Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez

Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Spiegel: Finding Local Appeal In World Series

Connections to the Cubs and White Sox are present in the World Series.

Matt Spiegel
October 26, 2018 - 12:31 pm
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(670 The Score) I probably shouldn't be spending this kind of money. The logistics were a challenge, and it meant calling in a few awkward favors. But screw it, we have to make these kind of trips while we still have the chance. Experiences are easier to rationalize than possessions.

My pops is 85. He’s sharp enough to follow his Red Sox all year long, energetic enough to be considered for a World Series invite and sturdy enough to make the trip with all that entails. I wrote about it in more personal detail over at MattSpiegel.com.

As we sat at Fenway Park and watched Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday, several items related to the teams in our town presented themselves:

• Man, I wish the White Sox had held out for Rafael Devers in the Chris Sale trade, even if it meant not getting Yoan Moncada. Moncada is in no way hereby deemed a bust or a finished product, and it’s not as if Devers has set the world on fire with consistency. But Devers’ swing is beautiful, and he has shown the kind of malleability a big-time hitter needs these days. He hit 21 homers in his injury-plagued first full season and in these playoffs has made a ton of big-moment contact. He looks aggressive, attuned to situational hitting and by all accounts is extremely unruffled by failure for 22-year-old. At the time of the Red Sox-White Sox trade, Devers was the 17th-best prospect in the game, and Moncada was No. 1. The Red Sox kept the right player. 

• Mookie Betts is extremely close to Mike Trout for consideration as the best player in baseball and continues to be one of the most impressive people in the game. I always think of his mind first, as the fifth-round pick Betts graded among the highest in the entire 2011 draft class via the “neuroscouting” that Theo Epstein helped pioneer during his Red Sox tenure

In Game 2, Betts had three hits, was in the middle of the fifth-inning rally and showcased exceptional baserunning several times. And late at night before the team flew west, Betts quietly helped feed the homeless in Boston’s Back Bay. No wonder tons of people rock this excellent shirt.

• The story of Game 2 was David Price, who has reframed the narrative surrounding his postseason career over his last two starts. Through six strong innings, Price spotted the fastball exceptionally and continued a trend he began against Houston in the American League Championship Series by mixing in his changeup more. He was asked before the game where he learned to trust that changeup. White Sox fans know the source. 

"James Shields is how I developed that pitch," Price said. "Just being with him early on in my career and the changeup that he has possessed over the course of his career, and for him to take me in the way that he did, and to play catch with me every day, unless him or I were starting that game. And just being able to work on it every day with him. One of the guys that had one of the best changeups in all of baseball, to work with me on it every single day, that was huge."

Shields’ roster spot is unavoidable for this coming third year of the White Sox rebuild, so young pitchers should continue to take advantage of his willing and useful mentoring, as James Fegan wrote about at The Athletic.

• The Cubs need to embrace and adopt the kind of philosophy that Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez embodies. Martinez had 43 home runs but also hit .330 because he happily makes simple contact on a pitcher’s pitch when he can. The two-run single to take the lead Wednesday was one of several examples, but Martinez put it into words postgame like few hitters can. Evan Altman wrote about this in more detail over at Cubs Insider.

Martinez can grind at-bats, but he’s also not afraid to hit his pitch if he sees it early. Maybe new Cubs hitting coach Anthony Iapoce can urge a couple returning hitters toward this mentality, and it’s time for Epstein to acquire more veterans who are already there.

This October, as we watch baseball globally, think locally.  

Follow Matt Spiegel on Twitter @MattSpiegel670. For more from and about Matt, visit www.mattspiegel.com.​​