The 2018 Boston Red Sox were never the underdogs. They did not break the curse of the Bambino. They did not come out of nowhere to unite a city during times of tragedy. Entering the 2018 baseball season expectations for Boston’s beloved baseball team was World Series or bust. The team knew it on February 19th when Chris Sale was asked about his expectations for the season in which he said “The goal is World Series Championship”.
On October 28th, Chris Sale, who had been dealing with shoulder issues for the majority of the second half of the season, came out of the Sox bullpen. Sale walked to the mound with one goal which he had echoed from day one of spring training: To win a World Series and cement the 2018 Boston Red Sox as the greatest team to ever step foot in Fenway Park.
What the 2018 Red Sox accomplished goes beyond baseball, for me. This season will stick with me forever. I watched every pitch of every game whether live or on replay. Every at bat from opening day on Thursday March 29th, when Joe Kelly, eventual World Series legend, imploded on route to a 6-4 loss to the Rays. I invested my heart and soul into this team.
The Moments To Remember
When asked to pick a moment or an at bat that stands out to I am at a loss. Not for a lack of options but rather an abundance of such. April 8th, when the Sox scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth to overcome the rays. April 11th, when Joe Kelly showed what the Sox were made of by beaning Tyler Austin and starting a bench clearing brawl. July 2nd, when Rick Porcello roped a three run double off Max Scherzer to lead the Sox to a 4-3 victory of the Nationals.
Who could forget the most electrifying at bat of my lifetime? Mookie Betts came off the bench to pinch hit in the bottom of the fourth against Blue Jays starter J.A Happ. Betts grinded out a thirteen pitch at bat and smoked a 95mph fastball down and in over the green monster for a grand slam. That moment as Betts was rounding first base looking into the Sox dugout pumping his fist was the moment it became evident this team was special.
From that point on, resilience became the first word associated with this team. An historic 108 win season, the probable A.L MVP, the best power hitter in the game, yet it was a one for all, all for one mentality to the very end. Nothing embodies that mentality better than three Red Sox relievers trying to warm up on two mounds to have a chance to pitch the last three outs of the World Series.
After two straight years of being bounced in the first round, the juggernaut entered the postseason facing the gauntlet. First came the 100 win New York Yankees, who set a major league record for home runs hit in a season. Chants of “We Want Boston” were heard all across New York during the Yankees wild card win over the Athletics. Unfortunately for New York, the Yankees fans got what they asked for.
After splitting the first two games at Fenway, the Sox faced a daunting challenge heading into the lions den that is Yankee Stadium. A moment that Aaron Judge will regret for a while was when he decided to taunt the Sox by walking by their locker room with a boom box playing “New York, New York”. Two games later the Sox were moving onto the ALCS after outscoring the Yankees 20-4 in New York. Steve Pearce made a stretch for the ages and damage was done to the hearts of Yankee fans everywhere.
For a team to be an underdog in a series after setting a franchise record for wins is unheard of. Naturally, the defending World Series champion Astros were favored to win the ALCS. Yet confidence in the Sox locker room never wavered. It took five games for the Sox to dismantle the Astros.
The Sox played with a swagger that I had never seen before by a team. That was again on display when Andrew Benintendi made a diving catch for the final out of game four. That catch will go down in history given the situation of there being bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. No fear, no hesitation, is why two weeks later the Red Sox became World Champions.
The Sox finished off the Astros in game five when Devers hit a three run homer off ace and postseason hero Justin Verlander. No pitcher could stop the Sox from doing damage, Verlander learned that the hard way. David Price on three days rest clinched the series and his first career win as a starter in the postseason by pitching six innings of shut out ball.
Two 100 win teams. 8 wins down, 4 to go, a chance to be remembered as the greatest Sox team in history was on the line.
The Final Chapter
The Dodgers were no stranger to the big stage coming off a game seven loss in the World Series a year ago. The talk was about the elite starting pitching of the Dodgers coming into the series. It took 7 hours, and 20 minutes. A terrible error by Ian Kinsler, and a historically bad day for the Sox to lose their first game in October away from Fenway Park. That loss showed the World why in forty years everyone will be talking about the 2018 Red Sox. They cannot and will not be knocked out.
Nathan Eovaldi came out of the bullpen and threw six spectacular innings. The impending free agent could have asked out and not one of us would have second guessed him. Instead he stood in there and fought until the bitter end. What transpired at Dodgers Stadium that night was the most heroic performance by a pitcher in postseason history. That is what sports is all about. Leaving everything out there for your teammates and brothers.
That is why the Red Sox are champions once again. No ego, no quit, win together and lose together. When Chris Sale threw his signature slider to bring Manny Machado to one knee and seal the title, history was made.
Thank you for a journey that I will never forget. For the rest of my life I will remember the greatest baseball team to ever play in Boston.