When a tragedy on the scale of the Boston Marathon bombings strikes a nation, the aftermath of the situation transcends the luxuries of life—including sports.
Prior to Saturday afternoon's game between the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals, fans in attendance were offered a chance to reminisce, reflect and hopefully start the healing process in the wake of the second bombing suspect's capture.
As the Red Sox got back on the field to take on the Royals just one day after a scheduled game between the two was postponed due to the Watertown manhunt, it was clear that the Sox were playing for more than just a "W" in the win column.
They were playing for Boston, and, in some respects, the Sox were supported by the entire country.
Before the game began, the team honored the fallen, the injured and the city of Boston with a touching ceremony not soon forgotten by fans of the team, Major League Baseball or anyone affected by the events of the week.
The message was loud, clear and unequivocally representative of the sold-out crowd on Saturday afternoon: We are all "Boston Strong."
Starting with a video montage, navigating through players addressing the crowd and including an emotional fan rendition of the national anthem, the Red Sox made sure the city felt like it was more important than anything that could happen on the baseball diamond.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz—activated off the disabled list to play in his first game of the 2013 season on Saturday—was one of the players who grabbed a mic and spoke to the crowd.
He sent the loudest shockwaves through the Fenway faithful, shown here via this tweet from the team's official account:
Boston Red Sox @RedSox
David Ortiz: "Boston, that's our ******* city!" So proud to wear our home whites today. #BostonStrong http://t.co/DoL67tVCms2013-4-20 17:38:01
His message could become the calling card for Boston's healing process.
Although the traditional home uniforms feature the mascot name across the chest, the Red Sox decided to forgo the traditional lettering on the front of their home jerseys, instead going with B-O-S-T-O-N in red letters over a white background.
Jeremy Lundblad @JLundbladESPN
Red Sox haven't regularly worn "Boston" on front of their home uniforms since 1911 http://t.co/pZKCK1LaC32013-4-20 15:15:31
A better choice could not have been made (h/t Fox Sports):
FOX Sports @FOXSports
"This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say #RedSox. It says Boston. #StayStrong!" - @davidortiz http://t.co/WuUVlldihV2013-4-20 17:33:13
While the pre-game festivities took precedence, the on-the-field product wasn't bad either.
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, a two-out Mike Napoli walk paved the way for a Daniel Nava three-run home run, which would turn out to be just enough ammunition to oust the Royals and cap a memorable day of afternoon baseball.
It was just the ending fans were hoping for.
In terms of presentation, respect, lamentation, honor and getting a victory that will be dedicated to the victims of this horrific tragedy, the Red Sox couldn't have done it any better on Saturday afternoon at Fenway—not far from where the bombing took place.
There was a special feeling in the air at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon—one that comes when all in attendance are pulling toward the same goal.
That feeling was healing.