Last night the Astros and Nationals kicked off a World Series that could end up as an all-time classic if the starting pitching holds true to form. On one side, you have Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke. On the other, you have Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. Althought one team has a significantly better bullpen (Astros) and a significantly better offense (Astros), the Nationals always have a chance with their starting pitching. They also took Game One on Tuesday.
This has me feeling very down that we can’t be part of such a fun event, so instead I asked the readers to dive down the well of Red Sox history to choose their favorite post-season memories. I was not disappointed.
The Steal - Alan MacNeill
What they said - First, a brief history lesson of Red Sox misery. They also note that if not for the Red Sox ultimately winning the series, The Steal would have been a footnote (and they aren’t wrong). The Red Sox then go on to slaughter the Cardinals. We all know how this story goes.
The Steal is up there with my favorite postseason memories, but it’s interesting to look at it as an isolated incident in a hypothetical world where the Red Sox don’t pull off the single greatest series comeback in professional sports history. Without the comeback, The Steal is just another in the list of great moments that ultimately meant very little. Another moment where greatness was on the precipice, but just out of reach.
Of course, that’s not what happened. The Red Sox pulled off the comeback, and The Steal has become an immortal moment for all Red Sox fans. Everybody who was a fan in 2004 remembers The Steal. Even if you only very casually followed the sport, there’s a great chance you know what the play was. And if you are a hardcore fan, there’s a great chance you know exactly which play is being spoken of, even if nobody says any other words than “The Steal”.
Dave Roberts recently avoided the axe in Los Angeles. There’s been debate over whether he’s the right man for the job. They’ve been in the playoffs all four years he’s been their manager. They’ve even been in the World Series a couple of times. The payroll has also never been below 186 million dollars during his tenure, and until 2018 they’d been the biggest spenders four years running.
This year seemed like another prime chance for the Dodgers, but it wasn’t because they ran into the buzzsaw Nationals, who have saved America by giving everyone someone to root for.
A Bunch Of Stuff - Marinosmullet
What they said - They run down a list of five great playoff moments. The final out of the 2004 World Series, J.D. Drew being J.D. Drew, three little birds, Jackie being superman, and Chris Sale coming out of the bullpen. Lot of great stuff here.
I feel like the thing to focus on here is J.D. Drew. I feel Drew is often underappreciated by a lot of fans since he didn’t play with the same red-hot intensity that players of his caliber tend to play with. He was much more stoic and reserved on the field, and yet, I cannot recall him going on fun police like some others in this role.
Drew had his worst years in Boston, but even those were still very good years (ignoring 2011, but Drew had the good grace to bow out when it became apparent he was no longer an every day player). He was worth 13.3 fWAR from 2007-10, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but was good enough to be the 50th best position player in baseball during that time-frame. And he did it despite Fangraphs not liking his defense much at all. Yet, he had the 12th best UZR/150 among OF over that time-frame (58 qualifiers), sandwiching him between Hunter Pence and Jason Heyward,
He may not have been the best player in the league, and he won’t be a Hall of Famer, but I do believe Drew still hasn’t gotten as much respect as he really deserves for how he played.
The Slam - Phantom255x
What they said - They lead off with one of the first moments that came to my mind when I set the prompt, David Ortiz’s slam into the bullpen that sent Torii Hunter flipping over the wall. They also mention Shane Victorino’s contributions in that same season, and the trifecta of Price, Pearce, and Eovaldi helping the Sox win in 2018.
The obvious thing there to talk about is the slam. What’s great about this moment, is it actually isn’t just a great moment for us... it’s a terrible moment for the Tigers and their fans. Hear me out on this.
The steal was great. But the Yankees can sleep easy knowing they have approximately 9,024 World Series titles under their belt, and that the “underdog” got one up on them (though the Sox are no longer underdogs). But the slam completely sucked the life out of the Tigers, their fans, and whatever energy they had going for them.
It may be hard to remember this, because 2013 feels like so long ago, but the Tigers were a demolition squad that year. They may have even been the favorites to win that series before David Ortiz took that pitch into the bullpen. That team featured Prince Fielder, perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera, the age-defying Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez, as well as a pitching staff that featured Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Rick Porcello. There’s a combined 5 Cy Young awards between those players (and possibly 6th and 7th, depending on how AL and NL Cy Young voting goes this year. Verlander and Scherzer both have legitimate chances in their respective leagues.) and they just fell apart against a Red Sox team that rode a slam all the way to a third World Series title in the 21st century.
To this day, Tigers fans curse David Ortiz. And they probably always will. I think that’s part of what makes baseball beautiful, even though I’m sure they would disagree (in their shoes, I probably would, still mad about Aaron Boone, and that’s with the benefit of four World Series titles since it happened).
Red Sox Fans Have Longed To Hear It... - Bosoxsince89
What they said - I could recap every word they said, or you can watch the moment right here. It’s such a poignant one.
As a Red Sox fan, there’s little more sacred than that first World Series title in 86 years. It doesn’t matter if you suffered for 86 years, or if you joined the bandwagon mid-way through the 2004 season. It was a moment that touched the lives of so many people, senior citizens on down to grade school children.
I remember, when I was 12 years old, and witnessed the series end in St. Louis. I stayed up to the very last minute, then I watched hours and hours of postgame coverage on every channel we had on cable. It felt like the world was ending, that something impossible had just happened.
School the next day was interesting, for lack of a better word. Things were taught. But both teachers and students weren’t in the classroom. Physically they were there, but in truth, they were thousands of miles away, still celebrating in St. Louis. There was one bitter Yankees fan of a teacher. He gave extra homework. That sucked.
It wasn’t until early next week that things had calmed down enough that people could actually study and work in peace.
The Red Sox have won three other titles since 2004, and all of them carried some meaning to some people. The 2013 title meant more to me on a personal note, for several reasons. But you never forget your first, and the special feeling that comes with finally being able to say something that fans before you had waited 86 years to say.
“The Boston Red Sox are World [Series] Champions.”
One moment I didn’t see mentioned at depth (though it was brought up in a poll in the above FanPost!) was Andrew Benintendi’s catch in the 2018 ALCS.
This moment stands out to me as particularly special, largely due to the recency. I remember The Steal. I remember The Slam. I remember Foulke flipping to Mientkiewicz. But I don’t remember my exact reaction. Part of that is for 2004, I was 12 years old, and emotions weren’t something that were as developed in me as they are now. In 2013, I had a lot more important things going on than baseball. It served as a distraction, but because of its role as a distraction, I don’t always have the clearest memory of what I was feeling or doing. And for the most part, that’s for the best.
I remember everything about the 2018 season and playoffs, because it was the first winning season in which I felt I was emotionally mature enough to comprehend my own feelings and emotions, and stable enough in my home life to truly enjoy what was happening. It also helps we clinched the ALCS victory against the Astros on the day I married my wife.
Benintendi’s diving catch was one of the last plays I saw before we were married. After we wed, we rushed home to watch the Red Sox finish off the Houston Astros, as David Price outpitched Justin Verlander (which is fantastic for me as a fan of Price and not a fan of Verlander) to cement our spot in the World Series.
It was at the moment of the catch, when Benintendi came up with the ball, that I knew. We were winning the World Series.
See you all next week!