Why they’ll win…
The Sox can, and I think will, win the World Series this year for a number of reasons:
UPDATE AFTER GAME 2! Two really important pieces, that I think can mean quite a bit, or nothing at all, to different people. They are coming home, where they are about as good as anyone on the planet, up 2-0, and the league MVP or runner up has not had a hit yet, and the best post season pitcher active/alive has yet to throw a pitch in the series. Those things alone don’t mean much but when you say those two things and then say “but they are up 2-0 anyway” you have to like your chances. Being on a few different teams that have come back from farther deficits than 2-0 I can tell you the great thing about the Sox clubhouse is the guys inside will not allow any mentality other than ‘step on their necks’ while they are down.
1) I would assume that Jon Lester felt and knew he could do it in October prior to game 1, but having another stellar October line on his resume did nothing but solidify that to him, and now to the rest of the world. This kid is as legit as they come, wants to be the ace, and labeled that or not will pitch like it again in this series if called on, or in the next series if not.
2) The Sox outscout, and out prepare any team I’ve ever seen or been a part of. I can’t, and won’t go into detail but the tools provided to the coaching staff, and players, to prepare for an opponent are so far beyond anything I have ever had access to or seen during the REGULAR SEASON that it would blow you away to see what they do for us when there is a week to prepare. If you’re ‘baseball smart’ and not someone that makes the ‘too much information makes me screw up’ excuse, you go into a series as a pitcher or hitter with every possible weapon you can imagine, and then some. Going into the World Series in 2004 I had my own long and exhaustive scouting reports on that entire Cardinals lineup. Being allowed to sit in on the advance scouting meeting with the scouting staff and coaching staff presented me with additional information that I guarantee you helped me get more than 3 outs that night. Like 2001 I didn’t throw 1 pitch in the Angels series or Cardinals series I hadn’t thrown in my head 100 times. No situation arose in either game that I was not totally prepared for or hadn’t been made aware of through my reports, or information provided by the team.
2A) The kicker to all that is ‘Tek. Take that information and hand it to a guy who knows better than anyone I’ve ever thrown to, how to disseminate that and apply it to the man on the mound, starter or reliever, and you have a lethal weapon. Tek understands EVERY single hitters weakness, and every pitchers strength and more times than not understands how that pertains to ‘the moment’.
While it didn’t work out last year NE fans remember what the thought was any time you gave Bellicheck more than a week to prepare, you wouldn’t beat him. I feel exactly the same way here. This staff, these scouts, give us just incredible data to work with during the season, when reports and games happen on the fly and every single day. When presented with the time the post season gives you to prepare for 1 team, 3-7 games, the stuff is series changing. While they are always thanked but often overlooked as ‘well that’s what good teams do’, I cannot overstate their value. I’d say there is a great argument in the Red Sox having as much, if not more, of an advantage in talent scouting as we have in all the other commonly recognized areas.
3) Regardless of the lineup put out there right now the team is playing in a groove that’s very familiar to me. I can see and have heard, and can feel that palpable difference. There was a change in mood and attitude that took place after the last regular season game, and you could see it in game 1. These games ARE different, not acknowledging that or trying to downplay that only works for losers. You need to be able to acknowledge that AND be able to ramp it up in a way that does NOT make you play tighter, stiffer, more ‘worried’. I always found it funny that people would say ‘Dude we got Schilling pitching game x” when I was sitting there so nervous you couldn’t pull a pin out of my ass with a tractor. I was deathly afraid of failing, right up until I threw that first pitch. Then I knew exactly why my fastball was faster, my split split more, and my command was 10 times sharper. It was that or get your ass kicked and I had no interest in getting my ass kicked in front of a global audience, much less the local crowd. Not to mention there is something to be said for knowing you are one of the guys the 24 others ones are relying on; and that right there is another reason I feel real comfortable saying they are going to win. There are MANY players on this team who feel like they are the ones being counted on.
The difference is many guys AREN’T feeling like that and some DON’T want to feel like that. I’ve played with guys who viewed October as a 4 week time frame that could do nothing but take away from what you accomplished during the season. To quote a teammate “Dude I had a phenomenal year, in one game that could be totally forgotten!”. True story.
4) The manager. For all the folks in 2004 that wanted to lynch Tito, even after we won, this guy knows how to manage people. Sabermetric your ass off but at the end of the day the best managers are the guys that can quote “% of chance to score runs with runners in scoring position and less than 2 outs”. Don’t get me wrong, baseball IQ is important, data does matter, but at the end of the day the best managers in the game are what they are because they can manage PEOPLE better than the other guy….
Dice will do well tonight. This lineup, if it presses (the Angels) will allow him to get into the 7th and if that happens we can close anyone out with that bullpen. These aren’t the Manny/Papi Sox anymore but this team can CRUSH pitch counts and run through bullpens as well as anyone. I’d love to stay away from that young stud setting up Krod and them having a lead. People have sold Jason Bay so damn short this year calling him a ‘good player’ and all. This kid can play, he’s better than good. People will never forget Manny around here and after 40 and 130 every year it’s easy to understand, but Jason Bay will give you everything he has at the plate, on the bases, in the field and in the clubhouse every single day of the season, every season; and if that, plus 290 30 and 100 isn’t good enough then it wouldn’t matter anyway.
These are the new Red Sox, and that’s not something I see changing as long as Theo is calling the shots and building this team. They’ll run through your starter most nights and expose the one thing few teams if any ever claim as a strength, middle relief. Show me a team with GREAT middle relief and you’re looking at a team that likely sucks. Middle relief is what you have when your starters can’t get into the 6th. Teams like this one have good middle relief because they’ve gone back to what I think is the best possible method in bringing up and acclimating young pitchers. Middle relief, lower leverage innings to get your feet wet. Then to the rotation at the right time, or move back deeper into the pen, whichever role you were groomed for.
5) Can’t believe I forgot to put this last point up top. Two words, Josh Beckett….
Oh and I know I claimed I’d never mention him again but I can’t pass this up. CHB, no one that’s EVER worn a major league uniform has uttered the term ‘cookie fastball’… Where the hell did you hear that? A fastball down the pipe is a cookie, or some of the products Keebler makes are cookies, but there is no such thing as a ‘cookie fastball’ you dork.