Ex-Pope Labels Sexual Revolution as Cause of Church Abuse Crisis

Pope Benedict XVI resigned in 2013 and has since remained largely quiet on Church affairs. (Photo by Paul Haring, CNS)

Earlier today, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI released a letter condemning the sexual revolution of the 1960s for causing the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. The letter, a nearly 6,000-word essay, was published in a German newspaper before an official English translation by the Catholic News Agency was released and is controversial on two grounds: the content of the letter and the circumstances of the letter.

Benedict laments that the 1960s brought about a series of actions that proved catastrophic to both traditional ideas of morality and Catholic dogma. While the former Pontiff does not specifically point to a cause of the moral decline, he does list several examples of its presence. The first is the West German government’s decision, in 1967, to promote a more complete sexual education for students. The largest aspect of that policy was the film “Helga – On the Origins of Life”, which controversially was one of the first films with full nudity to show all aspects of a pregnancy. Benedict wrote “Sexual and pornographic movies then became a common occurrence, to the point that they were screened at newsreel theaters.” He also blames the clothing the 1960s for, in conjunction with pornography, causing violence.

One of the most controversial lines from the letter relates to pedophilia. Benedict wrote “Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ‘68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.” Later on in the letter, Benedict seems to say that pedophilia was not an issue until the 1980s. Many have rebuked that claim as objectively false, as pedophilia remains a crime in most of the world with a significant social taboo.

The ex-Pope also discusses the decline of traditional Catholic moral theology. He points to the Second Vatican Council, convened by Pope Saint John XXIII in 1962, as a leading cause of the decline, lamenting Vatican II shifted the focus from moral theology’s basis in natural law to a Scripture-based belief. Benedict wrote “Consequently, there could no longer be anything that constituted an absolute good, any more than anything fundamentally evil; (there could be) only relative value judgments. There no longer was the (absolute) good, but only the relatively better, contingent on the moment and on circumstances.

Another comment from Benedict that has drawn criticism is the claim that “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.” Benedict seems to be blaming the Queer Revolution of the 1960s on the sexual abuse crisis the Catholic Church has faced since the 1990s, which is a slight variation on the traditional comment that legalizing homosexuality will lead to sexual miscreants (“What’s next – people marrying their dog?” the argument used to go).

At the time, then-Bishop Josef Ratzinger was one of the most conservative Catholic theologians. Apparently, Benedict, claims, to the point his work was black-listed by the new, more liberal bishops, writing, “Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.

Benedict begins to close out the letter by presenting “solutions” to the crisis. Not the crisis of priests sexually abusing young children entrusted to their care, but the larger sexual freedom “crisis.” “Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God,” Benedict argued. “Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.”

Besides the content of the letter, the circumstances of the letter have sparked controversy. Benedict is the first Pope emeritus in 500 years. His 2013 resignation, citing poor health, put the Church in relatively unchartered territory. At the time, Benedict declared that he would live the rest of his life in quiet prayer and contemplation in an Italian monastery. For the most part, he has held true to that statement, only making appearances in the Vatican to celebrate major Church events with Pope Francis.

That is, until this letter. Benedict writes that he was inspired by the conference held by Pope Francis earlier this year to address the systematic problems that lead to the Catholic sex abuse scandal. That conference, in turn, was sparked by the conviction of Australian Cardinal George Pell for a series of charges relating to his sexual abuse of young boys in the 1980s. In the letter, Benedict seems to indicate that he had spoken to several Vatican officials before releasing it, including the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Pope Francis.

Catholics around the world are unsure of how to respond to the letter from the former Pope, similar to how they reacted when Benedict announced his resignation six years ago. It is a tenant of Catholic belief that when a Pope is elected, he is elected by the College of Cardinals acting through Divine inspiration. How does someone stop being God’s chosen representative on Earth? How should Catholics treat the letter from Benedict? Does it have the same weight as a letter from the sitting Pope? This is unclear, and the fact that Pope Francis seems to have been aware of the letter and not objected to its release raises more questions than answers. The sentiment of Benedict’s letter also contradicts the standard messaging of Pope Francis, “who has often said abuse results from the corrupted power of clergy.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict has faced a series of critiques for his handling of the Church’s sexual abuse crisis during his eight-year pontificate.  While he did remove many accused priests from the Church, he was perceived by many as slow to respond to the crisis as it grew.

In his letter, Benedict does not address the victims of the crisis directly and does not apologize or express sorrow for what was done to them.

Crisis in Virginia Continues to Spread

Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) has denied that he was the person wearing blackface in a photo on his yearbook page. (Photo by Alex Edelman, Getty Images)

For more than two weeks, Virginia has been embroiled in a scandal that seems like it will never end.

A photo of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School emerged on Friday, February 1. On Governor Northam’s page of the yearbook, two men are seen at what seems like a Halloween party: one in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Initially, Governor Northam, elected in 2017 as a Democrat, acknowledged that he was one of the men in the photo but couldn’t remember if he was the one in blackface or the one in the Klan hood. He then backtracked and said, upon recollection, he was not in the photo in the yearbook but had dressed in blackface in college to dress like Michael Jackson.

Democrats and Republicans alike both immediately called for Governor Northam to resign. He has held out against those calls so far, telling CBS’ Gayle King “Right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere.”

At a press conference to address the photo, Governor Northam told the press that he used “just a little bit of shoe polish” and won the Michael Jackson costume contest because he learned to moonwalk. A reporter asked if he still knew how to moonwalk, which Northam seemed to consider doing until his wife said it would be inappropriate.

Governor Northam’s undergraduate yearbook from the Virginia Military Institute included a racist nickname under his picture: Coonman.

Beyond the optics of removing someone with a racist past as governor, Virginia Democrats had another reason to want to remove Northam from the Governor’s Mansion. The Commonwealth’s Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, had been hailed as a rising star in the Democratic Party for years and is more progressive in his politics than Northam. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax assuming office midway through the term would also exempt him from Virginia’s four-year term limit for Governors, meaning Democrats and Fairfax could control the Governor’s Office until 2026.

As the calls for Governor Northam to step aside in favor of Lieutenant Governor Fairfax reached a peak, news broke about Fairfax that threw cold water on that plan. Vanessa Tyson, a professor at Scripps College, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004 when they both attended that year’s Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax denied the claim and said that their relationship was consensual. Tyson responded that the encounter began as consensual kissing but ended with non-consensual oral sex.

A second woman, Meredith Watson, has also come forward since Tyson went public, alleging that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2000 when they were both undergraduates at Duke. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax has hired the same legal firm that represented now-Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing against the claims of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Many members of the Virginia Democratic Party, including Senator Tim Kaine and former Governor Terry McAuliffe, have called on Fairfax to resign.

If both Governor Northam and Lieutenant Governor Fairfax were to resign, the next in line to the Governor’s Mansion would be Attorney General Mark Herring. The attorney general, however, is facing a racial scandal of his own. He admitted in an interview that he wore blackface and an insensitive wig in 1980 to appear like a rapper at a college party. Before admitting to his own racial incident, Herring had been one of the most vocal voices calling for Northam to resign. It is unclear if there is a photo of Attorney General Herring in the outfit circulating.

The fourth, and final, person in the line of succession to become the Governor of Virginia is Kirk Cox. Cox is the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. Unlike Northam, Fairfax, and Herring, Speaker Cox is a conservative Republican. Cox has called on all three embattled Democrats to resign.

The Virginia Republican Party has not been spared from this outbreak in revelations of racism: Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment was involved with a 1968 college publication containing slurs and blackface photos.

Now, the Democratic Party is faced with the question of whether or not they believe all three Democrats in the line of succession need to step down, giving the Governor’s Mansion to the Republicans, or if Attorney General Mark Herring may be worthy of forgiveness.

A Year Out, 2020 Campaign Takes Shape

The first votes of the 2020 Presidential Election are going to be cast a little over a year from now, on February 3, in Iowa. New Hampshire will vote about a week later, and then the party really starts. A number of states have taken steps to front-load the primary calendar, giving their state, and its delegates, more sway in selecting the nominee. In 2020, it is possible that the Democratic nominee could surpass the delegate threshold by the end of March. The 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, did not do so until June 6.

There are currently four declared major candidates for President running as members of the Democratic Party.

The first to announce, in July of 2017, was former Maryland Congressman John K. Delaney. Delaney, a former business owner, has very low name recognition but, as he said at an event in the Dana Center last year, his hope is that running for so long will give him the opportunity to meet as many voters as possible in as intimate venues as possible in order to push up his name recognition. Congressman Delaney’s platform is broadly centrist, promoting a jobs training program, a shift to clean energy, and a reform to America’s public education program.

Hawaii Congresswoman and former Army National Guard medic Tulsi Gabbard was the second Democrat to throw her hat into the ring. She first rose to prominence in the national dialogue in 2016, when she resigned as a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee in support of Senator Bernie Sanders’ upstart presidential campaign.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders wave to supporters during a campaign event in Miami. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Congresswoman Gabbard, in her fourth term as a member of Congress, is having trouble getting her campaign off the ground as she is dogged by several controversies from her past. In 2017, she took part in a Congressional fact-finding mission to the warzone in Syria and met with Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people and has a long and bloody track record of suppressing dissent in the country. Congresswoman Gabbard has said that she supported al-Assad’s rule and opposed U.S.-led “regime-change.” She has a mixed record on social issues such as abortion and has drawn ire over her archaic positions on same-sex marriage. She once led the campaign in Hawaii for a “Traditional Marriage” constitutional amendment.

Julián Castro, a former Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary, become the third major candidate to announce he was running for President. Secretary Castro has a record as a strong progressive, being an early supporter of same-sex marriage and promoting a Medicare-for-All proposal. At a recent visit to the Hilltop, he put an emphasis on pre-K education and his immigration story. Secretary Castro’s largest base of support comes from the shifting demographics of the United States, as he represents a younger, more progressive, and more inclusive picture of the future.

The only other major Presidential to declare that they are running is California Senator Kamala Harris. A first-term Senator, Harris is the child of immigrants and spent much of her early years in Quebec, where her mother moved after divorcing her father. Senator Harris has made a fast rise through the California political ranks, serving as San Francisco’s District Attorney and California’s Attorney General before being elected to the Senate in 2016. She is the first Senator from Jamaican or Indian heritage and has staked herself out as a progressive voice in Washington, leading the opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, pushing for passage of the DREAM Act, and authoring criminal justice reform legislation.

While only four candidates have formally announced their Democratic campaigns for President, a number have launched Exploratory Committees, a coy political tool enabling someone to look into running for President while fundraising a significant amount of money without having to follow the normal FEC disclosure rules.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a campaign rally for Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in front of Alumni Hall in 2016. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an outspoken Progressive, was the first to do so, followed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand reached national prominence in 2017, after being appointed to the Senate when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, for her stiff opposition to many Trump Administration nominees as well as leading the campaign to oust Senator Al Franken of Minnesota as his sexual misconduct scandal became public.

Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has made history as the first openly gay person to form an exploratory bid for a major party’s nomination. Before jumping into the presidential race, he conducted an unsuccessful long-shot bid for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017.

It is likely that several more candidates will join the Democratic field before the end of 2019. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has floated the idea of a self-funded campaign and some expect him to use his event at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics next week to launch his campaign.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced he is running for President on the sole issues of addressing climate change but has yet to file with the FEC. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to launch his second campaign for the Presidency sometime next week.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke have all been speculated to be interested in running in 2020, although none have formed exploratory committees or launched campaigns.

Fmr. Ohio Governor John Kasich visiting NHIOP in 2017. He is rumored to be considering a 2020 presidential campaign. (Photo from Saint Anselm College)

As for the Republican side, it is unlikely that a serious, viable challenge to President Trump will emerge. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have been frequently talked about as a potential “Anyone But Trump” candidate, but President Trump’s support among Republicans is very strong, nearly 90%. At the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meetings, held this weekend in New Mexico, the party passed a resolution declaring their support for President Trump’s reelection, essentially giving a stiff finger to any potential challengers.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a popular Governor in a blue state, has recently been floated as a potential candidate, with reports indicating he is in talks to headline a Politics & Eggs at Saint Anselm College in the coming weeks and is planning a trip to Iowa with Never Trump leader Bill Kristol. It is not obvious what potential base of support Governor Hogan has other than the Never Trumpers.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who most recently was the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee in 2016, has also held talks with potential staff about a Republican campaign in 2020. Governor Weld has not held office since the Saint Anselm College Class of 2019 was born, leaving the corner office on Beacon Hill in 1997. He will be headlining a Politics & Eggs event in February at the Bedford Village Inn.

Howard Schultz resigned his position as CEO of Starbucks last year to look into running for President. In an interview that will air on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes, Schultz says that he is close to announcing an independent and self-funded campaign for President as the anti-Trump. This has worried many Democrats, including former Senior Advisor to President Obama Dan Pfeifer, who said “[Schultz] will pose an existential threat to a Democrat in what will likely be 2020 race decided by a few votes in a handful of states.”

Early on in the 2020 media cycle, there was a lot of talk of a potential “Unity Party” bid, reminiscent of when Republican President Abraham Lincoln chose Democratic Senator Andrew Johnson as his running mate to unite the country in 1864 during the throes of the Civil War, with Republican Governor Kasich and Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. This talk has, largely, died down since the fall, when Governor Hickenlooper told reporters in Colorado that Kasich “didn’t even send me a text” when Governor Kasich formed a new PAC to look into running for President.

Regardless of how big or how crazy the 2020 primary fields are, or even the general election, the Hilltop with surely be at the center of it all.

Castro Announces Bid, Will Visit Hilltop

Former Sec. of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro (D-TX) announces his campaign in San Antonio, TX. (Photo from ABC News)

The parade of potential 2020 Presidential candidates continues next week with another stop at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Julián Castro, who most recently served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, will keynote the next Politics and Eggs of the New England Council. Castro’s Politics and Eggs visit will be days a rally, on January 12, in his native San Antonio, Texas where Castro formally announced his campaign.

The rally in San Antonio comes after a barnstorming tour of Iowa, which began today, the first state of hold an electoral contest, a few weeks before New Hampshire’s own 2020 Primary.

Before serving in President Obama’s second term cabinet, Castro was the Mayor of San Antonio for three terms and served on the San Antonio City Council before that. Castro was frequently linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vice presidential search before the job was offered to Virginia’s Tim Kaine.

Much of Castro’s appeal centers around his youth and his representation of the growing Hispanic population across the United States, as well as his liberal positions on issues, including a recent pledge of support for the “Medicare for All” proposal. In his announcement speech, Castro affirmed his support for universal healthcare coverage and announced plans for ending cash bail, universal Pre-K, and re-entering the Paris Climate Accord. As Mayor, Castro was a major supporter of same-sex marriage, despite the fact same-sex marriage was illegal in the State of Texas at the time.

Castro has a twin brother name Joaquín, who has been a member of Congress since 2013. Both Castro brothers have hinted at running for higher office but, it seems, they’ve decided that 2020 is Julian’s time. Regardless of which Castro brother is running, it seems that there is a new Kennedy family coming up through the Lone Star State – one more reflective of the shifting demographics and social trends in the country.

Castro will be the fifth potential Presidential candidate to visit the Hilltop in the 2020 Cycle, joining Republicans Jeff Flake and John Kasich and Democrats John Delaney and Andrew Yang.

LGBTQ Community Responds to Flag Controversy

The December 7, 2018 issue of the Saint Anselm Crier included a controversial opinion piece by Maria Benitz ’19 entitled, “In defense of flag removal.” Last week, a handful of small LGBTQ and Trans-gender flags appeared across campus, near walkways and on other green areas on campus. It is unclear who put the flags in the ground. But, within a few days of the flags appearing, they were gone. The removal of the flags has caused some controversy across campus but many students were not aware that they had been removed intentionally or maliciously.

In her letter, Benitz defended the removal of the flags. She wrote that the flags were not approved by the College’s Student Engagement and Leadership office and that, therefore, the flags should have been removed. It is not clear that the flags were not approved by SEAL or the Dean of Students’ Office but, if they were not, then it would have been proper for the appropriate authorities to remove the flags.

It is the second portion of Benitz’s letter that has caused the controversy. Benitz wrote, “Gay pride flags represent a movement that promotes a form of sexual promiscuity contrary to the virtue of chastity” promoted by the Catholic Church. She continued, “The Church cannot support the transgender pride movement, because this movement seeks to validate a form of mutilation of one’s God-given body.”

Several members of Saint Anselm College’s LGBTQ community provided a response to Bentiz’s article. Dennis Aveta ’20, wrote, “Calling non-heterosexual people ‘sexually promiscuous’, stating that no one should have sex if they can’t procreate, regarding gender affirmation surgery as the ‘mutilation’ of the body is overtly offensive…”

Aveta added, “The most common reaction from friends was shock that something so offensive and ridiculous could be printed in the school paper. But it wasn’t shocking to members of the community.” He continued, “We know the discrimination and intolerance we face on campus and in society, and now our allies are starting to understand it too. I am a proud gay man and will not accept homophobia, transphobia, sexism, or any other form of discrimination based on one’s identity.”

Matthew Solomon, ’20, President of the College’s True Equality and Dignity Alliance (TEDA), released a statement responding to Benitz’s article on The Hilltopper. Solomon said, “I am sure these flags represented many things for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. They represented a chance to be seen when they are so often overlooked. They represented the love they have for members of the community who are closeted and may have needed to see that flag. And most importantly they represented the desperate cry for equality of the person who planted that flag.”

Solomon referenced the Unhooked event from last year, saying, “It seems as if only yesterday the campus was caught up in the discriminatory actions taken against the leader of the Knights of Columbus, or the series of anti-transgender talks sponsored by the college.”

Solomon also spoke about the impact that Benitz’s article, and the sentiments expressed in it, may have on members of the Saint Anselm College community. He wrote, “My heart goes out to anyone on campus that is still in the closet and has to see things like these articles being published, or the flags being taken down out of intolerance. However, a part of me is appreciative that this is happening. Some of you may be wondering why these little flags and the responses they received are such a big deal. They show the attitude on campus that is still very much there, that the LGBTQ+ community is expected to live quietly on campus. That we are not allowed to express ourselves and be seen for the beauty that our diversity gives us.”

The Hilltopper reached out to the Editor-in-Chief of the Saint Anselm Crier, Em Craig, for a comment on the publishing of Bentiz’s article. On the Crier‘s website, Craig wrote, “We are in support of our students’ right to share their opinions with the school. To deny a student that right, we are denying them their right to free speech.” It is worth noting that the Supreme Court of the United States has created several restrictions on the freedom of speech from the First Amendment, especially when malice, ill-will, and defamation are involved with the speech in question, even in opinion pieces (Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 1990)

The following statement from the Culture Editor of the Crier was posted on December 10: “The editorial team of the Crier does not espouse any of the beliefs published in our newspaper except for the editorials which we write. The Opinion section is meant as a platform for the students of Saint Anselm College, which is a bipartisan campus. This openness means that some of our editions may skew in a certain direction because students who feel strongly about their political background are taking advantage of the Crier’s policy. That is not to say that The Crier is not open to the other side of the conversation. We promote honest and free discussion.”

It seems that the controversy surrounding LGBTQ+ issues on campus is far from over.

Can You Believe it? The Boston Red Sox Are World Champions Once Again

Players from the Boston Red Sox celebrate their World Series win. (Photo from WLWT-TV)

For the ninth time in their 117-year history, the Boston Red Sox are World Series champions.

In Game 1, Mookie Betts fulfilled Taco Bell’s “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” promotion when he stole second in the first inning en route to scoring the opening run of the World Series. After trading the lead back and forth with Los Angeles, backup Third Baseman Eduardo Nunez hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning to secure Boston’s 8-4 victory.

The Red Sox relied on small ball to win Game 2, scoring 5 runs without hitting a home run. A pair of doubles by Betts and Shortstop Xander Boegarts, as well as singles by First Baseman Steve Pearce and Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez, gave the Red Sox a 2-0 World Series lead behind a strong pitching performance from David Price, who seems to have shaken his post-season troubles.

After jumping out to a quick 2-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox lost their only game of the series in a low scoring, 18-inning marathon Game 3. After trailing most of the game, ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit a solo home run to tie the game in the 8th. The loss came due to an error by Second Baseman Ian Kinsler with a 1-run lead in the bottom of the 13th inning. Nathan Eovaldi, who was a strong contender for the Willie Mays World Series MVP, pitched almost an entire game’s worth of innings in the extra-innings portion of the Game 3 loss.

The Red Sox didn’t let Game 3 keep them down. Instead, they battled back from a 4-0 deficit in Game 4 to a decisive 9-6 victory. The heroes of Game 4 was the First Baseman Platoon of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce, who hit a home run a piece in order tie the game. The winning runs were driven in by back up Second Baseman Brock Holt and 22-year-old Third Baseman Rafael Devers. The Red Sox pitching was not great in Game 4, probably due to the fact that every available pitcher was used in the 18-inning Game 3, but they followed the “bend but don’t break” mentality to keep the team in the game.

The Red Sox came out to with hot bats in Game 5. In the first inning, Pearce hit a two-run home run. The Dodgers countered in the first when First Baseman David Freese hit a solo home run. Betts and Martinez followed up with solo shots of their own. Pearce wasn’t done in the first inning: he hit a second solo shot in the top of the 8th to seal the Red Sox victory and clinch the World Series MVP award for himself. Price pitched 7+ innings of 1-run baseball before giving the ball to flamethrower Joe Kelly, the Red Sox top postseason reliever, and starter-turned-reliever Chris Sale, who locked down the victory and the championship despite missing a start due to an undisclosed stomach illness during the ALCS.

From the start of Spring Training, it was clear that the 2018 Boston Red Sox would be something special. They had the best record in Spring Training, the best record in the Regular Season, and a 7-3 Post-Season record with 119 total wins.

Long-time Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione’s famous call of the 2004 championship team asked: “Can you believe it?”

Yes. We can. Once again, the Boston Red Sox are world champions.

Red Sox Contest Fourth World Series Title Since 2000

The Boston Red Sox after winning game five of the American League Championship series. (Photo from NJ.com)

For the fourth time since 2000, the Boston Red Sox are heading to the World Series as the American League Champions. This will be the 21st time a major Boston-area sports team (New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, New England Revolution, or the Red Sox) contest a national championship since the turn of the century. Their track record points to success: In each of their three previous trips to the Fall Classic, the Red Sox have walked away with the Commissioner’s Trophy in hand. The bar is set very high for Boston this year. But how did they get to this point?

The easy answer is that they won 108 games in the regular season, which secured them a home field advantage throughout the postseason. Another easy answer is the free agent signing of slugger J.D. Martinez, who set the record for home runs by a player in his first year with the Boston Red Sox and led the MLB in total bases and RBI. The team, which was last in the Majors in home runs hit last season, finished with 208 longballs, putting them in the Top Ten in the Majors.

However, the path to the 2018 World Series really began in the offseason between 2015 and 2016. After finishing in last place in the American League in back-to-back years, the Red Sox went after free agent pitcher David Price. As a rookie in 2008, Price had led the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series, including defeating the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Price had had a productive career during the regular season, regularly pitching 200+ innings, but had prolonged problems in the postseason, never winning a game as a starter. Even though some have questioned if Price was worth the cost, it cannot be denied that the Red Sox were greatly in need of a bolstered pitching rotation, as they had posted an ERA over 4.00 in 2015.

The next year saw improvement for the Red Sox. Price, their big acquisition, had a record of 17-9 and posted an ERA of 3.99. Rick Porcello led the American League in wins with a 22-4 record and a 3.15 ERA en route to winning the American League Cy Young Award. The team finished first in the AL East with a record of 93-69.

Maybe the regular season run was fuelled by passion over Ortiz’s looming retirement, as he had broken the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 and led the Red Sox to three World Series victories, but there wasn’t enough left in the tank when October came around. The team was swept in three games by the Cleveland Indians en route to the World Series. Ortiz drew a walk in his final at-bat of the American League Division series and the Red Sox comeback season ended in disappointment.

The Red Sox faced a major turning point during the offseason between 2016 and 2017. For the first time since 2001, David Ortiz was not there to anchor the lineup. How did the Red Sox respond? They traded third baseman Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers for relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg (who promptly blew out his shoulder and missed more than a full year with thoracic outlet syndrome) as well as trading star prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech for Chicago White Sox’s ace Chris Sale.

Neither of those moves would address the hole left by Ortiz and, unsurprisingly, the Red Sox offense suffered.

Red Sox skipper John Farrell was fired and replaced by Astros Bench Coach Alex Cora, who went on to clean house and hire a new bench coach, new base coaches, and a new pitching coach. On the player personnel front, the Red Sox were linked to several high profile free agents or trade targets but only one ended up donning a Red Sox uniform: Julio Daniel Martinez.

After a hiccup in Game One where Joe Kelly and Carson Smith blew a 4-0 lead to the Rays, the 2018 Boston Red Sox started rolling and never really stopped. They went 21-7 in March and April despite being no-hit by Sean Manaea of the Oakland Athletics, who proved to be the Red Sox’s kryptonite this season, only beating the A’s twice out of their eight meetings.

On May 25, the Red Sox went all in on a team led by Martinez and Betts. The Red Sox had designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment, who was second in home runs on the team in 2017 and had hit 6 home runs to that point in 2018. With Ramirez gone, Martinez settled into the Designed Hitter slot and played most games there, allowing Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Betts to patrol the outfield.

The plan worked out, as the Red Sox led all of baseball in wins for nearly the entire season. Their starting rotation was stifling and their offense was dominating. The bullpen was shaky at times but, actually, had the highest WAR.

The team posted a 108-54 record. In the ALDS they faced the 100-win, all-time most home runs ever hit in a single season by a team Yankees, who they defeated 3-1. Brock Holt, who missed large chunks of the previous two seasons to concussions and vertigo, became the first player to ever hit for the cycle (a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game) in the postseason.

In the ALCS, they faced the 103-win, defending World Series Champion Astros, who they defeated 4-1 in a best of seven series. David Price secured his first win in the postseason as a starter after pitching on three days rest in Game 5 in Houston after throwing 6 beautiful innings, only allowing three hits with no runs or walks.

The Red Sox absolutely dominated in every aspect of the 2018 season. They pitched well. They hit well. They played well.

Now they’ll face the Los Angeles Dodgers (who had a regular season record of 92-71) who had to play a tie-breaking Game 163 to even make it into the postseason and then battle back and forth in to a full Seven Game series against the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series, which ended on Saturday night.

The Red Sox have faced the Dodgers once before in the World Series, in 1916, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and known as the Robins. The Red Sox won that series, four games to one, thanks to great performances from pitcher Babe Ruth and outfielder Harry Hooper.

The World Series begins on Tuesday, October 23 on FOX (on-campus channel 12). First pitch from Fenway Park is at 8:09 PM.

#WhyIWrite: Cam Lapine

I was studying abroad in London during the Spring of 2018. Feeling homesick, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post from Nick Fulchino about the launch of The Hilltopper.

I immediately felt a new wave of homesickness wash over me. I missed the passion that drives so many on the Hilltop to be the best that they can be, to do the best that they can do, and to aim as high as they can aim. I immediately reached out to Nick to see how I could get involved with this grand project he and Meg Miller were embarking upon. Since I was abroad, I couldn’t exactly report on on-campus affairs, at least not with the kind of first-hand experience needed. Instead, I was drawn to the Beyond Campus section of The Hilltopper, of which I am now an editor.

In the 24-hour news cycle in which we live, there are outlets for all kinds of voices. Conservatives have Fox. Liberals have MSNBC. Pop Culture Fanatics have E! and Bravo. Athletes have ESPN. But where is the voice for students? That’s #WhyIWrite. The Hilltopper is the 24-hour outlet for student voices, about what’s going on around campus and what’s going on beyond our campus.

I’m an avid reader of The Crier. I think that their staff is great, smart, and hardworking. But they are bound by the limitations of their format. Their chain of command is long and thorough. They are, primarily, a physical platform, limiting the speed with which they can put out news, although Editor-in-Chief Emily Craig has taken great steps to bring The Crier into the 21st Century.

That’s why I write for The Hilltopper: because we can bring the news of the day to the Saint Anselm College population as it is happening. We don’t need to wait around for sheets of newsprint to come off the presses and be distributed. You can read The Hiltopper as you’re walking to class, as you’re sitting in your dorm room, or as you’re waiting in line in the Coffee Shop.

The Hilltopper is also unfiltered by the college’s administration, giving us a far greater degree in freedom in what we can publish. We still strive for truth, accuracy, and honesty in everything we write, but we can tell it like it is, without fear of retribution or sanctions if we publish something unsavory about the College. That’s why The Hilltopper has been the leading voice in reporting on the College’s layoffs and the departure of President DiSalvo.

#WhyIWrite can be summarized in four short words. Give. Students. A. Voice. That’s the goal of The Hilltopper, and it’s my personal goal as Beyond Campus Editor.