The 2018 Red Sox proved to be a special team pretty much right from the start of the year — they were actually incredible in spring training, too, but that doesn’t actually matter — and they didn’t stop until they’d rolled through three of the best teams in baseball en route to a championship. Mission accomplished. With 5-1 victory on Sunday night in Los Angeles, the Red Sox spent the evening and early morning popping champagne. Here are my final scattered thoughts of the 2018 season.
- We obviously have to start with David Price. Good lord. I don’t know if that was Nathan Eovaldi Game Three-level greatness, but that was beyond impressive. Price was pitching for the third time in this series, and he had warmed up in another game, and throwing on short rest. It was fair to at least be skeptical that he was going to be able to shine as bright as he had in his previous few outings. And, to be honest, he didn’t look great early on in this game. His stuff looked solid, but his command was a little off. After the second inning — really, once Freese got to third on J.D. Martinez’ misplay in right field — Price locked in. His narrative had already shifted before this game. That’s not what this performance was. This was just a classic, gutsy playoff performance that’s going to be remembered for a long, long time.
- Then, there’s Steve Pearce. I’ll say right away that I thought the ideal situation for World Series MVP was handing out co-MVP awards to Pearce and Price. Maybe they didn’t have a second truck so it wasn’t possible. If they had to give out one, I’d probably lean Price. But whatever. Pearce was not undeserving, and his performance is one that deserves to be remembered. This was a dominant postseason for the Red Sox, but they were really close to being tied heading into this Game Five. Pearce tied that Game Four with a clutch homer, and his bases-clearing double was just as big to give Craig Kimbrel some insurance in the ninth. Price’s performance was going to be remembered no matter what. I don’t think Pearce would have been forgotten, but it’s always good to see role players get this kind of recognition.
- Chris Sale finishing this game was fantastic. I’ll be honest, I was kind of hoping for Nathan Eovaldi, but his arm may have literally fallen off on national TV if he was out there. I’m legitimately concerned about what we’ll learn regarding Sale’s injury over the next few days, but he did look as sharp as he has all postseason in his one inning of work. Seeing a vintage, strikeout-the-side Sale in that ninth inning made me feel a little better. More importantly, it was a fitting way to end the season. Didn’t hurt that the final strikeout was against Manny Machado, either.
- Getting on the board in the top half of the first in this game felt so important. The Dodgers were sort of reeling after their disastrous loss the night before, and with their backs against the wall the Red Sox came out with a knockout punch. Obviously, the game was close for a lot of this game and L.A. had their chance to at least tie in the third, but after Pearce’s first-inning home run it never felt like Boston was going to lose. It’s been said a million times, but this offense is relentless.
- It was also nice to see Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have some big swings to end their season. It wouldn’t have felt right if the two biggest stars of the entire season ended the year in major slumps. They weren’t the factors were expected in the postseason, and particularly in the World Series, but they gave some breathing room in this game. Plus, of course, this team gets nowhere near this point without these guys.
- It speaks volumes that so many guys were ready to go for that ninth inning before Sale ultimately took the mound. That Nathan Eovaldi was warming up in the eighth was straight-up bananas, and Rick Porcello, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier were ready to roll too. In addition to Sale and Joe Kelly, who pitched a great eighth inning. This was a special group of pitchers that was ready to do whatever it took to win every game.
- I’m such a sucker for the on-field celebration right after final outs. Baseball has the best of these in all of sports.
- Thinking about the guys on this roster, I’m happy for so many involved here, but Ian Kinsler might be at the top of the list. I know he almost cost them the series, and I was as mad about that play as the next guy. But we know how sports fans can be, especially now that social media gives everyone unprecedented platform. Nobody would have deserved the vitriol Kinsler would have gotten if the Red Sox had blown that series. He certainly didn’t work out as planned after coming over at the trade deadline, but I’m happy that error be nothing more than a footnote in this season’s story.
- I’m also happy for Craig Kimbrel, who was on the receiving end of a lot of heat this postseason. Like with Kinsler, I get it, but I also think we forget A) how good Kimbrel was for the majority of this season and B) what he went through before the year. If you’ll recall, he basically didn’t have a spring training because his newborn daughter was in and out of surgeries with heart complications. That obviously had to weigh on him all year, and he had to sacrifice some time away from his family during a difficult time to play this season. Kimbrel may not have been the most valuable player in the postseason, but he’s been a big part of this team for a few years and I’m happy he’ll get a ring before (likely) leaving this winter.
- One final note on the game itself: It was so short! Thank you baseball gods.
- Watching some of the postgame coverage, one theme stood out among all of the player interviews. The way these guys talk about Alex Cora is unlike any way I’ve heard players talk about a coach in my life. Every single one of these guys felt a strong, personal connection to Cora and talked about how great his communication skills were. We already knew this, but it really hammered home that the Red Sox have a special manager.
- One other postgame coverage note: Everyone was with their family but only one family member stole the show: Emerson Bradley. Jackie’s daughter was all over the place yelling “Go Red Sox!” into every mic she could find.
- Speaking of family, Craig Kimbrel’s dad’s beard needs a statue.
the kimbrels need to be inducted into the facial hair hall of fame immediately pic.twitter.com/CbvaepHMuf— joon (@joonlee) October 29, 2018
- People are going to roll their eyes or say there’s too much focus on the Yankees, but screw all that. This is supposed to be fun, and the “Yankees Suck” chants are fun. As is the fact that the Red Sox have made “New York, New York” a part of their championship celebration. That’s definitely going to be played throughout the parade, and it’s going to rule.
- At some point I’m going to write something more in-depth about this, but I found myself thinking of Hanley Ramirez throughout this run. He better a ring. I honestly believe he helped set the tone for this year, and I’m not sure they have as successful of a season without him on the roster for a couple months.
- This is as good a place as any to thanks all the readers and commenters for a great year. It wouldn’t have been as fun without all you guys.