Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Joey's Soapbox: My 2018 Completely Unbiased World Series Pick

There will be no bias in my World Series pick.  Nor will there be hints in this photo.  I promise.

Howdy do, everyone!  This is Joey Beartran, and we've reached the end of another baseball season, one in which the Mets have been off for the last three-plus weeks and the Yankees got one step closer to their first decade since the 1910s without a World Series appearance.

The New York teams are two of 28 clubs that failed to qualify for the Fall Classic.  The squads that did make it to baseball's final week, however, are ones that have given Big Apple baseball fans many reasons to hate them over the last few decades.

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers franchises are meeting in the World Series for the first time since 1916, when the then-Brooklyn Robins took home the National League pennant and Yankee fans had no ringzzz to brag about.  It's been so long since the two teams have met in October that even Scott Atchison would have a tough time recalling the events of that Fall Classic, one in which the Red Sox defeated the future Dodgers in five games.

That 1916 championship was the fourth World Series victory for Boston in 14 years and kept Brooklyn from winning its first title.  This year, the Red Sox are seeking their fourth trophy in 15 seasons and the Dodgers are going after their first championship in three decades.

Will history repeat itself a little over a century later?  Or will the Dodgers become the latest team to end a long championship drought, following the Astros from last year (first title in 57 seasons), the Cubs in 2016 (first time winning it all since the Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Superbas) and the Royals in 2015 (we will not speak of that title)?

Sit back, grab a cold one and read on, since that's the only way you'll find out who will win this year's World Series.  I mean, you're not actually going to stay up to watch these five-hour games with relievers coming in every 20 pitches and umpires going to the replay headsets five times a night as if Angel Hernandez were working the game, are you?  (Editor's note: Angel Hernandez is not an umpire in this year's World Series, mainly because Rob Manfred actually wants people to watch the games.)

The World Series should be fair now that Angel Hernandez has tossed himself from it.  (Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images)

World Series

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox steamrolled their way through the American League, winning a franchise record 108 games before disposing of the Yankees and defending champion Astros in the playoffs.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers needed to play a 163rd game just to win the division and then went to a seventh game against the Brewers in the NLCS after defeating the Braves in four games in the Division Series.

Both teams have strong starting pitching, but at least Boston allows its pitchers to go deep into games.  Former Red Sox hero and current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will usually take out his starting pitcher once he realizes his jersey doesn't say Kershaw on the back.

As far as each team's offense goes, we know the Dodgers' formula.  They either strike out (117 Ks in 11 postseason games) or hit home runs (53.5% of their runs in the postseason have come via the long ball).  Meanwhile, the Red Sox are all about making solid contact, as they've produced 28 extra-base hits and have struck out just 67 times in this year's playoffs.

The bullpen edge clearly moves the needle in the Dodgers' favor, as Kenley Jansen has yet to allow a run in the postseason while Boston's Craig Kimbrel has been watching the "How to Pitch Like Armando Benitez in the Playoffs" video before each appearance.

If the Dodgers can continue to hit timely home runs and be lights out in the bullpen, they'll be fine.  Similarly, if the Red Sox can continue to string together hit after hit and extend their starting pitchers into the late innings, they'll succeed in this series.

On paper, this appears to be a tight series; one that's too tough to call.  But predicting this year's World Series winner is really a no-brainer for me.  And here's why.

Peyton Manning played 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before moving on to the Denver Broncos after the 2011 campaign.  Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl with his new team four years later.   Similarly, Ray Bourque, who played 21 seasons without a championship in Boston, finally hoisted the Stanley Cup in his last year in the NHL after leaving the Bruins to become a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2000.  And of course, if you're a player who wants to retire as a champion in the NBA, all you have to do is join the Golden State Warriors and you have a free ride to Titlesville.

What does this have to do with this year's Fall Classic?  Well, the Dodgers have a player who is retiring from the game once the series is over.  He played 13 seasons with one team before moving to L.A. at the trade deadline in 2015.  Now he's trying to go out as a champion, just like Manning, Bourque and fill-in-the-blank Warriors players.  One problem, though.  His name is Chase Utley.  And I'd rather be Fred Wilpon's accountant than the one to say that Utley is going to be the latest athlete to go out on top with a new team.

Plus, the Dodgers just knocked Curtis Granderson's team out of the playoffs.  Then there's that thing about every team with exactly 108 regular season victories going on to win the World Series.  And don't forget that the Red Sox winning their fourth championship in 15 seasons would be the worst nightmare for Yankee fans who have only seen their beloved Bronx Bummers appear in one World Series over the same time period.

But since I'm completely unbiased, I'll just say the Dodgers won't win this World Series because they're not good enough to defeat the juggernaut Sawx.  And because Dave Roberts needs to always be loved in Boston.

Prediction: Red Sox in 5.

Chase Utley will have plenty of time to be horizontal once the Red Sox bowl over his team.  (Stephen Carr/Daily News)

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