After 21 years, Dombrowski reaches top again

Red Sox president of baseball ops last won Series with Marlins in '97

October 29th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Dave Dombrowski gleamed on Sunday night as he roamed around the turf at Dodger Stadium in the aftermath of his Red Sox winning the World Series just a bit earlier with a 5-1 victory over the Dodgers in Game 5.

With his family and close friends next to him, Dombrowski said, "It took us a while, but we got it, didn't we?"

It was the most Dombrowski thing ever to say. His triumphs and his losses are something he's always shared with those closest to him. This journey was also theirs, especially his wife, Karie, his daughter, Darbi, and his son, Landon.

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And this moment was particularly sweet for the architect of what is the winningest team (119-57 including the postseason) in Red Sox history.

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Dombrowski's first and only previous World Series championship had come 21 years earlier when he was running the Florida Marlins, who were in just their fifth season of existence.

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In the 21 years between celebrations, Dombrowski had come close a few times, especially with the Tigers, when they lost in the World Series in 2006 and '12, and also had a gut-wrenching American League Championship Series defeat to the Red Sox in '13.

The pain of those losses has been replaced by elation.

"This is why you're in the game," Dombrowski said. "It's the best feeling you can possibly have from a professional perspective, and sometimes you wonder if it's ever going to happen again. We've been close a lot of times. My family is here, too. It's just as good as it gets."

Though Dombrowski didn't take an at-bat or throw a pitch in the World Series, his fingerprints were all over the accomplishment.

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Winning pitcher -- from postseason failures to postseason brilliance in the blink of an eye -- was magnificent in the clinching Game 5. In his first Hot Stove offseason with the Red Sox, Dombrowski signed Price. At times, the move came under scrutiny. But Price came up big this regular season, and in October.

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Chris Sale, who served as the closer in the World Series clincher, was the ace Dombrowski acquired in a blockbuster prospects-for-superstar trade with the White Sox a year after he got Price.

World Series MVP Award winner Steve Pearce was the right-handed bat Dombrowski acquired at the end of June. His job was to belt lefties around. Pearce did a lot of damage against righties and lefties in the Fall Classic.

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The emerging hero for Boston throughout this postseason was , the flamethrower Dombrowski got in July when everyone else thought he should acquire an impact reliever.

And let's not forget J.D. Martinez, the slugger Dombrowski signed during Spring Training to put a good team over the top.

When reminded of those moves, Dombrowski started being Dombrowski again and deflected the credit.

"I'm happy because I think they made us a better club, and I tip my cap to our scouts and big league staff that recommended them to us," Dombrowski said. "They were all involved in that. We made a lot of collective decisions at that time and we thought they'd help our ballclub as they ended up doing, and we knew we had a good club, so we were trying to see if we could make a difference at that time. It's apparent the way these guys performed."

Yes, the victory celebration made all of that very apparent.

Nobody enjoyed Dombrowski getting his due -- and another ring -- more than his close friend, Tony La Russa. The two men worked together with the White Sox what seemed like a lifetime ago, then went their separate ways and reunited this season, when Dombrowski hired La Russa as a special assistant.

"He's been so close," La Russa said. "He had a chance with Detroit, it looked like it was going to happen. The pressure was on him personally, because he wanted to be the leader of [another] world champion. Personally it was very important. The way he is, he shares it with everybody upstairs, everybody downstairs. He's not going to take any credit but he's a wonderful leader."

Red Sox owner John Henry had worked with Dombrowski when they were both with the Marlins and used to have a slogan back then, "In Dave we trust."

With Boston en route to back-to-back last-place finishes in 2014-15, Henry trusted Dombrowski again and hired him to run the Red Sox.

That decision worked out quite well.

"Well, look at who was the Series Most Valuable Player," said Henry. "Steve Pearce. Without him and David Price, we wouldn't be standing here right now. We wouldn't be standing here right now if David didn't turn in two outstanding performances. Nate Eovaldi did an incredible job.

"Look at the job Dave Dombrowski did. Steve Pearce. And we're set up for next year. Could we be better set up for next year?"

Once the parade is over on Wednesday, Dombrowski might take a deep breath or two. Then he will get started on that whole next-year thing.

But those thoughts were far out of his mind on Sunday, as Dombrowski took some time to savor the moment. He had only had one like it before in his baseball life.

"It's an emotion, and you don't get to this point very often where you can just let it go," Dombrowski said. "There's always that next pitch, next out, next game, and now it's next year, and we'll worry about that in a few days."