Tuesday, October 23, 2007

World Series preview

By Rick Morris

Remember the days when the Red Sox were a fuzzy, lovable underdog whom America nuzzled to its soft bosom? Back then, the team was the whipping boy in a very one-sided “rivalry” with America’s Most Hated, aka the New York Yankees, and they hadn’t won a World Series since 1918 and the trade of Babe Ruth.

Those seem like distant memories.

Now, Boston has become “Yankees Junior,” an unlovable, huge-spending behemoth that has left the Yankee organization firmly in the dust, won a World Series title and become the bane of a nation with a spoiled, self-entitled, obnoxious fanbase cheering its every move. They’ve achieved the success they never thought possible, while becoming all that they hated. I’m sure the irony is lost on Chowd Nation.

And now, Boston is on the verge of becoming the “leader in the clubhouse” for the title of Team of the Decade, since no other franchise has won a second championship this decade. Standing in their way: a “magic” team outmatched on paper much like the one they just dispatched in the ALCS: the 21-1 in their last 22 games Colorado Rockies.

The national media will spin this series as the empire against the ragamuffins, but in reality, it’s the most star-studded World Series since 1999 with the Rocks definitely holding up their end of the bargain. Although Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins and Todd Helton toil in relative anonymity, that does not negate what they accomplish between the lines. Holliday is probably The Baddest Man on the Planet right now and is probably the only player who could legitimately reduce Manny Ramirez to being the second best left fielder in the World Series.

So the Rockies are almost as top-heavy as the Sox in terms of superstar power, but as they did in the ALCS and the ALDS, Boston should be able to win with superior depth of starting pitching, relief pitching and the starting lineup. Additionally, the Red Sox’s path to the final stop in October is probably more impressive than Colorado’s insane hotness, given the absolutely huge disparity in talent between the American and National Leagues. Boston has already beaten two teams that probably would have won the NL if they were in it.

I have maintained all along that the winner of the AL would steamroll to win the World Series. There are a couple of caveats I have grown to accept that do make me feel the Fall Classic will be closer than I had previously thought.

^ I picked against Colorado twice and they have defied my expectations. Again, the Phillies and Diamondbacks are supremely inferior to the Red Sox, but credit must be given where it is due for exceeding expectations already and proving pundits like myself wrong repeatedly.

^ David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis at Coors Field? We won’t see both.

^ Colorado won two of three from Boston at Fenway in interleague play this year, including a game in which they took it to Josh Beckett.

^ Rookie starters Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez are wildly inexperienced, but also unknown commodities to the Red Sox. Young pitchers can buffalo even great hitters unfamiliar with them.

^ In addition to excellent performances from their core players, Colorado has had timely hitting up and down the order – and they are one of the best defensive teams in baseball, if not the best.

^ While the Rocks will have to deal with the atmosphere at Fenway, the Red Sox must play the middle games of the series at Coors Field. Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball might not be dancing on a cold October night at altitude.

^ There is at least a surface similarity I see, albeit with great irony, between this Series and the 2003 one. Then, an upstart team led by, you guessed it, Josh Beckett, punched the favorite Yankees in the nose and continued their Cinderella run all the way to the top. But the crucial difference I see is that the Sox are not in the decaying-dynasty mode New York was in back in ’03 and that the speed and slightly-more-established power arms of the Marlins were custom-made for pulling off the upset in a way that the Rockies are not.

Notwithstanding these factors, I pick the Red Sox to win in 6. I sincerely hope that I am as wrong about the Rockies as I was in the first two rounds, and moreover, everyone in this country outside of the noxious Red Sox Nation wishes the same.


Unknown said...

As the Red Sox Nation ambassador to the FDH Lounge I must loudly declare an official protest at the undiplomatic treatment we are receiving.

Death to Rickmerica!

And if you want me to turn off my centrifuges it will cost you all the perogies in Parma.

Soon you will all be assimilated into Red Sox Nation!

Rick Morris said...

Evidently, the forcible assimilation has begun tonight. The '06 Tigers are laughing at how cold the Rockies look tonight.

I, however, will resist assimilation and will in so doing resemble an illegal alien in America, the presence of which is condoned by Chris' stripe of Republican :-)

Unknown said...

Where's your "Red Card" cleengo?