Sox day at White House a chance to savor 2013

Sox day at White House a chance to savor 2013
April 1, 2014, 6:00 pm
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WASHINGTON -- The Red Sox keep saying they want to ''turn the page.'' It became something of an unofficial motto this spring -- right down to a player-issued T-shirt, with some profanity tossed in for emphasis -- with the team insisting it's not about to rest on last year's achievements when there are new challenges right in front of them.

For the most part, they've made good on the vow. You'll hear nothing about defending their title, or becoming the first team to repeat as champions since 2000.    

But every once in a while, it's awfully tempting to look back on a season that proved to be magical, if for no other reason than no one saw it coming.    

Tuesday was one of those days.    

Following tradition for championship teams, the Red Sox traveled to the White House to be feted for 2013.    

On the South Lawn in back of the White House, with a Marine band playing "Sweet Caroline'' in salute, the Sox listened to President Barack Obama extol their virtues: their beards, their imnprobable title, their selfless ways and the impact they had in Boston following last April's Marathon bombing.    

He championed everyone from the stars (David Ortiz) to the newbies (Xander Bogaerts) and everyone in-between.    

"This team never lost more than three games in a row all season,'' said Obama. "They just had a lot of heart.''    

The president noted the Sox exemplified "Boston Strong'' with their October play and praised their unique relationship to the region and the city, still suffering from the trauma of Patriots Day.   

"The point is,'' noted Obama, "Boston and the Red Sox were one (last) season.''    

Standing behind him on risers and stairs, soaking in the adulation and the moment, the Red Sox looked like something of a United Nations general assembly.    

There were representatives from at least five countries -- the U.S., Japan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Aruba -- all united as teammates, workplace diversity personified.    

Beyond the various backgrounds and nationalities, there were the as many different styles and personalities.    

Some chose traditional suits and ties, others dressed slightly more casually. Most wore sunglasses, the better to bask in the sun and the reflected adulation.    

After the South Lawn ceremony, the Red Sox chose three players to join manager John Farrell in the driveway in front of the West Wing, each with a different story to tell.    

David Ortiz, oozing charm, joked about his selfie with the President. Koji Uejara, who has met with both the prime minister of Japan and the President in the last few months, giggled when asked which world leader he might next meet. And finally, there was Gomes, offering his sincere hope that his Uncle Sam ensemble hadn't overshadowed the event.    

For someone who didn't get into his team's opener Monday, Gomes carries a unique role with the Sox. He's a not-quite everyday player who's come to represent these Sox, in all his misfit glory.    

A veteran of five different teams in 11 seasons in the big leagues, with two close-to-death experiences, Gomes is one part self-promoter and three parts survivor.    

"It's pretty special,'' said Gomes, "with the forks in my road, the adversity I'd have, to be able to share a day with the president. And not only the president, but my teammates and something that I stand for -- and that's team and winning. To get that opportunity to win the (ultimate) game you can win and be able to share it with the highest(-ranking) leader of our country...there's not too much after that.    

"It's pretty special.''    

And indeed it was.    

Following Tuesday's ceremony, there will be one more reminder of 2013 on their to-do list: on Friday, prior to the home opener, the Sox will watch the another championship flag raised over Fenway and will be given their World Series rings.    

That will finally, absolutely close the books on 2013.    

Until then, the Red Sox seem to be savoring each infrequent reminder of last season. And on special days like Tuesday, when you're guests of the President and have the run of the White House, who can blame them?