Sports

Damage done: Red Sox ‘Pearce’ Dodgers, win 2018 World Series title

For the fourth time in fourteen years, the Boston Red Sox are World Series champions.  They capped off an MLB-best 108-wining regular season record over the Los Angeles Dodgers that was never really in doubt. The Sox won the series in five games, thanks to timely hitting and strong pitching performances by nearly everyone on the roster. Their lone loss came narrowly in Game 3’s 18-inning marathon. The crushing defeat had the potential to turn the series in the Dodgers’ favor, but the Sox refused to let that happen. They responded the next night by overcoming a 4-0 deficit late in the game to pull out a 9-6 victory.

Fans all across the league could see that this Boston team was different than any that had come before it.  Team owner John W. Henry and longtime team broadcaster Jerry Remy both declared that this is easily the best Sox team of all time. With the way they’ve dominated the entire league in 2018, it’s hard to debate that.

The Sox coasted through all three rounds of the playoffs, only losing three games in October. Their convincing series wins over the 100-win New York Yankees, the 103-win Houston Astros, and back-to-back NL champion Dodgers proved to all of baseball that this squad is stacked from top to bottom.

The Sox benefitted big time from nearly every player on the roster, including some pleasant surprises. Light-hitting centerfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr., only hit .234 in the regular season, but still managed to knock in 9 RBIs to help dethrone the Astros in the ALCS and earn him the series MVP award. In the next round, midseason acquisition and eventual World Series MVP Steve Pearce, a 36-year-old journeyman, provided some offensive pop with three huge home runs that lifted his team to a championship in LA.

Throughout the postseason, the Sox benefitted from unanticipated success from plenty of sources. Aside from the usual stars like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, the Sox were able to get the best out of lesser-known talents like Ryan Brasier, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Núñez, Brock Holt, Eduardo Rodríguez, Joe Kelly and more when they were called upon to step up. Even David Price, the former albatross of Massachusetts, emerged at last as the ace Bostonians envisioned when the team inked him to a massive contract several years ago.

After a rough start to his Sox career, the former Cy Young award winner silenced his critics this October.

An epic stretch of starts that began in the ALCS allowed Price to lead his team to three huge victories and finally help him win over the Fenway Faithful.

Even his biggest critics would have to admit that he came through in crunch time.

At the helm of this record-breaking Sox team is rookie manager Alex Cora.

Every move he made this postseason seemed to work out perfectly in his team’s favor.

The Puerto Rican native expertly blended analytics and old school baseball strategies to always stay one step ahead of the opposing dugout.

He maintained the respect of all of his players, while still being able to communicate with them like he was one of the guys.

Cora will surely be a candidate for AL Manager of the Year and voters will be hard pressed to think of a reason not to vote for him.

Most of the players he oversees will be returning to the team next year.

The only potential departures are role players and All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, who struggled at times during the playoffs.

It stands to reason that the Sox could repeat this level of success going forward or possibly somehow be even better.

Their divisional foes, though strong, all have a lot of questions to answer this offseason, while the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros both look like they are going to lose key players to free agency.

With a core that includes two Cy Young winners in Price and Rick Porcello, one of the best lefties in baseball in Chris Sale, two MVP candidates in Betts and Martinez, other All-Stars in Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts and emerging young talents with Bradley, Rodríguez and Andrew Benintendi, this Boston team looks like a real threat to repeat next season.

The Sox will also be getting back former MVP Dustin Pedroia next season, along with any other players they choose to acquire on the free agent market.

Barring something unforeseen, this team has to be a favorite to make it back to the Fall Classic in 2019.

Nothing is promised, of course, but Cora and company look more than ready to defend their crown from any and all challengers.

The Yankees and the rest of the MLB might want to take notice.

November 5, 2018

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Evan Lewis


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