It matches one team with sheer depth and talent against another with the most wins in baseball as the Dodgers and Red Sox gear up for Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.
Los Angeles punched its ticket to face Boston by getting past Milwaukee in Saturday night’s Game 7 of the National League Championship Series 5-1 while Boston got past the Astros in five games to set up a compelling series matching the two best teams in Major League Baseball.
The Red Sox, who won a franchise best 108 games in the regular season, are 7-2 in the postseason but the Dodgers appear to be a complete team with plenty of players who can provide clutch hitting and power. From top to bottom the team is loaded with talent in the likes of Manny Machado, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, whose go-ahead three-run homer was the final run production the Dodgers needed in their win over Milwaukee in the NLCS finale.
“They play with energy, too,” Boston Manager Alex Cora told MLB.com. “Dodger Stadium will be loud. It should be a great World Series.”
Cora knows the Dodgers about as well as any team, having a front row seat last season when he served as bench coach for the Houston Astros, who beat the Dodgers at the Fall Classic in seven games.
The Red Sox first-year manager says his club will be facing a big challenge, telling MLB.com: “They’ve got two different lineups, against righties and lefties. Their rotation is pretty solid. They’ve got a great closer (in Kenley Jansen). They do a lot of things, running the bases and all that. It’s a tough team. Relentless.”
The two teams haven’t met on the grandest stage since back in 1916, when players like Zack Wheat, Pinch Thomas, Dutch Leonard, and Wheezer Dell were deep-rooted with fans of the day. There was even a 21-year-old young sensation by the name of Babe Ruth pitching for the Red Sox against the then Brooklyn Robins, later becoming the Dodgers.
Of course, Ruth won’t be around for the best-of-seven series Tuesday night in Boston’s Fenway Park. The 102 years between the two iconic franchises playing in the World Series is the longest in Major League History. Next were the Giants and A’s who went 76 years between Fall Classic contests while the Yankees and Phillies went 59 years, marking the top three most years apart.
There are so many storylines going into the series, including when both Cora and LA Manager Dave Roberts played together for the Dodgers as the 2004 season began. Later as a Red Sox, Roberts stole “The Base,” the most notable stolen base in October history. On a night when the Yankees were up three games to nothing in the American League Championship Series and on the verge of sweeping the Red Sox, Roberts came in as a pinch runner for Kevin Millar, who had just walked against the Yankees’ great closer Mariano Rivera. Roberts slid into second safely and came home in dramatic fashion on a Bill Mueller single, and the Red Sox went on to win in extra innings and ultimately became the first team to come back from an 0-3 postseason series in baseball.
It all started with the man hoping to bring a World Series Championship back to Los Angeles. Everyone, it seems, knows that has been a long time – since 1988.
It’s fair to say, Roberts is looking forward to the challenge of getting it done. “It’s great for baseball,” he said about the two storied World Series teams matching up. “Two storied franchises going head-to-head. It’s going to be great for baseball.”