By Bob Nightengale |
They ran around Dodger Stadium in euphoria Sunday evening, jumping into one another’s arms, screaming at the top of their lungs, hugging everyone they could find, delirious in their ecstasy.
There was never any doubt they’d be World Series champions, believing from the first month of the season they’d be the last ones standing, king of the baseball mountain.
Still, now that the moment finally was here, winning 5-1 to capture the World Series 4 games to 1, the torrent of emotions hit them all at once, leaving them surprisingly emotional.
David Price, who pitched the biggest game of his life, walked away minutes after their team picture, and covered his face with his sweatshirt, wiping away the tears. Fellow pitcher Rick Porcello, trying to explain what this World Series meant to them, kept apologizing to the reporters around him on the field, for crying.
Chris Sale, who threw the final pitch, leaving October villain Manny Machado swinging at nothing but air as he struck out the side, grabbed the trophy and ran to left field. He couldn’t talk. Not yet. He kept running and running, waiting for his family to arrive.
There, they stood, Sale hoisting the World Series trophy in the air, with his wife, parents and kids to his side, walking toward the infield, saying that he always imagined what heaven would feel like, but now he knows.
“This,’’ Sale said, still holding his trophy, “means everything. It’s surreal. To be a World Series champion, it’s the greatest feeling the world.
“Sitting in my bed and throwing a ball to the ceiling as a kid, playing catch with my dad, my mom dragging me all over the stage of Florida, and now to be standing here. I’ll never forget this as long as I live.
“Really, this team will be remembered forever.’’
It will be debated throughout New England which Red Sox championship team was the best in franchise history, but only two teams in baseball ever won more than the Red Sox’s 119 victories, and few were ever more respected and beloved.
“There’s no question in my mind,’’ Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said, “that this is the greatest team in Red Sox history. It should live forever.’’
The Red Sox, who won 108 games during the regular-season, the only team in baseball never to lose four games in a row, stormed through the postseason, taking down everyone who dared stand in their way. The New York Yankees went down in four games. The defending World Series champion Houston Astros went down in five. And the National League champion Dodgers, who were one swing away from being swept, also went down in five games.
The Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals are the only teams who have won more World Series titles in history, but the Red Sox stand alone as the kings of this century, winning four championships in 15 years. It may not quite qualify as a dynasty, but it’s an era of greatness that no one in Boston has witnessed in 100 years, winning four World Series titles in 1912-1918 before going 86 years until their next.
“We are one of the greatest teams in history,’’ Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly said, “and now we will have that bond forever.’’
It will be the team that produced American League MVP Mookie Betts, unveiled slugger J.D. Martinez’s greatness, exposed Sale’s prowess, revealed the significance of late trade deadline moves (Steve Pearce), and forever changed the narrative of Price.
Price, who entered the postseason with the stigma of never winning when it mattered in October, going 0-9 with a 6.16 ERA as a postseason starter, won the biggest one of all, pitching the finest clinching game since Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants in 2010. He yielded a 1.98 World Series ERA, and was only the fifth pitcher in history to yield three or fewer hits in at six innings three consecutive postseason starts.
The crowd chanted over and over, “David Price! David Price! David Price! And, oh, was that revenge ever, so, sweet.
“I hold all the cards now,’’ Price said, “and that feels so good. Feels so good. I can’t tell you how good it feels to hold that trump card.
“You guys (reporters) have had it for a long time. You’ve played that card extremely well. But you don’t have it anymore.
“None of you, and that feels really good.’’
The Red Sox were ecstatic that everyone got to see Price’s tenacity, the man who started and won Game 2, pitched in relief in Game 3, warmed up in Game 4, and started and won Game 5 with a three-hitter through seven innings. They talked about the sacrifice of Sale, pitching through pain throughout the postseason, taking so much medication for his shoulder that it left him hospitalized. They talked about Nathan Eovaldi’s courage, throwing 90 pitches over six innings in their 18-inning loss on a day he wasn’t even supposed to pitch. They talked about Pearce’s clubhouse presence, joining the team in July, and fitting right in as if he were a Red Sox draft pick.
And if anyone dared to ridicule any of them, whether it was Ian Kinsler’s critical throwing error in Game 3, or Mookie Betts’ struggles until homering in Game 5, you better take them all on, because every last one of them had each other’s back.
“All of the critics, all of the haters out there,’’ J.D. Martinez said, “you got to shut up now.’’
The Red Sox finished off the Dodgers by outscoring them 14-3 in the final 12 innings of the Series, and this time when Cora tried to give a speech after the game, he was able to deliver only six words:
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you.’’
The champagne corks popped. The beer was sprayed. The party was just starting, with the after-hour festivities scheduled at their Pasadena hotel, with their parade scheduled Wednesday in downtown Boston.
“Fire up those Duck Boats,’’ Sale said. “We’re coming home! We are champions of the world!’’