Tagged: Rays

And then there were four…

Here are my thoughts as we gear up for the ALCS:

1) The day
that the Mets lost and the Brewers won, on the last day of the season
(breaking their first place tie), was one of the most exciting
baseball-viewing experiences I’ve had in the last few years. My son and
I were watching the Mets game on the TV and the Brewers game on MLBtv
(Internet), and even though I’m not a Brewers fan, I could feel their
hunger to make it to the postseason (for the first time in 26 years).
Sabathia pitched like a God. And the pain that Mets fans feel, having
lost the division on the last day of the season TWO YEARS IN A ROW,
might be their payback for games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series. What
comes around goes around…

2) The Cubs’ problems were clearly
mental. You don’t finish the season with the best record in MLB and
then drop three in a row in the Division Series unless you’re psyched
out. And you don’t make three errors in one inning with your ace on the
mound unless you’re psyched out. What did the Red Sox do after game 3
of the 2004 ALCS (down, three games to none) to gain the momentum
they’ve had ever since? They didn’t suddenly get BETTER. Something
clicked in their heads. Oh, what would the Cubs give for the formula
for that “click?”

3) I enjoy watching the NLCS games almost as
much as I will enjoy watching the ALCS games. It’s baseball. Playoff
baseball. Every at bat, every pitch is one of the most important in
each player’s career. This is what these players dreamed about, playing
wiffle ball in their driveways growing up. The thousands of hours of
practice, the hundreds and thousands of games they have played in their
lives, have all led to playing in baseball’s “final four.” Every
starter, every bench player, every relief pitcher, even the managers
and third base coaches could be part of a moment that will define their
careers — and it could happen at any time. Plus, these are great
players, many of them future hall of famers — Howard, Utley, Rollins,
Hamels, Lidge, Ramirez, Furcal, Maddux, Lowe, and of course, Joe Torre.

4) I sent out a new poll to the Red Sox Nation governors this evening. Here are my answers to my own questions:

I expect the Red Sox to win the ALCS in four games. That’s right, a
sweep of the mighty, precocious Rays. Yes, it’s hard to really imagine
sweeping, but I have difficulty imagining a Red Sox loss — in fact, I
refuse to imagine that. So, I predict a sweep.

b) The National
League team that I would prefer to face in the World Series is the
Dodgers. Why? Boston-L.A. is a raucous rivalry, and it would be a blast
to “beat L.A.” twice in one year. It would be a classic battle of
coasts, a battle of cultures, a battle of climates, a battle of styles.
It’s two teams with incredibly rich baseball traditions.  It would be a
reunion of the 2004 Red Sox, with almost as many members of that Red
Sox team on the current Dodgers squad (Manny, Lowe, and Nomar, though
Nomar was only on the Sox for the first half of 2004). You know they’d
show lots of highlights of the ’04 Series if the Dodgers were our
opponent — and that would be fine with me. Even the Manny highlights.
I still love the guy and what he brought our team.

c) When I
can’t be at Fenway, my preferred mode of watching the Red Sox in a
playoff game is to watch in my living room, sitting half the time and
pacing the other half of the time, drinking a Polar Orange Dry soft
drink, either alone or with my nine year-old son. (I’m not the best
company during a Red Sox playoff game…. “anti-social” would describe
me well during these three hours….)

5) I love that Francona is
showing such faith in his pitching staff by keeping them in order…
Daisuke, then Beckett, then Lester, with Tim Wakefield thrown in for
good measure.

Trop time!