The World Series pairing is set. Both teams are worthy of participation, so fans should be happy. TV execs are likewise happy to see Boston and LA as the participants; given MLB’s “final four” this year, this is the final pairing likely to draw the most eyeballs to TV sets. Yes, I know that Houston is a large city and a larger TV market than Boston. Notwithstanding the population disparity, baseball is a bigger deal in Boston than in Houston.
The US has very different regional sports interests. Baseball is big in the northeast; NFL football is big in the northeast – – but college football is only a minor attraction. In the south and particularly the southeast, football of all variations is huge, and baseball is something fans pay attention to when football is “on hiatus”. Houston is “football country”; Boston is “baseball territory”.
Both league championship series provided some history and drama. Once it was necessary for the Dodgers and the Brewers to decide their series in a Game 7, something “important” had to happen:
- The Dodgers had not won a Game 7 since 1988 – the last time they won a World Series. So, they won their first such game in 30 years.
- The Brewers, on the other hand, have never won a Game 7 in franchise history. That status remains.
Regarding the controversy of “fan interference” in the Boston/Houston series, all I can say is that Joe West botched the call. He has seen the replays and the still photos of the event, and he now knows that he botched the call. He will not, however, be forthcoming and say he made a mistake. I believe that Joe West is genetically incapable of such behavior. I suspect that LaVar Ball will take a vow of silence before Joe West admits he blew that call.
The Red Sox beat a very good Astros’ team and the Sox appeared to be in control for most of the series. David Price seemingly exorcised some of his “playoff demons” in this series. When he took the mound in Game 5, he brought an ERA of 6.15 in playoff games on his shoulders. His opposing pitcher, Justin Verlander, brought with him a reputation as a guy who pitched his best in the biggest games. It was not a Game 7; even if the Sox had lost, they would still have two more chances to wrap up the series. Nonetheless, here is how David Price performed:
- He threw 6 shutout innings allowing only 3 hits.
- He struck out 9 Astros and walked no one.
In the NL championship series, Clayton Kershaw likewise seemed to exorcise his playoff demons. Kershaw has been a dominant regular season pitcher – – perhaps THE dominant MLB regular season pitcher – – for the last 8 years. In that span, he has won the Cy Young Award three times and has finished second in the voting twice. However, his playoff performances have been far less impressive. At the start of this series, he had appeared in 21 games throwing 133 innings with an ERA of 4.23. Making that number even worse, Kershaw had allowed 5 runs in a playoff game 7 different times and no pitcher in MLB history had ever suffered that fate.
In Game 5 against the Brewers, Kershaw defied the narrative that he chokes in big playoff games. He was in deep trouble in the 3rd inning but pitched out of it allowing only a run. When he left the game his stats for the night were:
- 7 innings pitched allowing 1 run and 3 hits.
- He struck out 9 and walked 2.
One well-pitched game does not offer total redemption to either David Price or Clayton Kershaw, but both of them came through when their teams needed them in 2018.
As to predictions for the World Series:
- Clearly, the Red Sox were the better team in the regular season wining 108 games as compared to the Dodgers winning 92. [Aside: The Red Sox have dispatched two opponents to get to the World Series and both of those opponents had won 100 games or more in the 2018 regular season.]
- The oddsmakers in Las Vegas have installed the Red Sox as favorites in the Series at odds of “minus-130”. The Dodgers are at +110.
- Many of the baseball writers think the Red Sox will dominate the series; it would seem that “Sox in five games” is the most common prediction floating out there. If that is to be the case, I think that Chris Sale must be fully recovered from whatever arm ailments and intestinal ailments he has encountered over the past month or so.
Since the upcoming weekend will be my annual autumnal pilgrimage to Las Vegas, I have an enlightened self-interest in rooting against a sweep by either team. Anything other than a sweep will give me 3 games to watch and wager on this weekend; so of course, a sweep is the worst possible outcome. I’ll go fully hedonistic with my prediction here maximizing the games for me to see:
- I like the Red Sox in 7 games.
Finally, here is a Tweet from humor-writer, Brad Dickson:
“There’s a new World’s Oldest Man. Man, they keep dying. I’m beginning to think that title is cursed.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………