The 2013 Boston Red Sox are similar to Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol in that they both represent the best of their respective genres. Both were heartwarming tales of redemption that showed the good that can occur when there is a willingness to change.
I may have too much holiday time on my hands, but I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the Red Sox were cast as characters from the holiday favorite. What would that look like? Is there a thespian among the bunch? No matter, here are some thoughts as how the casting could play out if I were in charge?
Mike Napoli as Tiny Tim: Can’t think of a better choice. The first baseman is incredibly beloved by his teammates and fans .
Like Tiny Tim, Napoli has a bad wheel that almost prematurely cut short his tenure with the team. Fortunately, the devotion of his teammates helped keep him in Beantown, and he signed a richly deserved two-year extension just before Christmas.
To truly make this work, Napoli may need to shave to really nail the part…
Josh Beckett as Jacob Marley: No longer a member of the team, he is now just a vestige of the pitcher who won 20 games for the 2007 Red Sox. A former compatriot of Lackey, he wasn’t very well-liked when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers mid-way through the 2012 season.
Some thought Beckett displayed selfish behavior that rubbed off on others, including Lackey. Unfortunately, he serves as a reminder of the dark, not so distant past, when another World Series title seemed a lifetime away. He never showed the contrition some felt necessary, and for that he will remain in Red Sox purgatory for the foreseeable future.
John Lackey as Ebeneezer Scrooge: Earlier in his Boston career, the right-handed pitcher was rich and disliked; seen as one of the faces of the Red Sox decline during his first three seasons with the team. A 26-23 record with a 5.50 ERA and a season missed because of Tommy John surgery won him few fans.
Unlike his former running mate Beckett, Lackey came into 2013 looking like a changed man. He showed up to spring training in the best shape of his career and went on to be Boston’s most consistent starting pitcher, winning the clinching game of the World Series before departing to a standing ovation at Fenway Park. All that was missing from his complete transition to a redeemed Scrooge was beckoning a boy from Landsdowne Street to go fetch the prized goose from the butcher’s window.
David Ortiz as the Ghost of Christmas (Red Sox) Past: The longest-tenured member of the team, Big Papi and his character share the same ability to sport a lusty beard, and both serve as reminders about how wonderful it can be to have a connection to the past.
Dustin Pedroia as the Ghost of Christmas (Red Sox) Present: Nobody personifies the current Red Sox any better than Pedroia. The second baseman is in the prime of his career and a face of the franchise. Although his stature may make him seem like an obvious fit for the Tiny Tim role, his swing-from-his heels playing style makes appearances deceiving.
Xander Bogaerts (With Jackie Bradley Jr. as understudy) as the Ghost of Christmas (Red Sox) Yet to Come: Like Dickens’ ghost, the Red Sox youngsters didn’t look so promising at the beginning. Bogaerts hit just .250 during a late-season call-up, and Bradley fared even worse, posting a .189 mark in 37 games.
As 2013 ends, things are definitely looking up for Boston’s two best prospects. Bogaerts shone in the postseason and is currently looking like he will be the team’s starting shortstop in 2014. Meanwhile, during a recent interview with WEEI, noted baseball analyst Jim Callis said Bradley has the tools to be better than departed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
As with the end of A Christmas Carol, the future of the Red Sox looks bright indeed. A number of young players are on the horizon, led by the precocious Bogaerts and Bradley, who are both in line to be 2014 starters.
John Farrell as Old Mr. Fezziwig: The kindly benefactor to young Scrooge is one of the most effervescent characters in the classic story. The pleasant businessman got the most out of his young apprentices by running a shop that was based on both fun and hard work. Sound familiar?
The 2013 Red Sox intentionally built their team to have a positive clubhouse—and bringing in Farrell as their new manager (after he has previously served as a pitching coach in previous years) was the biggest brick in that foundation.
Shane Victorino as Bob Cratchit: The patriarch of the Cratchit clan worked his fingers to the bone doing things most would avoid (working for Scrooge). Despite that, he always maintained a cheery disposition and was considered a hero to his family.
In his first season with Boston, Victorino slipped easily into the Cratchit role, becoming immensely popular with his teammates and fans alike. He did many of the things players hate to do, like getting hit by an American League-leading 18 pitches, and running into walls more than once.
Unlike Cratchit, Victorino and the $39 million he will earn over the life of his three-year Boston contract doesn’t have to worry any time soon about putting food on the table for his family.
Thank you for allowing this indulgence of the sillier side during this holiday season. Happy holidays to you and your families, and as always, thanks for reading.
You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew