Bradford: How the Red Sox didn't let the World Series faze them

Rob Bradford
October 24, 2018 - 4:16 am

"Normal."

That's the point, it shouldn't just be "normal," as Rafael Devers said while walking out of the clubhouse early Wednesday morning. The feeling should be different. It's the World Series. It is what the Red Sox' third baseman has probably dreamed of for a good chunk of his 22 years on this planet. Yet after soaking in that first day as a participant in the Fall Classic how does Devers describe the experience?

"Normal."

Devers wasn't alone in his analysis following the Red Sox' 8-4 Game 1 win over the Dodgers at Fenway Park. This was the consensus, that this event we had always been told should be put on a pedestal has simply become another Tuesday in October.

Matt Barnes woke up in his apartment, hung out with his two best friends and fiance for a while before walking to work.

"Nope," the Sox reliever said matter-of-factly when asked if there was anything different about this big day. "I just put my headphones on and I walked over here. The only difference there is probably 30 more people in here right now than a normal game. You just go about your business. That’s what you do."

Ryan Brasier had to pick up some family at Logan Airport before getting to Fenway to do his "normal stuff."

"Getting here you could tell there was a lot more traffic and people out there, but that was about it," he said.

Eduardo Rodriguez played with his kids for a bit before arriving at the ballpark about 1:30 p.m. The pitcher, however, did notice something that suggested this might be a different day.

"You see a lot of police people," Rodriguez said. "As soon as you get close you see a lot of police. You’re like, ‘Wow, this is how the World Series is.’" Other than that? "For me, it didn’t feel that much different. We’re used to how everything is."

Nathan Eovaldi walked to work without anyone noticing him, and the pitcher really not noticing anybody or anything out of the ordinary. Jackie Bradley Jr. "Just another game with a lot more media coverage," said the outfielder. 

"Everybody has an extra pep in their step showing today for Game 1 of the World Series, but honestly, once the game got going it felt like another game," added reliever Heath Hembree. "Here we go again. Same thing."

There they went again. Winning in the postseason for the eighth time in 10 tries, all the while not giving off a hint of discomfort or anxiety. Nobody would have held it against them if some nerves didn't percolate to the surface in this introduction to the World Series. A good number of this group certainly were impacted by the postseason atmosphere over the previous two years, and this was the kind of next-level environment that might put some on their heels.

Not the Red Sox. It was status quo, even with the World Series bunting. And that, my friends, may have been the most powerful exclamation of why this team has been doing what they've been doing.

"It doesn’t feel a whole lot differently, honestly," said Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello. "To be honest with you, the only games that felt different were the first couple of games in the postseason. The first game at home and the first game on the road against the Yankees. Once we got those out of the way, it’s all felt very similar. If anything, guys were more relaxed."

There was certainly no pep talk. ("I don’t think it’s needed with this group of guys," said Brasier.)

Just preparation, some card playing and maybe even a few video games here or there. Welcome to the Red Sox clubhouse, World Series or not.

That's how they've built this thing, and there's no need for additions or alterations just because a few more media members are hovering around.

"I feel like when we went into Yankee Stadium, that was probably the toughest atmosphere we played in. We had some success and it has given us a lot of confidence in the postseason," Porcello said. "Tonight was a World Series game and it felt very much like another game. Everything was very business-like. We were relaxed and there wasn’t a whole lot of things were different."

"Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible, it really is," Barnes said. "But you just go out there and play baseball. That’s exactly how it felt. You just go out and play the game. That’s it. As simple as that might sound. You focus on what you have to do. That’s it. You can’t focus on anything else. You can’t. You can’t."

And they didn't.

Same approach. Same results.

"It's just a group of guys hanging out," said Brasier. "Just another day."

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