We get Boston against Los Angeles in the World Series, the way it used to be the Celtics against the Lakers in all those NBA Finals. But this time, it's Boston against Los Angeles for the first time in baseball history. If you want to go through all the reasons
We get Boston against Los Angeles in the World Series, the way it used to be the Celtics against the Lakers in all those NBA Finals. But this time, it's Boston against Los Angeles for the first time in baseball history. If you want to go through all the reasons why the World Series we've got is the one we should have been rooting for all along, start there.
Once the Dodgers were the Brooklyn Robins, and the Red Sox played the Robins in the World Series in 1916. But after that the Red Sox never played a Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. It has taken all this time for two of the sport's iconic franchises to meet up in October, the way they will meet up at Fenway on Tuesday night for Game 1.
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So we've got that going for us and more.
No small market vs. big market this time. Instead, it's the biggest payroll in baseball this season in Boston against the third biggest in LA. And they'll split time between the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, old Fenway, and the third oldest, Dodger Stadium.
The Red Sox are the favorites, and they ought to be. It's not just because they have home-field advantage after having the best home-field record in the sport this season. They won 108 games during the regular season and have now beaten the Yankees in four games and the Astros in five this postseason, which means they have eliminated a combined 203 regular-season wins from World Series contention. There have been other teams to beat 100-win teams to get this far, but not many.
The Dodgers? They now become one of only six teams in baseball history to be 10 games under .500 -- they were 16-26 on May 16 -- and make it to the World Series, and the first team since the '05 Astros to do so. Los Angeles is also making back-to-back World Series appearances the way Tommy Lasorda's Dodgers did in 1977 and '78.
The Dodgers played the Yankees in those two Series, and in addition to all of the other storylines for the 2018 World Series, we now get the first East Coast vs. West Coast World Series since Padres-Yankees in 1998.
Of course, there are even more storylines than these. In 2004, as the Red Sox were on their way to winning their first World Series since 1918, it was Dave Roberts who produced the most famous stolen base in October history. It came in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees at Fenway Park, on a night when the Yankees were up a run and three outs away from a sweep.
But the great Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar, and Roberts entered the game to pinch-run for Millar. On the next pitch, Jorge Posada popped up and fired a dart, but Roberts slid into second safely. Bill Mueller then singled home Roberts. The Red Sox won in extra innings that night and did the same the next night en route to becoming the first team to come back from 0-3 to win a postseason baseball series. It all started with that walk to Millar and a stolen base from the guy now managing the Dodgers.
On Tuesday night, Roberts will come back to Fenway trying to help his new team win its first World Series in 30 years, this time against his old team. Talking to him one day last season, Roberts recalled that famous stolen base.
"I think about it quite often," Roberts said. "I think about what happened that night, and over the next three nights, obviously. I think about the opportunities it's created for me, and how it changed my life."
Roberts has his history at old Fenway, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the star manager of this baseball postseason, has his own history with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the club with which he broke into the big leagues in 1998. In 2004, the year that Dave Roberts stole that base in Game 4 against the Yankees, Alex Cora had his best season in the big leagues, playing 138 games for the Dodgers at second base, coming to the plate more than 400 times, hitting 10 home runs and knocking in 47 to bat a solid .264.
And when that '04 season began, Cora and Roberts were teammates in Los Angeles.
Nothing against the Brewers here. If they had made their first World Series since 1982, in such a great baseball city, it would have been a fine series. Nothing against the Astros either, who were trying to become the first team since the Yankees of '98, '99 and '00 to repeat as World Series champs. But the matchup we now get is arguably the best one we could have gotten, certainly the most interesting one.
"It's great for baseball," Roberts said about the World Series matchup. "Two storied franchises going head-to-head. It's going to be great for baseball."
Starting Tuesday night, we get to see a former Boston hero managing against a former Dodger. Clayton Kershaw will get to pitch in Fenway for the first time in his career. We get to see Boston and Los Angeles, with all the sports history between those cities meeting on the baseball field for the first time. We get Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Cody Bellinger, and J.D. Martinez, Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig.
There is even the chance that Betts, the best right fielder in the game, might play second base when the Series heads to LA. And Manny Machado, called a dirty player by Christian Yelich during the NLCS, will come back to Fenway, where he was once accused of a dirty slide against Dustin Pedroia.
So yeah, we get the best World Series now. One with just about everything except Bird and Magic.
Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.