Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts had an epiphany after he walked off the field at Dodger Stadium following Boston’s excruciating 18-inning loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series.
“That’s when we knew we were going to win the World Series,” said Bogaerts. “That fueled us for the next day coming to the ballpark.”
The loss was costly, eating up over seven hours in the longest World Series game in Major League Baseball history. But Bogaerts explained the Sox never panicked, thanks to a post-game speech from club manager Alex Cora. “Cora gave a speech after the game about the team’s effort and the performance from Nate Eovaldi,” said Bogaerts. “He was scheduled to pitch the next day but Cora felt we could win the game, so he kept Nate in there. He pitched in extra innings [for 97 pitches] and kept us in the game.
“We were really appreciative of the effort he gave us to win. He pitched a lot of innings, so we were really emotional about that. That loss easily could have crumbled us, but it only made us stronger.”
The Sox won the next two games to capture the World Series over the Dodgers in five games. Prior to Wednesday morning's parade, Bogaerts kicked off the festivities by stopping at the homes of select Sox fans on Tuesday morning to drop off championship memorabilia. “I’m a delivery guy today, and I’m loving my job,” said Bogaerts, who teamed with Fanatics to identify Sox fans to visit as a way to extend his thanks for the nonstop support the team receives year round. “It means a lot to see people’s reactions.
“Each family I visited was completely surprised, especially the kids, they had no idea I was coming. I think this will give those kids a great story to tell their classmates and teachers this week at school.”
Already a two-time champion at age 26, Bogaerts has helped create an entirely new mentality and culture for the Sox and their fans, replacing heartbreak with euphoria. He credits this year’s title to the leadership of first-year manager Cora. “Alex Cora changed the atmosphere in the clubhouse,” said Bogaerts. “The difference in mentality this year was huge. I don’t remember one time this year when our clubhouse fell apart. Obviously we didn’t lose much, especially consecutively, but we were a team that could turn the page pretty quickly after a loss.”
Bogaerts confirmed that the team took umbrage when the Yankees’ Aaron Judge played Frank Sinatra’s iconic “New York, New York” song on his way out of Fenway following Game 2 of the ALDS. “That trolling from Aaron Judge helped fuel us a little more,” said Bogaerts. “We knew playing in New York was going to be tough, but we didn’t doubt that we’d win the Yankees series.”
The World Series victory also provided redemption for teammate David Price, who has endured some difficult stretches with fans and media during his time in Boston.
“David has taken a lot of heat since he signed here, but all he’s wanted to do was come here and win and deliver,” said Bogaerts. “He’s one of the main reasons we won. He won both games against the Dodgers and played a huge part against the Astros. We were always there for him and he was always there for us.”
Before Wednesday’s parade, Bogaerts extended his gratitude to Sox fans with a few presents of his own.
“It’s been a day with a lot of smiling, joy, and excitement,” said Bogaerts. “It’s been a pleasure of a day.”