The Sox fought hard, and they have nothing to be ashamed of, but they couldn’t hold, because Tampa Bay is a better team. Not a lot better, and not better in every way, but better. They were better during the season, better in the playoffs, and when they had every reason to be intimidated and disheartened (namely, after Game 6), they weren’t. Getting from the cellar to the World Series in a year is amazing enough, but what’s really stellar about the Rays’ performance is that their payroll is a third of Boston’s. No disrespect to Epstein and Francona, but when an organization so consistently exceeds its objective capacity – the baseball season is 162 games, so “any given Sunday” randomness is smothered by the implacable central limit theorem – better management and leadership has to be at the heart of it, along with the corny sports virtues of grit, morale, and teamwork. Putting together a team like that with nickels and dimes, out of guys too young to be proven goods, is a nice piece of work.
I’m no kind of Rays fan, but I’m absolutely an admirer. Anyway, it’s only about six months until – Pitchers and catchers report!