I feel a lot better now, on Tuesday morning, after 18 innings worth of sleep last night, and the euphoria of my fourth World Series victory has eased. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still replaying highlights of the post-season in my head, but now the emotion is recollected in tranquility rather than embarrassing bouts of solo and solitary fist-pumping exhilaration.
The more I think about it – and I’m thinking about little else – the more I think we have witnessed something quite extraordinary in sports in general and baseball in particular.
Look at the stats. Spring training 17-2. Regular season 108-54. Post-season 11-3.
A friend described the 2018 Sox as a “juggernaut” which indicates a lack of finesse, the superiority of sheer power over nuanced skills. But it is true that the Sox were relentless throughout the season. Just look at the number of runs they scored with two outs. Just look at their ability to come back from the dead on so many occasions, notably in Game 4 of the Series itself.
Having finally succumbed in the bottom of the 18th to the Dodgers in the longest ever post-season game the night before, and then trailing 4-0 into the 7th in Game 4, the Sox came through 9-6.
What changed? Well, you can point to Steve Pearce’s four RBIs. But more important I think was the contribution from a man who was not playing at all. Chris Sale suddenly emerged as a version of Big Papi in Detroit, ranting, goading, exhorting, encouraging and insisting that his team-mates come through.
The TV did not pick up what he said. Cora later said that his English wasn’t good enough to understand, and Devers said that he couldn’t repeat it.
We can guess at the vocabulary. But we know for sure that it worked. The Sox scored nine runs from the seventh inning on to re-establish its dominance of the Dodgers.
The historic casting of the Sox as underdogs which some of us cling to is long gone. This was no David and Goliath scenario. The Dodgers had won 92 games in the regular season. The Yankees had 100 – they were beaten in their own house in the Divisional Series. And the Astros entered the Championship Series with 103 regular season wins. The Sox beat them in Houston.
In my naivety, I had predicted that each series would go to the wire. Oh ye of little faith!
In 2018, the Sox were simply the best. From beginning to end, from April to October. And my prediction is, it will get better.
Today from the everysmith vaults: After the World Series, the Bootleg Series: A first listen to More Blood, More Tracks. If you thought having the New York version as well as Minnesota was enough, think again. The development of these songs, as evidenced by this series of complete recordings, is fascinating, illuminating and rewarding The pick for me, today, is an early take of Call Letter Blues.