In a World Series that pitted two of the most decorated teams of all time, the Boston Red Sox came out on top, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games.
It’s the eighth World Series championship for the Red Sox and their third in the past nine years. Here are five things to take away from this year’s Fall Classic.
1. Party like it’s … 1918
The last time the Red Sox clinched a World Series title at home, World War I was still going on, and Babe Ruth was still a pitcher.
Before this win, the Red Sox had last won a World Series at Fenway Park on September 11, 1918, defeating the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in Game 6. The end of World War I was still two months away. On Boston’s roster was Ruth, a 23-year-old pitcher. Ruth went 2-0 in that World Series. Ruth later was sold to the New York Yankees, triggering what many fans termed the “Curse of the Bambino.” Decades later, Boston ended the supposed curse by winning the World Series in 2004 and winning again in 2007. But both of those celebrations came on the road, first in St. Louis against the Cardinals, and then in Denver over the Colorado Rockies.
Ninety-five years after last clinching at Fenway, the Red Sox earned their world championship trophy Wednesday night on their home field in front of their fans.
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2. The umpires got the big calls right
Outside of home run calls, there is no instant replay in Major League Baseball. But this umpiring crew got some of the most-talked-about calls right and avoided potential controversy.
In 108 previous World Series, no Fall Classic game had ended on an obstruction call. In Game 3 on Saturday night, St. Louis had runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jon Jay hit a ground ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia threw home, where catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tagged out Yadier Molina. But Saltalamacchia’s errant throw to third caused third baseman Will Middlebrooks to stumble, and he raised both legs and tripped Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig. Third base umpire Jim Joyce made the obstruction call immediately, and home plate umpire Dana DeMuth pointed to third to confirm the obstruction call at third. It was the correct call, though MLB plans to revisit the rule in the offseason.
Before this year, no World Series game had ended with a baserunner getting picked off. That is, until Game 4 on Sunday night. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Boston closer Koji Uehara picked off St. Louis pinch runner Kolten Wong at first base with the dangerous Carlos Beltran at the plate. Replays show Wong was out. Again, the correct call.
And in Game 1 in Boston, the umpiring crew avoided a potential fiasco, reversing a controversial call in the first inning. David Ortiz hit a grounder to Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter. Carpenter flipped the ball to shortstop Pete Kozma to start a double play. DeMuth initially called baserunner Pedroia out, ruling Kozma dropped the ball after taking the ball out of his glove to make the throw to first. However, Kozma clearly dropped the ball. The umpires conferred, and the call was reversed. Ortiz and Pedroia were safe. The next batter, Mike Napoli, hit a bases-clearing double.
3. There is a price to witness history
Fans were willing to pay staggering prices for the chance to see history at Fenway. The night before Game 6, the average price for a Game 6 ticket on online broker TiqIQ.com was $2,189, while the cheapest available on StubHub.com was a standing-room-only ticket on the right field roof box for $983.75. One Craigslist posting offering “CHEAP” Game 6 tickets (in all caps, apparently to hammer home the bargain) led to a broker selling standing-room-only for $774.
But buying a ticket for under $1,000 might have been a bargain. A fan from Calgary paid $12,092 for a seat near home plate, according to StubHub spokeswoman Shannon Barbara. In comparison, the Red Sox paid Ruth less – around $7,000 – for the entire 1918 season, according to Baseball Almanac.
World Series ticket goes for $12,092
4. The beards. Oh, the beards
In 2004, the Red Sox were known as “The Idiots.” This year’s team will be remembered for their beards. In spring training, Napoli, Pedroia, and Jonny Gomes started growing beards and didn’t get rid of them. It caught on. As the year went on, Red Sox players tugged on each other’s beards as a method of celebration. Fans started attending games donning real or fake beards. By the end of the season, nearly every Red Sox player had some type of facial hair. And it should be noted that 95 years ago, not a single Red Sox player from their 1918 championship team had a beard.
5. David Ortiz was in the zone.
The Cardinals as a team had a .218 batting average with two home runs. Boston as a team was even worse, hitting .205. No player on either roster came close to the offensive production of Ortiz. At the age of 37, Ortiz, named the World Series Most Valuable Player, went on a tear. He batted .688 with two home runs, and had six RBIs and eight walks, finishing with a .760 on-base percentage. He was walked four times alone in Game 6. Ortiz is the only player left from Boston’s 2004 World Series team.
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Other fun facts from this World Series
Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey became the first pitcher to start and win the clinching game of a World Series for two different teams. In addition to Wednesday night, Lackey also did it when he pitched in Game 7 for the Anaheim Angels in 2002, back when he was a rookie. Lackey gave up a run in 6 2/3 innings Wednesday night.
The Red Sox are the second team to win a World Series one year after finishing in last place in its division. The Minnesota Twins first accomplished the feat in 1991.
This was the first World Series since 1999 that featured teams with the two best regular-season records in their respective leagues, and it was only the third time the World Series teams had matching regular-season records.
Since the Division Series was added in 1995, it’s been rare for teams with the best regular-season records in the National and American League to advance to the World Series, much less win it. It was the fourth time a team with the best record won the Fall Classic.