Over the remainder of the year, FanHouse will be covering the top sports stories of the decade. In this installment, Ed Price looks at MLB FanHouse's pick for the team of the decade, the Boston Red Sox.
The decade began with the Yankees' dominance, as their 2000 World Series championship was their third straight and fourth in five years.
But then six different teams won the next six World Series. And when the Yankees bookended the decade with this year's title, they matched the Red Sox as the only team with two championships in the 2000s.
Two other teams won multiple pennants in the decade. The Phillies, in 2008-09, and the Cardinals, in 2004 and '06.
Philadephia, however, was only strong at the end of the decade. The Cardinals, on the other hand, won six division titles and had a losing record only once.
Other teams earning consideration: the Angels (five division titles), the Braves (six division titles, nine winning records) and the A's (second-best record in the majors in 2000-06).
But while the Yankees had the best winning percentage for the 2000s as a whole -- .597, with a 965-651 record -- we have chosen the Red Sox as the team of the decade.
Boston earns the nod not just based on its success but also for the way the franchise turned itself around and became a standard-bearer in ways for the industry.
It's almost hard to believe now, with the Sox as annual contenders, but the decade began with the Curse of the Bambino in full swing. Boston had not won a World Series since 1918 and was firmly in the shadow of its hated rival to the south.
|Best of the 2000s
|Top franchises for the decade:|
| Red Sox
But in 2004 the curse was ended as the Red Sox became the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, knocking off the Yankees in the ALCS, and then swept the Cardinals in the World Series.
That October was the defining time of the decade. It saddled the Yankees' with a vulnerability that lasted five years, it dialed up the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and it turned New England fans' expectations from inevitable doom to annual contention.
Three years later, Boston won again, sweeping Colorado. And now the Red Sox have had to become accustomed to the same expectations heaped upon Yankees, where anything less than a title is a disappointment.
For the decade, the Red Sox averaged 92 wins per season, compared to the Yankees' 96.5. (St. Louis led the NL with 91.3.)
Heady stuff, considering where Boston was 10 years ago.
The turnaround began in December 2001, when John W. Henry, who had owned the Marlins, became principal owner of the Red Sox.
The new management put together a mission statement:
The Boston Red Sox organization is dedicated to fulfilling five fundamental commitments to Red Sox fans and New England residents:Under Henry's leadership, the Sox worked on maximizing their revenue -- through installing the Green Monster seats at Fenway Park or the NESN cable network -- and spending their money prudently. In his decision-making, general manager Theo Epstein -- hired in November 2002 -- has blended modern statistical analysis with traditional scouting.
1. To field a team worthy of their support, with players whose performance and conduct will make them proud.
2. To preserve all that is good about the Fenway Park experience and to take that experience to new levels of warmth and hospitality.
3. To market aggressively and creatively the Red Sox throughout Boston, the Commonwealth, and all of New England.
4. To be active participants in the community in terms of charitable and philanthropic activities.
5. To bring World Championships to Boston and New England.
These are things all franchises are trying to do. The Red Sox have been at the forefront in a number of areas, and the results showed on the field in the decade of the 2000s.