This morning Red Sox Nation was basking in the glory of what was the most thrilling and satisfying World Series their team has played since at least the Warren G. Harding Administration. The latest iteration of the Olde Towne Team set a new standard for excitement, nail biting, and a sense of a job-well-done, taking the Series in six games against the formidable Cardinals.
Unlike the straight-set victories in 2004 over St. Louis and Colorado in 2007, this World Series was a struggle, and with that added element, makes this all the more gratifying for those fans who faithfully endured the team’s rapid descent in September 2011 and brief bottoming-out in 2012.
Arguments can be made from outside the Hub for the 1975 Series being better, as it’s widely regarded as the best ever, but despite Carlton Fisk’s body english Cincinnati prevailed. You can also say that the 1912 Series when the Sox trailed by a the Giants 2–1 in the 10th inning of the deciding GAME 8, only to score two in the bottom of the inning on a run-scoring single by Tris Speaker and the only sacrifice fly to ever end a World Series, swatted by Larry Gardner. But nobody’s around to argue for that one.
The path taken to this title was an obstacle course like few (if any) others, winding through many of the game’s greatest arms with Cy Young Award winners and candidates at every turn. That quality showed in the numbers, as those starting pitchers Boston faced in the postseason had a collective record during the regular season of 160–82 (.661) and a combined ERA of 3.34, 1.20 WHIP, 3.23 strikeouts per walk and 8.28 strikeouts per nine innings.
That pitching held the Sox to just a .227 average, the lowest in a postseason for a champion since the 1988 Orel Hershisher-led Dodgers also his .227. But like those Dodgers (remember Kirk Gibson?) whenever the Red Sox needed a big hit, they got it. From David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS to Shane Victorino’s bases-clearing double in the World Series clincher, Sox hitting came through when it mattered most.
In the history of the World Series there had been just five bases-clearing doubles, and since 1985 only Anaheim’s Garret Anderson in 2002 had managed one. The Red Sox became the first team in history with two such hits in Fall Classic history, and both of those hits, Mike Napoli’s in the first inning of Game 1 and Victorino’s in the third inning of Game 6 set the tone of this championship. Each of those hits transformed a 0-0 game early, to a decided Boston advantage.
During the Series Boston scored in 14 of the 52 innings they came to bat, accounting for multiple runs in eight of those. By contrast the Cardinals, despite out-hitting Boston for the series .224 to .211, scored in just 10 of their 54 times at bat, scoring more than one run in an inning just three times. Like during the regular season, there was a different hero every night.
While the team is likely to undergo wholesale changes during the winter, it’s too soon to worry about the business of the game. For right now its time to savor the taste of victory, enjoy the parade on Saturday and be thankful for being able to experience a team and a title that was, from the outset, hard fought and won by doing everything the right way.
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He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrateds 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.
Now living in Marblehead, hes focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.