The World Series From the Perspective of the Blogosphere
I don't know if the World Series is considered the second season or the third season, but it's finally upon us. And it promises to be an exciting one. The team with the most wins vs. the club with the most consecutive victories. Call it old money vs. new money.
All 30 teams emerged from spring training with hopes and dreams. Nine teams finished the 162-game regular season with a legitimate shot at winning it all. After the one-game playoff (or play-in) for the wild card spot, eight clubs were within 11 victories of hoisting the World Series trophy. The Division Series pared that list down to the Final Four. And the Championship Series produced the American and National League representatives for the 2007 World Series.
If the recent past is prologue, whichever team wins it this year may not even make the playoffs next season. That's right, only one of the last six World Series champs made the postseason the year after winning it all. But flags fly forever as they say so I'm sure fans of the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies, if given a chance, would trade a down year in 2008 for a World Series title in 2007.
The Red Sox are trying to become the second team since 1990 to win the World Series after finishing with the best record in the majors. Only the 1998 Yankees have won the most games and the World Series in the same season during this period.
As I mentioned last week, "With Colorado's triumph over Arizona in the NLCS, a wild card team has now advanced to the World Series for the SIXTH consecutive year. Prior to 2002, only two wild cards had made it to the World Series since the current playoff format was established in 1995." These wild card champs are 4-4 in the World Series.
Don't dismiss the Rockies on the basis of the American League being stronger than the National League. Despite recent dominance by the AL in the All-Star game and inter-league play, the NL won the World Series last year as well as in two of the past four seasons and three of the past six. Any MLB club can beat any other team in a short series, especially one as hot as Colorado.
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I've turned to a couple of Rockies and Red Sox bloggers to get their takes on the final chapter of the 2007 season.
Brandi Griffin, aka as the Rox Girl of Purple Row: A Colorado Rockies Blog, provided the following essay:
Long Track, Short Track
When the stretch run was getting underway, Rich handicapped the teams on this site much as one would horses at a track and it’s interesting to me to contrast these two teams in horse racing terms. Boston has been a front-runner, a Seattle Slew style marvel that raced to the lead of the pack and never really was challenged the rest of the way. Colorado, on the other hand, had a flair for the dramatic, having to chase down several teams in their improbable charge down the final straightaway for the NL Wild Card, nudging the Padres in a literal and disputed photo finish.
Now the two teams have shown equal aplomb on the series of sprints we call the MLB playoffs, with the Rockies just blowing past the Phillies and D-backs from the gate, ending the races before the other team had a chance to get their footing. The Red Sox likewise dispatched the Angels in the ALDS, but then showed the world that they still have their chaser’s legs from 2004 in the seven game set versus the Indians.
Last year, the supposed Fall Classic was a battle of two teams that showed few of these traits, Detroit and St. Louis both sputtered into the playoffs and then sputtered through, and for me at least, it was merciful of the Cardinals to dispatch a sloppy Detroit team so quickly to end the thing. This year promises to be different, both teams seem like the best their leagues have to offer, and while Boston’s got the pedigree and frankly the better team, Colorado has all the traits to like in an underdog, few weaknesses and a solid core that will be able to handle its own in the short fight. Both teams have proven that they won’t back down from the challenge of a deficit, meaning neither team should feel safe with just three wins. At the same time, both team have shown killer instincts.
Alright, a quick fact that you might not know about the Rockies is that they play to the level of their competition. Including two more wins in the playoffs against Cole Hamels and Brandon Webb, Colorado has now gone 19-13 in games started by an opposing pitcher that ranks in the top 10 of his league’s ERA. This isn’t meant to impress a team that just breezed through John Lackey, C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona in the playoffs and beat Scott Kazmir regularly during the regular season, but it is a warning that the Rox will treat your aces and fifth starters alike, and sometimes make one look like the other or vice versa. Also, one of the unmentioned aspects of Colorado’s highly touted defense happens before pitches are even thrown thanks to the work of the team’s advance scouts. The Rockies positioning has been superb in both these series, and if you listen to both D-backs and Phillies fans you will hear the common lament of “we hit the ball hard, it was just right at their guys” as they try to figure out how the Rox blew right past them.
The eight day layoff might have put a chill on the momentum, but this is an intelligent team that does extensive prep work on its opponents and those eight days also gave the team plenty of time to study the Sox. Both teams execute in all facets at a very high level and take advantage of others' inability to do so. I've got a feeling that good or bad for my Rockies, that this series will be one for the ages.
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Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods is a Red Sox fan through and through. He collects baseball cards and Boston World Series titles. He has an appreciation for the past and present.
I have the four most important baseball cards in the world spread out on the table in front of me like religious relics. The closest thing in my life to religion has for all of my literate life been baseball and the Boston Red Sox, and today I am in the midst of one of the highest moments of that life of greedy, tantrum-laced worship: the Red Sox have won the pennant.
The last time they did this, in 2004, I was elated, exhausted, wrung out, grateful, somewhat unhinged, unkempt, given to spates of maniacal laughter, and more than a little physically ill. I was most of all deeply worried that it could still all be for naught if they lost the World Series. This time it’s a little easier to simply enjoy the ride. After the joy of the final out in the 2004 World Series, I scrambled to find a way to get to Boston for the parade, as I’d always promised myself I would. I met my brother there, who had driven up from Brooklyn in a car festooned with a big red banner reading “YAZMOBILE.” We wanted to say thank you to the team that finally did it and also to the players who came before; this was their win, too. The graying former player we most hoped to see on the duckboats, to cheer our throats raw for, to thank, was Carl Yastrzemski, but Yaz wasn’t there.
Yaz is here, however, in front of me, on the table. Over the past year, for reasons I am unable to fully understand, I’ve spent a disturbingly large amount of time writing about the baseball cards I collected as a child in the 1970s. I’ve gone on at length about journeymen and utility infielders, my meditations on the likes of Jose Morales, Tom Hutton, and Rich Dauer giving some semblance of shape to my often directionless existence. I’ve even spent most of a week of my brief time here on earth writing about Kurt Bevacqua not only as a Brewer but in a fictional Topps incarnation as a Mariner (who he never actually played for).
But I have never gotten around to writing about the four most important cards in the world, my Yaz cards from 1975, 1977, 1978, and 1980. Maybe now is the time. With the Red Sox in the World Series I can barely concentrate enough to brush my teeth, but I’ve decided that I’m going to find a way during this World Series to finally write about my four cardboard conduits to Yaz. I guess you could say I’m preparing to pray.