BOSTON -- While comparisons can be made between the 2013 Red Sox and the 2004 team that won it all against the St. Louis Cardinals to bring Boston its first World Series title in 86 years, this year's bearded band of brothers is different from the '04 group of self-proclaimed "idiots."
"This team is them," former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon said Thursday. "They've got their own identity."
Nixon played an integral role on the 2004 championship team, collecting five hits in 14 World Series at-bats. And joining him before Thursday night's Game 2 against a familiar opponent, St. Louis once again, were 2004 Game 3 starter Pedro Martinez and Game 4 starter Derek Lowe, sharing their thoughts on a 2013 team looking to bring Boston its third championship in the past 10 years.
"This team has a lot of character," Martinez said. "It's a team that looks pretty much like us, yes, because they can't wait to get to the field.
"It's a team that wants to play. They want to leave it all out. And I don't know if you guys have been noticing the way they play the game -- they play the game like a wolf pack."
The Red Sox pounced on Cardinals Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright on Wednesday night, scoring five times in the first two innings en route to an easy 8-1 win. Martinez, now a TBS postseason analyst, was not impressed with the Cardinals' play.
"They did not execute. They did not do anything right," Martinez said. "[Jon] Lester had his good stuff and he beat them. That's it, clean and simple."
The three former Red Sox champions also gave their opinions on the beard phenomenon that has spread from the clubhouse throughout Red Sox Nation this season. The consensus? Thumbs up across the board.
"It's a long season," Nixon said. "I think it's just to change the monotony that you go through every day. Clubhouses get crazy and guys have a little bit of fun, whether it's their beards or mustaches or haircuts. But I like it, it's pretty good."
"I second that," Lowe said. "I think [manager] John Farrell may be the only one that doesn't have one. Clubhouse guys, clubhouse kids, parking-lot attendants have them. It's a positive thing, it's a cool thing that they've done."
"I think it's great for the morale that the team has in the clubhouse," Martinez said. "Even though they look like Santa Claus, pretty much every one of them with red beards. But don't make a mistake, those guys are going out there like professionals, like they should, and they're not out there to embarrass anybody or embarrass the organization. They're representing the organization really well."
Nixon, Lowe and Martinez were joined on the field by former teammates Kevin Millar, Jason Varitek, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke for the ceremonial first pitch Thursday night. Out of the dugout came the only holdover from the 2004 team, David Ortiz, to join in the moment with them. It was a flashback met with an eruption of applause from a Fenway crowd anxiously awaiting the chance to see their beloved Red Sox try to take a 2-0 lead over the Cardinals, just as Boston did in 2004.
"The Red Sox organization has always done a great job of bringing ex-players back, and I know for me personally it's very special," Lowe said. "[But] this is the current team's moment."