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Fall Classic subplots rich, plentiful for Sox fans

Cora's final Astros assignment, Roberts' return to World Series stage as manager among compelling storylines
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

What should be a fascinating World Series between the Astros and Dodgers pits one team that won 101 games during the regular season and another that reeled off 104 victories.

The amount of talent on both rosters should make it a fun watch for any baseball fan. And if you're a Red Sox follower, there are a few other reasons why this World Series is likely to hold your interest. Here are six.

What should be a fascinating World Series between the Astros and Dodgers pits one team that won 101 games during the regular season and another that reeled off 104 victories.

The amount of talent on both rosters should make it a fun watch for any baseball fan. And if you're a Red Sox follower, there are a few other reasons why this World Series is likely to hold your interest. Here are six.

:: World Series schedule and coverage ::

1. Cora's final days with Astros

Alex Cora has one more assignment for the Astros before starting his job as manager of the Red Sox. What better way for Cora to wrap up his first and only season as bench coach of Houston than to sit next to manager A.J. Hinch during the World Series?

The experience of living these pressurized moments with Hinch and Houston's players should serve as an invaluable training ground for Cora, who hopes to manage in games this big with the Red Sox. Nothing prepares you for the World Series like being involved in it. Cora played in the Series for the Red Sox in 2007, and now he'll get the experience as a coach.

2. Roberts always in hearts of Sox fans

Every time the television cameras flash to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during the World Series, Red Sox fans will get a warm feeling. It's amazing that Roberts appeared in just 48 games for Boston (including postseason), because his playing career will forever be defined by what he did with the Red Sox.

With Boston trailing, 3-0, to the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, and down by a run in the ninth inning of Game 4, Roberts came on as a pinch-runner for Kevin Millar. Even though the Yankees knew he was going to try to steal, he was able to do so anyway. Then he came roaring home on an RBI single by Bill Mueller and the Red Sox were on their way to the most historic comeback there has ever been in the postseason.

In this World Series, perhaps Roberts will give one of his players the green light when the season depends on it -- much like manager Terry Francona did for him 13 years ago.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm 4: Roberts sets up, scores tying run

3. Reddick goes after first ring

Outfielder Josh Reddick was drafted and developed by the Red Sox, and his first 143 games in the Major Leagues were for Boston. In one of those trades the Red Sox would like to have back, Reddick was dealt to the Athletics for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney on Dec. 28, 2011. While the oft-injured Bailey and reserve outfielder Sweeney never did much in their time with Boston, Reddick went on to have a solid career for the A's and Dodgers before landing in Houston.

Reddick is fresh in the minds of Sox fans. In Game 3 of the AL Division Series, Reddick deflected a fly ball by Jackie Bradley Jr. into the stands for a three-run homer. After the game, he came up with one of the lines of the series. "You could hear the fans chanting my name all the way in Foxboro."

But the Astros were able to avenge their only loss of that series the very next day when Reddick came through with a two-strike, two-out hit against Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning to give Houston the lead and, ultimately, the series victory. It was hard for Red Sox fans to have anything but begrudging respect for Reddick at that time. In the World Series, they will probably feel compelled to root for him.

Video: HOU@BOS Gm3: Reddick on Bradley Jr.'s home run play

4. Hill a true feel-good story

When the Nationals had let Rich Hill go in 2015 and he was pitching for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent League, the Red Sox thought he was worth another look. Though Hill hadn't pitched as a starter in the Major Leagues since 2009, the Red Sox gave him a shot to recapture his old role. In four games for Boston in September of '15, Hill went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA. Included in that run was a magical complete-game shutout capped when Mookie Betts robbed a home run out of the bullpen from Baltimore's Chris Davis.

Hill left as a free agent after that season and signed with Oakland. He has emerged as a key rotation member for the Dodgers and will start Game 2 of the World Series. Not only did Hill play for the Red Sox in 2010-12 and '15, but he is also the pride of Milton, Mass., and still maintains roots in the Boston area.

Video: WS2017 Gm1: Hill talks building off last year

5. (Former) Sox fan playing center for 'Stros

The first batter of the 2017 World Series will be George Springer, the center fielder for the Astros. As a child, the Connecticut native would frequent the stands at Fenway Park, dreaming of one day playing in the World Series. Now he gets to live out that dream for the Astros.

Springer tormented the team he rooted for as a kid in the ALDS, hitting .412 with two doubles and a homer while making several fine plays in center field.

6. Kapler's influence

Gabe Kapler, a fan favorite during his time with the Red Sox (2003-06), nearly had a chance to manage the Dodgers. But his former teammate Roberts beat him out for the job two years ago. Kapler has still had a hand in this run to the World Series for the Dodgers in his role as director of player development. It was Kapler who had the chance to give Cody Bellinger the big news in late April that he was going to the Major Leagues. Bellinger clearly proved that he was ready, and his big rookie season (39 homers, 97 RBIs) is a big reason the Dodgers are here.

Shortstop Corey Seager is another prospect who flourished in the Dodgers' system before enjoying immediate success. When prospects have instant success in the Majors, it reflects well on the director of player development. Kapler has taken well to that role the last three years, and hopes to be a manager in the Majors at some point.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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