Ronan’s First World Series!

Another Red Sox World Series you say? Sure. Beating two 100 win teams on the way too it? Even better. First one without my Dad, ouch. First one with my son, AWESOME. Even though at 14 months he’ll have no clue it happened, this is maybe the first instance where I’m going to need him more than he needs me.

Babies are NEEDY. Totally reliant on their caregivers for everything. What you do is you become the caregiver your child needs, mostly without even considering it. I mean you plan as much as you can, you buy the shit you are need, you listen to people you know who’ve done this, AND ALMOST NONE OF THAT MATTERS. It’s a shit show, sometimes literally. And it’s great, but the one thing you learn early is your kid needs and wants your help and attention. Because the concept of concept doesn’t exist for them, you can’t explain ANYTHING to them. They don’t know what is going on, at all, in any sense. All they know is, I’m hungry, I’m dirty, I’m tired and they let you know all of it AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS!

Ronan in a quieter moment, probably wondering what he is wearing.

The most rewarding thing I’ve done is sooth my kid after a nightmare, he needed me because he was scared, and I made it better. It’s a feeling that can’t be quantified or qualified (at least by this writer). But as we approach Tuesday’s opening of the World Series in Boston, I’m going to be reliant on HIM in ways I’m not sure are quantifiable or qualifiable.

Baseball has always been my families (and many, many other’s) ultimate pass time. My Dad brought me to games starting the early 80s. The earliest ticket stub I’ve seen in 1984, so I’d have been 5. I saw Griffey Junior play with his Dad in his first season. I saw Yankees Ricky Henderson in a game that ended in the 13th inning with a Mike Pagliarulo home run that my Dad heard on the radio because I had fallen asleep about the 10th so we headed home. I used the pee troughs at Fenway, if you don’t’ know, you won’t know, that type of bathroom system isn’t coming back, but just imagine what you think it is, and you’re close enough. These experiences add to the generational memory of how my grandfather brought my Dad to Fenway and then my Dad brought me and my sister. And now I’ll get to bring Ronan.  

There wasn’t a lot my Dad and I saw eye to eye on, but prior to 2004 Red Sox skepticism was one of them, and after 2004 Red Sox revelry was the other. It didn’t much matter what we were fighting or disagreeing about it would all go out the window when a ball game came on, at least temporarily. That’s all done now. And it was been for a couple of years because my Dad succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

This trip to the World Series is a big shock to the system reminder that he is gone, and that’s been tough the last couple of days.

The good news is now I’m the father and I get to share all my experiences with Ronan the way my Dad did with me. I’m going to lean heavily on Ronan during this World Series. Granted we won’t be talking strategy because well he doesn’t say a whole lot, or understand anything about baseball. I mean he’s 14 months and goes to bed at 7 when most games start, so it’s hardly his fault. Oh and all that child brain development stuff.

But I’ll be sure to talk to him about the games, for myself, and in the way I would to my Dad. It’s not the words that will be for Ronan, those are for me. The experience is for Ronan.

My hope is that in the end Ronan can use maybe his two favorite words to describe the Dodgers, much like he describes the microwave beeping, “ALL DONE!”

Now onto baseball.

There is a huge problem baseball wise, with the AL having the DH and the NL not. I used to think the concept was a quaint quirk. But it’s not, it creates a very unlevel playing field in a significant number of ways, in both directions. And I’m not going to delineate them here, because the rules are the rules, but here is how the Red Sox can capitalize on them to make the Dodgers “ALL DONE!”

  1. Dominate in Fenway. The Dodgers haven’’t been to Fenway since 2010. Win the first two here in the chilly October air and it puts the Red Sox in the driver’s seat the rest of the series.
  2. Keep the top four of the lineup in at all times. And this is how the games should start.

VERSUS RIGHTY                                                    VERSUS LEFTY

1 Mookie Betts 2B                                                    1 Mookie Betts CF
2 Andrew Benintendi LF                                           2 Andrew Benintendi LF
3 JD Martinez RF                                                      3 JD Martinez RF
4 Xander Bogaerts SS                                              4 Xander Bogaerts SS
5 Mitch Moreland 1B                                                 5 Steve Pearce 1B
6 Rafael Devers 3B                                                   6 Eduardo Nunez 3B
7 Sandy Leon C                                                        7 Ian Kinsler 2B
8 Jackie Bradley Jr. CF                                             8 Christian Vazquez CF
9 Pitcher                                                                    9 Pitcher

I think these lineups give them the most flexibility to do double switches and utilize their very deep bench.  

Being totally honest, I don’t want Kinsler on the roster. I don’t think he’s been good enough, but I don’t see any chance that he is left of, so I’m going to use him instead of Pearce at 2B, although that’s the truly inspired choice against lefties.

Now do I think the Sox will be willing to put Jackie Bradley on the bench to start a game? I doubt it, but I think it’s a strong strategy. Their outfield defense is important, but won’t matter a lick if they can’t score runs and JD Martinez is too good a hitter to limit to 1 pinch hitting appearance for 3 straight games.

I don’t actually care which catcher plays. I think both are good defensively and both are going to play in every game I imagine, let’s just not let Blake Swihart back there in a game that is close.

One of the biggest cards the Red Sox hold is they hate Manny Machado. He’s the guy that hurt Dustin “the captain” Pedroia so if they truly want to avenge their brother, we should see it in either a Joe Kelly fastball into his ass or a true beat down of the team as a whole, in the form of a 4 game sweep. I’m going to lie, I would love Chris Sale to come out in game 1, brush Machado back, then strike him out. The boos will reign down upon Machado as fierce as they ever did Alex Rodriguez or Roger Clemens as a Yankee. Can he take it? Probably, he’s not well liked anywhere outside of Baltimore and now L.A. and I don’t begrudge fans of this teams cheering for him. Loads of people hate dozens of Boston area players for similar reasons, but I’m not going to stop cheering for Trot Nixon, Rajon Rondo, Brad Marchand or maybe most similarly Rodney Harrison. When they are on your team you cheer for them, when they aren’t you hate them.  

I think this series should be a lot of fun. I think both teams have a lot of talent. But I think the experience of winning 108 regular season games and they summarily dismissing the 100 win Yankees and 103 win Astros from the postseason is invaluable. Sure the Dodgers played in and won a game 7 in the NLCS, and lost the World Series last year, and that’s something, but they struggled mightily at times this year, as recently as during the NLCS. Can they win? Sure. Clayton Kershaw is a force of nature, and could win 3 games himself, but asking him to win 2 games in Fenway is a tall task. Not that Chris Sale is a guarantee to win or even start games 1-4-7 like I think Kershaw will, but home field advantage and the flexibility of Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello favors the Red Sox distinctly in this regard. Especially if the Sox can steal game 4 in L.A. from Kershaw.

So with all of the above being said, Red Sox win in 6. I really want to pick 5, but I’m not sure which Chris Sale we are going to get in game 1. I don’t think it will be the difference in the series, as I think the Sox could adjust going forward, like in Houston, but I do think it’s very possible the Sox are in a 0-1 hole after tonight. So 1 week from now I will watch the Sox win their 4th title of my lifetime, the 1st of my son’s lifetime and in the morning I’ll hold him tight, I’ll miss my dad and I’ll ask Ronan, ‘what are the Dodgers?’ and hopefully after a modicum of coaching he’ll give me a big, bold “ALL DONE!”

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