Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Waiting Game

If it seems like there are more off days during this particular postseason than in past years, it's because there are. MLB's scheduling this year has been quirky to say the least. On the bright side, hopefully it means that Sox haters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had to stay a few extra nights in hostile territory waiting for Game 1 of the World Series.

Oh yeah - the Sox are in the World Series for the second time in four years, and spirits are high here in Winnerville. Weather permitting - and that's a big if at this point - Game 1 against those amazing Rockies gets underway at about 8:25 tonight at the Fens, with Josh Beckett trying to add to his October resume against Rockies ace Jeff Francis.

A big question going into this Series: what will the 8-day layoff do to the absolutely torrid Rockies? They've won an incredible 21 of 22 games - a span stretching out more than a month - but they've had to lie in wait in Denver for more than a week and haven't been able to practice outside much due to snow. Judging from interviews I've seen with some of the Rox, though, they're pretty loose. They also come into Boston with a little confidence, having taken 2 of 3 from the Sox here in June, including wins against Beckett and Schilling.

Some tidbits as we anxiously await the game:

- How huge has home-field advantage been? As soon as Beckett won Game 5, the Sox knew they were coming back to the cozy confines of Fenway and winning two in a row wasn't all that big of a deal. As a writer in one of the papers pointed out the other day, big thank you's go out to Ichiro (inside the park HR), Victor Martinez (!) and Beckett for coming up big in the All-Star game. How about this for a proposal? The winner of the All-Star game also gets to play the World Series by their rules, i.e., DH or no DH.

- It stinks that Tito is going to have to sit either Lowell, Youk, or Ortiz when the Series shifts to Colorado. All three are pivotal in the lineup, and I wonder how Papi's knees can handle the constant movement at first. Just a guess, but maybe Ortiz sits for lefty Francis' second start? We shall see. Either way, it's a big advantage for the Rockies, who can add another hitter to their lineup for the games at Fenway.

- We've given Theo a lot of grief this year for some of his free-agent signings, but looking at the construct of this team, you have to admire what he and his baseball operations staff have done. Tonight when the Sox take the field, they'll have three players who've come up through the system - Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury - in the starting lineup. And they're each major contributors. In 2004, it was half Duquette's team, half Theo's. The pendulum has swung more to the Theo side.

- I love the Papelbon river dance as much as anyone else, but think about it: you've got your ace closer in flip-flops, on wet grass, with a few Bud Lights in him, doing a hyper jig. If he pulls a muscle, it's not funny anymore.

- Speaking of Papelbon, the one slight negative from Game 7 was that he got hit pretty hard. Garko hit a ball to deep right, Peralta had a sharp hit, and Blake's game-ending blast to the triangle in center was smashed.

- Stinks to see Tim Wakefield have to sit out the Series, especially because I think he'd be a hell of a change of pace against the Rockies after they see Beckett. His shoulder's ailing him. The Sox will go with Beckett tonight, Schilling and Dice-K (not sure which order) in Games 2 and 3, and then it could be (gulp) Jon Lester.

- According to the New York Times, the Rockies are very much a team of faith. I'm sure some guys on the Sox are more religious than others, but seems like a pretty stark contrast between the two squads. You think Papelbon's in the pews on Sunday morning?

- Time to give the managers - Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle - some credit. Like every Sox manager since the beginning of time, Tito takes a beating around here but you can't deny what he's accomplished. I liked watching him the other night after the clincher. With chaos all around him, he takes it all in calmly and lets the players celebrate. But the hugs he got from every guy on the team showed me that he is beloved. Don't know much about Hurdle, except I remember him being the rookie du jour on the cover of Sports Illustrated way back when. He turned out to be more like Super Joe Charbonneau ('member him?)

- No way to quantify, of course, but I think experience played a big role in helping the Sox climb out of a 3-1 hole and get to this point. Fausto Carmona had the deer in the headlights look in Game 6, and I thought the Indians' young but talented hitters were a bit impatient the other night.

- This is a post for another day, but Kevin Youkilis has proven me WRONG in a big way. Coming into this season, I didn't think he had done enough to be an everyday player for the Sox. His Game 7 blast off the Coke bottles notwithstanding, he's not your prototypical basher at first base. But he does everything else well, especially defense. Sorry for doubting you Youk.

- Is that Dustin Pedroia at second or Tanner Boyle?

- Rain, rain go away, come again some other day.

rock n roll
what about the weather report
and what if it snowed in boston bfore denver, thats how the weathers been.
loved all the photos of papelbon....too much! regarding hits off players can hit the fastball, just ask bettencourt....don't you love when dustin & youk step in, they are swingn hard....i think your right aboutsittin papi, he showed a little tenderness in the last 2 games it might be wiser to sit him and play the healthy guys, therir only hittn .400 in the alcs

hope it doesnt rain, it will goof up all the pitching.....p.s. why aren't we fly'n to denver to crash with beeno & levin and scalp tix??
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