Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series preview: Don't count out the Rockies


Here's a riddle for you:

The World Series is about to commence inside Fenway Park.

One team has won 21 of its last 22 games, including all seven of its playoff games. Not bad, eh?

The other team had to win three consecutive games and rely on some poor decisions by its opponent to advance.

One team is being picked by the majority of America outside of the Rocky Mountains to win.

That team is not the team with the 21-for-22 streak.

Question: Why is everyone picking against the hot guys? (I thought women, especially, dig hot guys).

Answer: I'm not quite sure, but here are some guesses...

America loves the Red Sox to win their second World Series in four years after going 86 years without a championship.

People point to their ace, Josh Beckett, who is 3-0 this postseason and has been indomitable. Yes, Beckett is better than Colorado's No. 1, Jeff Francis. But let's not forget who Francis beat in Game 1 of the NLCS (Arizona's seemingly unbeatable No. 1, Brandon Webb).

People point to the Rockies' eight-day layoff and say it will affect them just like the Tigers' six-day vacation hurt them last year when they lost the Fall Classic to the Cardinals in an ugly five games.

First off, I'm sure Colorado manager Clint Hurdle has made sure his pitchers work on their fielding during the respite, so, yes, I'm positive that the Rockies' rotation won't be throwing the ball into Fenway's stands.

Secondly, I like the fact that the Rockies played a couple of simulated scrimmages to prepare. No, I'm not going to pretend a no-pressure scrimmage in front of empty seats is tantamount to a World Series game in the country's most distinguished ballpark in front of blood-thirsty Red Sox Nation and millions of others watching. But the Rockies won't be rusty fundamentally. They'll play good defense. They'll probably pitch OK. And that will give them a chance.

Thirdly, a big difference between last year's Tigers and this season's Rockies is that Detroit was a huge favorite heading into the series. The Rockies, as you might surmise, are not. There is no added pressure. No "this season will be a disappointment" butterflies fluttering around the clubhouse.

If Colorado loses, so what? Close to no one expects them to win. This season will remain memorable even if they lose. The Rockies have nothing to lose. All they need to do is play hard and enjoy the moments. Can't say the same about the Red Sox, whom everybody is inking in as 2007 World Series Champions.

Fourthly, the winning streak should be getting much more press. Forget the layoff. This team believes it's going to win every game. Even when it was down in the Game 4 clincher against Arizona, there was a resounding belief that Colorado would pull it out. That can't be underestimated. It will help the Rockies each time they're down this series.

You can point to the matchups and numbers all you want. They are what they are, but they won't determine what transpires in the next week or so. If the numbers dictated the Series' direction, Detroit would be the defending champion right now. Simple as that.

But I know you want a few Xs and Os, so here they are:

I'm not joking when I say, "Colorado's lineup 1-9 is just as potent as Boston's, especially with Big Papi struggling."

Yes, Beckett has an advantage over Francis, but I'm serious when I say, "The teams' Nos. 2-4 starters are even."

I'm not delirious when I say, "Manny Corpas is just as good as Jonathan Papelbon as a closer."

I believe it when I say, "With Brian Fuentes leading the way, I like Colorado's middle relief and setup situation over Boston's, especially if Boston's Eric Gagne enters a game in a tight situation."

It's the truth when I say, "Clint Hurdle does just as good a job managing his ball club as Boston's Terry Francona does with his."

Finally, call me insane, but I fully believe that Colorado can win this series. Will it run its streak to 25-of-26? Highly doubtful. This Red Sox team doesn't play four bad games in a row (just three). But Colorado has the players, the manager, the mojo, the momentum and the crazy fans to win its first World Series.

Call me crazy, but I believe it.

Colorado in six.


J-bo said...

I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. I'm not counting out the Rockies, but Beckett will win at least two games for the Sox, and I thnk Schilling will also be his usual stellar October self.

Sox in six.

Sportsattitude said...

I'm watching Sportscenter last night before Game 1, staring at the starting lineup for the Red Sox as it scrolled along the ticker...and I'm saying to myself, there is no freakin' way the Rockies are gonna win this Series. Then, last night's carnage...oh wait, I think Boston might STILL be at bat. However, even after the opening game debacle, I think the Rocks might etch out a competitive World Series after all. I'm impressed with Hurdle and the general demeanor of the team, even after the loss. Don't you wish them having a "bye week" off before the Series started wasn't even on the table of discussion, however? We'll never know how much that hurt the Colorado cause...

Jake Lloyd said...

Regardless of what happens tonight, I'm not calling this series over until Boston wins in Colorado. I think the young Rockies will get a huge boost from their home crowd.