Clearly, most people don't
know it. Yet.
But they'll be finding out shortly. What makes us think so? Just check
out these Five Reasons the Rockies Are Going to Win the World Series. 1. They're the real team of destiny
We would never diminish what it took for the Red Sox to bash their way
out of that 3-1 cavern against Cleveland. But when you get right down
to it, all they had to do to survive was win three
games in a row. The Rockies, on the other hand, had to win every game
they played (or just about) for two weeks. Now that's pressure. "I think this is destiny, man. Destiny," said longtime
Rockies icon Vinny Castilla, now a special assistant to GM Dan O'Dowd.
"For us just to get to the playoffs ... we had to win 14 out of 15. We
couldn't even lose two games. So I think this team -- it's a team of
destiny. It's not going to be beat."
SEE THE ROCKIES' RUN
How did the Colorado Rockies win 21 of 22 games, including seven straight playoff games, to reach the World Series? Check out a game-by-game account
of their historic streak.
Obviously, in this sport, a 12-strikeout Josh Beckett
two-hitter can derail anybody's Destiny Express rather quickly. But ask
anyone who has watched the Rockies in person during this astounding
21-1 blitz. Much like the 2003 Marlins, a low-budget team that upset an
experienced Yankees conglomerate similar to these Red Sox, the Rockies
have been playing like a team that expects
to find a way to win every single game.
"That team is a buzz saw," said one NL executive. "Right now,
mentally, there's no question they think they're destined to win this
thing. I haven't seen a club in a long time that played with more
confidence than Colorado is playing with." We've never had a team roll into a World Series riding a
21-1 streak. So there's no precedent to help us predict how this team
will fare. But it's at least notable that the Rockies are the fifth
team in the wild-card era to rip through the first two rounds with no
more than one loss. And three of the previous four ('95 Braves, '99
Yankees and '05 White Sox) won the World Series. Two of them (Yankees
and White Sox) even swept their opponents. The exception, though, is a big one -- because it's last
year's Tigers, a team that never seemed to recover from its six-day
layoff between the LCS and World Series. Which brings us to this: 2. That eight-day layoff was overrated
So how does an eight-day pre-World Series sabbatical affect a Team of
Destiny? How would anyone know? Only one team has done it, and that was
nearly 100 years ago (the 1910 A's). We'll concede that a team this hot would never prefer to do
it this way. Heck, you can play 1,000 simulated games, but you can't
possibly simulate October.
And you can't possibly simulate the feeling of having
to win every day, a feeling that fueled this team's magic-carpet ride.
LONGEST SERIES LAYOFFS
Teams that had six or more days off between games entering the World Series:
Lost in 5
Won in 6
Won in 6
1946 Red Sox
Lost in 7
Won in 6
Won in 5
And most of all, you can't possibly simulate having to face
Beckett in Fenway in the first World Series game in the history of the
franchise. Can't be done. But just because the Tigers couldn't regenerate their
momentum last October doesn't mean it's impossible. And here's the
• Of the three teams in the divisional playoff era that have had
six-day breaks before the World Series, the '06 Tigers are the only
team that didn't turn around and win the Series. The other two -- the
'95 Braves and '96 Yankees -- both won in six.
• Of the nine teams that have had breaks of five days or more before
the World Series, six of those nine went on to win the Series. The most
recent example: the 2005 White Sox, who were so screwed up by their
five-day layoff, all they did was go out and sweep the Astros.
• And back in 1989, when the Bay Bridge World Series took an 11-day
intermission for seismological reasons, it had zero effect on the
Oakland A's. They'd won six of seven postseason games before the
earthquake. Then they came back and won the next two by a combined
score of 22-13.
So you can probably make an argument that a little rest, a little sleep
and a little mental break is a good thing, nearly seven months into the
marathon. "I don't think the break is that big a deal," said one
scout. "They'll still be amped up. How can they not be? It's their
first World Series ever. They're not veterans of this stuff, so they
don't even have a routine, let alone a routine to get thrown out of. I
think they'll be fine."
3. The Rockies have the real home-field advantage
there's no place in baseball quite like Fenway. But there's no place
even close to Coors Field -- humidor or no humidor. Think about how Games 3-4-5 in Coors will affect the Red
Sox. It's tough to make a case they don't hurt Boston just about every
way possible. Take a look:
• ON OFFENSE
-- Anybody want to argue that losing the DH won't change the whole personality of the Red Sox lineup? "Their hottest hitter is Kevin Youkilis
," said one scout. "But when they go to Colorado, he can't play -- either him or Big Papi [David Ortiz
]. So that's a huge hole in that lineup." It's also possible the Red Sox could play Youkilis at third, but that takes Mike Lowell
out of the lineup. Or Youkilis could try to sneak by in right field for
a night, but that's a big defensive gamble in the most spacious
outfield in baseball. And if the Red Sox go with Coco Crisp
over Jacoby Ellsbury
in center for defensive reasons, that hurts them offensively, too.
• ON THE MOUND
-- The Coors Effect is so powerful here, it actually affected how the Red Sox structured their original rotation. Curt Schilling
(4-4, 5.51 lifetime at Coors) is president of the Coors Haters of
America. But the Red Sox were prepared to send him out there to pitch
Game 3 in Denver, at least in part because he was still a better
altitudinous option than Tim Wakefield
a guy who has been dodging all games in Denver since 1993 (when he went
0-2, 9.31, in two starts at Mile High Stadium). Now, thanks to
Wakefield's health problems, they'll both dodge Coors. But if you're
curious about how a knuckleballer might have fared in that thin
Colorado air, we looked at the four most prominent knuckleball kings of
the last 20 years -- Wakefield, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti and Steve Sparks
And their 10 trips to the mound (six starts) in Denver were definitely
less scenic than those snow-capped mountains. They went winless (0-4),
allowing 50 hits, 69 baserunners, 41 runs and 36 earned runs in 33
innings. That computes to a 9.82 ERA and a disastrous 2.09 WHIP. Oh,
and Daisuke Matsuzaka
could have his issues, too. "You need power arms to win there," said
one scout. "With Dice-K, a guy who has to rely on his screwball or his
gyroball, you can't be too sure what that altitude will do to those
• ON DEFENSE
-- Just about every scout we spoke with
had the same horrifying thought. "I'm trying to envision Manny playing
left field in Coors," said one. "That's a little scary." Another put it
this way: "Manny will be so lost out there, he'll need radar to find
his way back." No matter how you compute it, the Red Sox have
leather-working issues at Coors -- whether it's Manny in left, Ortiz
wearing his first-base mitt or Youkilis moving to third base or the
outfield. Now contrast that to the home team, a team that will have no
issues like that, a team that just compiled the highest fielding
percentage in baseball history. Definite edge: Rockies.
-- The Rockies are terrors in Coors
to begin with. They're 42-15 there since June 2, the best home record
in baseball. Now add in the fact that the Red Sox haven't played there
since 2004. "So they're not going to have a good feel for what they
need to do there, as far as (adjusting to) the lightness of the air and
the lack of oxygen," said one scout. "To me, that means if the Rockies
split the first two in Boston, they're in good shape." 4. No fear of Fenway
Anyone who watched that ALCS should have no doubt that Fenway Park had a lot to do with why the Red Sox are still standing.
Fenway's inimitable nooks and crannies were a big reason Kenny Lofton
never scored the tying run in Game 7. And the occupants of Fenway --
jammed into every seat, lurking right on top of the enemy -- did their
part to intimidate the Indians once they fell behind in Games 6 and 7.
begin player card
2007 Season Stats
end player card
So granted, the Rockies haven't played in Fenway in that
atmosphere. But they did play in Fenway as recently as four months ago. And they sure lived to tell about it.
They took two of three there in June. They handed Beckett his first
loss of the season, bombarding him for 10 hits and six runs in five
innings. The night before, they mugged Schilling for six runs on nine
hits in five innings.
And Jeff Francis
, Aaron Cook
and Josh Fogg
-- the three Rockies starters in that series -- combined to allow only four runs in 17 1/3 innings (a 2.08 ERA).
OK, so all those fond memories -- plus a few bucks -- will get the
Rockies a ride through the Ted Williams Tunnel. But it's likely to make
them less intimidated than your average team as they head into a park
where the Red Sox went 51-30 this season. "That's something that definitely plays into their mental
state coming into this thing," said one scout. "Right now, that team
thinks it can beat anybody. And they can look at those three games in
Fenway and say, 'Here's the proof.'" 5. Lean to the left
We can make too much of the left-right chess match this time of year.
But in case you hadn't noticed, the Red Sox almost went into this
series with no left-handed starters, and only one left-handed reliever (Hideki Okajima
) they trust.
LEFTIES IN RELIEF
How Rockies left-handers Franklin Morales, Jeremy
Affeldt and Brian Fuentes fared against left-handed hitters during the
The Rockies, meanwhile, will kick off this World Series with a
left-hander (Jeff Francis). And now that Aaron Cook is off the disabled
list and lined up for a Game 4 start, they'll move Franklin Morales
to the bullpen to join Brian Fuentes
and Jeremy Affeldt
(against whom Ortiz is 1-for-13 lifetime).
So why does that matter?
Because the Rockies went 70-49 this season when a right-hander started
against them -- the best record in the National League. So Boston's
tentative Game 4 starter, Jon Lester
(who should replace Wakefield in the rotation), suddenly looms as a key
figure in this Series. "With [Todd] Helton and [Brad] Hawpe and those
guys, and no left-handers to face them, I think that's a factor," said
one NL executive. "Look at the one pitcher who was able to control them
in this postseason -- Jamie Moyer
. Off-speed lefties can control that lineup better than right-handers."
And the Red Sox went 25-23 this year when a left-hander started against
them (versus 71-43 against right-handers). "You've got to have
left-handers to come in and neutralize Ortiz and [J.D.] Drew," said the
same executive. "And Colorado has them. Plus, I think that staff showed
in the Philadelphia series that they can shut down good hitters with
their power arms -- and not just their starters. With their bullpen,
too." So don't think the Rockies don't have enough pitching to
deal with a lineup this good. They'll have to pitch inside relentlessly
and wear out the strike zone. But they match up against the Red Sox
every bit as well as the Indians did, if not better.
"Oh, they can win," said one scout. "Absolutely. And I think Game 1 is crucial -- to Boston. Beckett has
to win Game 1. If he doesn't, Colorado is going to win the Series. You can mark that down."
Heck, you can mark it down anyway. Colorado in six. You heard it here first.