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Your 2018 World Series Champions!

They did it!  The 2018 Boston Red Sox are the World Series Champs!  And just like the 2004, 2007, and 2013 teams this season was absolutely amazing!  Take that in for one second…a franchise that wasn’t able to get to the top for 86 years, a franchise with all-time greats like Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski and still didn’t win.  A franchise with the greatest fans in the world but always came up short has now just capped off their 4th title in 15 years.  What a time to be a Red Sox fan, what a time to be a Boston sports fan.  The entire 2018 season for the local baseball team was just spectacular from beginning to end.

courtesy of ESPN.com
Since the 2004 World Series victory, I have always enjoyed watching the season recap documentary.  After the first two (I still can’t believe you can speak like the Sox winning it all is semi normal) I purchased the hard copy DVD.  Since DVD’s are essentially extinct, I rented the digital version on my iPad in 2014.  If you are a sports fan you can’t help but become attached to your favorite team.  And if you’re lucky and get a chance to see your favorite team crowned champs you have to enjoy it.  I would watch those season recaps because it was fun to relive the excitement of the season before.  Every game winning play, every major strikeout and every single victory was part of the recap.  It always has interviews with players and members of the media to spice up the entertainment value.  I really like watching the recap documentaries.  I’m lucky for many reasons, but for the sake of this article I will speak about two.  My favorite team on planet Earth the Boston Red Sox won their FOURTH WORLD SERIES since 2004 and the other is that I get to write for a great website to share my opinions.  This is my season recap, the written edition.

In November of 2017, Boston officially appointed Alex Cora as their new manager.  Fans were waiting for about a month because Cora was busy winning the World Series with the Astros as their bench coach.  Bench coaches are basically the assistant head coach of a baseball club.  Cora was brought in to change the culture and give the team some much needed grit.  He knows what it takes to win the championship and he was inheriting a roster that had the talent challenge for one.  AC was part of a winning culture in Houston and had the confidence to implement those winning ways here in Boston.  Every single one of his players and assistant coaches would run through a brick wall for him.  The addition of Alex Cora was so important to this season’s success.

The other offseason addition that would end up paying off in spades was the signing of JD Martinez.  Boston’s brass was able to bring Martinez to town with a very lucrative contract and he was worth every penny.  Martinez would go on to go hit over .300 with 43 home runs and 130 runs batted in and is challenging for the American League MVP award. He was imperative to the Red Sox World Series run.  Martinez’s approach to hitting was contagious, bruh…contagious.  JD is a student of the hitting game and is always out there trying to improve his swing.  His teammates caught on to his studious ways and clearly benefited from them.  “Just Dingers”, as he was being called, was a key cog in the baseball machine. 

Right out of the gate the Red Sox were on fire.  Matter of fact even before the gate officially opened the Sox were the team to beat.  They finished 22-9 in spring training, which was the best record in the entire league.  I know, I know those games do not count for anything but looking back it certainly seemed to set a tone in the Red Sox clubhouse.  Winning was going to be the mission and nothing was going to get in the way of completing that mission.  As spring training turned into the regular season this team did not skip a beat.  Boston was victorious in 17 out of the first 19 games.  That is now the Red Sox franchise record.  From day one of the 2018 season the Red Sox were on top of their game.  They set the bar high and continued to dominate throughout the entire year.  

In an early season matchup with the Bronx Bombers Joe Kelly started a brawl by plunking Tyler Austin.  He stood his ground and showed that this team wasn’t to be taken lightly.  It would have been hard to tell back then, but maybe that fight was a bigger statement about their attitude than anyone realized.  The early portion of the season did come with one major surprise.  Hanley Ramirez’s Sox tenure seemed to come to an abrupt end.  One day he was batting third and using a mega phone in Fenway Park to hype up the fans, then the next Ramirez was being designated for assignment.  He was cut loose and could sign with any team he chose.  It was a very mysterious story at the time because it seemed to have come straight out of left field.  The story became even more bizarre when Ramirez was under investigation.  That didn’t derail this team at all as they just continued to rack up wins. 

Boston carried a record of 68-30 record into the all-star break.   That was the best overall record in the MLB.  That was a notion that would continue for pretty much the entire season.  The Red Sox sent five players to the all-star game and they helped the American League earn the victory.  Even when games didn’t count these players were on the winning side. 

Every year general managers around the league try to acquire players that can bolster their championship chances.  At the time, the moves Dave Dombrowski and his front office made seemed to leave fans wanting more.  Little did we all know that these new players would impact the team in such a major way.  Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi and Ian Kinsler were all added to this roster.  Two of them would make a case to become Red Sox postseason legends.  Boston’s brass has made many moves since Dombrowski took over the baseball operations, but not all of them were loved by the masses.  But acquiring Pearce and Eovaldi were directly responsible for the World Series trophy coming back to Boston.  In 2018, even the front office executed at a very high level. 

This season wasn’t short of amazing moments that fans will remember forever.  It was a Thursday night in July and the Sox were hosting the Blue Jays for a weekend series.  Boston had won nine straight and were rolling.  Future Yankee J.A. Happ was on the mound for the Blue Jays and had been good against them throughout the season.  In the fourth inning Mookie Betts came up to the plate with bases loaded and down a run.  Mookie crushed a ball that left Fenway all together and when he let out that celebration, you knew that he was dialed in.  “It’s time to party!” was the comment that came from Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley.  Party time it was as the Sox went on to win that game and their tenth straight.  That was the first moment in the season where fans could feel the magic.  That homerun may have been a crucial play that showed the Red Sox were going to be special this season.  Man…just writing about that home run makes me smile.  I’ll probably go watch it online right when I’m done writing this article. 

In August, the Red Sox were set to take on the Yankees in a weekend series in Boston.  At the time New York was a handful of games behind the Sox in the AL East standings.  The series was seen as the last chance for the Yankees to realistically close the gap enough in the race to make for a compelling finish.  The first game was set to take place, once again, on a Thursday and it did not start well for the Red Sox.  Steve Pearce, who was still new to the roster and relatively unknown to Red Sox Nation, put himself in the spotlight.  Pearce swatted three deep home runs and led the team to a 15-7 win.  Little did anyone know at the time that that wouldn’t be the last time we all cheered Steve Pearce’s name.  The momentum that the Red Sox were able to get from that victory continued for the entire weekend.  Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi highlighted the Friday and Saturday games with their dominant starting pitching.  Both pitchers combined for 17 innings and only surrendered one earned run between them.  Complete domination of the Yankees lineup.  

David Price started Sunday and to many fans surprise he was solid.  He gave the Red Sox 6 innings and gave up 2 runs which most people were ok with.  New York held a 4-1 lead until the 9th inning.  With their backs against the wall, they rallied to score 3 runs off of the Yankees closer, Aroldis Chapman, and tie the game.  Andrew Benintendi won the game for the Red Sox with an RBI single in the 10th inning.  His bouncing walk-off hit capped off a sweep of their heated rivals.  Even in August this team was starting to show the baseball world that they were for real. 

I will admit this team started to scuffle a tiny bit at the end the season and they appeared to be doomed by their lackluster bullpen.  Nevertheless, the Sox finished with a league best 108 wins and would be the host team in every matchup throughout the playoffs.  A lot of fans were proud and excited for their home team but were skeptical of how this would look heading into the playoffs.  We were all on the edge of our seats as we waited to find out.

After the Yankee swatted aside the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card game, they were on their way to Fenway to start a best of 5 American League Divisional Series.  Baseball fans all over were thinking that the Yankees would win. *cough, cough* Even some of the guys at Boston Sports on Tap.  Game 1 resulted in a 5-4 victory led by a three run home run by JD Martinez and a good start from Chris Sale.  Even after the win, no one in the baseball world was confident the Sox were better than the Yankees.  And to make matters worse they lost Game 2.  They were all tied up and heading to New York for Game 3.  Everyone was questioning the Sox roster and if they would rise to the challenge.  Most fans still had the last two seasons on their minds.  Where the Red Sox were eliminated in the first round and didn’t even put up a fight in either playoff series.  But man oh man did they answer some questions.  The month of “Brocktober” officially began as the BrockStar, Brock Holt led the team to a 16-1 bully beatdown of the Bombers.  Holt would hit for the cycle that night.  His homerun was off a position player, but it was the first ever playoff cycle any way you dice it.  Boston would wrap the series up the next night in dramatic fashion because Kimbrel couldn’t lock the game down.  But Red Sox fans went to bed happy because they were on to the ALCS. 

Boston would once again play Game 1 on their home turf.  This round they had a 7 game date with the Houston Astros, last year’s World Series Champions.  This was going to be a massive hill that would have to climb over if they were going to be crowned champions.  Game 1 went to the Astros behind a good outing by grizzled vet Justin Verlander.  Chris Sale started for the Sox and he didn’t look like the ace the fans would come to expect.  The vibe from Game 1 was that the Red Sox were going to be overmatched in this series.  In typical fashion for the 2018 Red Sox, they showed everyone they would not roll over.  

Game 2 was back and forth early on but again the Sox didn’t waiver and pulled out the win 7-5.  The JBJ heroics started in Game 2.  His bases clearing double was the main reason the Red Sox evened the series at one apiece.  The series headed south to Houston with both teams ready to battle for a chance to go to the World Series.  Boston would go ahead and sweep the games in Houston 3-0 and win the series 4 games to 1.  Nathan Eovaldi tossed a gem in Game 3, Jackie Bradley Jr continued his clutch hitting and Mookie Betts was robbed of making the greatest postseason catch of all time.  

The ALCS had its fair share of drama and theatrics.  From Andrew Benintendi’s game winning catch to seal Game 4 to watching David Price finally win his first game in the postseason.  The American League Championship Series consisted of two of the best teams in the MLB and this matchup did not disappoint.  Winning the American League is great and all, but here in Bean Town we expect championships, and the Sox had one more matchup to win if they wanted that title.

The World Series was a matchup of major sports markets.  These are two heavyweight franchises haven’t played for a title in the modern era.  Boston would have to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers if they wanted to be awarded the championship trophy.  This would be no easy task.  Just like the two series prior they would be facing off with one of the best teams in baseball.  The Dodgers represented the National League in last year’s fall classic as well.  

Games 1 and 2 were in Boston.  Chris Sale took the hill in Game 1 and David Price got the nod in Game 2.  Sale came out and wasn’t the dominate starter we have come to know here in Boston.  Sounds funny to say he wasn’t as sharp as normal when he had 7 strikeouts but he only pitched 4 innings and gave up 3 earned runs.  Sale didn’t need to be dominating for the Sox to win.  Every time the Dodgers put a run on the scoreboard the Red Sox were there to say “not today boys.”  Capped off by an Eduardo Nunez pinch hit three run dinger, Boston would get the win 8-4.  

Game 2 felt the same as Game 1.  David Price took the bump and gave his team a good outing going 6 innings and only giving up 2 runs.  This team always had the backs of their teammates.  In the 4th, Price gave up the lead and yet the Dodgers go into the 5th winning 2-1.  Price’s teammates wouldn’t let that happen for too long.  Highlighted by a JD Martinez two-run single, Boston scored 3 times and was able to hold onto that 4-2 lead.  Kimbrel closed the door in the 9th.  He had done so for both games in Boston.  

Something baseball fans all over noticed, Nathan Eovaldi was acting like that 8th inning shut down reliever the Sox desperately looked for all year long.  Yes, projected Game 3 starter Nate Eovaldi had pitched in both games to start the series.  The next game would be played in LA.  Game 3 was one of the hardest games I’ve ever had to watch.  I was in New Hampshire enjoying a weekend getaway with some family and we tuned in at 8:09.  What none of us could have guessed was that the game was going to go on FOR-EV-ER.  Game 3 wouldn’t end until the 18th inning…18 innings!  The game went on until like 3:30 in the morning.  I actually blame my Saturday hangover on not being able to go to bed on Friday, but that’s neither here nor there.  

It started as a pitcher’s duel as the Dodger’s Walker Buehler and Boston’s Rick Porcello exchanged zeros for the first 2 innings then Joc Pederson hit a home run off Rick Porcello in the 3rd.  The score would stay 1-0 all the way until the 8th inning.  In the 8Th JBJ stepped up to the plate and blasted a home run off Dodger’s closer Kenley Jensen.  The game would move onto extra innings until the Sox scored in the top of the 13th inning off a misplayed ground ball.  Fans all around were ecstatic at the notion of not only this game ending but the Red Sox coming out victorious.   But to Sox fans dismay, Nunez decided to fall into the stands at let a runner at first to run to second then Ian Kinsler slipped when fielding a ground ball and threw the ball away allow LA to tie the game.  **Insert Michael Scott GIF** No, Nooo, No! No, no , no!  The game that would never end continued until Max Muncy hit a weak home run to left field and thankfully sent everyone home in the bottom of the 18th inning.  As a Sox fan you didn’t want to see that game get away, there was a lot of momentum on the line.  

Nathan Eovaldi was supposed to start Game 4 BUT he pitched an inning in Games 1 and 2, then threw over 90 pitches in relief in Game 3.  This kid was a complete savage.  Since Eovaldi couldn’t go, Alex Cora asked Eduardo Rodriguez to take the hill.  He pitched well until everything fell apart in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Yasiel Puig thought he put the game away with a monster three-run home run.  The Sox wouldn’t quit.  Mitch Moreland hit a pinch hit three-run home run that still hasn’t landed.  Moreland’s homerun made it a 1 run game, then Steve Pearce came up in the top of the 8th.  Pearce would homer off Jensen, he just kept giving up bombs, and tied the ballgame.  Fans in attendance were speechless as this team just fought their way back in.  Pearce would continue his hot hitting as he cleared the bases in the 9th blowing the game wide open.  Boston would take the game 9-6 and would take a commanding lead on the series.  

I personally thought it would only go 1 more game.  Game 5 was just your old fashioned butt whooping.  David Price pitched 7 innings of one run ball and Mookie Betts, JD Martinez and the man of the series Steve Pearce would supply the offense.  Chris Sale was the guy Cora called upon the end the series and he delivered.  He struck out the post season’s villain Manny Machado on a slider.  The BOSTON RED SOX WERE THE 2018 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!!!  That will never get old.  Pearce won the MVP even though I think it could have easily gone to Price.  The Red Sox would celebrate in LA but bring the title back home to Titletown.

This team just had that magic.  Throughout the season you couldn’t help but witness this team’s will to win.  Led by new manager Alex Cora, this Sox team will go down as an all time great.  I loved following the Sox this year, and I’m already counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report in February.  What an incredible season it was.   Let’s go Red Sox…..Let’s go Red Sox…..Let’s go Red Sox.

Follow me on Twitter @Matty_wests1de

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