They were the best team in baseball all year. The 2018 Boston Red Sox won 108 games. They took care of their hated New York Yankees rival three games to one in the Division Series. They de-throned the defending champion Houston Astros four games to one in the League Championship Series, and they unceremoniously dispatched the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one in the World Series. Crank up Dirty Water by the Standells, and Tessie by the Dropkick Murphys. The Boston Red Sox are the champs.
As for the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite being the first National League team in 40 years to get to the World Series in consecutive years (when the Dodgers did it in 1977 and 78), they are still 30 years and counting from winning their last ring. The Red Sox accomplished this year what the Dodgers tried to do last year—have the best record and become world champs. This year's Dodge club was good, but not as good. They got by, needed an extra day to win the division, showed some fortitude against a young, up-and-coming Atlanta club, and then needed seven games to win the pennant against a Milwaukee team with no starting pitching.
Let's now recap the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. If you watched, you could tell almost immediately that things may not go well for the boys in blue. Little things, tell tale signs that the Dodgers weren't going to win the World Series. Feel free to use your best Jeff Foxworthy voice when reading the italics below...
When you bring in a lefty reliever in the seventh inning, and he gives up a three-run homer on just his second pitch, you might not be winning the World Series. Clayton Kershaw struggled in his first -ever start at Fenway Park, but it was the three-run bomb by Eduardo Nunez off of Alex Wood that broke open game one for the Red Sox. That would end up being a harbinger of things to come. The Dodger pen was awful in the series, and starters couldn't, and weren't used to, going very long.
When you can get two outs in an inning, but not three, you might not be winning the World Series. Boston did it all series long, managing to score runs with two outs. In game two, Hyun-Jin Ryu couldn't go five innings, Ryan Madson gave up a two-run single to J..D Martinez, and the Red Sox won 4-2. The Dodgers went back to LA down 0-2, with things not looking all that promising.
When it takes you 18 innings to finally win a game at home, you're probably not going to win the World Series. It was a game for the ages (I didn't get to see any of it)—a seven-and-a-half hour marathon where 46 out of a possible 50 players were used, culminated by a Max Muncy walkoff homer. Wood, who gave up the game one homer to Nunez, was the winning pitcher in that game, and the Dodgers had hope. For now.
When your bullpen coughs up a 4-0 lead, there's a pretty good chance that you're not going to win the World Series. Having won the 18-inning marathon the night before, and having seemingly broken open a 0-0 game with a four-run sixth, Boston would answer with a 3-run seventh, add a run in the eighth, and blow the roof off the dump with a five-run ninth and a 9-6 win. It was about then that you began to notice how many Red Sox fans there were at Dodger Stadium.
And when a guy named Steve Pearce hits two home runs in the final game and is named MVP, and he doesn't play for you, you are not going to win the World Series. Pearce also homered in the Dodger bullpen debacle that was game four, and was awarded a nice red truck on the post-game show. Kershaw struggled again, while David Price, also having begun this series with a less than stellar postseason record, was brilliant and got the 5-1 win. David Freese led off the Dodger first inning with a home run—the final run of their season. Freese now becomes a free agent, as does Yasmani Grandal, Ryu, Brian Dozier, Madson, Manny Machado, and a couple of others. Manager Dave Roberts doesn't have a contract for next year at this point, and Kershaw can opt out of his deal. It's an old saying, but the Dodgers have been living it—it's easier to get to the World Series than it is winning it. The Dodgers have been living it for now more than 30 years.
Add Kershaw: It seems way to early to talk about this, but it isn't. Kershaw has until Wednesday to opt out of his current contract, which would make him a free agent. Kershaw is 30, and would be guaranteed 65 million dollars over the next two years if he chooses to stay. His health hasn't been great lately, and it would be a large roll of the dice if he were to walk away from that kind of money now, but perhaps there would be a team or two (like the Red Sox or Yankees?) who might dangle that kind of cash. Not because of any kind of loyalty on either side, but the good guess here is that Kershaw stays, and maybe even gets some kind of extension from the Dodgers in the process.
Life in a Northern Town: I think this is why fans in Los Angeles didn't care when they didn't have an NFL team. The San Francisco, Sacramento, Chico, and Reno markets (among others) didn't get to see the Rams and the Packers on Sunday (the best late game the league had to offer) because we were instead treated to the miserable San Francisco 49ers against the just as miserable Arizona Cardinals. The Rams are still undefeated and came from behind to win, while our Fox affiliates gave us three hours of ineptitude. Of course, three more hours followed, watching the Dodgers lose the World Series.
Pick six: They say this is the first time its ever happened. There were six home games by Los Angeles area sports franchises yesterday. The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks of the NHL, the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer, and the Dodgers. Two guys reportedly attended parts of five of those games in person—skipping the Ducks and the traffic that is Orange County.
Legend no longer living: Long time Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald died last week. Greenwald was the lead radio broadcaster when I moved to northern California in the 1980s, and his style and brand of humor made a team other than the Dodgers listenable for me. Greenwald had a dry wit, and during one broadcast, when he caught himself going on and on about numbers, he said, “you know 70 percent of all statistics are meaningless.” When I repeated that to someone in the business, he had to explain to be that that was a joke. I never met Hank, but I have met his son Doug a couple of times, who is a minor league broadcaster in Fresno. Hank Greenwald was 83.
We've got your number: 117 days until the Dodgers first spring training game.