Because transience is an inevitable element of the business of professional sports, it is not at all unusual for two teams paired up on baseball’s postseason stage to have a few ties that bind — players that migrated from one club to the other either in free agency or trade, coaches or executives who once collected a paycheck from their October foe. This stuff is normal.
But even if we accept that to be the case, the number of connections between the Indians and Red Sox, who begin their American League Division Series at Progressive Field on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TBS), borders on ridiculous.
Game Date Time Matchup TV Gm 1 Oct. 6 8 p.m. BOS @ CLE TBS Gm 2 Oct. 7 4:30 p.m. BOS @ CLE TBS Gm 3 Oct. 9 4 p.m. CLE @ BOS TBS *Gm 4 Oct. 10 TBD CLE @ BOS TBS *Gm 5 Oct. 12 TBD BOS @ CLE TBS *- If necessary | All times listed ETShop for postseason gear: Red Sox | Indians • Complete Postseason coverage
Much will be written and said about Terry Francona’s first postseason series with a club other than Boston coming against Boston, and the more dramatic among us will proclaim this series is Tito’s opportunity to exact revenge on the Red Sox after their famous falling out following the club’s September 2011 meltdown.
Francona’s not nearly as dramatic.
“That won’t enter into anything,” he said. “I would be excited to play anybody, anywhere. This is the playoffs.”
The Francona narratives, however, are only the beginning. Here’s a rundown of the other associations between these two teams:
John Farrell: The Red Sox skipper is also facing his former club, albeit not the first time on the postseason stage. Farrell not only pitched for the Indians from 1987-90 and again in ’95, but he was also the club’s farm director for five years in the 2000s, right up until he was hired to be the Boston pitching coach prior to 2007 by, yes, Francona. And so he was in the Red Sox dugout when these two clubs last met on the postseason stage in the 2007 ALCS.
Mike Napoli: He was one of Boston’s bearded wonders in the 2013 title run, capping it off with a shirtless stroll on Boylston Street. After the Red Sox traded him to Texas midway through 2015, Napoli brought that edge and experience to Cleveland, where he’s proven an instrumental asset both in the clubhouse and the lineup with a career-best 34-homer season.
Mike Hazen: Boston’s …