How I picked my Top 10 Red Sox of the decade
Unlike my buddy Mike Reiss when compiling his list of the Top 10 Patriots, I limited my choices of Top 10 Red Sox players of the decade to those who actually played the game. Otherwise, John W. Henry, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona would all have cracked the list, with Epstein as architect of two World Series champions a clear cut No. 1.
The three elements that I weighed most heavily in making my decisions were: 1) outstanding performance; 2) championship impact and 3) longevity. If it was just about winning a World Series, especially the first one, then closer Keith Foulke would have been an easy pick for me. What Foulke did in the 2004 ALCS, throwing 100 pitches in a three-game, 48-hour span was the stuff of legend and quite likely ruinous to the balance of his career. He blew up the following season and was gone one year later.
Similarly, Nomar Garciaparra in 2000 had a season that for right-handed hitters comparable to the legendary DiMaggio, but by the championship season of 2004 had been injured, turned sour and was viewed as a liability, so I could not put him on my top 10.
My most debatable omission: Tim Wakefield. He was there from beginning of the decade to the end. He started games, closed games, pitched willingly in whatever circumstance he was placed. He showed tremendous resilience and fortitude, and is still going strong in his mid-40s. He won more games than any other Sox pitcher in the decade, by a wide margin. And yet, I couldn't make room for a fifth pitcher on my list. I know those who can never forgive Johnny Damon for putting on pinstripes will condemn his placement on my list, but I am convinced that Damon played an enormous role in altering the psychic equation that kept the Red Sox from winning for 86 years.
Rank your Top 10 Red Sox of the 2000s here, and share your thoughts on my list in the comments section.