Sox players praise fans as they bask in the moment
Mookie Betts had been on a duck boat before Wednesday morning — just never as a World Series champion.
“This is definitely a better reason,” the Red Sox outfielder said at Fenway Park ahead of the team’s victory parade, three days after they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to bring home the franchise’s fourth championship since the turn of the century.
Following a champagne-filled clubhouse celebration Sunday night, a joyous flight to Boston Monday, and a splashy party at Icon nightclub Tuesday, the jaunt down Boylston Street kept the festivities rolling Wednesday. Players and coaches, along with their families and friends, congregated at Fenway prior to the parade’s 11 a.m. start.
“Here in Boston, everybody lets you know that you did a great job, but they also let you know that you didn’t do a great job, too, so it’s good to be on the good end of it,” said Betts, who was also sporting a “trick or treat” hat in honor of Halloween. “We put in so much work to get to where we are.”
Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker — who gave his best impression of Dodgers infielder Manny Machado striking out to end Game 5 — were on hand to congratulate the Sox and address a cheering crowd in crisp, sub-50 degree temperatures. Manager Alex Cora and team owner John Henry also spoke, and nearly every sentence was met with screams and applause.
“What they bring every day is special,” designated hitter J.D. Martinez said of the fans. “It’s different. You don’t see that every day.
“It feels like we’re actually sharing it with our family right now. I don’t know, it’s different. It’s weird to put it into words.”
“They drive us, day in and day out, packing Fenway and showing up like they do on the road,” added pitcher David Price. “We definitely feel the appreciation and the love.”
The past 72 hours have been a whirlwind for the players — many of whom had yet to contextualize their World Series title and franchise-record 108 regular-season wins.
“Everything’s been kind of moving too fast,” Betts said. “Once I get home and get kind of settled, I’m sure I’ll take a step back and just kind of reflect and enjoy the memories that I have.
“You have to take it in because people don’t make the playoffs. Some people don’t ever make the playoffs. I definitely take in every moment at every opportunity that I can get.”
“You get some emotions when you start thinking about the past and about the season,” added second baseman Ian Kinsler. “You start thinking about the playoffs and what everyone has gone through to get to this moment. It comes and goes; it soaks in slowly. I want it to be that way. Just soak it in as slow as possible.”
For some players, Kinsler included, Wednesday could be one of their last experiences with the Red Sox. The organization has to address several contract issues, including the impending free agency of Kinsler, Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Steve Pearce, and Drew Pomeranz.
Kelly, while gushing about the team’s chemistry, said he “absolutely” hopes to return.
“I want to be back,” the reliever said. “I love everyone on this team, from front office down to our bullpen catchers. We mesh so well. A year from now, we’ll probably be doing this again. Hopefully, we can keep the band together.”
Pearce, the World Series MVP, said negotiations are above his pay grade, but noted that he, too, “would love to come back.”
One matter that appears to have been resolved, however, is Price’s status. The 33-year-old lefthander announced Wednesday that he will not exercise the opt-out clause in his seven-year, $217 million contract.
“I’m opting in,” Price said. “I’m not going anywhere. I want to win here. We did that this year, and I want to do it again.”