It is now December in the year of our Aceves 2019, which means that everyone who is anyone is doing some sort of content creation to mark the end of the decade. It is horribly unoriginal, which I do not say derisively because I’m doing it too! It’s practically legally obligated! Anyway, I’m going to be counting down the top moments of the decade for the duration of the month. We’ll start with our honorable mentions in which I’ll put down my numbers 11-20 moments of the decade and then after that each of the top ten moments will have their own standalone post. This is all totally subjective (obviously), and it’s also specifically not the best moments. In other words, i’s not all good, though most of it is. Okay, that’s enough, right? I don’t need to explain the concept of a top moments of the decade series, right? You get it.
The 2018 season, on paper, was one of the more straightforward of all-time for a championship squad. Looking back at how it unfolded, though, it was sort of a weird one, at least for me. That was my second season in this position at the site and the first that ended in a championship, which certainly made things different. I was more plugged in and bogged down in the minutia than I had ever been before, and it wasn’t particularly close. For the most part, that was a good thing, too. I legitimately like all the small, day-to-day stuff. On the other hand, it also exposed me to more day-to-day opinions while forcing me to reflect on my own.
The result here was that, if we’re being frank, I started to lose my mind a bit. Ultimately, on a personal level, that is what I’ll remember the most about this season, for better or for worse. I’ll remember that for so much of this historically great season — and make no mistake, that’s exactly what 2018 was — the focus was on what was wrong with the team and whether or not they were good enough to win one playoff series, let alone three. To be clear, this is not meant as a shot at anyone in particular, either. The season legitimately felt frustrating at times, which in hindsight is the way I learned that 162 games is, like, a super long time in which a lot of things happen.
In totality, this was actually the least frustrating team the sport saw in 20 years, at least in terms of consistent, on-the-field success. Their 108 wins were the seventh most of all time and the most since the 1998 Yankees won 114. Their winning percentages by month were: .667, .760, .621, .630, .760, .667, .577. Their worst month was a 93-win pace, and that month was filled with depth players getting a lot of playing time.
On an individual basis, this was a season with so much star power. Mookie Betts had one of the best seasons of any player in the history of the franchise. J.D. Martinez excelled in his first year at Fenway and won two damn Silver Sluggers. Still one of the most absurd facts that we should talk about every day. Andrew Benintendi was great. Xander Bogaerts broke out. Rafael Devers started showing the flashes of who he’d become. Chris Sale dazzled before he broke down. David Price showed he can adjust to his late-career status. There was just so much good on this team.
Then, the playoffs rolled around and it was a perfect microcosm of the regular season. They drew the 100-win Yankees in the ALDS. After a close win in Game One featuring the first use of the “rover” — Rick Porcello came on to record two big outs in the eighth — as well as the first Craig Kimbrel heart attack moment when he let the Yankees within one on a leadoff Aaron Judge homer. After the Yankees jumped on Price for a relatively easy Game Two win, people were nearly giving the series to New York. All the Red Sox did was respond with a 16-1 win that included a Brock Holt cycle before taking Game Four and the series with another one-run win (and shaky Craig Kimbrel performance).
In the ALCS, it was the 103-win Astros coming to Boston for Game One, a team that many saw as more talented than the Red Sox despite the win totals. So when Houston ran away with a Game One victory, once again it appeared the run was over. That is until the Red Sox won four in a row including a Game Four that was one of the wildest we’ve ever seen and a Game Five that finally saw David Price get that playoff monkey off his back. In a nice sort of tribute to this team’s ability to turn anything into a win, with Jackie Bradley Jr. getting the ALCS MVP despite having just three hits in the series. (Of course, two were huge home runs and he also had four walks, giving him a 1.067 OPS.)
Finally, they got a 92-win Dodgers team in the World Series that was much more talented than a 92-win team. This was their third straight pennant and they were one of the deepest and most top-heavy teams in the league. Here, the Red Sox mostly rolled for another five-game win. The most memorable game, weirdly enough, was the only one they lost. That, of course, was the 18-inning epic where Nathan Eovaldi put on one of the most incredible performances in recent memory despite ultimately picking up the L.
The last out, though, was a special one. Chris Sale wasn’t Chris Sale in the second half, and for the most part his postseason was not what we wanted either. He started the season for the Red Sox, though, and he’d end it as well. With a slider in the dirt he got Manny Machado swinging and poetically forming a K with his flailing body and was the center of the on-field celebration.
In terms of the specific moment of the last out, this was bigger than the other World Series win from the decade. Other contextual factors push it down to number two, but that’s not a small feat for such a tumultuous, and at times momentous, decade.