Time Out for Sports Talk: The Road Through Sox-tober via Chicago (Magic Number = 4)
Todd: Say it with me, friends. Beat LA! Beat LA!! Beat LA!!! Beat LA!!!!
Time to break out that t-shirt, although I have no idea what color dye to use to change it from green to red.
Kidding aside, can you believe that the Red Sox and Dodgers franchises, whose origins date back to 1901 and 1883 respectively, will be meeting in the Fall Classic for the first time under those team names?
Technically the teams did face off in the 1916 World Series, with the Sox defeating the Brooklyn Robins in 5 games. Among the highlights of that series was a 21-year old Babe Ruth pitching a complete-game in a 2-1 Red Sox win in Game 2. Almost forgot, that game went 14 innings, setting a World Series record matched only by the Royals and Mets in 2015. And the time of that 14-inning contest played a century ago? Completed in a tidy 2 hours and 32 minutes, due to the commercials being much shorter back then.
Frankly, I’m still getting over the shock the Sox weren’t playing the Astros at Fenway this past weekend. For the Boys of Alex Cora to dispatch of the 103-win reigning World Series champs in just 5 games (after spotting them Game 1) was both completely unexpected and downright impressive.
Speaking of the Sox manager, he continues to push all the right buttons this season. No dominant eighth inning reliever all season? No problem. Cora keeps turning to his starting rotation to fill the void, and just like in the ALDS, it worked to perfection with Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi allowing just one hit and no runs in the games when they pitched the eighth inning. Cora even asked two innings from closer Craig Kimbrel in Game 4, who hung on for the win thanks to a game-saving diving catch from Andrew Benintendi.
Then there was David Price, who we were all starting to believe would never win a postseason game as a starting pitcher. But the twelfth time ultimately proved to be the charm for the southpaw, as he tossed six shutout innings to go with 9 strikeouts. Now that the 800-pound gorilla is finally off of Price’s back, I wonder whether he can now simply go out and pitch playoff games instead of overthinking and obsessing about them.
How about ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr? If anyone had him claiming that honor before the series, you better be buying lottery tickets this week. Despite hitting only .200 with only 3 hits in the LCS (and with no diving or leaping catches in center field), he managed to drive in 9 runs with 2 home runs (one of them his second career grand slam) and a bases-clearing double.
Can anyone still question these Red Sox? They have certainly run the gauntlet this postseason, defeating two 100-win teams in the Yankees and Astros and going a combined 5-0 in their two stadiums, arguably two of the loudest ballparks in MLB, especially in October. There is no doubt they’ve earned the right to make their fourth World Series appearance in the last 15 years.
The one team left to beat are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had they played in the AL East would have finished 16 games behind the Red Sox. They beat the Brewers on the road in Game 7 of the NLCS, and have some threats in the batting order like Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner and a player very familiar to Sox fans, former Oriole and Dustin Pedroia BFF Manny Machado.
On the mound there’s ace Clayton Kershaw, who like Price has a reputation of underperforming in the postseason (although this year he’s 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 3 playoff starts) and old friend Rich Hill, who will likely spin a gem against the Sox only because that’s what many old friends tend to do against them.
To me, this series—as the case with many series in October—should come down to pitching. Can Price follow up his last performance with another? Can the Sox get anything from Chris Sale in Game 1? Has the bullpen finally stabilized? Will Cora have to continue inserting starting pitchers in the eighth inning to get key outs? And can Mike’s mortal enemy Craig Kimbrel get a save without sending us all into heart palpitations?
FWIW the Sox coaches apparently noticed that Kimbrel had been tipping his pitches, and Cora made a point of having him close out the Game 5 clincher to see if that was the reason he was not pitching well (sorry Mike, I’m abstaining from the four-letter ‘s’ word). It did turn out to be Kimbrel’s first scoreless outing this postseason.
Also, what do the Sox do to get J.D. Martinez into the lineup for Games 3-5 at DH-less Dodger Stadium? Looks like Mookie Betts is going to play some second base, and I for one absolutely love the idea.
Ultimately, I think the Sox will buck the trend they’ve had this month and clinch their fourth World Series of our lives (no Joe Castiglione, I can’t believe it) at Fenway Park: Red Sox in six games over the Dodgers. Watching the celebration from the third base dugout will be old friend Dave Roberts, who got this Red Sox dynasty started with one little stolen base back in 2004. And yes, if they earn their fourth championship this century I am calling it a dynasty.
Quick football thought for Mike, because he and I have been together the last two times in franchise history the Patriots blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown (although no photos to prove it). That was an absolute wild win in the Windy City for the Pats yesterday over the Bears, with literally one yard to spare.
Mike: It just seams surreal that the Red Sox are back in the World Series with the good chance to grab a 4th title in 14 years.
Like Todd, I did not see the Sox handling the Astros as easily as they did, In fact, after Game 1, I was afraid that they might be in over their heads, which is hard to say about a 108-win team.
But, here we go, and in a television executives dream, we have two of MLB's marquee franchises (from major TV markets), with huge national followings, squaring off for the first time in anyone's living memory.
The weather is certainly going to be a tale of two cities, with freezing temps in Boston, and beach weather in LA (bet the Boston press is loving the fact they get to go to LA and get out of the cold!).
Looking forward, I have to think that we're going to have another Red Sox parade here in a couple of weeks. The team is on a roll right now, and they got the chance to get some well-needed rest by clinching the ALCS early.
So, I'm going to have to say, Red Sox in 5.
Before I go, I do have to say this, they aren't feeling the same way about the Sox in New York. Check this out courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel:
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