Who will win the World Series?

point counterpoint

Mike Woods
Mike Woods
Andrew Bucholtz
Andrew Bucholtz

After climbing out of a seemingly bottomless 3-1 hole to win the American League pennant, the Boston Red Sox are primed to win their second World Series in four seasons.

The upstart Colorado Rockies have had to enlarge their bandwagon considerably after their undefeated playoff march to the final. But there are quite a few reasons why Colorado is simply no match for the Sox.

The mystique surrounding the Rockies’ undefeated post-season has faded over the eight days’ rest they’ve had. Given how well they have been playing, they had nothing to do but to cool off during the break. This can only favour the Red Sox, who are still riding high after their comeback victory.

Hitting has been an issue for the Rockies. First baseman Todd Helton, who waited 10 seasons for a playoff berth, has only four hits in 26 at bats. Rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is batting a measly .179.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects are tearing it up for Boston. Despite some controversial comments, Manny Ramirez is batting .400 with four home runs and 14 RBI. David Ortiz is hitting .387. When they’re at their best, they make up the best one-two punch in baseball. Other players are stepping up, with J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia providing timely hitting.

This is uncharted territory for the Rockies. The only previous playoff berth in their history resulted in a first-round loss to Atlanta. Although they beat Boston twice during the regular season, they’re unaware of what it takes to win in October.

Another factor that will undoubtedly spell the Rockies’ demise is home field advantage. With all due respect to Coors Field, there is no atmosphere like Fenway Park. The Red Sox are entirely comfortable in the shadow of the green monster; the Rockies aren’t.

All of the above being said, the series will boil down to pitching, and the biggest gap between the two teams resides there. Cy Young candidate Josh Beckett has an astounding 1.17 ERA in the playoffs and seems unbeatable. He has already won a World Series and is primed for another.

Kurt Schilling pitched a gem in game six against the Indians, and Daisuke Matsuzaka recovered after a slow playoff start. The Sox also boast an incredible relief staff with the likes of Julian Tavarez, Mike Timlin and Canadian Eric Gagné. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has rarely faltered all season.

The Rockies counter with Jeff Francis and a pair of inexperienced rookie starters. Their staff handled the woefully cursed Chicago Cubs and the offensively anemic Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Red Sox are in an entirely different league. The decisive edge in pitching goes to the Red Sox, and so will the World Series in six games.

--Mike Woods

The Colorado Rockies should be able to continue their amazing ten-game winning streak Wednesday when they meet up with the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. The red-hot Rockies went on a roll at precisely the right time. They were four and a half games back in the chase for the National League (NL) wild-card slot on Sept. 15, but managed to catch up to the San Diego Padres and beat them in a thrilling 13-inning tiebreaker to sneak into the playoffs.

The Rockies have won 21 of their last 22 games, and swept both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Their run has been described as “magical” by none less than Theo Epstein, the general manager of the Red Sox. They’ve also received high praise from members of the legendary 1976 Cincinnati Reds, the last team to win their first seven playoff games. Sparky Anderson, the manager of that Reds’ squad, said, “This, to me, is one of the great feats in our game.”

Colorado’s stars are shining at the right time. Left fielder Matt Holliday, the NL batting champion, is tied for the postseason lead with four home runs. Second baseman Kaz Matsui is leading the NL with 8 RBIs and staff ace Jeff Francis of Burnaby, B.C. takes a sparkling 2-0 record and 2.13 ERA into Wednesday night’s season opener.

Long-serving first baseman Todd Helton, entering his 10th year with the team, hasn’t had an outstanding postseason so far, but his career .332 batting average suggests he will able to step it up.

That’s not to say the Rockies won’t have to face challenges. By the time the World Series starts, they will have had a record eight-day layoff due to the vagaries of the schedule imposed by TV networks. Long layoffs have posed trouble for many teams, such as last year’s Detroit Tigers, who rolled through the American League playoffs but fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series after a six-day break.

However, in an Oct. 18 Associated Press article, Rockies’ manageer Clint Hurdle pointed out that seven of the 10 teams who had at least a five-day break before the start of the World Series won championship rings.

The Rockies will be up against a strong opponent in the Boston Red Sox, but history suggests they will be able to deal with them.

In June, while the Rockies were still unlikely post-season contenders, they stormed into Fenway Park and took two of three games from Boston, outscoring the Red Sox 20-5.

In addition to solid pitching and terrific fielding, the Rockies are one of the few National League teams with a power-packed lineup. Their well-rounded nature means the World Series is likely to go the Rocky Mountain way this October.

--Andrew Bucholtz

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