Red Sox vs Dodgers: World Series opponents have some familiarity

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 05: Alex Cora
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 05: Alex Cora /

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers share several connections that will be highlighted during the 2018 World Series.

The Boston Red Sox will meet the Los Angeles Dodgers on the postseason stage for the first time since 1916 when the latter club called Brooklyn their home. This year’s World Series opponents may not have much of a history with one another yet these two storied franchises do share some familiarity.

It starts with the managers. Alex Cora was drafted by the Dodgers, making his big league debut in 1988 and spending the first seven years of his playing career in LA. Following a brief stint in Cleveland, Cora came to the Red Sox for three and a half seasons, winning a World Series here in 2007. Now he aims to lead Boston to another title as a rookie manager against the team he once played for as a rookie.

The skipper in the other dugout will be Dave Roberts, who was traded by the Dodgers to the Red Sox during the 2004 season. The under the radar trade deadline deal proved to be a steal for the Red Sox after Roberts came through with the biggest stolen base in franchise history in the ALCS against the New York Yankees.

The starting rotations for both teams include a pitcher with experience playing for the other side. Nathan Eovaldi was drafted by the Dodgers and played parts of two seasons in LA before he was dealt to Miami in 2012. Rich Hill made 40 appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen from 2010-2012. He returned to Boston three years later to revitalize his career with four stellar starts down the stretch of the 2015 season, earning himself a big contract.

While it’s been over a century since these franchises last met in the postseason, Boston and LA have some indirect ties that have led to postseason success.

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The last time the Dodgers won the World Series was in 1988, a series highlighted by the infamous Kirk Gibson game-winning home run in Game 1 against Dennis Eckersley, the former Red Sox pitcher and current NESN analyst.

One of the biggest trades in franchise history, at least when it comes to salaries, came in August 2012 when the Red Sox shipped Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. The deal shed a quarter of a billion dollars from Boston’s payroll, clearing a path to revamp the roster the following season. The Red Sox don’t win the 2013 World Series if it weren’t for the deep pockets of the Dodgers absorbing their worst contracts and malcontents.

Speaking of payrolls, both of these teams count themselves among the top spenders in baseball. The Red Sox have MLB’s highest payroll this year while the Dodgers rank third. You would expect teams that annually spend so much on their rosters to be in the World Series mix, making it somewhat surprising that it’s been so long since these teams have battled for the championship.

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That changes this year, starting with Game 1 on Tuesday. These teams may not have much experience against each other but at least for some involved, this World Series will feel oddly familiar.