As if the 2023 Red Sox season couldn't get any stranger, a scattered stadium-wide salute to Justin Turner interrupted Wednesday's Fenway Park finale ... even though it took fans a while to catch onto what was happening and Turner might be coming back in 2024.
Turner, an all-time Yankee killer in his singular season with the Sox (and a whiz at getting the run in from third all summer long), slumped down the stretch as he battled foot issues. Ultimately, his near-All-Star first half settled somewhere lower than expected; he currently sports a .799 OPS and .274 average, worth 2.0 bWAR.
Is Turner the most memorable part of this Red Sox season? Probably. Does anything about this 76-82 last-place Red Sox season deserve to be remembered? Not particularly. But, because this is Boston, and because they'd like you to believe they're the only city that understands and appreciates baseball and the men who play it, Alex Cora lifted Turner for a mid-game solo farewell during his final (?) season with the Sox (and, again, he could simply come back via a player option if he really wanted to).
As Turner started to walk off the field, the locked-in Boston crowd did ... not know what was going on. Only when Turner had nearly reached the dugout and tipped his cap did the whole crew figure out what was happening, saluting the heavily bearded beast with some neat claps.
Red Sox fans say goodbye to Justin Turner, who could just ... come back actually?
Nobody has ever looked more like a Red Sox, and Turner certainly delivered this year. But, again, what was this year? Should the Yankees have prepped a standing O for Harrison Bader in mid-August? Does Luke Weaver get one in Kansas City this weekend from the road grays?
What's that? You want this scene to get even more Bostonian? After the game, Turner released a statement that Boston fans can file under their favorite category: "We Are the Only Team That Has Fans." Turner thanked the crowd for showing love every single night, then called them "brave" for showing up, an utterly bizarro world statement imbuing them with unearned valor. What's "brave" about spending $260 on Sox tickets and leaving in the seventh inning, then acting faux-surprised when you learn via your phone after you bounced that they erased a four-run deficit like they always do?
Looking forward to next season, when Red Sox fans are furious with ownership (that delivered them four titles in 20 years) all offseason, start chirping about how "an underdog Red Sox team is dangerous, actually" in March, get in-your-face competitive when the Sox are 10 games over .500 in June, then tell you "they weren't supposed to be good anyway" all August and September long as they collapse.
Unfortunately, Turner won't be on the roster. Or he will be. Because he totally could be. Farewell anyway.