Sox-Yanks essay: Why 'This is the Year' ... or not
It's the Red Sox and Yankees in the ALCS for the second straight season, which again has confident Sox fans saying "This is The Year."
We asked you to submit an essay on why (or why not) this is the year the Red Sox will beat the Yankees in the ALCS and win their first World Series in 86 years. We were planning on posting just a few of the entries, but we were so overwhelmed by the number and the quality of the responses that we decided to post them all. Enjoy ...
I know it's a bold and very gutsy call and I have been known to be very superstitiously pessimistic, but Boston's chances in the ALCS vs. New York are so great. We are in much better shape than last year...Some people assume that it's going to be the same as last year..."oh, we came so close last year, I won't be able to watch as New York ends up beating us again." Top 5 reasons why Boston will beat New York: 5. Determination...after coming so close last year, the Sox will be so pumped up, and will have such an electric Fenway park, that there is no way they lose this series, and there is no way that the Sox lose 2 at home this time. 4. Bench...with guys like Youkilis, Kapler, Mirabelli, Reese and Mientkiewicz on the bench, not only do we have hot bats and defensive experts, but we have the speed to pinch-run and get more runs across the plate. 3. Bullpen...though we do not have the best bullpen in the AL, ours is still very solid. With the way our starters have fared this season, we almost go out there and expect 6 to 7 innings, at least, during every start. With Lowe in the bullpen, a guy who's prone to have a 2-3 inning start disaster, but a guy who's closed out the ALDS in consecutive years by defying all odds, our bullpen is golden. Forget not, that we added Foulke, who has been very solid, despite a shaky stretch. Forget not, that Foulke has been excellent overall, with numbers comparable to Rivera. 2. Offense...if last year we had an Offensive rating of 10 out of 10, this year we have a 9.8...Guys like Big Papi and Manny combine to hit over .300, hit nearly 90 HRs and drive in about 250 runs...We hit HRs, but we are not like NYY, in rich we hit for power AND for average. We have learned to play small ball if we need to, but our offense will not fail. We have scored 27 runs in the first 3 games versus an Anaheim pitching staff who was near the tops in the League. Forget not, than New York's staff is average, at best, with inconsistent outings, broken hands and dead arms...a closer who is average, at best, vs. Us...a bullpen who outside of Gordon is just average. 1. Schilling...Schilling is the man...the biggest, smartest move in the Franchise's history...Forget the nomar trade, this guy has won 20 games, and is determined to bring the guys in Boston a ring. He was not only great in the regular season, but this guy is lights out in the playoffs. Not only is he a great pitcher, but also he will give you 7 innings on average and has what it takes. If it was not for schilling, consider that we would probably be in the same situation as last year...instead of a 7 game wild card win, maybe it's just 1 or 2 like in 2003. Instead of taking a commanding ALDS lead, we fall in game 1, and the crowd at Anaheim propels them to take a 2-0 lead...in the ALCS, we basically play a back-and-forth series, which in the end, we had no clear-cut ace and Wakefield ended up being, or who should have ended up being the Ace. With Schilling added to our staff, Pedro turning it up a notch, Arroyo who may be the best #3 guy in the world and Wakefield, who has experience and knows how to keep the NYY bats silent... I promise you, this year is different...
Quincy, Sox in 5
Once again it is October and for Yankees fans in the Northeast this is the only reason you want Summer to end. And to top it off we're playing the Boston Red Sox. Now deep down I will admit, the Red Sox make me most nervous of any MLB team. They can pitch, hit, and are loaded with charisma. They can come back and even have won a few big games this year. The are rag-tag team that have gotten the job done IN THE REGULAR SEASON. An alas that is the difference, the Yankees have gotten it done in the postseason, over and over again. Whether Boston wants to admit it or not New York has a mental edge, in the form of a pudgy homerun hitting ghost. The Boston fans seemingly accept this deep down despite the cries of "This is our season!". It should be another hard fought series and I'm betting the benches will clear a minimum of one time. My guess will be game 2 of Pedro vs. Lieber when the benches will clear, following a few high and inside pitches. If the Yankees are going to do it they are going to have to solve Schilling at least once. He is the first bona fide Yankee Killer the Sox have had in a while. I think the Yankees pitching will be solid contary to popular opinion. Mussina will continue his ways and so will Lieber. Brown will get it done on pure adrenaline. The fourth starter is the question. If El Duque comes back I think they'll be fine. As long as we can keep Javier off the bump I think starting pitching should go well. That will be New York's and Boston's key, the starters must go at least 6 to have a shot a winning. If New York can do this they can keep their relief to Sturtze, Gordon, and Mo. Mariano is our edge. Regardless of what happened again Mueller this year or Arizona in 2001he is still the man. If I was a Boston fan I would not trust Foulke in a tight spot against New York one bit. He's seems too shaky. You see the "Foulke the Yankees" t-shirts around Fenway and thats fine with me. If the Yankees are down 2-1 bottom of the ninth I'll take Foulke on the mound any day. You know what it doesn't matter as a Yankees fan it ain't over 'till its over in every playoff game. The players and the fans have a permanent mentality that we can always come back and win. So get ready for another interesting new chapter to the rivalry with the same outcome. Here's what will happen. Yankees drop game 1 in a close one. (Boston fans will in turn get real excited and start talking about a sweep) Then the Yanks take the next 2. Boston rallies for game 4. Then the Yankees slam the door shut in games 5 and 6. So in conclusion Yanks in 6 no walk off heroics, just more heart break in Beantown, and more questions why. Why isn't this our year? Why do the Yankees beat us every year?
I have the pleasure of being a life long Yankee fan. Born on Long Island during the dark days of Horace Clark. Living in New England has its pleasures. Tops amongst them is watching the hope of Red Sox nation every spring., watching it peak in September and then comes October . I love October in New England, the trees are ablaze the weather cool and despair replaces hope in the world of Red Sox baseball. This year more than any other the Sox worry me, they are a well constructed team with immense talent ..... but. Why are the Sox going down in seven; winning takes more than talent it takes confidence, focus and determination. The Sox lack these traits, to many years of disappointment have made October let downs a self fulfilling prophecy. Why are the Yankee's going to win in 7 , call it the legacy of Nomar. The argument was who was the best of the big three. The big three are now 1. Nomar is gone, Arod is the NYY third sacker and Jeter stands tall as a leader and as a winner.. Pedro knows it, the Yankee's are his daddy, he challenged the Babe and the Babe has and will continue to prevail. On the field the teams are very well matched, so it comes down to intangibles. Joe Torre's leadership, Derek Jeter's knack for coming up big in the clutch, Arod wanting to place his stamp on NYY history. Truth be told, Boston fans really do not want to win. The Red Sox are that tooth ache that you miss when it is repaired. Better to have a curse and a losing tradition than to just be another team playing in second banna city. This creates karma a karma of losing the big one and that negative karma will continue this year. The Red Sox like the Yankees are a good team and the prospect of having to beat Curt Schilling twice can be daunting but it is Fall New Yorks time of year. This time of year it is not about numbers, baseball stops being a game of stats and becomes a game of moments and a game of foritiude these traits describe Yankee baseball. The Sox really are the boys of summer but that becomes meaningless when they run into the men of Autumn. No disprect is meant to the Red Sox, consistently being the second best team in the American League is a commendable accomplishment, well maybe not commendable but certainly noteworthy . Boston knows it as does NY, this is our World Serious. This is the clash of the titians. For one week, seven games the Northern Seaboard from New Jersey to Maine is captivated. To the rest of the nation it is good but over hyped baseball to us it is about pride and bragging rights. We transfer what we want people see as the best in us onto our hometown teams. So why are the Yankee's going to win in seven, because I could not bear the abuse, the burden and the bragging that I would have to endure for an entire year. I do not want to be in the position of having to tell my grandchildren that I was here when the Sox finally won the big one. Finally, why are the Yankee's going to win in seven games because the 21st century has already been filled with change and shock and unpredictable happenings. We all need things that we can count on and if I cannot count on the Yankee's over the Red Sox then the world truly has been turned upside down and I am just not ready for that.
Mitchell, Yankee's in seven
Regardless of this years head to head record or the fact that the Sox are suppose to a better starting rotation the Yankees are the better tean and therefore will win again this year because of the following 5 reasons; 1. All this silliness about this being the Sox year is just talk, rhetoric. Talk is cheap and until the Sox actually take a payoff series from the Yankees they are second best, end of story. It isn't just about 26-0 Championships. Nor is it about beating the Sox in the ALCS last year. All that is history. It's about the Yankees having done what the Sox just talk about doing and until they actually do win against the Yankees they've no right to say they're better. 2. Position for position the Yankees are better. No one in their right mind, (i.e. non-Red Sox Nation types), would rather have the Sox position play over the Yankees. There are some very good players like Manny, (for his hitting only), Johnny Damon or David Ortiz but by position the Yankess are better. 3. The Yankees starting pitching might be less then stellar but the bull pen is second to none. Moreover this year they are about as strong as they have ever been. Long relief to Mo the Sox aren't even close. 4. The Yankees are a better organization then the Sox, .. hands down. As much as people complain about the Yankees buying players and championships it just ain't so. In fact it's just the opposite, you have to have a good organization because you can't buy the championship. If you could, the Yankees would be in the world series every year. As a life long Yankee fan I can remember a time from the early 80's to 1995 when the Yankees didn't even make the playoffs even though they still were making more money then all the other clubs. Within the organization the most significant difference is the owners. Say what you want about Ol George, (much of which would be well deserved), he is the most competitive owner in sports. He puts all his efforts, including most of his vast revenue streams, back into winning the world series. Which is just the way it should be. He is one of the few owners that will expect his team to get to AND win the series every year. And, he will tell you outright he didn't have a good year unless the Yankees do win it all. By contrast John Henry is running the Sox like it's a Dunkin Donuts franchise. He invested a certain amount and expects a certain return on his investment. No one could deny that John Henry is far more wealthy then Ol George. Therefore could have afforded Manny, A-Rod and Nomar all at the same time if he chose to. Rather, he chose to get rid of Manny, for nothing if he could have. That didn't work so he then tried to trade Manny for A-Rod which was a monumental screw up that came up short for about two million a year over the life of A-Rod's contract. All of which lead to first the alienating then villanizing and finally the trading of Nomar. You remember Nomar don't you, .. he was only the single most identifiable Red Sox over the last 8 years. For the life of me I can't understand how a guy who worked harder and produced more then any other Red Sox over the same time frame could be treated so shabbily. Had Ol George done similarly to Derek Jeter he'd be crucified in New York for such conduct. and rightfully so. John Henry gets a complete pass on this, I just don't get it. Forget about the Curse of the Bambino, .. I think the Red Sox Nation might have to start worrying about the curse of Nomar. 5. The curse of the Bambino. Whether or not you believe in the curse there is still so much effort and energy put in reversing it, denying it or ignoring it that its a factor. And, just for the record Harry Frazee sold the Babe for 125K, which means It's not the curse of the Bambino, it's the 125 year curse of the Bambino. When all is said and done the the Yankees, suspect starting rotation and all, have the best record in the AL. The Red Sox have yet to beat the Big Boys from the Bronx for anything meaningful. Unitl at least one of these two things change the Red Sox are and will remain a good baseball team but the second best team in th AL.
Harold, Yankees in 5
On paper, it seems clear who has the advantage between the Yankees and the Red Sox in this year's ALCS playoffs: It's the Sox. During the regular season, the Sox led the Yanks in hitting with a .282 team batting average, vs the Yanks' .268. The Sox had more singles, doubles, triples, RBIs, and plate appearances than the Yanks. Even though the Yanks led the Sox in home runs, 242 to 222, the Sox led the Yanks in slugging percentage, .472 to .458. For pitching, the Sox had a lower team ERA than the Yanks, 4.18 to 4.69. They struck out more opposing hitters than the Yanks, gave up fewer homers, and opponents had a lower slugging percentage, .318 to .328. And the Yanks pitching staff is, by all accounts, hurting. All in all, the Sox were the better team. On paper. On the field, the Yanks took a game longer to win the first round of the playoffs against a team which had the same record as the team the Sox beat in three straight. True, the Yankees have the edge in regular season wins, 101 to 98, a small difference which enabled the Yanks to win the division. And the trio of Ortiz, Ramirez, and Schilling are at the top of their game, whereas the common story this year on the Yankees has been one of struggle to achieve. But there is one stat which tells the most about the Yanks, and it isn't their payroll. The Yanks had 61 comeback victories during this regular season. This is the intangible stat that shows the true character of the Yankees. As Ron Gardenheimer said after the Yanks came back yet again to beat the Twins in the first round of the playoffs, "They find a way to win." Baseball isn't about stats, market size, or curses. It's about character. Not that the Sox don't have character. They do. They've blended well toward the end of the season, overcoming the fractiousness and bickering that left with Nomar. But it's not the heritage of character that the Yankees have. It's not the tradition of winning that the Yankees have. It's not the level of expectation of success that the Yankees have. At the end of the day, the Red Sox are not truly convinced that, on the field, they are the better team. The Yankees have that conviction, and the conviction that they can find a way to win, whatever the situation. After all, they have proven that 26 times over the years. So, yes, I am a Yankees fan. I love this rivalry. There is none like it in sports. By comparison, the World Series is anti-climactic. To a true Yankees fan, the World Series is almost irrelevant, just so long as the Yankees beat the Red Sox. But the intensity of this rivalry brings the game of baseball to a level which transcends the sport. Bill Russell talked about this when he played against Wilt Chamberlain. The love of the game, the drive to excel and to play to unimagined heights of accomplishment, are ever so much more important that mere winning or losing. Unless, of course, it's the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Yankees are truly the better team. There is a number 27 in our future. In a series which will go down in history as the best sports has to offer, the real winner will be the fans, and the sport itself. And, the Yanks, of course, in 7.
Dana, Yankees in 7
The Red Sox will win the ALCS against the Yankees and will go on to win a World Series. It will happen this year for several reasons. First, Curt Schilling is everything any team could ask for in a starting pitcher, and provides leadership and experience in addition to talent. Martinez, having provided great theater after his post game remarks in September after a loss to New York, has proved again that as a post-season starter he is one of the best with a 5-1 record. No team remaining in the playoffs has a 1-2 punch of Schilling and Martinez, and the Sox have a similar punch with Ramirez and Ortiz, perhaps the best two sluggers in the game. Why then is 2004 different than any other year ? This team is loose, yet plays hard. Veterans who know how to win and have fun doing it-from Johnny Damon and his "we are a bunch of idiots" routine to Bronson Arroyo staying very loose with starts in September in NY and game #3 of the Division Series at home. This team does not panic, and has learned to play together when times are tough- as they did for a couple of months over the summer. Add better defense all around and a closer with over 30 saves and you have the right mix for a winner. The Yankees ? Like the City they hail from, they are loud and bold-just like their fans. They have lots of talent and proven success over many years. It's easy to cheer for a team that always wins. The City of Boston, while smaller, has much character and charm. The Red Sox, however, are a team for New England, and the hunger of all of us to see absolute victory is carved into the hearts of this Red Sox team- who will deliver the ultimate victory in October-but having fun doing it.
Dreams, Luck and Idiots The Red Sox will win it all. I’ve done the math, reviewed the research, studied Bill James and I know how it will all play out. I’ll lay it out before you and you’ll see. It’s about dreams, running out of luck and idiots who don’t care. It’s so logical, it’s nearly science. Dreams, not nightmares Every year I have these spooky dreams from Labor Day to Halloween—have since I was a child—dreams of Mike Torrez tossing a thigh-high curve ball, Roberto Kelly going deep and Yaz popping up. They’re not nightmares, laced with fear, filled with dread—they’re disappointing images that wake me up, give me pause. I shake them off and I go back to sleep, wishing they could be changed. This has to be the year because my dreams have changed. They have become more vivid and prescient: showing me the future rather than rehashing the past. What’s more, they’ve become ludicrous and uplifting and in my dreams the Sox do great things. Two nights ago, it was the top of the ninth in game seven with the score tied and in my dream Bill Mueller collided with a day-dreaming Dale Sveum as he rounded third. Sveum hopped to his feet and ran home, scoring the winning run. Mueller, ever the crafty one, dusted himself off and took his position in the third base coaches’ box. And in my dream, no one noticed. Sox win. The night they swept the Angels, I dreamt that in Game 6 of the ALCS Tito left Millar in the field in the ninth so he could celebrate with the team. As the ultimate player’s manager, Tito allowed Millar to play second base (Millar: “I’ve always wanted to show off my nifty footwork.”) and he turned a nifty 4-6-3 with Cabrera. These dreams fill me with hope, they make me laugh. I expect good things to happen. Comebacks Schmum-backs Please don’t be afraid when you hear that the Yankees have come back more times than any team in history. The announcers (who seem to despise the Sox) marvel at this miserable factoid and wonder how these guys do it. Well, the team from New York needs all these come backs because their mediocre starting pitching puts them in the hole. The fact is, the overpaid All-Stars are usually behind. Sure, they yank themselves out of it, but their good fortune is about to run out. It is time. While we’re talking about the Yankees, do you really believe that after seven seasons of playing against the pin stripes, Pedro has become a scaredy-cat? No way. Pedro’s a master of deceit. I watched the seventeen strikeout masterpiece several years ago. Sure, Pedro’s older, but he’ll be fine. He’s not afraid of the Yankees—he’s saying silly things because he’s tired of answering our silly questions. After he pitches his seven innings of four-hit ball, you’ll understand. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It will only fool the Yankees for game two, but by then it will be too late for them to catch on. They’ll be down 0-2 and heading back to Boston. An Unfazed Gang of Idiots The 2004 Red Sox, sans Nomar, are unaffected by the pressure, by the press, by the curse, by the Yankees, by the weight of a region’s expectations. Manny is hot this time around and he doesn’t get intimidated. Ortiz is a hitting machine. Damon and Nixon and Mueller never give up and never back down. Varitek will keep the troops in line. Schilling has done this before and he’s poised to do it again. The bullpen still frightens me a little bit (Foulke’s fastball is too straight and too slow) but we’ll forget about that for now. Timlin has been money and will be money again. Everyone is allotted one postseason debacle. And the manager seems to have learned his lesson when he left Pedro in on Friday night against the Yankees; perhaps he’ll do things by the book from now on. If he can just stay out of the way and not be a factor, we’ll win it all. This, I believe. I am a Red Sox fan and this time it’s different. I can feel it: my dreams tell me the luck is swinging our way and the gang of idiots will bring a World Series ring to Boston.
Scott, Red Sox in Seven Games
The Red Sox have gone out and made enough aquisitions to push them over the hump and beyond the ALCS this year. I'll illustrate my argument in a series of point-counterpoints. + The Sox have anchored their bullpen with closer Keith Foulke: a unit that sparkled even in his absence last post-season. They've also aquired left-handed specialist Mike Myers, giving them another southpaw to back Embree. The absence of the late-inning dominance Scott Williamson provided in October last year will be felt, but should this unit continue to perform the way they can and have, the other arms will more than make up for him. - The Yankees have lost the services of Andy Pettite, David Wells and Roger Clemens and replaced them with Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown, who have hardly attained the success they've had with their respective former clubs. And the insertion of mediocre bullpen men like John Lieber and Tanyon Sturze, even with the gutsy performances they've turned in of late, doesn't exactly solidify the rotation. The Yankees pitching is in disarray, not to mention that they essentially have a two-man bullpen. + Even in the absence of Todd Walker, the offense produced tops in the majors, scoring 949 regular season runs. Manny's numbers are up, Ortiz's numbers are at a career high, and Millar has shown consistancy as a third power threat. Varitek's 2 run game-tying job in game 2 might be indicative of him breaking out of his ugly slump of late. Should Wakefield get a start, and it seems he will at some point in the middle of the 7 game ALCS, Mirabelli's bat has been on fire his last few starts. Damon has been an OBP machine, and Cabrera has been hitting for average, driving in some runs at the bottom of the order, and has a little bit of 8-slot pop. Oh, and by the way, last year's AL batting champion is batting 9th. - Jason Giambi, arguably last year's game 7 ALCS MVP who allowed the Yankees to stay within striking range with his 2 solo home runs off Pedro Martinez, isn't even on the post-season roster. His replacement? A fine defensive 1B in John Olerud, but a bat much easier to retire. Alfonso Soriano is gone, but ofcourse the Yankees offense has made up for his absence with the aquisition of Alex Rodriguez, even if his numbers are well down from his production in Texas last year. Perhaps he's exposed that some of his offensive prowess is due to him playing 81 home games in Arlington. Gary Sheffield is playing hurt, and playing hurt well, but his left shoulder may catch up to him in post-season play yet. One botched catch in right field trying to catch a fly ball side-armed which has to be much more difficult than it even looks, Joe Torre and Gary himself may lose a little confidence in his physical capability to play. One mistake in right field may be all the Sox need to jump all over any particular post-season game. Also, expect him to be swinging hard through many Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez breaking heaters. The Yankees will always have consistant offensive threats: Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada.. and plenty of pop off the bench with the likes of Rueben Sierra and the surprising Tony Clark. But losing their MVP first baseman gives maybe a little sigh of relief to the Boston pitching staff. Arguably, on paper, the Red Sox are better this year. Their offense is down, but still the best in the majors. Kieth Foulke has solidified the bullpen. The aquisition of Curt Schilling and the consistant heroics of Bronson Arroyo have amped up the rotation. On paper, the Yankees are worse. Their rotation is disorganized and the bullpen contains, for all intents and purposes, nothing much more to speak of other than Mariano Rivera, who blew only his third post-season save of his career against Minnesota in the ALDS, and Tom Gordon. So if the Red Sox are better and the Yankees are worse, atleast definately in the pitching department, and Boston came as close to victory as extra innings in 7 games last year, you would have to think the improvements will push them over the edge and onto the World Series in this, the 2004 MLB postseason.
Josh, Sox in six
Is this finally the Red Sox year? On paper you'd think so with their improved starting pitching and defense. But, I say no! The Yankees have displayed an uncanny ability this year to win their "must games" including some pretty unbelievable late inning comebacks. Everytime, they've met the challenge. They are a group of very quiet, calm and confident players that have stuck together with no clubhouse bickering this year. I also think they have the MVP of the American League this year. Hey, Manny is a great, great player, but I think Sheffield is a more mature player and that's what separates the two. Both have incredible knowledge of the strike zone, the willingness to take a walk, which is so important. But I would rather have Sheffield on my team. And his acceptance on to this team has truly been amazing. Perhaps some of you remember that Gary Sheffield had very difficult stints with the Dodgers and even the Marlins? He is a totally different player today! It has been on of the Yankee's best trades...ever! If you look back over the Yankee's early portion of the season, they started off very poorly as a team. Furthermore, several of their key players, including Jeter and Rodriquez, were not doing well. But these guys and their manager, the guy who holds this team together, never displayed any panic. The owner? He did, but not his players. I mean look at just a few things they overcame this season....Giambi, steriod allegations, Brown's hand injury, poor trades, etc. Just catch the facial expressions of Joe Torre, Mel Stottlemeyer and the entire group of players during the most tense moments and they are all calm. Their key players have been there so many times. They just believe in their hearts that their abilities will carry them through whenever it's critical....when it is all on the line. They have the track records to grasp on to! A perfect example is Bernie Williams. This guy did nothing all season until it was all on the line. He's being doing this for the past few years. The BoSox have a terrific team. But they have not scaled the mountain ...yet. They can say whatever they want to themselves, but history means something to the psyche until the negative memories are replaced with success. The Sox will have to get those positives from beating another team in a championship series before they have the confidence to do it against the Yankees. So, once again, it's the Yankees in the World Series. Will the Yankees then go on to win the World Series. I say no. The Sox will have drained them and you know what? Who cares. This is the real World Series as far as we're concerned!
I have had this little theory since the signing of ARod to the Yankees. When Babe Ruth played for the Yankees, he was #3 on the team. Now, before ARod went to the Yankees, he was #3 on the Mariners and Rangers...coincidence? I think not. So now that the Yankees have ARod, he obviously couldn't have #3 because it was retired after Babe Ruth, therefore he has #13, UNLUCKY number 13....In my little superstitious mind, I really believe that ARod will be the ultimate downfall of the Yankee team. The Red Sox team this year is like no other. They seem to work amazing together, and have a lot of fun doing what they are doing. I think the Sox have an awesome chance of at least beating the Yankees in the ALCS, if not winning the World Series all together.
Jaime, Sox in six