Sources of motivation vary from individual to individual. Take the 2021 Boston Red Sox, for instance.
“Like I told you guys in spring training early on, we’re not here to prove people wrong. We’re just here to play baseball,” Cora told reporters Thursday, shortly after Boston’s Opening Day matchup with the Baltimore Orioles was postponed to Friday. “And we know we have a good baseball team. We play in a good division. That’s the bottom line. There’s three teams that they’ve done an amazing job the last two years, or since 2019, to be better than us — the Yankees, the Rays and now Toronto. … We just have to be better. And if that’s what you pushes you to be better, good for you.”
The Red Sox won a franchise record 108 regular-season games en route to a World Series title in 2018. They then regressed in 2019, going 84-78 and missing the playoffs, before bottoming out in 2020 with a 24-36 record and a last-place finish in the American League East.
So, what changed?
Well, obviously, the roster has evolved, with some notable players leaving and the pitching depth being tested. But Cora on Thursday pointed to the Red Sox’s performance at Fenway Park and against AL East opponents as areas where Boston needs to improve moving forward.
Fenway Park long has been a house of horrors for many opposing pitchers. Yet the Red Sox have gone a combined 49-63 at home over the last two seasons after going 57-24 in their own barn in 2018.
“From my end, it’s just we have to be better at home, we have to be better in the division and if we do that, we’re gonna be in the hunt,” Cora said. “And how you do that is playing good baseball. But it starts here at Fenway. We haven’t been good (at home) in two years. For our team to make it the playoffs, you have to take care of business at home. You do that the way that we used to, then you play .500 on the road, and good things can happen. It starts here. I’m glad that they see it that way (about silencing doubters), but from my end, it’s more about taking care of business, do our thing, play the way we’re capable of, and everything else will take care of itself.”
There’s definitely a renewed energy in Boston with Cora returning to the manager’s seat this season after a year away from the organization. Whether it’ll translate to wins on the field remains to be seen, but the Red Sox’s workmanlike approach nevertheless is notable.
The sources of motivation might be different. But the goal for everyone is very much the same: Be better.
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