The Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers: two storied franchises, rich in baseball history. Yet, you would think that these two organizations don’t have much in common at first glance. However, when you compare the two teams you find that they have are more similar than you think.
While they are two organizations that play on different ends of the country that have rarely faced each other, look at some of the connections they share. Reggie Smith is probably best known as a Dodger great, but he started out in the Red Sox system, and was a highly touted young star for them, especially during the 1967 Impossible Dream season. Jackie Robinson was a Dodger, of course, but he tried out for the Red Sox, only to be turned away, allegedly because of the racist regime at the time. Boston could have been the first team in the MLB to integrate instead of the last. Shane Victorino, one of the spark plugs for the Red Sox, was drafted as a Dodger and played for them in 2012. Nomar Garciaparra started in Boston, and ended up spending some time in Los Angeles. And of course, let’s not forget the blockbuster deal, sarcastically known as the Nick Punto trade where him, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford and all that salary went to the Dodgers.
Something else that the two teams have in common, as they are playing a big series this weekend, is that these were two franchises that were really trying to change their identity. Los Angeles, who had a new ownership group led by Magic Johnson, was trying to get more talent, more star power, to help draw more attendance. Boston was absolutely overwhelmed with all the bloated salaries they had on the books. They had a lot of stars who were just not good fits in their market, and it showed on the field with a team with all the talent in the world, but no passion. Boston needed to press the reset button, and that is exactly what that trade did. Los Angeles got the star power it wanted, and Boston got the financial flexibility it needed. Everybody won.
Now almost exactly one year since the trade, both teams are reaping the benefits. Both teams are at the top of their respective divisions, and both teams have almost the same number of wins currently this season. While Beckett is out for the season with a nerve issue, Crawford and Gonzalez have been very solid this season for the Dodgers. Boston has been able to take all that money that was freed up, and acquire Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, David Ross and Jonny Gomes. They used some of the money to get Jake Peavy at the trade deadline this season. Boston has less stars, but more solid team players. Not to mention that they even got two good pitching prospects in the deal, which was actually more icing on the cake than anything else. I suspect that Boston would have taken a bucket of used baseballs in return if it meant getting rid of all that salary.
Not that this will happen, but wouldn’t it be interesting if the Red Sox and the Dodgers faced each other in the World Series? That would truly be a trade that helped out both teams.
See, they really do have more in common than you think.