Red Sox in six. Nailed it! For the record, I’m choosing to ignore the $50 bet I placed on the Rays to win the World Series right before the ALDS started and the fact that I thought there was no way anyone was getting through the three-headed monster of Scherzer, Verlander and Sanchez.
When it was time to make my prediction between Boston and St. Louis, I was immediately taken back to 2009. Even non-Yankee fans will agree with me that in 2009 it just felt like the Yankees’ year. The new billion dollar stadium, the nearly half a billion dollars in acquired free agents, the 15 walk off wins, being on the right side of the oft-questioned “neighborhood” rule late in game two of the ALCS and most importantly the incredible Kate Hudson’s magical lady powers morphed Alex Rodriguez from postseason goat to postseason hero.
To me, this felt like Boston’s year. They comfortably won the AL East, easily beat a young, talented Rays team in four games and beat Detroit by hanging tough with their aces and executing at the plate once they got into the bullpen. Their first year manager, who is a strong candidate for AL manager of the year, resurrected the clubhouse and franchise from the depths of despair it meddled in last year while posting a 69-93 record.
The Cardinals had a great year and Mike Matheny deserves some credit as well. Despite a lack of previous managerial experience, his career is off to a fantastic start with an NLCS and World Series appearance in his first two years. The Red Birds have a promising, young pitching staff and 22-year-old Michael Wacha became a household name this postseason with his multiple dominate performances, but the Red Sox staff had been there before and they pitched like it.
Jon Lester picked up where he left off in 2007, continuing his World Series dominance (3-0, 0.43 ERA) and erased any doubt stemming from the “sunscreengate” saga after game one with his dominant performance in game five. Clay Buchholz gave it everything he could despite pitching through pain and John Lackey won his second-career World Series clincher. Even the weakest link of the staff, Jake Peavy, is a former NL Cy Young award winner and someone who has pitched in big games before. Clearly he’s slightly regressed from the ace he was in San Diego due to age and a weird injury, but I don’t think there’s a team in baseball who wouldn’t love to have Peavy as their number four or five guy in the rotation.
As a Yankee fan, but more importantly a baseball fan, what made watching the Red Sox win a World Series tolerable was the play of David Ortiz and Koji Uehara.
Uehara once planned on becoming a gym teacher and became the closer only because of injuries to Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan. Yet last night it was Uehara, who posted a mind-boggling whip of 0.57 this season and tied a postseason record with seven saves, who struck out the final batter and jumped joyfully into the arms of catcher David Ross to celebrate what he narrowly missed out on in 2011 and 2012 with the Texas Rangers.
Big Papi put on a hitting clinic, simple as that. All the talk coming into the series was about Carlos Beltran being the best hitter in postseason history and it took Papi six games to put that idea to sleep. En route to winning the most obvious World Series MVP award in recent memory, Ortiz hit .688 (11-for-16), clobbered two home runs, drove in six runs and drew eight walks. His two-run homer in game one was merely insurance, giving the Sox a 7-0 lead, but his two-run blast off Wacha in game two put the Sox ahead 2-1 and was just the third hit surrendered the young right-hander.
His numbers are even more impressive considering his second at-bat of game one went in the box score as a sac fly, but was a grand slam if not for Carlos Beltran nearly going into the right field bullpen to pull it back!
Most importantly, the Red Sox won this for Boston. Like New Yorkers did with the Yankees and Mets after 9/11 and the people of New Orleans did with the Saints after Katrina, the Boston Red Sox provided an emotional escape for the people of Boston after the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the manhunt which terrorized the community in the following days.
The players and organization know what they mean to the city and the power they had following the Boston marathon bombing to lift the spirits of those affected. Everything from the Boston Strong logo mowed into the center field grass, to Big Papi telling a crowd of 38,000 people at the first post-bombing game at Fenway, “This is our f*****g city!!!” while on national television just made the Red Sox winning this year feel right.