Red Sox heavily favored against red-hot Rockies
Posted: Wednesday October 24, 2007 11:21AM; Updated: Wednesday October 24, 2007 2:22PM
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BOSTON -- Baseball is filled with number crunchers, sabermetricians and stat geeks. So can someone please explain to me why the bookmakers have installed the Red Sox as 2½-to-1 favorites over the red-hot Rockies in the 103rd World Series? I just don't get it. The numbers don't compute.
The Rockies have won 21 of 22 games, the last 20 coming against winning teams. The Rockies are for real.
They've played .950 baseball over the last month. Yet the oddsmakers are saying that they have only a 28 percent chance to win the Series.
"I don't see how anyone could make them that prohibitive of an underdog,'' Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said.
Here are a few more things to consider:
Hot Rocks. This streak is unprecedented in that baseball teams just do not win 21 of 22, and especially not at this time of year, nor against this type of competition. Colorado's last 20 wins have come against the Padres, the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers and the Phillies, and while none of these teams are the Red Sox and they're all in the lesser National League, they are all still winning teams.
The Rockies have beaten Brad Penny, Greg Maddux, Trevor Hoffman, Jonathan Broxton, Takashi Saito, Brandon Webb and Cole Hamels in their streak. None of those guys is Josh Beckett, whom Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd called "the best pitcher on the planet.'' But they are among the game's best.
This is one amazing streak. And it definitely is no fluke.
Cold Rocks. They've been sitting around for eight days, and in their case, this can't be a great thing. We won't know if they've cooled off until tonight.
The Tigers had seven days off last year, and they laid a massive egg in the World Series, losing in five games to the Cardinals. After their time away, the Tigers couldn't hit or catch.
O'Dowd called to consult Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and came away convinced it wasn't the time off. They just had a bad week. We'll soon see.
One potential pratfall is that the long layoff has given the Rockies a chance to take a step back (or eight steps back, actually) and realize what they have done. They are no longer unconscious and are now fully conscious, which isn't such a great thing for a baseball team.
One great old-time coach once told me the worst thing a baseball player can do is think, and now the Rockies have had eight days to do just that.
Calm Rocks. Their star players range from mellow (Jeff Francis) to calm (Troy Tulowitzki) to intense (Todd Helton) to really intense (Matt Holliday).
But one thing all these guys have is the ability to remain focused and unfazed in pressure situations. They definitely are going to need that ability in Games 1 and 2 at Fenway Park, which houses more crazies than any known asylum.
The atmosphere here will be nothing like they see in the NL West, which ranges from mild (Arizona) to milder (San Diego) to leave-after-the-sixth-inning (Los Angeles).
This Rockies team does not get nervous. Or, as O'Dowd will tell you, it has an extremely "slow heartbeat.''
Nobody has a slower heartbeat than Game 1 pitcher Francis, who may in fact not actually be breathing. But he's also the most consistent starter in Rockies history. One Rockies executive says he's never once seen Francis snap, which is something major-league players usually do three times a day (morning, noon and night).
Francis didn't snap, bend or break in his one appearance in Fenway. He threw five shutout innings in a 7-1 Rockies victory here back on June 14. Beating Beckett won't be a snap. But Francis gives Colorado a chance to make it 22 of 23.