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WS: Just Another Ring
The Boston Red Sox are now just another team that wins championships.
Professional sports teams are defined by winning titles. Boston was one of baseball's first premier organizations, winning five of the first 15 World Series. Its 2004 title erased the so-called curse and restored the Red Sox to normal franchise status. The wearied jeers of "19-18!" disappeared in '04 because, after all, 1918 suddenly signified nothing more than another year Boston won the a title.
And the 2007 World Series win places Boston firmly atop 21st century baseball.
The Sox aren't used to being the best at anything, save chokes, heartbreak, men left on base and that season in 1989 when John Dopson balked 15 times. Last night proved that '04 wasn't a feel-good fluke: the Sox are a great baseball team. Two championships in four years can change a lot.
While the '04 team was built to win that year, with hungry, aging veterans like Mark Bellhorn and Bill Mueller playing key roles, the '07 squad might be around for a while. All four starting pitchers earned wins, and only one is older than 27. J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who many think underperformed their big contracts, all played well in the World Series and are locked in for several more years. Curt Schilling has repeatedly said he wants to return for one more season, and that's all Manny Ramirez has left on his deal, so the Sox can still make another run with them before finding new veteran cogs.
Priority No. 1 needs to be re-signing Mike Lowell. Excuse me, World Series MVP Mike Lowell. GM Theo Epstein has done well in not offering contracts with too many years to past-their-prime veterans like Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez, but Lowell might have just reached his prime, as odd as that is for a 33-year-old. He was an essential part of that lineup this year, even if he was originally a trade throw-in. That's changed. As one friend quipped in jest last night, "Remember when the Sox got Josh Beckett in that Lowell trade?"
I can already predict the major theme of 2008 spring training headlines: Can the Red Sox win another and become a dynasty?
The Boston Red Sox? A dynasty?
Labels: Rockies-Red Sox
WS: It's Over Before It's Over
Your World Series champions might just be the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Maybe Manny Ramirez was onto something when, as reported in a great New Yorker feature this spring, he demanded a trade from Boston to Pawtucket.
A youth movement? In Boston? It’s true: The story of last night’s game was undoubtedly the contributions of Boston’s kids, leading off with the leadoff hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury. Just 24 years old and with only 116 major-league regular season at bats under his belt —he spent most of the year at Triple A Pawtucket —Ellsbury went 4-for-5 with three doubles, two RBIs and two runs in setting the table for fellow 24-year-old Dustin Pedroia, who chipped in a 3-for-5, double and two-RBI night.
It was too fitting that Game 3 was played on the three-year anniversary of Oct. 27, 2004, the night that changed lives of Red Sox fans forever.
The remaining stalwarts from the ‘04 team didn’t do much last night. David Ortiz, Ramirez and Jason Varitek were a combined 2-for-12 with two RBIs, two runs and four strikeouts. Mike Timlin yielded two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning of relief.
Otherwise, the difference-makers were fresh faces like Ellsbury, Pedroia and, of course, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Hideki Okajima, dependable if not spectacular all season and playoffs, did allow a three-run homer but there were few other faults with the newcomers. Dice-K got the quick hook from Terry Francona but exceeded expectations not so much with his pitching (a solid two runs in 5.1 innings) but with his hitting, jumping on a first-pitch fastball for a two-RBI single. High comedy was the surprised look on first-base coach Luis Alicea’s face when he greeted Dice-K on the bag.
Undoubtedly – and deservedly – a major part of tonight’s story will be on Jon Lester’s return to baseball after beating cancer last year, even if the attention is a bit unwanted. When I chatted with Lester in July about his comeback for the magazine’s First Person interview series, all he hoped was this: “I want to go back to being normal.”
Certainly Lester seems to understand that the high-profile nature of his occupation grants him a credibility to help with the cause and give hope and inspiration particularly to children fighting cancer, but he earnestly wanted to be known as just another young pitcher in the Sox organization.
And, if his compatriots are any indication (see above), Lester shouldn’t have any problems.
Labels: Rockies-Red Sox
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