Tim Neverett: View From the Red Sox Booth

An extremely rare weekend at home for the Red Sox allowed the players and staff to prepare for the opener of the 2018 World Series that will begin Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The first pitch of this year’s Fall Classic is scheduled for 8:09 p.m.

The Red Sox recently did what many thought they couldn’t by sweeping the defending World Champion Astros out of their own building and into the offseason winning the American League Pennant four games to one. It didn’t happen without drama and excitement, especially in the marathon, stomach churner that was Game 4. This Red Sox team was relentless offensively, scoring 18 of the 29 runs they scored in the series with two outs. Only one other team had as much postseason success with two outs when the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, then in the American League, put 18 runs up with two outs against the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series. The Red Sox, as a team, hit .389 with two outs and runners in scoring position against Houston, which is better than good.

J.B.J is M.V.P

In an exuberant Red Sox clubhouse following the pennant clincher on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, a champagne and beer soaked center fielder named Jackie Bradley Jr emerged with ski goggles on top of his newly drenched World Series cap holding a pretty impressive looking piece of hardware. Bradley Jr. handed the trophy to a staffer to pack away for the flight back to Boston then came over to see my radio partner, Joe Castiglione, and me for handshakes, hugs and an interview. The newly crowned ALCS MVP, who won two College World Series while playing at the University of South Carolina, produced his biggest offensive series on a pretty big stage.

Bradley Jr. had a bases-loaded double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3 and a two-run blast in Game 4; all with two men out in the inning. He collected all nine of his RBI’s with only three hits, but his timing was impeccable. Bradley, Jr. is only the second player ever to record a pair of bases-loaded, bases-clearing hits during the postseason since Greg Nettles with the Yankees in 1981 when he hit two bases-clearing doubles in the American League Championship Series vs. Oakland.

Bradley Jr. is also only the second player ever with seven bases-loaded runs batted in during a postseason series since Reggie Sanders of the Cardinals knocked in eight in the 2005 National League Division Series vs. San Diego. He had at least a pair of runs batted in during three consecutive postseason games, which tied a Red Sox franchise record. Three other players have also done it with Manny Ramirez being the most recent in 2004. Nomar Garciaparra did it in 1998 and John Valentin in 1999.

Fasten Your Seat Belt, Joe

This is the official eyewitness account of the funniest thing to happen during the playoffs so far. It is the bottom of the ninth inning in ALCS Game 4 and the Red Sox are up 8-6. There are two outs, but recently troubled closer, Craig Kimbrel has just loaded the bases with three walks. The Astros best player, third baseman Alex Bregman, is at the plate with the game on the line. Castiglione has the play-by-play for the ninth inning on this night and he is going through an enormous range of emotions at this point in the game.

Kimbrel delivers a pitch, Bregman swings and hits a sinking line drive to left forcing left fielder Andrew Benintendi to make a split second, do-or-die decision to make a desperation, head-first diving attempt for the ball. Castiglione’s mood for at least the next 24 hours depended on what happened next. As the ball is in the air heading in Benintendi’s direction, Castiglione, now fully emotionally and physically invested in what will be a game deciding play begins to stand up. His chair has wheels. He backpedals slightly and that motion causes the chair to roll out from underneath him.

At the same moment that Benintendi made what will be remembered as one of the most iconic playoff game-saving catches in Red Sox history, Castiglione, who was now in a position in between sitting and standing and unknowingly without a chair under him, lost his balance and hit the deck. I was focused on the catch and was looking out toward left field. I heard some sort of commotion in my headset and Joe now sounded very distant, like he was too far from his microphone. I turned to my right quickly, looking head-high and didn’t see him. I looked down and there he was laying on his left side, his headset microphone was half cocked on the side of his head and he was tangled in the cord. Even though he was on the floor, he never stopped calling the final out.

Once I realized he was not injured and I saw him laughing at himself he proclaimed to our radio audience, “I just fell out of my chair!” I laughed with him and helped him up. Some of the players, including Benintendi, had a good natured laugh about it the next day. Right before Game 5 on Thursday, I rode in the press elevator with Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski. As we exited the elevator he said to me with a smile, “No disrespect to you guys, but I hope at the end of the game tonight, you both fall out of your chairs”.

On to the World Series!

Nashua native and resident Tim Neverett is in his third season as Red Sox Radio Play-By-Play Announcer for the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network throughout New England. Tim can be found on Twitter @timneverett.