Sizzling hot take: baseball is a crazy game. Only baseball can deliver the most likely event – the two best teams in baseball in terms of regular season record meeting in the World Series – in the least likely or even remotely predictable manner possible.
The Red Sox seemingly overmatched by the dominant Tigers starters all series long, win four out of six games and move on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
It wasn’t simple nor was it easy for Boston. In a (hilarious) post-game interview, Shane Victorino said the Sox “did the little things.” This is partly true. They did the little things – but the little things didn’t matter nearly as much as the enormous things like hitting grand slams late in games.
There is sure to be a lot of focus on Jim Leyland and the way he managed Game Six, pulling Max Scherzer and playing match-ups in a way that seemed…less than ideal ? (Maybe use your best relievers more, not less, Jimbo).
The other side of this very coin is the relative lack of scrutiny over Boston’s John Farrell and his in-game tactics. This is the way things work, you see. Farrell and the Sox won. It doesn’t really matter that he called on a terrible reliever in a huge spot or suggested badly-timed bunts. They’re still headed to the World Series either way.
They’re headed to the World Series thanks to the totality of many little things. A blown call on Scherzer’s 3-2 pitch to Xander Bogaerts. Prince Fielder‘s running his way into permanent infamy. Detroit’s glove-only shortstop Jose Igelsias booting a routine ball up the middle, leading to a batter who should be overmatched, the ice-cold recovering switch hitter Shane Victorino, hitting a grand slam. Victorino’s joyous bound around the base paths was the culmination of a dozen tiny, incremental changes/choices that ends with Koji Uehara striking out two more batters en route to a nearly perfect postseason…so far.
The two best teams in baseball will meet in the World Series. That doesn’t happen often. It doesn’t happen often because so much of playoff baseball is guessing which direction a superball bounces off a brick wall. For the two best teams to successfully run that gauntlet, they need a few unexpected breaks just as the “inferior” teams get when they come from nowhere to win a title.
The Red Sox took advantage of situations as they were presented. They made their own luck, in a way. They earned the right to play for the World Series title. They exchanged both great plays and head-scratching moments with the Tigers but the tried and true combo of timely hits (homers, really) and strong bullpen work won the day.
Just as we all expected when the postseason began – the best teams would also get the most luck on their side. That totally seems fair.