As we all know by now, the Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series.
I believe I had that. Although I said they'd need six games to do so, and they did it in five.
Some Thoughts-At-Large from The Grandstander on the just completed Fall Classic.
- This just in.....The Red Sox are really, really good. No surprise there. 108 wins in the season, beat the 100 win Yankees and the 103 win Astros in the AL Playoffs, and dusted off the Dodgers in five games in the Series. Ruthless and efficient, that is what these Red Sox were in 2018.
- Aside from the Red Sox dominance, this was a rather unmemorable World Series. After the first two games, I said on Facebook that unless the Dodgers did something to alter the course of events, this thus far juiceless World Series would go down as one of the more unmemorable ones in recent memory. Well, Game Three turned that statement pretty much upside down when the teams played 18 innings over 7 hours and 20 minutes, both world Series records, that the Dodgers won with a Max Muncy walk off home run.
- No, I did not stay to the end of that game, which ended at 3:30 AM here in Pittsburgh. I made it through eleven, and gave way to the sandman. I just couldn't stay awake any longer.
- This was also the World Series where we were bludgeoned with endless streams of no, not cigarettes and magazines, but endless reams of 21st century baseball metrics and analytics. Launch angles, exit velocities, catch probabilities, and such arcane minutia like percentage of curve balls thrown by pitcher Jock LeStrap when he has two strikes on right handed hitters in even numbered innings vs. odd numbered innings. Stuff like that. I am not a complete Luddite, and if baseball guys can use such analytics to win games, I say go for it, but please, please don't present it all to me in such mind-numbing detail.
- Speaking of analytics, both managers, Alex Cora and Dave Roberts, are strict analytics guys. Every move that Cora made (with one exception) worked. Every move that Roberts made blew up in his face like a cheap exploding cigar.
- In Game Four with the Dodgers holding a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, Yasiel Puig came to bat with two men on and Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez obviously laboring. The Sox metrics guys said that despite all of that, Rodriguez should be the guy to pitch to Puig. Puig then hit one that I believe has still yet to land on Southern California soil, and LA led 4-0, and appeared to be in a position to turn the Series around, but more on that in a bit.
- As for the Dodgers' metrics, and this is just one example, they somehow told Roberts not to start Cody Bellinger in three of the five games. They also told him to keep using Ryan Madson in relief. In three games, Madson came into pitch and inherited eight base runners, all of whom scored.
- After that Puig home run in Game Four, we got a glimpse of the cold blooded efficiency of the Sox. They responded with three runs in the seventh, one in the eighth, and five in the ninth on the way to a 9-6 win that removed all doubt, if any existed at all, as to how this Series was going to turn out.
- Getting back to metrics, they are great, I suppose, over the course of a 162 game season, but in a short, best-of-seven series, not so much. Sometimes a manager has to know, just KNOW when to make a move and go against what the seam heads are telling you. When to start a left handed hitter against a lefty, when to pull pitcher even if the book says leave him in, or when to leave him in the game. In that pivotal fourth game, Cora left his pitcher in when he should have yanked him, and Roberts pulled Rich Hill when maybe he should have let him go for another couple of batters. Cora's Sox bailed him out, though, whereas Roberts' lads did not.
A word about World Series Most Valuable Player Steve Pearce.
I think that it was a well deserved award, and I am delighted that a journeyman, and his career path is the very definition of that term, like Pearce gets this moment of glory and that fancy big ass Chevy truck. Pirates fans will remember that he is a product of the Bucco organization. An eighth round draft pick in 2005, he was the team's Minor League Player of the Year in 2007. He was a teammate of both Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker in Altoona and Indianapolis. Of those three players, which one would YOU have predicted would one day be a World Series hero? He made it to Pittsburgh in 2007 and spent parts of five seasons as a Pirate (I would never have guessed that he was here that long), but never made it like Cutch and Walker did. In parts of five seasons as a Pirate, he played in 185 games and hit .232 with 9 HR and 52 RBI.
After leaving Pittsburgh after the 2011 season, he kicked around with six other teams, landing in Boston midway through this season. How fortuitous for him.
Some people have said that the MVP Award should have gone to pitcher David Price, and a case can certainly be made for him, but I'm glad it went to Pearce. Let's face it, Price is a star, he's cashed in on free agent gold at least once in his career, and may be able to do it again before he's through. He is a five time All-Star, a Cy Young Award winner, and now he's a World Series champion and hero. He's also made $144 million over the course of his career and is guaranteed to earn another $127 million under his current deal. Pearce has kicked around with seven teams, made $23.2 million. He's a free agent again, and while his World Series heroics may help him in free agency, he'll still be scrambling for another contract, and he won't come close to making what David Price makes. So again, I'm happy for Steve Pearce.
In conclusion, this Series will be remembered, if it is much remembered at all outside of New England, for three things:
- Total domination by a great team, the Boston Red Sox.
- That monumental 18 inning, 7 hour and 20 minute third game.
- The fact that wizened, gnome-like 84 year old Larry King hung there for all 18 innings of that game.
He never made it back for Games Four and Five.
Maybe that's why the Dodgers lost.