World Class Red Sox
By Larry Dierker
The 2018 Boston Red Sox play like they are on a mission to restore baseball to a place in time that’s not far from my days on the field in the 1960s and 1970s. They go about their business just like professional baseball players used to do, before the big money and big TV created ballplayer rock stars.
Just Make the Plays
The Kid, Ted Williams, would be proud of them. Carl Yastrzemski, too. They didn’t go in for histrionics; Ted wouldn’t even tip his hat. The young players on this version of the Sox, like Rafael Devers, seem to fall into the vibe: make the plays and get big hits — even if you have to punch them up the middle or to the opposite field.
In two games, there have been only two home runs. Most of the tallies have come the old-fashioned way.
The way a lot of folks like it.
Last year, the Astros and Dodgers hit more home runs in the extra innings of one game of the World Series than what was hit by the Red Sox and Dodgers in the first two baseball games in 2018.
All Business: The Red Sox Way
I don’t know where Dustin Pedroia got The Red Sox Way: that tough-minded businesslike attitude. But I think his teammates are channeling the energy you can see in his eyes.
Big Papi, Dewey, and Rico
David Ortiz put on a power show now and then, but he was no Reggie Jackson. Dwight Evans was money in the bank, yet you hardly noticed him. Rico Petrocelli was right in the middle of it — full of life. He might throw a punch, but he would never show up a teammate, or even an opponent.
It’s an ethic that has passed down from former owner Tom Yawkey, who was known to play pepper with the batboys.
Dave Dombrowski- The Architect
I would have to have been in Beantown all those years to really know how it all connected, but I’m sure Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has been a big part of it lately. His version of the Sox has won three consecutive Eastern Division championships.
I got to know Dave when he was a young executive with the Expos. In fact, he took a disjointed expansion team and turned them into a force. They would have broken the Braves’ streak of 14 NL Eastern Division championships in 1994, if not for the baseball strike. He left in 1991, just before the Expos came together.
Success in Miami
By then, he was spending Wayne Huizenga’s money with the Marlins — enough to build a Blockbuster team that won the World Series in 2003 with his chosen manager, Jimmy Leyland.
When the Marlins couldn’t make a profit, even with that team, Huizenga held a fire sale. He ultimately sold the same guys he had purchased two years earlier.
Tigers By the Tail
Dombrowski landed in Detroit in 2002, which was a dismal situation in more ways than one. He took over a weak team that didn’t draw flies. Or, maybe it did and had them back in the World Series by 2006.
Dombrowski led the Tigers to five playoff appearances, four consecutive American League Central Division titles, four American League Championship Series appearances (including three consecutive from 2011 to 2013), and American League pennants in 2006 and 2012.
Red Sox on a Roll
In Boston, he really hit his stride after he arrived in August 2015. The Red Sox have won their division three consecutive years, culminating with a record 108 wins in 2018.
Fun at Fenway
Honestly, it’s a lot of fun to watch the Red Sox play. One might think that with Alex Cora coming over from Houston to manage the team, they might play with a bit of a flair, like the Astros. But no, they play old-fashioned hardball.
The brightest stars in the Red Sox lineup — Mookie Betts and J. D. Martinez — fit in neatly, with little fanfare save the roar of the crowd.
I can’t imagine it’s just that Williams, Yawkey, Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Petrocelli, Evans, Pedroia, and other Red Sox alumni have passed the baton so gracefully over the years. There has to be more to it.
Luis! Luis! Luis!
The Red Sox did have a mustachioed, cigar-smoking pitcher named Luis Tiant. He may have been their secret ingredient in the 1970s. If the Sox run into trouble in LA — and they could — they might have to bring El Tiante out to Fenway for a first-pitch ceremony when they get back to the Hub.