BANGOR, Maine — Boston Red Sox radio broadcasters Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien said the team’s 2013 World Series championship was a special one thanks to a unique team with a remarkable chemistry that sought to help its city heal from a catastrophic bombing during the Boston Marathon.
The pair were featured during the Zone Corp.’s 11th annual Hot Stove banquet before a crowd of about 500 at the Cross Insurance Center on Monday night.
“The afterglow is still there,” said Castiglione, who has been calling Red Sox games since 1983, including games now broadcast on the Zone’s Bangor radio station, 620 AM.
“For at least a month, I woke up and said, ‘Did we really win it?’ It was so unexpected. There was such a warm feeling and we’ll take that into this season. It was just so sweet.”
“It didn’t sink in until Christmas Day,” said O’Brien, who has been with Castiglione for eight years. “What a wonderful way to spend a winter.”
The “Boston Strong” moniker “galvanized the team” said Castiglione. “They used to go in groups of five to visit the bombing victims.”
Castiglione said he was at Fantasy Camp with several former Red Sox, including Bob Montgomery and Brian Daubach, last week and they made the point that “every time the team needed a single, they got a single. Every time they needed a homer, someone hit it out. Every time the other team made an error, they pounced on it and made them pay. You saw that in the offseason.
“It was just a magical season,” said Castiglione.
O’Brien said it was the tightest-knit team he has ever been a part of as a broadcaster.
“They really enjoyed playing with each other. Four times during the postseason, they had get-togethers at David Ortiz’s house,” said O’Brien. “Every member of the organization came. That was pretty extraordinary. They did stuff like that all season long and no one ever knew.”
O’Brien recalled one day before a game at Yankee Stadium when catcher David Ross was watching video with third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
“David wasn’t even playing that day but he was helping Middlebrooks,” said O’Brien, noting that they were watching that day’s Yankee pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, examining his tendencies and what pitches he liked to throw and where he liked to throw them in certain situations.
“That was the heart and soul of the team. Relying on each other, leaning on each other and helping each other, even if you weren’t playing,” said O’Brien.
The broadcasters expect the Red Sox to contend again this season.
“They have great pitching depth and they’ve strengthened the bullpen,” said Castiglione referring to the addition of St. Louis Cardinals closer Edward Mujica, who had 37 saves a year ago.
They feel the acquisition of catcher A.J. Pierzynski is an offensive upgrade, replacing Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has signed with the Miami Marlins.
The Red Sox also lost center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees but they expected him to leave for the big money.
“[Center fielder] Jackie Bradley Jr. is already down at spring training working out,” said Castiglione.
They would like the Red Sox to re-sign shortstop Stephen Drew but they feel heir-apparent Xander Bogaerts is a star in the making.
“He has the most charisma I’ve seen since Pedro [Martinez],” said Castiglione.
The Yankees have spent $491 million in the off-season after missing the playoffs.
“When the Red Sox win, that’s how the Yankees react: spend, spend, spend,” said Castiglione.
“It’s the Yankee way,” said O’Brien. “Their farm system isn’t strong, unlike the Red Sox whose farm system is very strong and very productive.
“The New York papers thinks this will put the Yankees on top but not necessarily,” said O’Brien who feels the Yankees’ bullpen has question marks without retired future Hall-of-Fame reliever Mariano Rivera and they also have a lot of age and potential injury concerns.
The Red Sox won’t be complacent, said O’Brien.
“The consistent thing is manager John Farrell. He won’t allow them to sway very much from the chemistry of last season. The only thing that matters is the next nine innings. They were remarkably consistent all season. He won’t let them change that,” said O’Brien.