Sunday, October 28, 2007

2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are the 2007 World Series champions. The series was over soon after the first pitch of game 1 in Boston, since neither the Sox pitching staff nor their bats allowed Colorado to participate. Going in, although the Rockies were white hot, they just weren’t in the same league with the Red Sox, literally or figuratively. They never had a chance.

I had the strangest feeling when Josh Beckett dominated the Indians in Game 5 of the ALCS. The Red Sox and Indians were going back to Boston with Cleveland still up 3 games to 2, but I honestly believed the series had just turned an irreversible corner. After game 4, I thought the Red Sox were cooked. After game 5, they were a different team, and I was suddenly sure they would take the ALCS and win the World Series. As far as I was concerned, the Indians were the only dangerous team left, and Boston had just exposed them. Fearing the Rockies never made much sense to me. What was there to fear? I felt their great streak masked a team with no depth, shallow pitching, and a lineup that could be controlled by a quality pitching staff. I thought that, in spite of the winning streak, the Rockies were the weakest league champion since the 1998 San Diego Padres. How could Colorado match up with the Indians, much less the Red Sox? Turns out they couldn’t. And for the second time in four years, the Red Sox sit on top of the baseball universe.

In the 7th inning of game 4, the last pitch thrown by Aaron Cook landed in the left field seats after it was launched off the bat of World Series MVP Mike Lowell. That pitch finished the Rockies once and for all. A solo homer by Brad Hawpe didn’t much matter, as Bobby Kielty (of all people) made up for it on the first pitch he saw, swatting it into the same spot where Lowell had homered an inning earlier. Even the homer by Garrett Atkins didn’t change anything. Meanwhile, Jon Lester turned in a performance that Josh Beckett and Curt Shilling could be proud of. Lester’s next stop will be the 2008 Red Sox starting rotation (after the Duck Boat parade, of course).

This Red Sox team led almost wire to wire, but didn’t really find its championship personality until very late in the year. Calling up Jacoby Ellsbury the final time from Pawtucket changed everything. The team already had the odds on choice for the league’s Cy Young award winner in Josh Beckett and the probable Rookie of the Year in Dustin Pedroia. Mike Lowell was acknowledged to be the team’s MVP, and everyone in baseball respects Captain Tek as one of the great on field leaders. Curt Schilling was gearing up for October, and Jonathan Papelbon was perfectly prepared by Francona and John Farrell for the pressure innings to come. Still, it was clearly Ellsbury, wearing Bob Stanley’s #46, that the Red Sox needed to be the final catalyst. He changed the lineup. He was the perfect fill in for Manny Ramirez in left, and he seemed to function like some kind of speedy left handed enzyme that the team had obviously lacked.

The chemistry experiment exploded all over Cleveland, then Colorado. In 2004, the Red Sox won as a veteran team. Schilling, Martinez, Lowe, Foulke, Millar, Bellhorn and Damon were the war horses. In no small part due to the new generation of talent exemplified by Beckett, Papelbon, Lester, Matsuzaka, Okajima, Pedroia and Ellsbury, the World Series championship banner will be raised once again over Fenway Park next April.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AWESOME!! WOOT! Was waitig to see Papelbon & Beckett dance the jig again ... not much celebration coverage here.

Nailbiting final, but was THRILLED. Kids in Boston today will never really understand. They only had to wait 3 years!!