2004 championship Red Sox team reunites at Fenway Park

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BOSTON — The most celebrated team in Red Sox history gathered at Fenway Wednesday to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2004 championship team.

In some ways, the players said, the title feels like it was won a long time ago. In other ways, it seems much more recent.

“People don’t understand,” said Derek Lowe, “but when the season ends, you just kind of go your separate ways, so I haven’t seen a lot of these guys for 10 years.

“There’s been a lot of great stories and it’s great to see some of the young guys all grown up.”

“It’s crazy to think 10 years have already gone by,” said Kevin Youkilis. “You sit back and think how quickly it goes.”

“This is great,” beamed Jason Varitek. “There’s faces I haven’t seen since 2004, since the parade. Fortunately, there’s been a few things (occasions to re-unite) and being around, you get to see some people at different times. But you’ve got people scattered all over.”

For a period of 48 hours or so, however, this was a chance to get together and toast the first championship for the franchise in 86 years.

“When you start watching clips,” said Varitek, “it seems like just yesterday. But everybody moves on and you sometimes need to watch things on TV (to jog your memory) and remember some of the moments and the faces. Then the stories start — stuff that went on in the clubhouse, stuff with the guys and a lot of the fun.”

It was, to put it mildly, a unique bunch, full of characters as diverse as Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar and Manny Ramirez. Each brought something to the mix.

Related content: Manny Ramirez says “I behaved bad and I regret it.”

“We had chemistry,” declared Lowe. “We had a lot of great personalities, strong personalities. But the way we were able to jell, that was (special).”

Those personalities helped withstand what Varitek termed “the burden of 86 years” without a championship.

The team had come paralyzingly close a season earlier, when the American League pennant slipped from their hands in extra innings of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

That spurred on the players, and in turn, management.

“What made ’04 so special is the way ’03 ended,” said Lowe. “Getting Keith Foulke and Curt Schilling (was key). The team was built for success, built to get back (into the post-season).”

Which they did, only to fall behind 0-3 to the Yankees in the ALCS, before beginning their historic comeback.

Now, the players from 2004 have changed and so, too, has the perception of the Red Sox. Back then, the Sox were seen as a team which historically had big stars, but could never win it all.

A decade later, they’ve won three championships, and become a model organization.

“They’ve created a winning atmosphere,” said Lowe, “and people know what the Red Sox have achieved and guys want to be part of it. You look at the chemistry they had in 2013 (and it’s similar).”

“I think what’s important is to recognize what went on before we won the championships,” said Varitek, “with the Mo Vaughns and Jim Rices and (Carl) Yastrzesmkis. You keep going back and see the guys who fought and battled to help teach the next generation and say, ‘OK, we got close. This is what we need to do better.’ And you build and build.

“We crashed and burned in ’03 at the last possible moment, but it still a building block. Then we finally broke through.”

After that, there was a palpable sense of release that the Sox had shun the negative baggage that had weighed down the franchise. It was liberating.

“Maybe in your first year here, you don’t really understand (the magnitude of it),” said Varitek. “But the longer you’re here, the heavier it is.”

Now, those same players are part of the most beloved Red Sox history, who seemingly can’t be thanked enough.

“I didn’t know that much about the 86 years,” said Orlando Cabrera. “It didn’t really hit until after we won and we were in the parade, and I saw these really old people, like 90 years old, saying, ‘Thank you – I can die happy.’ Or, ‘Thank you — you’ve made my father’s day.’ I was like, wow.”

Giants exclude Aubrey Huff from 2010 championship reunion

Aubrey Huff
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The Athletic’s Steve Berman and Dan Brown reports that the Giants have decided not to invite 1B/OF Aubrey Huff to their 2010 championship reunion, to be held at Oracle Park on August 16. In a statement to The Athletic, the Giants said:

Earlier this month, we reached out to Aubrey Huff to let him know that he will not be included in the upcoming 2010 World Series Championship reunion. Aubrey has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization. While we appreciate the many contributions that Aubrey made to the 2010 championship season, we stand by our decision.

Huff, 43, was one of the Giants’ most productive players in 2010, batting .290/.385/.506 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI in 668 plate appearances during the regular season. During the postseason, he contributed 15 hits, including a pair of doubles and a home run, while knocking in eight runs as the Giants won the World Series.

In recent years, Huff has become a phenomenon in conservative circles for his outspoken nature on Twitter. Back in 2017, he criticized people who protested President Trump’s executive order on immigration by tweeting, “I mean seriously what the hell is going on? If you have time 2 march, protest and riot. Maybe it’s time for something called a job!” Huff received a lot of blowback for the comment and defended it by bragging to people about his “big house” and “hot wife.” He eventually walked back his comments.

Huff has repeatedly made controversial statements in more recent times, including those of a sexist, transphobic, and violent nature.

  • On the Giants’ Alyssa Nakken, the first female coach in the major leagues, Huff said, “This has #metoo & #BelieveAllWomen written all over it.” He added, “Couldn’t imagine taking baseball instruction from an ex female softball player. [Frown emoji] Have fun with that.”
  • Huff got into a spat with former major league pitcher Seth McClung last year, which included the use of sexist language.
  • Huff boasted about teaching his sons how to use guns “in the unlikely event [Bernie Sanders] beats [Donald Trump] in 2020.” He said, “Knowing how to effectively use a gun under socialism will be a must.”
  • Last month, Huff suggested in since-deleted tweets, “We should invade Iran and take their [b-word]. Persian girls are hot af without the headgear and you know they know how to act right Makes you think.” He then suggested flying to Iran to “kidnap about 10 each,” adding, “We can bring them back here as they fan us and feed us grapes, amongst other things…. [devil emoji].” After the tweet went viral, Huff claimed he was joking, then posted a poorly-drawn comic about it.
  • In replies to people on Twitter, Huff consistently employs language popularized by the alt-right to insult and threaten people. He has been temporarily suspended from Twitter several times due to his use of hateful and threatening language.

As we have mentioned here countless times, the political views of baseball players tend to skew to the right. If the Giants were simply eschewing Huff because of his political views, they would have a short list of invitees to their 2010 reunion. Huff, however, has repeatedly and consistently gone too far when discussing his viewpoints.

Huff is surely taking this in stride, right? Of course not. Per Berman and Brown, Huff said about his reaction to the news, “Quite frankly, shocked. Disappointed. If it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t be having a reunion. But if they want to stick with their politically correct, progressive [crap], that’s fine.”