Rox and Sox 2007 World Series, it's on….
Congratulations to Josh Beckett, 2007 ALCS MVP. I don’t doubt for a second that we don’t get here if he doesn’t clutch up with arguably the most dominating post season start in my lifetime. So many guys came up huge but the awesome part of this was that I don’t think at any time after game 4 did we think about the deficit as anything other than a number.
After game 4 it got very easy in the sense that there was zero gray area, it was win or go home. That’s not to make it sound trivial but game 5 was truly the first time this entire season when we had our backs to the wall for real, and the team responded as a championship team has to, and will.
Josh comes out throwing 125 in the first and Youk jump starts us with a bomb. Game 5 we took a mentality of one pitch, one out, one inning at a time and ran with it. The exact same thing we said from game 4 of the ALCS in 2004 on through. It’s one thing to say it, but another to actually put it in play. The guys did that and that’s as big a reason as any we ended up winning 3 straight. I also know that the last three games created some chemistry that only win or go home games can create. We embraced it and ran with it.
Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians. Say what you want but that’s a hell of a team with a hell of a future. The core of the team is incredibly young and talented and I would imagine they’ll be participating in many more October games over the next 5-10 years. Even though their big two had games they’d like to replay, those kids are going to be fine. They’ll learn from this and get better. I know CC a bit and he’s a kid that gets it and respects the game, he’s on the path that if he can stay healthy will most likely end up with a plaque in Cooperstown. Jake pitched an absolutely gutsy game last night. It will get lost in the shuffle but to finish with the linescore he did after the pressure we put him in those first 3 innings was nothing short of awesome. Carmona already proved from 2006 to 2007 that he knows how to learn and I don’t doubt for a second that he’ll be a force in this league for years to come.
It was a hell of a series that felt every bit the heavyweight fight it appeared. No one budged and the scores will NOT reflect the intensity and closeness of the games or the series. I thought it was pretty cool that what I thought were the two best teams in the AL both made it to the ALCS and gave fans a series worthy of crowning a league champion.
Now we move on to the last dance against a team that’s basically lost 1 game in the past month. Some people are already crowing about the NL being the ‘little sister’ to the AL but I can assure you every one of us knows that this is going to be a hell of a series. I think, like pretty much every other World Series, it will come down to starting pitching and who gets the most out of their guys. Both teams can hit so the team that executes it’s game plan from the mound I think will be the first team to 4 wins over the next 10 days. None of us have forgotten the 3 games we matched up with them earlier this year and the offensive whipping they gave us in 2 of those games.
Hats off to Sox nation as well. Fenway was absolutely electric for games 6 and 7. It was night and day from games 1 and 2 and every one of us noticed. There can be no doubts going ahead how important Fenway and home field advantage is for us when the city of Boston is worked up.
Congratulations to Terry Francona as well. In a city that features armchair QB’ing and media second guessing as legitimate paid professions, he stayed true to himself and true to us as players and managed his ass off. I still think he’s the most underrated manager in baseball. Sticking to your guns is hard enough, but in a town where the home team is pretty much second only to catholicism doing so is even harder. We won because he made the moves he had to make, and because he trusts us to do what we’re supposed to do when it matters most.
A few random observations. The Red Sox in me is happy Joe Torre is no longer in charge in NY. The person in me wonders how does a guy who obviously has the respect and loyalty of his entire roster, a guy who’s taken his team to 12 straight post seasons, a guy who exudes class and respect, how does he, in the midst of what might have been his most challenging and defining season and post season, not only have to manage his team in a best of 5 win or go home series, but also answer a billion questions about being basically told ‘win or you’re out’? How did it come to that? I have never had a chance to get to know Mr Torre beyond handshakes of congratulations or hellos, but I have never heard a player on his team utter anything but respect for the guy. Much like Boston, managing a 175m+ roster of super star players, in that market, with a hack to writer ratio bordering on 100-1, how does he basically win pretty much every year, get to the post season and get an ultimatum at THAT point in the season? I have always thought very highly of Mr Steinbrenner as well, anyone that pours that much of himself into his team, is that dedicated to his teams fans is ok by me and I would think ok by pretty much anyone that plays for him since he never makes issue with paying the huge salaries players make these days but only adds the caveat of “Just win a World Series”. I don’t think players have ever had problems with owners like that.
Then he gets ‘offered’ a pay cut with strings? That sucks. Was very cool to see the mass of Yankee fans at the “keep Joe” rally though. Amazing how that loyalty card plays out in the public eye and through the media when the shoes on the other foot. Managers don’t win ballgames, players do, and I think you’d be surprised to know how bad we feel when managers we care about get fired because we know, if we have one ounce of integrity, that our failures as players are, most times, what gets a manager fired.
Terry Francona is a genius since he arrived in Boston? Having been on his team the first day he managed in the big leagues through today I’ll tell you up front that he is not much different. He does suck much more at cribbage now than he ever did and his fantasy teams continue to suck as well, but as a manager he’s not really different. I think the interim jobs he had in Cleveland and Oakland showed him the inner workings of baseball front offices more and helped him in some areas but in the clubhouse, dugout, and on the field he’s pretty much the same non-jersey wearing guy he was in Philly, he just has a front office comprised entirely of people that understand winning games on the field matters more than anything else. The ‘know it alls’ in Philadelphia, from Conlin to Cataldi to Macnow, aren’t really know it alls are they? Their people who’s life it is, who’s entire job description, revolves around creating news or stories where there is none, to make you think their ‘in’ and you’re not, and if you want to truly know or get smarter, listen to them. Pretty cool when you can be wrong pretty much 90% of the time and still be considered an expert.
Wonder how smart Tito looks to the guys that hacked him in Philly now? 3 post seasons, 2 world series appearances in 4 years here. Nice to know he gets that last laugh.
Starting Wednesday it’s on.