BOSTON (CBS) — It’s the World Series matchup everyone wanted.
Boston vs. Los Angeles. East coast vs. West coast. Boston vs Magic Johnson (again). Alex Cora vs. Dave Roberts.
With that, let’s get things started with a few random thoughts as the World Series gets set to take over Boston on Tuesday night:
– The demeanor of this Red Sox team is impressive and I believe that begins with their manager. They have a lot of fun playing the game, but they play hard and they play the right way. After the Sox beat the Astros in Game 5 to win the ALCS in Houston, they celebrated (as they should), but it wasn’t over the top. They had their fun on the field with a team pic, went into the clubhouse and did the trophy thing and then they let the champagne flow.
However, it didn’t flow long and it never got out of hand. In fact, most guys got their champagne spray in, answered questions from the media, but then high-tailed it to the back room to eat. After that, the focus was on seeing friends and family on the field, take a few pictures, and then head to the bus to catch the team plane home. Nothing over the top. Fun, but more business-like. And that describes their manager. Alex Cora comes across as this fun-loving, carefree baseball guy. He is, but he also puts in a tremendous amount of work. His team is the same way.
-Terry Francona, John Farrell, and Alex Cora. All three won the American League pennant in their first year as manager of the Red Sox. Francona (‘04) and (Farrell ‘13) went on to win the World Series, and now Cora has the chance to do so as well.
– The much-maligned Red Sox bullpen has responded big-time with the combination of Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, a starter working an inning of relief, and Craig Kimbrel (with Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree sprinkled in from time to time). The bullpen has a 3.62 ERA and is five-for-five in save opportunities this postseason.
Kimbrel tight-roped his way through Game 4 in New York and Game 5 in Houston, but seems to have figured things out. I firmly believe that Cora wanted and needed to go to Kimbrel for the ninth inning in the ALCS clincher to A. get the job done, but B. show Kimbrel that he still had confidence in him. Cora knows if the Red Sox are to win a World Series, that Kimbrel needs to be the guy to finish games.
– You’ve probably seen it thousands of times, but do yourself a favor and fire up “The Steal” again with Dave Roberts coming to town as manager of the Dodgers.
Roberts has said this many times and he’s right: One of the hardest moves to pull off is stealing a base — when everyone in the ballpark, including both dugouts, knows you’re in the game for that very purpose. Robert’s swipe in Game 4 against the Yankees is arguably the biggest stolen base in the history of baseball. Great to watch and I’m sure he’ll get a nice ovation when lineups are introduced prior to Game 1.
– Chris Sale pulled off the belly button explanation flawlessly. Now it’s on to Game 1. He had some fun with the media and Ian Kinsler added that he’s thinking of getting a nipple ring if the Sox win the World Series. That would be something to look for if there is a parade.
– Mookie Betts has been working with Dustin Pedroia on the double play pivot at second base. As long as Mookie can maneuver around the bag, having him play second when the series shifts to Los Angeles is workable. Having Jackie Bradley Jr. sit for two or three games is not ideal strictly from a defensive standpoint. Add a hot bat to it and there’s an ever better chance that this move will happen.
Mookie has played second base his whole life. He’s an athlete. He should be fine.
– We’ll have more as we get ready for what should be a fun series. Can’t wait!