Since the "new" Red Sox ownership took over prior to the 2002 season the franchise has been arguably the best in the sport to date. The team is tied with the Giants for the most championships during this span, but the Sox have done it with more iconic players and much more interesting story lines. All the success has been great but it would be a lie if Red Sox fans said that some seasons weren't as fun and entertaining as others:
5. 2016, 93-69, AL East Champs
2016 was unique in the sense that heading into the season Boston had missed the playoffs in five of the previous six years, yet they were still expected to contend. The biggest storyline of the year was the fact that it was David Ortiz's final season. Incredibly the Large Father had one of the best statistical seasons of his career and his supporting cast was able to get him into the postseason one last time. Boston fans were very optimistic heading into the ALDS against the Indians. Unfortunately the Sox couldn't send Ortiz out on top and the team was man handled by their former manager in a three game sweep.
Despite the brief playoff run the regular season still had a lot of great moments. The most entertaining plot line was the outfield dance celebrations. By September the group of outfielders were taking dance recommendations from fanson Twitter, which included Michael Jackson and "the Carlton". The celebrations became so iconic that they are going to be featured in MLB The Show 17. Other highlights of the regular season included Markus Lynn Betts turning into a top five player in baseball, Rick Porcello winning the Cy Young award, and 25+ game hit streaks by Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
4. 2007, 96-66, World Series Champs
Thank goodness for the drama of the Sox falling behind three games to one against the Indians in the ALCS. Besides that there would have been little to no drama for the team to overcome. Still, a championship season is a championship season and the playoffs definitely had its fair share of moments in 2007. This includes Manny's arms in the air walk off homer in game two of the ALDS, JD Drew's first inning grand slam in game six of the ALCS, and Jonathan Papelbon dancing in his boxers to "Shipping Out To Boston" after game seven.
Entering Spring Training the biggest story was the craze surrounding Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K had a solid year but the myth of the gyro ball was overblown and he didn't win the Rookie of the Year award like many expected him to. Instead another Red Sox player won ROY despite hitting just .150 through mid-May. From that point on Dustin Pedroia went on absolute tear and finished the season with an average of .317. Pedroia led a young core of himself, Kevin Youkilis, and Papelbon that complemented superstars Manny, Ortiz, and Josh Beckett in a perfect blend of youngsters and veterans. The best regular season games of the year included hitting four consecutive homers against the Yankees, the Mother's Day Miracle, and Clay Buchholz throwing a no-hitter in just his second MLB start.
3. 2003, 95-67, AL Wild Card Champs
It's crazy to think that 2003 was 14 years ago. It was so long ago that steroids had yet to be banned from baseball, the Expos were still a thing, and Boston had celebrated just one of its 10 championships from this century. Thanks to Bill James and first year General Manager Theo Epstein the Red Sox were ahead of the analytics curve. They used the market inefficiency of on base percentage to sign free agent bats David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, and Kevin Millar to bargain contracts. All three played a central role in the 2004 championship. The most memorable moments from the regular season included countless walk-off wins and Millar starting "Cowboy Up" as the team's rallying cry.
The 2003 playoffs had everything you want in a postseason from your favorite baseball team (besides a championship of course). There were walk-offs, come from behind wins, and both series the Sox played in went the distance. It started in Oakland where the Sox came back from down 2-0 in a best of five that included a loss on a walk-off bunt in game one, a win on a walk-off homer in game three, and an epic series clinching nail biter in game five. The ALCS against the Yankees was as electric as expected, with Pedro throwing Don Zimmer to the ground in game three (!!!). In game seven the Sox had a three run lead with five ours to go before Grady Little left Pedro in a little too long and the rest is history.
At first glance it might seem strange having '03 ranked ahead of the World Series winning team from 2007 but everything that happened, including the pain of the Boone homer, made 2004 so much sweeter.
2. 2013, 97-65, World Series Champs
Say what you will about John Farrell's managerial skills these days, but in 2013 he was the right man for the job. Coming off of the beer and fried chicken scandal of 2011 as well as the disaster that was the Bobby Valentine year in 2012, the Sox needed someone to restore order in the clubhouse. Additionally GM Ben Cherington used money saved from the Adrian Gonzalez trade to sign short term, veteran clubhouse guys known for creating good team chemistry. This list included Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes, David Ross, and Koji Uehara. The plan worked perfectly as the team (led by veterans Ortiz, Pedroia, Lester, and Ellsbury) rode the wave of good vibes all the way to 96 wins and the franchise's first AL East crown since 2007.
Sometimes during a long, grueling baseball season teams need a rallying cry to keep the intensity up on a night to night basis. So there is no question that the tragedies of the Boston Marathon bombings that year gave the Red Sox some extra incentive in 2013. From the moment Big Papi declared "This is our FUCKING city" to when Koji struck out Matt Carpenter in game six, this team was on a mission. The Sox and the fans also rallied around their beards, #BostonStrong, and Koji's high five celebrations. By the time the playoffs rolled around the most fun part of going to Fenway was singing "Every little thing's gonna be alright" to close out Victorino's walk up song.
Ultimately there were many heroes in 2013 but at the end of the day the season belonged to Ortiz. After hitting an epic, game tying grand slam in game two of the ALCS, Papi cemented his legacy in Boston by winning World Series MVP and hitting an absurd .688 through six games.
1. 2004, 98-64, World Series Champs
Never in the history of sports will there be a better story than the 2004 Red Sox. Start in 1918 when the Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees and saw them go on to win 26 World Series championships before Boston got another one for themselves. Not only did the Sox not win during this time but they made it to the Fall Classic four times and lost all of them in the seventh game in heart breaking fashion. Then you add in the fact that throughout all this time the Yankees were just beatin Boston's brains in year after year from the Bucky Dent homer to the Aaron Boone homer to being the ones to trade for Alex Rodriguez. There could not have been a better set up for the 2004 ALCS and the greatest comeback in baseball history.
It is impossible to talk about '04 and not list all the incredible moments that happened that year. They include trading for Curt Schilling in the off-season, almost trading for A-Rod, losing the game where Jeter dives into the stands, the A-Rod/Varitek fight, Bill Mueller hitting a walk-off homer off Rivera later that night, Theo having the balls to trade NOMAR, Ortiz hitting a walk-off to end the ALDS, two more Ortiz walk-offs in the ALCS, Dave Roberts stealing second, Schilling's bloody socks, and finally Keith Foulke getting Edgar Renteria to ground right back to him. Holy fuck what a year.