LOS ANGELES — Seven months ago, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora gathered the 54 players and staff members for a team dinner, two days before the season opener.
He saw a room overflowing with talent at the 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House in St. Petersburg, Fla. There was hardware everywhere he looked. MVP winners. Cy Young winners. Rookies of the Year. And an abundance of All-Stars.
What he didn’t see was jewelry.
“How many guys in here have ever won a World Series championship?’’ Cora asked.
Only three hands went up: Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt.
That was the night the Red Sox culture was born.
When they gather again next spring Cora may have to revise his line of questioning: “Ok, how many of you guys have ever won back-to-back World Series titles?"
The Red Sox became the greatest baseball team since the turn of this century Sunday evening, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, and winning their fourth World Series title in 15 years.
It’s a team that won 119 games, the third-most in baseball history, and could be remembered forever in New England folklore as the greatest Red Sox team of all time. It's certainly the best of this run.
“It’s up there,’’ says Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was on the Red Sox’s 2004 World Series team. “I like the starting pitching we had in 2004, offensively very balanced, but (this team is) probably more athletic than the teams that I remember. Considerably better defensively. The base-running. The threat to steal a base — up and down the lineup. The bullpen strength and the arms, that's real.
“You don't win 108 games in that division, that league, in this day and age, unless you're a pretty good club.’’
This was a team that lost their season opener — “when a lot of people wrote the season would be a disaster,’’ GM David Dombrowski said — and barely lost again. They won 17 of their next 18 games, were the only team never to have a four-game losing streak all season, ran away with the AL East, and dominated the postseason, winning 11 of 14 games.
They were a machine, the Boylston Street Bullies, pounding everyone into submission, but somehow managing to stay rather likable, whether it was MVP favorite Mookie Betts feeding the homeless after Game 2, closer Craig Kimbrel dealing with his infant daughter’s heart defects, or the zany journey from Japan to the World Series for reliever Ryan Brasier.
“I'm very proud of them, and I'm glad that people are recognizing them all over the world,’’ Cora said. “It's a likable team. They’re humble. And now people are getting to know them.’’
And Boston will get to welcome them home with a Duck Boat parade and victory lap.
“I think it's the guys we have,’’ Red Sox ace Chris Sale said. “It's kind of the culture that A.C. [Alex Cora] set, as well. We like to have fun, and we have our moments where we show our excitement and attitude, but as a whole we have guys that just play the game the right way.
“They show up, work hard, play hard, and go home. Really, all we’ve ever cared about is winning.’’
They made it into a true art-form, clinching the division in Toronto, winning the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium against the Yankees, winning the pennant against the defending World Series champion Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, and now winning the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium.
“To be the GM of one of the most historic franchises in professional sports like the Boston Red Sox, and to win a World Series championship at Dodger Stadium,’’ Dombrowski said, “it’s hard to envision much better than this.
“This is one of those teams that don’t come around too often, and people just fell in love with this club.
“I think this team will be remembered for a long, long time.’’
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