The Red Sox are not in the World Series. And yet, Fenway Park seems to be looming in the background of this year's story.
On Saturday night, the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 to win the National League Championship Series. And that sets up a World Series between the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.
It's the first pennant for the Cubs since 1945, and they haven't won a World Series since 1908. Red Sox fans are familiar with that bleak eternity; the Sox hadn't won it all for 86 years, until the miracle of 2004.
But that's not the only plot point in the Boston/Chicago/Cleveland storyline. Consider:
- The Cubs head of Baseball Operations is Theo Epstein; as Red Sox general manager, Epstein was the youngest general manager in MLB history when the Sox reversed the curse in 2004.
- The Red Sox manager in 2004 was Terry Francona, now manager of the Indians. Epstein and Francona were still a dynamic duo in the lyric little bandbox when the Fenway Faithful celebrated another World Series victory in 2007.
- Current cubs manager Joe Maddon had been under consideration for the job of Sox skipper when Francona got the job.
- Two of the Cubs starting pitchers? Jon Lester and John Lackey. Lester was with the Red Sox for years, including the 2007 and 2013 World Series. Lackey picked up a 2013 World Series ring with the Sox.
- Cubs catcher David Ross was behind the plate for the Red Sox in that 2013 championship season.
- The Red Sox drafted Anthony Rizzo, and he was a top prospect in the Sox minor league system; Rizzo is now the Cubs all-star first baseman.
- Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller was on the 2013 Red Sox.
- Indians outfielder Coco Crisp is, yes, that very same Coco Crisp (of all the Coco Crisps roaming ballfields) who was on the Sox for the 2007 World-Series-winning season.
- Loveable bon vivant Mike Napoli is the clean-up hitter and first baseman for the Indians. In 2013 he helped the Red Sox win the World Series, and he also famously shed himself of key articles of clothing while roaming the Back Bay celebrating said championship.
To elaborate on these points, Boston Herald sports columnist Steve Buckley joined Weekend Edition. Hear his interview atop this post.
This segment aired on October 23, 2016.