Boston Red Sox: There was Never A Doubt

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The moment the Boston Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, one thing became very clear: this team was going to win the World Series.

On Sunday night, the Sox “finally” brought a World Series championship back to Boston with a stellar pitching performance by no one other than David Price.

Despite the naysayers and the critics (myself included) who said David Price couldn’t pitch in the playoffs, that the Sox bullpen was a fatal flaw, and that you couldn’t rely on the starting rotation in the postseason, the Sox still managed to dominate in the playoffs just like they dominated in the regular season.

Let’s take a look back at three different articles that I wrote throughout the year and compare them to the current narrative in the city.

January 9, 2018 – The Boston Red Sox Are Stuck

Before the Sox signed J.D. Martinez in the offseason, I wrote a pessimistic article about the state of the team:

“The problem with this Red Sox team is that they seem to be “stuck” with no ways to improve. Take a look at the roster right now. Because the team has a lot of young players, it is the same roster as last season. How did the Sox fare last season? They got swept in the first round. The starting pitching was solid but inconsistent in September and October. In addition, the offense was not consistent enough and they lacked a middle of the order home run hitter. The Sox just did not have the talent to match up against teams like the Houston Astros or the Cleveland Indians…

0Although the Sox did make a change in the offseason by firing John Farrell and hiring Alex Cora as manager, it is hard to imagine Cora having transformative effects on the team. There is only so much a manager can do in baseball… Who knows, maybe Bogaerts will have a better year because he will be healthy. Maybe Betts has another MVP-type season and Benintendi and Devers become absolute studs. Maybe JBJ can hit consistently and the pitching staff stays healthy and can finally pitch well in September and October. Maybe the Sox sign Martinez or another power bat. And maybe Cora can propel this team into a World Series contender. But realistically, until the Sox break up the young core and obtain a middle-of-the-order superstar who can hit home runs like Manny Machado, I don’t see this team being a World Series Contender, and it should make for an underwhelming season.”

Yikes. I was not the only person who was pessimistic about this team at the time. The Sox had not signed Martinez yet, and nobody knew how good he actually was. Little did we know that Martinez would change everything about this lineup, the starting pitching and bullpen would pitch great in October, and that the team would come together as it did. Oh, and I take back what I said about Machado. Screw that guy.

Red Sox fan @robbymckittrick looks back at the 2018 season in hindsight after his team's World Series championship.Click To Tweet

April 11, 2018 – Seven Big Takeaways from Record Start

After the Red Sox began the season with a franchise record 9-1 start, I wrote a positive piece about Price, Xander Bogaerts, Alex Cora, and my overall belief in this Red Sox team.

“Price finally looks comfortable in Boston, and I would expect nothing but great things from him this year. It is time to jump on the Price bandwagon… Bogaerts looks like he is going to have a big year, but he has to stay healthy… Well, with the addition of J.D. Martinez in free agency and with the new energy surrounding this team under new manager Alex Cora, I am officially all in on this Red Sox team. In just 10 games, this team has me hooked. Sorry Celtics and Bruins, but the Red Sox are taking over Boston again (I know Bruins fans disagree)… After destroying the Yankees last night, I can only conclude one thing: this team is for real. It should be an exciting summer and fall for this Sox team. Sox Nation: get ready.”

Wow. In just a few weeks into this season, I jumped on the Price bandwagon. However, I don’t want to say I saw his postseason success coming (take a look at my next article). One thing was clear from the beginning: Alex Cora brought new life and energy into this team in a way that I could not expect until I saw it first hand to begin the year. They started off hot and kept it going the ENTIRE season!

July 23 – Is This Boston Red Sox Team for Real?

During the middle of the year, I wrote a piece wondering about whether this team could win it all. Price and Joe Kelly were not pitching well, and people thought that the team’s bullpen woes would be a fatal flaw in the team:

“David Price is a mental mess. Joe Kelly seems to have no confidence. Porcello is a gamer but can get shelled and has a bad history in the postseason… The bullpen and starting pitching is definitely a concern and a weakness… Overall, I disagree with the assertion that you should be pessimistic about the Red Sox winning the World Series. They have as much of a chance as anyone. I am not saying you should be optimistic either. How about cautiously hopeful? Many things can happen before the playoffs start. I do not yet 100 percent believe in this Red Sox team, even with this historic regular season run. But they are playing at an unreal pace and something does feel special about this group. I like the overall team chemistry and attitude of this ball club. This Red Sox team feels like it has a winning culture. I love Alex Cora’s mentality and demeanor. Obviously, it is easy to notice and appreciate these things when the team is playing almost .700 baseball. But whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about this team in the playoffs, take a moment to enjoy the way the Sox are playing right now because we may never see it again.”

Even when the Red Sox were playing lights out in the middle of the season, I still did not fully believe in this group. However, it was clear that it was a special team and that we were watching something happen in front of our eyes. In no universe did I expect elite performances by Price and Kelly in the playoffs, key contributions from late-season acquisition players Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi, and the unquestionable magic of Alex Cora.

October 29 – World Champions

It is the day after the Red Sox won the World Series, and the team proved that the bullpen was not a “fatal flaw,” and this team was “for real” and not “stuck” at all. I think it is important to remember the dialogue of the city throughout the year during a World Series run, which is why I discussed a few pieces that I wrote during the season.

When the public states things over and over again, you often think it is a fact. “The bullpen is a fatal flaw,” people said. “David Price can’t pitch in the postseason,” we all said. You can get sucked in and start to believe what the majority or loud minority believe. Sometimes it is true, sometimes it is not.

In the past two world championships, people have doubted both teams. I include myself in that list. Let’s be honest, the 2013 team was a fluke. There was a good reason to doubt them, and Farrell was a terrible manager. But this team was no fluke. They were the best team in baseball and they proved it by beating the New York Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers. Those are all REALLY talented teams, and they made them look weak.

Is it important to think critically and question and critique your team? Absolutely. Did this team have weaknesses? 100 percent.

This was a special Red Sox team. What makes a championship team is a group that believes, comes together, and produces under pressure and in important moments. That is what this Red Sox team did all year and continued to do in the playoffs. Time and time again, they had clutch hitting and big pitching performances, and that speaks of the mental makeup of the team. Baseball is a mental game. It always has been and always will be.  Just two games ago, the Sox bounced back to win after losing the previous day in 18 innings and trailing 4-0 in the late innings in Game Four. That is what the team did all year long, and that is why they are the 2018 World Series Champions.

Remember the dialogue that existed throughout the year about your team. Remember the doubt. Remember the storyline. That is what makes winning special. Time to celebrate.

 

 

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