AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The last time the Dodgers played the Red Sox in the world series, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. They were called the Robins. The Boston Red sox meanwhile had an ace pitcher named Babe Ruth. Remember him? Well, fast forward 102 years.
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UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #1: The next from Kershaw. The Dodgers have won the pennant. Back to the world series they go.
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UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #2: He reaches up. He makes the catch. And the Red Sox have won the American League pennant for the 14th time in their history.
CHANG: Tonight the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2018 World Series. To talk about this historic matchup, we reached ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza. Hey, Jessica.
JESSICA MENDOZA: What's up, Ailsa?
CHANG: (Laughter) What's up?
MENDOZA: I'm pumped for the game tonight (laughter).
CHANG: OK, so, like, just lay out the stage. This is a battle of the behemoths. Both teams have these huge histories, two of the biggest fan bases. How epic is this faceoff?
MENDOZA: What's crazy, Ailsa, is these two teams have not met in the World Series since 1916. And guess who pitched Game 2 of that game for the Boston Red Sox?
MENDOZA: Babe Ruth.
CHANG: Babe Ruth.
MENDOZA: OK, so...
CHANG: Remember that guy?
MENDOZA: First of all - Babe Ruth - you might have heard of him, OK?
MENDOZA: And he's a hitter, but he was pitching for the Boston Red Sox, not the Yankees. That's how far back...
CHANG: It's crazy.
MENDOZA: ...This goes...
CHANG: So crazy.
MENDOZA: ...OK? Look at the last...
MENDOZA: ...Time they matched up. So it's also - even though it's this historic matchup, it's something that in the modern day of two very big baseball teams - somehow they missed each other. When they've both been in the World Series, it was never against each other. So I love the fact that it goes back historically. But also it brings them to 2018.
CHANG: So Los Angeles is back in the World Series after a pretty brutal loss last year. I mean, how is this team going to be different?
MENDOZA: I got one word, and it's redemption. I mean, we've all had a little bit of that in life, right? You get your heart broken. In this case, the Dodgers got it torn out. And there is something about that World Series last year. It wasn't just the fact that it went seven games. But it went back and forth, changing leads, extra innings. I've met with this team in spring training. I was with them pretty much throughout this season. And there is a fire to get back and win the World Series.
But really when you look at the field, this team is different because they went and got Manny Machado. I mean, this has been their offensive leader. He's at shortstop. They lost Corey Seager during the season, so now they have Machado. And then who really is their ace - I know.
MENDOZA: It's not Clayton Kershaw. It's Walker Buehler. So adding Walker Buehler to be able to be honestly one of the best pitchers that we've seen in the National League, they have this redemption that they've had all season long. They want to get back, and they want to win.
CHANG: They're burning to prove themselves now. OK, what about the Red Sox? What do they have going into this.
MENDOZA: They won 108 games. I mean, the pressure is on them.
MENDOZA: And even though the Dodgers haven't won a World Series in 30 years, you know, the Red Sox have had - definitely Boston has had a lot of reasons to celebrate between the Patriots...
MENDOZA: ...And the Red Sox. But this team is arguably one of the best regular season teams we have ever seen, OK? So they went - and it was - without a doubt, they were the best team in baseball. So when you are the best team in baseball, it's like, OK, well, then win it all. No one cares about, hey, you won 108 games - yay. You get an...
MENDOZA: ...Award. You get a crown. You don't get anything. All you get is, you won 108 games.
CHANG: Yeah, they want the World Series.
MENDOZA: You want to win the World Series. They are so good, Ailsa. But as we know, in the postseason, the best teams don't always win. You got to go out, and play.
CHANG: All right, I want your crystal ball, Jessica. How do you see the World Series playing out? Who do you think is going to win?
MENDOZA: Dodgers, and that's going to shock a lot of people because the Boston Red Sox are the best team. On paper, there's nobody better. But what I love about the postseason which transcends all of that talent, pitching, hitting - I don't care; throw the numbers out...
MENDOZA: ...Is redemption. It's passion. It's this fire that the Dodgers have because they lost in Game 7 last year.
MENDOZA: And I believe that's going to fuel them to victory this year.
CHANG: All right, that was ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza. She'll be on SportsCenter covering the World Series. Thanks so much, Jessica.
MENDOZA: Thank you, Ailsa.
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