LOS ANGELES — The Houston Astros won their first World Series title with a 5-1, Game 7 victory over the Dodgers at Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
The 113th Fall Classic featured a record 25 home runs, two unforgettable extra-inning games, and brought happiness and hope to a city devastated by Hurricane Harvey in August.
Now I am going to tell you how this epic clash was actually all about New England. It was about the Red Sox. It was about the Boston baseball experience.
Let us count the ways:
■ Start with Houston bench coach Alex Cora. He is the next manager of the Red Sox and will be introduced at Fenway someday soon, maybe this weekend. After a week and a half of “no comments” at the World Series, Cora’s finally at liberty to talk about the Boston job. He’ll have a gaudy new ring when he arrives in Fort Myers in February. Hope he brings some leadership and championship magic.
■ The World Series MVP, Houston center fielder George Springer, played his college ball at the University of Connecticut. Springer had a double and a two-run homer in the first two innings of Houston’s Game 7 victory and finished the Series with five homers and a record 29 total bases. Springer is one of only four championship Astros who were part of the 51-111 Houston season in 2013. In 2014, when Sports Illustrated featured the upstart Astros on its cover with the headline, “Your 2017 World Series Champs,’’ Springer was the cover boy. No SI jinx there.
■ Let’s remember that it was the Red Sox who launched the Astros’ playoff surge. We got a good look at the Houston offense when Boston’s starting pitchers were all pummeled in the 2017 American League Division Series. The Astros eliminated the Sox in four games and got John Farrell fired. If you were an anti-Farrell fan, you can thank the world champion Astros.
■ Much like the 2013 Red Sox, the Astros were playing with additional purpose in the wake of a regional tragedy. Deadly Hurricane Harvey decimated Houston, destroying more than 30,000 homes. Like the 2013 Red Sox playing in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, the surging Astros galvanized the Houston community and gave folks something to cheer about. The Astros wore “Houston Strong” patches on their uniforms and won eight of nine postseason games at Minute Maid Park. They lifted their city in its time of need.
■ Former Terry Francona “glue guys”’ were all over the 2017 World Series. Cora played 3½ seasons under Tito, winning a championship with the Red Sox in 2007. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stole the most important base in Red Sox history and managed in the image of Tito throughout the World Series (though Tito might have gone a little longer with Rich Hill). Gabe Kapler, another key bench guy for the 2004 Red Sox, was running the Dodgers’ farm system before he was announced as manager of the Phillies Monday.
■ There can be little doubt now that the 2017 World Series pivoted on the unfortunate return of Adrian Gonzalez, a.k.a. “The Cooler.’’ Gonzalez was LA’s best player for many years after being sent from the Red Sox in the infamous 2012 Boston salary dump that paved the way for the Sox’ 2013 championship. He had back problems this year and brought his usual Debbie Downer persona to the clubhouse. LA ran away with the NL West when The Cooler was on the disabled list, then dropped 16 out of 17 when he returned. Meanwhile, Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger clearly won the first base job, which made things especially awkward at the end of the year when Gonzo was ready to play. Gonzalez hit a home run in his final game in September minutes before it was conveniently announced that he was through for the year with a back injury. Still under contract through next season, he was in Italy with his family during the NLCS and not at Dodger Stadium when his teammates were introduced before Game 1 of the World Series. The Dodgers were 8-1 in the playoffs and 50 games over .500 without him. Unfortunately, he returned before Game 2. The Dodgers never recovered. They lost two straight before Roberts asked Gonzalez to stay away for the rest of the Series. Too late. The damage was done and the Dodgers never recovered.
■ Perhaps the best moment of the World Series was provided by Hill, a Milton, Mass., native whose father, Lloyd Hill Sr., was principal at Quincy High School for more than two decades. The magic moment unfolded when Houston’s Yuli Gurriel came to the plate in the second inning of Game 6. Four days earlier, Gurriel had flashed a racial gesture and slur in the direction of Dodgers starter Yu Darvish after homering off the Japanese righthander. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred reacted weakly, ruling that Gurriel would be suspended for the first five games of next season.
Hill was offended by the commissioner’s soft action and said, “I think if you’re in any other type of business and you do something like that, you wouldn’t have a job the next day.’’
Which is why Hill stepped off the rubber Tuesday to give Dodger fans extra time to boo Gurriel.
“I think the one thing was just to let the crowd speak their mind,’’ said Hill. “I didn’t think anything else would be as loud as that. The people spoke. I left it to that and that was it . . . That was my silent gesture.’’
Someone should send the clip of the moment to David Price and tell him that this is how you stick up for your teammate.
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