As the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers come near an end of the 2018 NLCS with a trip to the World Series on the line, the Red Sox await the winner of the two at home after beating the defending champion Houston Astros in five games. They are preparing to take on the National League representative starting Tuesday, October 23, 2018.
Realistically, for Boston, it doesn’t matter who wins because they will have home-field advantage and be favored against either opponent. Both are worthy of representing the Senior Circuit because you don’t collect the number of wins the Dodgers and Brewers did, and make it this far by fluke.
But, with all due respect to the Milwaukee Brewers, what we all want to see are the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrating and popping champagne bottles before flying over to Massachusetts to take on the Red Sox.
It’s what baseball needs, and wants because it has a chance to be a spectacle on many levels. It can come close on the field to last year’s seven games between LA and Houston, but the rest of it would be made up in other ways, such as the magnitude of the matchup between the two franchises.
These are two of the Major League Baseball’s major flagship franchises, along with the likes of the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. The names alone will draw attention. While it’s not the same as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meeting in the NBA Finals, or even the Dodgers and Yankees meeting in the World Series, it’s the next best thing. Two rival cities with big-time teams and great historic rivalries in other sports.
As mentioned earlier, these are two historic franchises from two historic cities. They reside in two of the three oldest ballparks in America. Boston’s Fenway Park is the oldest, opening in 1912 while Chavez Ravine opened in 1962. Lots of history has been made within those confines, including a combined 12 World Series titles since 1912 among many other significant accomplishments.
A meeting of the two would be a clash of the West coast and East coast, a conflict of different cultures on the grand stage.
Boston is a small spectacle in area and population in comparison to Los Angles. It’s perceived as a blue-collar and tough city full of brawn and loyalty. There is a certain grit to them that goes nearly unmatched elsewhere in the United States. It feels like the perfect mix of “big market meets small market.” They take extreme pride in this and have a certain arrogance (thoroughly deserved) when it comes to professional sports.
LA could not be perceived any more differently. When you think of Los Angeles, the first things that usually pops to most people’s minds are Hollywood, the beaches, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, Rodeo Drive, exotic diets, surfer dudes, models, and stars galore. It’s regarded as a transplant city, where people from all over migrate to, and the La La Land stereotype is that they only come for fashion, movies, TV shows, etc. Flashiness and finesse that Bostonians aren’t the biggest fans of and would consider ‘soft.’ But it’s also a diverse city, with a mix of numerous cultures that can only be found in New York City.
More than that, it would be a matchup of baseball’s two powerhouses. The Red Sox have three rings in the 21st century while the Dodgers have zero, but the best teams don’t always win. However, if you can consistently be competitive, make the playoffs, and field elite talent, there is something to be said about that.
The Dodgers have won their division six straight times (better than anyone else in that stretch) while making their third-straight NLCS (4th in six years), and if they were to make the World Series, it would be back-to-back appearances.
Also, the Dodgers are the strongest baseball brand on the West Coast and are in the top-2 or top-3 in general. They combine the winning with having a strong presence internationally and among the non-white community in America because of men like Jackie Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, Don Newcombe, Hideo Nomo, and Roy Campanella, among others.
And all those guys are stars, something neither team has lacked in. These are franchises that have already fielded some of the greatest, or most talented, players the game has ever seen: Sandy Koufax, Ted Williams, Don Drysdale, David Ortiz, Don Sutton, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, and of course, Robinson, Valenzuela, and Newcombe, among many others.
But these things just amplify the biggest reason we want to see the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox face off in the World Series: Stars. It’s as simple as that. People love, or hate, stars, but they still gravitate towards them when on television. And athletes are no different. People want to see the best and want to look at them on the biggest stages. And no stage is bigger in baseball than the World Series.
Milwaukee vs. anybody would make for less compelling television because it’s the smallest market in the league and their style of play. The Brewers are built around their bullpen, and if the NLCS is a sign, manager Craig Counsell would be making double-digit pitching changes each game. That’s an exaggeration obviously, but it would feel like.
After Christian Yelich, the “stars” on the Brewers are their middle and late relievers. The hyper-analytics style of play would not draw many eyes because it would not be compelling to watch. And that may be fine with hardcore baseball fans, but for the casual viewer and baseball fan (who the MLB is trying to reel in), it would be a turn-off.
The Dodgers and Red Sox are progressive with the analytics but blend them better with the old-school romance of the game than the Brewers. A lot of it has to do with their rosters because of the star power and big names.
LA vs. Boston would be Clayton Kershaw vs. Chris Sale in Game 1. You would also have Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, J.D. Martinez, Justin Turner, David Price, Yasiel Puig and rising stars Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi facing off against each other.
Oh, and if you want to watch bullpens, LA’s and Boston’s have been on fire, and each has superstar closer in Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel, respectively.
Who wouldn’t want to watch Kershaw vs. Mookie Betts in a vital spot in the middle of a World Series game, or Kenley Jansen vs. Betts/Martinez to close out a game? How about Sale vs. Machado? Kimbrel vs. Turner/Machado with the game on the line? What about Betts testing Yasiel Puig’s arm?
This series would feature everything: elite pitching, offense, power, power, and more power, and simply electric athletes all over the field. So when you put everything together, a Fall Classic between The Sawx and Boys in Blue would have the same star power of Astros- Dodgers, but with bigger brands, making it ‘must-watch’ television.