Debating which side Red Sox fans should root for in the World Series.
The Boston Red Sox never came close to sniffing the postseason this year, let alone the World Series. If you’re a baseball fan, you’re probably going to tune in for the Fall Classic anyway. With the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers both having several connections to the Red Sox, there are reasons for fans to root for and against each side.
The most obvious comes from the Dodgers in the form of Mookie Betts, the former MVP who the Red Sox traded to Los Angeles last winter in a controversial move that many fans still haven’t forgiven ownership for pulling the trigger on as part of their efforts to cut payroll.
This is expected to be a divisive debate among Red Sox fans. Mookie was beloved in Boston and many still wish him well even if he’s wearing a different uniform. On the other hand, watching Betts win a ring in his first year after being traded away would pour salt in a wound that’s still fresh.
Joe Kelly is another former Red Sox player who is now wearing Dodger blue. The right-handed reliever endeared himself to fans with his fearlessness on the mound. He bolted to sign a free-agent deal with the Dodgers after the 2018 season. Kelly was suspended earlier this year for instigating a benches-clearing brawl by throwing at Astros hitters, a scene reminiscent of when he stood up to the New York Yankees a few years ago during his tenure in Boston.
Then there’s David Price, who was shipped to the Dodgers as part of the Betts trade. He won’t be pitching in the World Series since he opted-out of this season due to COVID-19 concerns but Price would presumably still be given a ring if the Dodgers win. His tenure with the Red Sox was a roller coaster so fans will have mixed feelings about seeing him win a championship, even if Price isn’t technically there to be seen.
The Dodgers are managed by Dave Roberts, a postseason hero in Boston for the stolen base that ignited the rally in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. Red Sox fans should be happy to see Roberts succeed.
Then again, perhaps fans are secretly hoping that the Dodgers fall short in case it leads to Roberts being the fall guy. With sky-high expectations entering the season, Roberts could be on thin ice if he doesn’t deliver a championship. The Red Sox happen to be in the market for a new manager and might be intrigued if Roberts became available.
Roberts isn’t the only manager in this series with ties to the Red Sox. Rays manager Kevin Cash played in Boston from 2007-2008 and returned for the final season of his career in 2010. Cash was a seldom-used backup catcher but he did earn a ring for being a part of the ’07 championship team.
Cash isn’t going anywhere regardless of how the World Series turns out. However, the Red Sox might have their eye on members of his coaching staff to poach for their open managerial position. Championship experience would make those candidates a bit more appealing.
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Chaim Bloom currently serves as the Red Sox chief baseball officer but he previously ran the Rays front office and is responsible for assembling the majority of their core. The current regime in Tampa Bay deserves a fair amount of credit but Bloom’s fingerprints are all over this roster. If the Rays can overcome the big-budget Dodgers with one of baseball’s lowest payrolls, it bodes well for what Bloom can do to rebuild the Red Sox with more financial freedom.
Everyone loves a good underdog story and that may have any leaning towards the Rays. That would mean rooting for a division rival though. The Rays aren’t in the same stratosphere as the Yankees in terms of teams despised by Red Sox Nation but they’ve had some heated feuds over the years.
The Red Sox are expected to make significant upgrades to their roster this offseason but it feels like no matter what they do, Boston won’t be considered the favorites in their division if they are sharing the AL East with the reigning champions.
We recently ran a Twitter poll asking fans which side they are rooting for in the World Series. The results showed many are leaning heavily toward Tampa Bay. Are these results based on a desire to see the underdog Rays win or wanting to see the Dodgers lose?
There’s a case to be made either way. Red Sox fans might not have a strong opinion about either franchise competing in this year’s World Series but there’s enough connections to Boston between these two clubs or us to find something or someone to root for.