October 27th marked twelve years since the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to break their 86-year-long curse and win the World Series. The 28th is the anniversary of their 2007 championship. The 30th will be the same for the miraculous 2013 team’s win. The 2016 World Series will feature a number of former Red Sox in the celebration after the final out is cast. David Ortiz may be retired, Dave Roberts and the Dodgers may have been eliminated, but no matter who wins—Chicago or Cleveland—the Red Sox will be present.
Following Boston’s 2011 collapse, then-GM Theo Epstein packed up and headed (mid)west to helm the other team with an endless championship drought: the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908 and hadn’t been back since 1945 until this year. The Sox, causing years of pain for Boston fans, had several appearances while losing heart-breakers. Chicago had been dormant. Bringing with him former Sox front office members Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, Epstein rebuilt his Boston operation. In five years, the trio has taken the Cubs from the basement to the World Series, which as of this writing, they are tied 1-1 after two games.
It’s not just front office staff either: first baseman Anthony Rizzo is a product of the Red Sox farm. Traded to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez, Rizzo was then traded to Chicago, truly a favorite of Jed Hoyer who acquired him twice. And for good reason!
Jon Lester and John Lackey made up two-fifths of the Boston rotation during their 2013 championship run. Veteran catcher David Ross made the move to Chicago when Lester signed and has been, more or less, his personal catcher. Catcher Tim Federowicz never actually played for the Sox but was a 2008 draft pick for Boston. Outfielder Ryan Kalish had several injury-riddled seasons in Boston but got into seven games for Chicago this year.
If the Cubs win, there’s plenty for Red Sox fans to sympathize with and appreciate. A shared history of struggling and a number of overlapping players and front office staff.
Of course, following the wisdom of Groppler Zorn, if the Cubs aren’t your particular bushel of apples, there is another selection: the Cleveland Indians.
Sox connections in Cleveland don’t start quite as high up as the President of Baseball Operations, but they do being with the manager: Terry Francona. Nicknamed ‘Tito’ after his father (aside: is that really a nickname? We keep hearing it called that, but they’re just calling him by his dad’s name…) Francona brilliantly managed Boston to not one but two World Series championships. His aggressiveness in 2004 with Keith Foulke has been apparent this year in his use of Andrew Miller, another former Sox pitcher.
Mike Napoli, seen below shirtless during his epic victory stroll in 2013, had a terrific bounce-back year in 2016 and brought a veteran presence to the team. And a different attitude.
— Frank ? (@SenpaiKoala) November 2, 2013
“Did you see that catch Coco made?” is a phrase Sox fans may remember from Coco Crisp’s days in Boston when it was used as part of NESN’s ad campaign. Seeing Crisp roam the outfield again can’t help but remind Sox of the 2007 World Series. Even utility man Michael Martinez spent a handful of games with Boston in 2016 before joining Cleveland.
It almost seems like Red Sox fans can’t lose. For a series that Boston isn’t playing in there are a lot of ex-Sox, most of whom were involved in some great memories.