The Brewers’ run at making the World Series for the first time since 1982 was refreshing, but the 114th World Series that starts Tuesday has a rare storyline.
The last time the Red Sox and Dodgers played in the World Series was 1916, and the Dodgers weren’t even the Dodgers: They were the Brooklyn Robins, named for their manager, Wilbert Robinson.
(The Robins became the Dodgers in 1932 and then moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.)
The Red Sox won the 1916 series in five games. Babe Ruth pitched 14 innings and won Game 2 2-1 for the Red Sox. The Robins’ Sherry Smith pitched a complete game as well.
Brooklyn outfielder Casey Stengel was 4-for-11 - all singles - in the series.
The game was at Braves Field in Boston because it had more seating capacity than Fenway Park, which was five years old.
Game 2 took 2 hours, 32 minutes.
Can you imagine? That’s about four innings in today’s game.
Stengel, as a manager, and Ruth, who changed the course of the game with his home runs, went on to great things with the Yankees, contributing to the Red Sox’s infamous “Curse of the Bambino,’’ when, according to legend, Boston went without a World Series title for 86 years for selling Ruth to the rival Yankees.
This year, the Red Sox won 108 games and beat the 100-win Yankees and the 103-win Astros in the first two rounds of the postseason.
The last team to eliminate two triple-digit win teams in October was the 2004 Red Sox, who beat the 101-win Yankees for the American League pennant and 105-win Cardinals in the World Series, Boston’s first World Series title since 1918, ending the curse.
But after the curse was broken, the franchise of Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice, won World Series in 2007 against the Rockies and 2013 against the Cardinals.
The Dodgers, the franchise of Jackie Robinson, are aiming for their first title since 1988, when they beat Oakland, starting with Kirk Gibson’s history-making walk-off home run against the Athletics’ Dennis Eckersley in a 5-4 Game 1 victory at frenzied Dodger Stadium.
After losing to the Astros in seven games last season, the Dodgers have a repeat appearance in the Fall Classic. They lost consecutive World Series to the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a hand in helping the Red Sox end the curse. His ninth-inning steal of second base in Game 4 against the Yankees changed the course of the American League Championship Series as well as history.
The Red Sox were down 3-0 in the series after losing Game 3 19-8. Roberts stole second in the ninth inning, scored the tying run, setting up David Ortiz’s game-winning two-run home run in the 12th inning.
Boston came back to win the series - the greatest comeback ever? - and wound up winning the World Series.
The Red Sox’s rookie manager, Alex Cora, a backup infielder who played for the Nationals in 2011, was a teammate of Roberts with the Red Sox.
Cora has played in six postseason series, five with the Red Sox and one with the Dodgers.
He had two hits, including a triple, for Los Angeles in its 2004 National League Division Series loss to the Cardinals.
Cora had one plate appearance for the Red Sox in the 2007 World Series. Cora’s brother Joey, also an infielder, played in six postseason series - for the Mariners, Indians and White Sox - but never made it to the World Series.
There are plenty of storylines in this year’s World Series.
The Red Sox might be the most disrespected triple-digit win team in postseason history, given they were the underdogs in their series against the Yankees and Astros.
The reasons: Pitcher Chris Sale, struggling with velocity, wasn’t pitching well or feeling well, and ended up in the hospital. The $217 million man, David Price, hadn’t pitched well either, and the bullpen, a necessary postseason staple, was thin.
Price was 0-9 with a 6.16 ERA in his postseason career before dominating in Game 5 of the ALCS at Houston. Needless to say, the Red Sox are feeling better about Price after that.
Red Sox reliever Ryan Brashiers, who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2013, was strong in the ALCS and the Red Sox bullpen got help with relief appearances from Sale and Rick Porcello.
Closer Craig Kimbrel actually apologized to Red Sox fans for his shaky appearances in the first two rounds.
Will starters in the bullpen work again in the World Series?
The Red Sox lineup is a punishing offense that led the AL in runs (876), on-base percentage (.339) and OPS (.792). In short, they are a team of grind-if-out at-bats with the ALCS MVP, Jackie Bradley Jr., hitting in the bottom third of the order.
The Red Sox also ranked sixth in home runs (208), thanks to the addition of J.D. Martinez, who hit 43 home runs. A year ago, the Red Sox went into the postseason with the fewest home runs in the league.
Boston’s best hitter is right fielder Mookie Betts, who won the AL batting title with a .346 average. He also had a .438 on-base percentage with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
He’s part of a defensive outfield - with Bradley in center and Andrew Benintendi in left - that could be Boston’s best defensive outfield since the 1975 World Series team had Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans.
But when the series is in Los Angeles and there is no DH, Betts might move to second so that Martinez can play right field. Betts, who started his career as a second baseman, has played six innings at second base this year.
The Dodgers, who started 16-26 and were nine games out at the beginning of September, are known for their deep roster of platoons.
David Freese, a former World Series hero in St. Louis, and Max Muncy, a lefty batter who came out of nowhere to hit 35 home runs for the Dodgers, play first base. Kiké Hernández and Brian Dozier switch off at second, Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp do the same in left field.
Chris Taylor can play short or left field. Manny Machado plays short, but he’s willing to play third. Austin Barnes took over at catcher for Yasmani Grandal.
Machado saying that hustling isn’t his “cup of tea,’’ and his kicking of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar during the NLCS will be topics of conversation.
Machado might win a World Series, but his reputation has taken a big-time hit.
The Dodgers’ strength is their power-hitting lineup. They had 10 players with double-digit home runs.
Clay Bellinger was the NLCS MVP. He drove in the winning run in the 13-inning win for the Dodgers in Game 4. He made a great defensive play and hit a home run that gave the Dodgers a lead in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Brewers.
Los Angeles has four strong starters in Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler (the pitcher the Orioles wanted for Machado) and Rich Hill.
Like the Red Sox, the Dodgers have issues with a thin bullpen. Ryan Madson, who flopped with injuries for the Nationals, this season, is a key member of the setup crew in Los Angeles.
Closer Kenley Jansen, as he did when the Dodgers beat the Nationals in the playoffs, pitched multiple innings in Game 7 of the NLCS in Milwaukee, and Kershaw pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
After six consecutive titles in the National League West, the Dodgers have a mini-curse of their own.
Every one keeps asking them when they are going to win their first World Series since 1988. They want to follow in the footsteps of the Royals, who lost to the Giants in the 2014 World Series and beat the Mets in five games in 2015.
Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, tells reporters he’s sick of hearing how the Dodgers haven’t won. He’s determined to change the narrative.
For the second consecutive season, he’ll get that chance.