocks, and 1000 watt smiles, bashing their way through the post season.
Youk with his redneck beard being overshadowed only by his morphing into Keith Hernandez playing first. If you hadn't heard, NO errors at 1B this year. If he doesn't win the Gold Glove it's official: Oswald didn't act alone, we never did land on the moon, and Keith Richards really DID snort his dead fathers ashes.
Munchkin, all of 5' 2" and a buck fifty soaking wet with all his clothes on, swinging like Reggie Jackson, playing like a Hoover at second, and leading the team in flexing his arms and shouting "check out the guns". If it hasn't already been said, I wanna be Pedroia when I grow up.
Lugo, carrying with the weight of a $36 million dollar contract on his back, hitting .237 in the regular season and he still managed to drive in 73 runs. Under the bright lights of the World Series? .385 with 5 hits. I think he'll be fine.
Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek: two consummate professionals who do all the little things and are the examples you point out to your kids when you tell them they need to play the game the right way.
JD Drew: having to deal with a sick child, a pregnant wife, a personality usually seen on pita bread, and trying to live up to a $70 million dollar contract while replacing a local icon. I'm pretty sure there aren't too many players who could deal with all that, still hit .270, come alive for the playoffs, and maintain the same facial expression over 176 games counting the playoffs. I did see him dance: and more than once.
Coco/Jacoby: All year long, Coco dazzled with the glove, frustrated with the bat, and carried the facial expression of a guy walking the Green Mile. After looking like that deer right before the 18 wheeler says hello for most of the post season, Tito pulled the trigger and put Jacoby in CF. I gotta be honest: I've never seen a guy score from 2nd on a wild pitch before Jacoby. THAT is the very definition of speed killz. I'll miss Coco, if only because I think it's bitchin' our CF had a name like Coco. Long live the Jacoby Ellsbury era.
In addition to all the regulars, you had Eric Hinske, he of the stone-cold serial killer smile, Alex Cora, Dougie's going deep tonight Mirabelli, and Bobby Kielty. The same Bobby Kielty who took the one and only pitch he saw all post season and put it over the fence in Denver last night. It should surprise no one that his HR was the deciding run in the series clinching game.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Daisuke and Oki, the Japanese version of Ricky and Fred who helped usher in 4,000 more media members to Tito's office for post game quotes. I've had my fill of hearing "Was he REALLY worth $103 million dollars?" He plays baseball for a living: of course he's not worth $103 million dollars. Unless you can cure cancer, aids, and can tell me the winning power ball numbers you aren't worth that kind of coin. After game 3 however, I'm willing to sell a kidney if John Henry needs some help making payroll.
I can't forget the Bullpen jug band, led by head pirate Mike Timlin: MDC, Corey, Snyder, Tavarez, Donnelly, Lopez, Bucholtz, etc... were all key cogs in the 2007 Red Sox Machine. If you think about all the little things that have to go right: all the bounces you have to get your way, and all the luck it takes to even make the playoffs, it boggles the mind.
Bottom line is this: a great baseball team is sort of like a family. You've got the Dad (Tito), the Grandfather (John Henry), the kids (the players), and that crazy uncle everyone tries to avoid during the holidays (Lucchino). Throw in your brainy cousin (Theo) and your sister's weird fiance (Warner) you've got a typical, dysfunctional group that always seems to somehow make it work.
Lastly, because it takes a village (RSN) to raise a child, you've got your family.
Your family of Champions.
Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, your 2007 World Series Champions.