Toronto Baseball Guys
World Series Dice: take two
This would have looked a lot better if I posted yesterday, I'm blaming society. When predicting a World Series, what better method than random chance? (Hey it worked last year - Cards in 5!)
Using an ordinary die, even numbers = NL, odd = AL. Result: 3 - Boston wins!
A second roll for the number of games: 1=4 games, 2 or 3 = 5 games, 4-5 = 6 games, 6 = 7 games. Result: 5
Boston wins in six
To justify the results: The Rockies will regain their momentum at home, while the Red Sox will have a hard time adjusting to playing without a DH. The Rockies take 2 of 3 in Colorado but Boston wraps up the series at home.
Sox and Rox
Alright, I'm a little late getting this up - Kaz Matsui has just struck out in the first inning as I type this - but let's consider this Fall Classic. We have the uber-hot Cinderella team against probably the most complete team in Major League Baseball.
Consider just how amazing it is that Colorado even made the playoffs. We've all been there as fans, in the waning days of a season in which our team isn't mathematically eliminated, but it's all but over. How many of us have said in jest, "Well, if we win EVERY game from here on, we've got a shot"? Here, finally, we have the team that actually went out and won every game.
We've also seen this storyline in sports before, the Cinderella team that steams along for a few weeks looking like the team of destiny until they run into the REALLY good team. At that point, Cinderella's coach turns into a pumpkin, jackknife's on top of Cinderella and the ugly step sisters turn up to pants her remains. This Series could get that ugly, as Aaron Cook and Josh Fogg aren't anyone's idea of half a World Series rotation.
That said, while my analytical side says I should just say Sox in four, strange things happen in short series - witness the 83-win Cardinals juggernaut of aught-six - so I'm going to say that the Rockies keep their Coors Field magic intact and win this thing in five games.
Oh, and by the way, the Josh Beckett hero worship being spouted by the Sportsnet colour guy is nauseating bordering on McCarverism. Apparently if it suddenly stops raining in Boston, it'll be Beckett's doing.
Hmmm, 2-0 Sox already - maybe I should've said Rox in six...
The Gagne vs. Francis World Series
Or, as it will probably be better known as, Red Sox in 4.
And I hate to write that, because I really enjoyed watching every Rockies game from the tie-breaker on. & I picked Cleveland to go over Boston (damn you Skinner!).
The fact of the matter is, Josh is amazing and Schilling is looking almost like Schilling. Throw in 5 so-so innings from Dice-K and Lester, and bridge them to the best closer in baseball with Okajima, Timlin and Delcarmen, and you have a pretty tough staff to beat. And with no Wakefield, well, you have no Wakefield...and that can be a good thing...
& then throw in Jacoby & Pedroia, who really turned this team around, and Manny and Papi and Lowell and the greek god of walks Kevin Youkilis, and you almost have enough to off-set Eric Gagne, Julio Lugo, Royce Clayton and Eric Hinske.
I hate to say it, but Sox in 4. May Todd Helton have mercy on our souls.
World Series Prediction
I'm about to go out on a limb here when I say that the hottest team in baseball right now will win the world series. And that ain't the Colorado Rockies. No, the hottest team in baseball is the Red Sox, winners of 3 straight games. The Rockies haven't played any baseball since they swept the D-Backs 10 days ago. All the baseball the Rox have been playing is on their PS3s. You also might count shagging fungos at Mile High as playing baseball. Maybe watching baseball on TV. But that's nothing like playing in the World Series. And nothing like facing the newest dominant post-season pitcher, Josh Becket, in game one.
Look for the Rockies to lose game one and then lose most of the remaining games. They're already done for the winter. Unfortunately they're not done playing yet.Sox over Rox in 5. And damn the TV schedule.
Who To Cheer and Why
So after a relatively lacklustre first round of the playoffs, we're down to four teams still in contention for the 2007 World Series. If you're a baseball fan and your team isn't one of the remaining four, who do you pull for? Usually, it's the best story - the player who has never been to the postseason, the long-suffering franchise, the team that bounced back from injuries, the manager who kicked the opium habit, etc.
So which team is worthy of your support?Arizona DiamondbacksLast won: 2001
Well, they're the young, hungry, how-did-these-guys-get-to-the-playoffs team. Considering they allowed more runs than they scored, I'm not exactly sure, but here they are, with young stars like Brandon Webb and Chris Young, and those snazzy new red uniforms.Case Against:
As a franchise they're younger than the average member of a Little League team, and they just won a World Series in 2001, so there's no nostalgia factor here. The closest thing they have to a grizzled veteran is 37-year-old Jeff Cirillo. Plus, "D-Backs" on the front of the jerseys? A nickname's nickname? Maybe there's a reason you don't choose a 12-letter name...(Canadian Exception):
Who doesn't love the O-Dog? Though the popular ex-Jay will have to cheer his team on from the dugout, as an injury will keep him from any post-season action.Boston Red SoxLast won: 2004Case For:
Not much of one, really. They had a ground swell of support back in 2004, as they finally expunged The Curse. It would drive Yankees fans crazy though, and that is always a worthy goal.Case Against:
Just three years removed from the 2004 victory, baseball fans have been reminded that Red Sox fans are very nearly as obnoxious and insufferable as Yankees fans. And who really needs a ring on this team? Jonathan Papelbon? Julio Lugo? J.D. "I've held out and opted out of every contract I've ever signed" Drew? I wouldn't begrudge David Ortiz another October dogpile, but if you're not a member of Red Sox Nation, there's precious little to recommend the Sox as an adopted playoff team.(Canadian Exception):
It would be nice to see Eric Gagne add a World Series ring to his Cy Young Award, but if he doesn't start to perform more effectively, he might not make the World Series roster, should the Sox get that far.Cleveland IndiansLast Won: 1948Case For:
There's the 59-year drought, which looks like nothing to a Cubs fan, the years... ok, decades
as a laughingstock franchise - what other team has a hit movie based on finally overcoming their futility? How about Kenny Lofton finally winning a World Series ring on his 14th tour of duty with his original team (I'm not counting those 20 games with Houston)? Plus, they knocked out the Yankees, for which about 95% of baseball fandom is grateful.Case Against:
About as thin as Boston's case for. I suppose there's politically incorrect name, but we survived 14 years of The Chop, for cryin' out loud. And C.C. Sabathia should really straighten out that hat.(Canadian Exception):
Kinda thin, but Casey Blake is a former Blue Jays farmhand, while Josh Barfield is the son of former Jays' slugger Jesse.Colorado RockiesLast won: NeverCase For:
They're the hottest team in baseball over the last month, and the winners of an absolute classic playoff game against the Padres. They've never been past the first round of the playoffs in their admittedly short history, while expansion cousins Florida and Arizona have combined for three World Series titles. Veteran slugger Todd Helton is making his first playoff appearance.Case Against:
They don't have the same historical gravitas as the Cubs or Phillies, but compared to Arizona, they're pratically greybeards. And c'mon, a humidor?(Canadian Exception):
Canada's current best hope for a Cy Young Award is Rockies' ace Jeff Francis, a Canadian university product, and already off to a stellar 2-0 start in the '07 playoffs.
So to recap, here's the order in which you should be cheering for the postseason survivors:Indians
(and it's not even close)RockiesDiamondbacksRed Sox
Baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, offers opportunities for redemption. The goalie who allows a weak goal can't go and score an equalizer. The cornerback who gets burned for a touchdown has to watch from the sidelines and hope that his offense can get those points back.
In baseball, no matter what atrocity you might commit in the field, you get a chance - perhaps several - to reverse your team's fortune at the plate. Likewise, a game of offensive heroism can be ruined with one momentary lapse afield, in which you forget to plant your feet before you throw and allow Jorge Posada to reach base, thus costing your team's ace a complete game victory, right Aaron Hill? But I digress.
While baseball is quick to offer atonement, it is seldom realized. Bill Buckner could have wiped away all memory of Game 6 with a winning hit in Game 7. Alas, his career is reduced to a single replay. Not so for Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday.
With the Rockies up 6-5 in the eighth inning of the Wild Card tiebreaker, Holliday, who had been seranaded with chants of "MVP" throughout the game, played a Brian Giles fly ball into a game-tying double. The gaffe produced the last run of the game for 5 innings, until a 2-run homer in the top of the 13th put the Padres ahead 8-6, appearing to end the Rockies miracle charge to the post season and mar a brilliant season by Holliday.
Except that the Rockies still had three outs to go, and Holliday poised to bat 3rd in the bottom of the 13th. One can argue that he had, perhaps, the most remarkable at-bat in the history of baseball.
- He batted with his team trailing and 3 outs away from elimination
- His triple tied the game, and put the Rockies in a dominating position to win the game and a playoff spot, which of course, they did
- The hit clinched the National League Batting Title, after seeing his lead over Chipper Jones whittled to a point and a half
- The hit also won Holliday the league RBI title, chasing home his 137th run, one more than Ryan Howard.
- He did it against baseball's all-time saves leader.
I'm not sure that any other single hit has had such an impressive resume. It robbed Padres left fielder Scott Hairston of becoming the Rockies' own personal Bucky Dent. It will surely earn Holliday the National League MVP award. Had the Rockies lost, the lasting image of his season would likely have been the Giles misplay.
Of course, it seems that Holliday didn't actually touch the plate on the game-winning run, and he left a good chunk of his chin on the field in a slide of Stottlemyre-esque ugliness. Even redemption, when realized, isn't perfect. But Holliday and the Rockies will certainly take it.