Commentary

Series MVP perfect ending for Lowell

Originally Published: October 28, 2007
By Amy K. Nelson | ESPN.com

DENVER -- As he weaved his way through the dark Coors Field corridors stained by the smell of champagne, Mike Lowell carried in his right arm a trophy as he searched for his wife, Bertha.

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All he wanted was to share his relief and joy with his high school sweetheart, and when he found her, he raised his Most Valuable Player trophy as they embraced. It was his performance in the World Series that earned Lowell its top individual prize, as his offense, defense and leadership helped guide the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Rockies and a four-game sweep for their second championship in four seasons.

For Lowell, it meant a perfect ending to a season in which he statistically was never better. He finished the series hitting .400 with a team-high six runs scored and four RBIs. What it also meant for Lowell was sharing the moment with his brother, Victor; elementary school friends, Garo and Alex; and, of course, Bertha.

"I remember when we were kids playing whiffle ball in the front yard," Victor said. "He's the type of person where he genuinely cares for you in a way that helps motivate you to be a better person."

Victor had watched his older brother survive testicular cancer in 1999, come back to win a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and have the worst year of his career in 2005. He was then traded with Josh Beckett that winter as what was widely thought to be a throw-in in the deal. Now, Victor was embracing his sibling in a group hug between the four men, all of them with their mouths agape, jumping jubilantly together on the field.

"He's a supremely mentally tough individual," Victor said, as tears welled in his eyes. "The cancer, our family was together and we united and we came together to give him a support system and he was able to lean on us when he needed us. He's someone that just understands that life's a bunch of ups and downs and this is a big up right now."

Lowell finished the night 2-for-4; doubling in the fifth inning and later huffing and puffing his way to home on Jason Varitek's single to right field. Lowell adeptly slid around Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba and beat a tag that never touched him. That gave his team a 2-0 lead, and the score stayed that way until the seventh inning.

But in the top of the seventh, Lowell hit a 1-0 pitch off starter Aaron Cook and deposited it into the left-field stands. It was another momentum swing and gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. And although it was Bobby Kielty who eventually drove in the winning run with a solo shot in the eighth, it was Lowell who once again provided a cushion when needed.

"He's a better person than a ballplayer," said Red Sox infielder Alex Cora. "He's one of the best teammates, if not the best teammate, I've ever had."

Lowell has always carried a reputation as a consummate professional, the ultimate good guy. This year, he was playing without a contract for next season, and instead of succumbing to the pressure of a possible bad year at age 33, he instead led the Red Sox with 120 RBIs, hit 21 home runs and batted a career-best .324. Instead of wilting, or allowing an environment as intense as Boston's to affect him, he did nothing but be one of his team's best players.

"When guys are on base in front of me, it makes it a lot easier," Lowell said, ever self-effacing. "I really like hitting in those situations. It's been a thrill. It's been a tremendous ride this whole year, and to end it this way is extra special."

[+] EnlargeMike Lowell
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesMike Lowell was named World Series MVP after hitting .400, scoring six runs and driving in four.
He ended it Sunday night in the shadow of the mountains, in the air that is thin, and the third baseman captured what fans had chanted throughout the season for him: MVP. As Lowell strolled out to the field for the first time with his trophy, the fans in the stands went nuts. They chanted "Re-sign Lowell!" -- with Beckett and fellow teammate Kyle Snyder chanting along and pumping their fists in the air as the cadence pierced the field.

"Is that what they were saying?" Larry Lucchino, Boston's team president and CEO said. "That's great. I'm glad to hear that. We know how popular he is, we absolutely know that's a factor, but so is his performance."

Lucchino also acknowledged that the organization's philosophy is not to sign players to long-term deals, which he termed five or more years. He also said Lowell gets top marks internally in every aspect.

"Believe me, we're well aware of the magnificent contribution Mike Lowell has made to this team the last couple of years," Lucchino added. "And I'm hopeful he will choose -- because after all it is his choice -- to stay here."

Lowell's agent, Seth Levinson, said Sunday night that now was not the time to discuss contract-length specifics, but he did add a bit of insight.

"Age, particularly the random and arbitrary determination that 35 is a cutoff, is a fallacy," Levinson said. "Conditioning has dramatically changed, which alters the dynamics. More importantly, there is no statistic which measures character, determination, pride, etc."

Those, inarguably, are what make Lowell a better human being. For their part, his closest relatives say he has given no clues as to where he will end up playing next season. What they can attest to is his character.

"He's always looking for new ways to challenge himself to be a better father, a better husband, a better son," Bertha said. "He's very much about the family; he believes in things you should believe in, and he really strives to be a better person every day."

Where Lowell will go next is for another day. Where he is now, at the peak of his career, surrounded by his family, friends and teammates, is exactly where he wants to be.

Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com.