Tuesday, October 23, 2007

2007 World Series Prediction

In 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals were a juggernaut. They had great pitching, the most frightening lineup in the game, a solid bullpen, and one of baseball’s smartest managers. Before that series started, predicting a Red Sox sweep over that Cardinals team would have been damn foolish. The Cardinals were just too good to simply roll over. Ironically, the one thing that the Cardinals lacked was a rock solid belief that they not only could beat the Red Sox, but that of course they WOULD beat the Red Sox. Confidence is self-perpetuating, and once the Red Sox started winning, they just kept winning, all the way through Game 4 in St. Louis.

Confidence matters on this stage. The Larry Bird -Kevin McHale-Robert Parish Boston Celtics walked into the gym knowing they were going to win, not just hoping. Same for the Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers and the current New England Patriots. I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe in the Colorado Rockies because I honestly think that they’re just thrilled to be in the World Series. On this stage, I look for the team that has an absolute confidence in themselves. Josh Beckett uttered the following quote after the ALCS ended, “When I’m out there, I feel like the guys are all behind me, and I just feel like we’re better than everybody else”. That’s called swagger, and it ain’t bragging if you can back it up. Beckett and the Red Sox have been backing it up. They overcame injuries to Curt Schilling, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, and still led the American League all season. They earned home field advantage, and used it to dispose of the Angels and outlast the Indians, who may well have been the second-best team in all of baseball.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but in October, it’s all about pitching. The Red Sox pitching staff is far superior to anything Colorado saw in the playoffs. Colorado has decent pitching, but only 1 true ace, and Jeff Francis is going up against Josh Beckett in game 1. Again, they’ve never faced a team that’s as disciplined and patient as the Red Sox. The Rockies are undeniably hot, but they’re just not that *good*. Their defense is stellar, but their lineup showed surprisingly little power during the playoffs. Colorado has good speed at the top of the lineup in Willy Tavaras and Kaz Matsui. However, as was shown in the ALDS with the Angels, if you keep the speed merchants off the bases, they can’t do very much harm. They’ve probably got the NL MVP in outfielder Matt Holliday. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki could very well be the Rookie of the Year. Still, there aren’t enough weapons to keep up with the Red Sox’ shut down pitching.

Tim Wakefield will not be starting game 4 for Boston, which is going to set up a decidedly odd World Series matchup: It’s probably going to be Jon Lester, who hasn’t started a post-season game, against Aaron Cook, who was Colorado’s Opening Day starter, but hasn’t been on a major league mound since August 10 (strained abdominal muscle). I’m not quite so worried about game 4 in any case, since the Red Sox game 5 starter will be Josh Beckett.

I think that once the series shifts to Denver for game 3, it’s not coming back to Boston. The Rockies may well win one game, but that might be stretching it. I don’t see this World Series being very close, but I’ll be conservative. Red Sox win the 2007 World Series in 5 games.


Anonymous said...

David is correct in his assessment.

Yankee fan.

Anonymous said...

Go SOX! And true. I have to admit I was ready to give it to Cleveland after Game 4 ... but not anymore. And the fact that EVERYONE is stepping up to the plate offensively is incredible.

I just can't wait to see ANOTHER Papelbon jig dance!


Amy G said...

Definitely - the Sox confidence can't be beaten - and David is correct - Rockies are happy to just *be* there! However...no matter what I'm STILL nervous and am still suffering Post-traumatic-stress-disorder from '86 and fear the "reversed curse" will "re-reverse" (can you tell I'm a life long fan! Ha ha!