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November 1, 2013

Lackey, Victorino models of Red Sox atonement

BOSTON — Shane Victorino and John Lackey exemplify the redemptive nature of the 2013 Red Sox World Series champions and their relationship with Boston baseball fans.

Sox diehards hated it when GM Ben Cherington signed outfielder Victorino this past offseason because he’d come off the worst year of his career— with the Phillies and Dodgers — and critics thought his bat speed had diminished.

Likewise, no fan wanted to see 35-year-old John Lackey ever pitch another game in a Red Sox uniform. Everyone was sick of the righty not living up to his $82.5 million, five-year contract; his antics during the 2011 season, and his sitting out the 2012 season after Tommy John elbow surgery.

Lackey had his worst-ever 6.41 ERA in 2011, frequently showed up his fielders when they made errors and he never took accountability for his poor performance on the mound or his questionable clubhouse behavior that contributed to Boston’s historic 2011 September collapse.

So, yes, Red Sox Nation was more than suspicious about accepting these two players — just like they were more than leery to accept this new-look 2013 Red Sox team after what happened in 2011 and then the 69-win, last-place division finish in 2012.

But as this season progressed, fans grew quite fond of Victorino, Lackey and this entire bunch of bearded wonders. That fondness turned into everlasting love Wednesday night with a 6-1 victory in Game 6 over the St. Louis Cardinals, and becoming the first Red Sox team to clinch the World Series at venerable Fenway Park in 95 years.

How appropriate for it to happen this year — a year that has been so trying for the people in this city following the Boston Marathon bombings in April that killed three people and wounded 260 others.

This team began to win over Boston fan’s hearts when they rallied around the city following that tragedy.

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