By Dan Roche, WBZ-TV SportsBy Dan Roche

BOSTON (CBS) – “Don’t hate… Appreciate.”

That’s a saying that David Ortiz has used for years and I think it applies to this day.

I think we’ve forgotten how to enjoy our sports teams in this region. I really do.

We’re so critical and into finding out what’s wrong , looking ahead, etc., that we can’t stop and enjoy the moment.

The Boston Red Sox won 69 games last season. They were an embarrassment. It began with the historic collapse in 2011 and just kept on sinking. The owners couldn’t get out of the way. The GM couldn’t get out of town fast enough. The managers lost their way for many reasons and some of the players stopped caring.

But, in one of the greatest turnarounds in sports history, they have clinched a playoff spot, one of just five teams in the American League to do so. They will also clinch a division title, one of just three in the American League and six in all of baseball to do it. They will win a minimum of 93 games and likely between 96 and 100.

It struck me when the Sox clinched a spot Thursday night thanks to John Lackey’s complete game gem: the Red Sox hadn’t been in the postseason since 2009!

Four years.

That’s a long time around here. I think we got spoiled by the great things the “new” ownership group had done since buying the club. We watched as curses and the frustrations of millions of fans were finally washed away. We saw two World Series titles and six trips to the postseason in seven years.

And, maybe we got a bit tired and spoiled.

And then along came the 2012 edition.

Ben Cherington brought in players that actually love to play the game. Guys that embraced Boston and each other. They brought in a manager, who quit his other managerial job because he loved it here, but it was never about him once he took the job.

We then watched from Day One of Spring Training as they played each game with a passion. They played hard and they had fun doing it. If they lost? They didn’t point fingers. They just showed up and played just as hard the next day. Injuries? No problem as someone else stepped in. They were together too. It began in the spring and never stopped. The beards were just a symbol of camaraderie.

As for the fans?

Many of the die-hards enjoyed this team from the start. They jumped right in. Many took the wait-and-see approach. They weren’t going to invest their time, especially if the winning stopped. Some fans never showed up. They were angry. Upset at how the past two seasons had unfolded. Their trust in ownership and the front office was waning.

There were also many fans that were never going to be satisfied. If the Sox were in first, it was just a matter of time before the starting pitching faded. Jon Lester had a swoon near the All-Star break and Clay Buchholz was on the shelf.

“Good first half, but it’s o-vah!” was what we heard, “They’re done!”.

Even when they kept winning the cynics wouldn’t let up. We heard they won’t win the East and if they don’t they’re done. Yet the Wild Card has served the Sox well in the past. Then it became “even if they make the playoffs there’s no true ace on the staff so they won’t go anywhere.”

Jon Lester then emerged.

“Ya gotta sit Drew!” was another. Who homered on clinching night?

It just never ends. It’s never good enough for some no matter what the Red Sox do.

You know what then?

Go away. Stop watching and stop talking.

I think we forget why we watch sports sometimes. Isn’t it to get away for a few hours and to enjoy?

What happened? Why so angry?

It’s time to stand up and applaud the 2013 Boston Red Sox. Time to say thank you for an astounding turnaround season. Time for New England sports fans to have a blast and get ready for October baseball. And if they fall short? So what! No one expected this season, so just appreciate it for what it was – a time to welcome the Red Sox back because of what they did ON the field.

So hop on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.

I know the Sox will.

Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.


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