Thursday, January 12, 2012

2007 World Series: Idle Time

The Teams
American League: Boston Red Sox (96-66) - 11th World Series (won in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004)
National League: Colorado Rockies (90-73) - first World Series

What Happened
It's a Tom Petty song: "The Waiting." See, you probably thought that song was called The Waiting is the Hardest Part, because that's the chorus that everybody knows. It was even included in a Simpsons episode. So everybody knows it.

There's a chance that some Colorado Rockies players were singing that, at least to themselves, in mid-October of 2007. See, the Rockies had finished the season winning 14 of their final 15 games, forcing a one-game playoff for the Wild Card, which they also won. Then they went out and swept the Division Series and the NLCS, seven more wins. They were on a 21-1 run, and they were ready to go for the World Series, ready to have the series start right then and there.

Instead, they waited. And waited. And waited. While the Red Sox and Indians slugged their way through a grueling seven-game ALCS, the Rockies were sitting back in Colorado, just waiting for their chance to play again. It was a nine-day layoff, one that was impossibly long. And it killed all the momentum Colorado had.

The length of the ALCS had no bearing on the layoff, of course. By virtue of their pair of sweeps, the Rockies would have had nine days off regardless of the number of games the ALCS went that year. And while logic would dictate that the Red Sox should have entered the World Series exhausted, nine days off is too many for a baseball team used to only one day off every 10, especially one that was on a 21-1 stretch.

And the fact of the matter is the layoff might not have mattered, anyway. The Red Sox were a great team, having taken care of the business of ending their curse three years earlier and now able to focus solely on building a dynasty. The Rockies were merely a good team, a team that had gotten hot at the right time and snuck into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.

Once the series started, it was over quick. Boston scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1 and had put 13 on the board by the bottom of the fifth. It was just one game, but it was obvious that Colorado's hot streak was over.

The second game looked closer, as the Red Sox won 2-1, but it was an illusion. The Rockies rarely threatened against Curt Schilling - Matt Holliday got four of Colorado's five hits. If the writing wasn't already on the wall when the teams traveled to Denver with Boston up 2-0, everything became crystal clear when Boston put up a six-spot in the third inning of Game 3. When the Rockies dared to make a game of it by cutting it to 6-5, Boston scored four runs in the last two innings to pull away. Game 4 was just confirming the inevitable, as three late Colorado runs wasn't enough to ward off the sweep.

Despite Boston's domination - or maybe because of it - the 2007 postseason is best remembered for what happened before the World Series. Colorado's 21-1 run, including the classic 13-inning win in the Wild Card tiebreaker, was the game of the year, and Boston's stunning comeback against Cleveland in the ALCS was the stuff of legends. Those two events easily overshadowed a pretty anticlimactic World Series.

Defining Game
Game 1. Three runs in the first, one in the second, two in the fourth, seven in the fifth. It was an endless parade of hits and runs for Boston, all coming with former World Series MVP Josh Beckett on the mound. In that game, the Red Sox announced that A) They didn't care about Colorado's 21-1 stretch and B) Now that the Curse was over, they deserved to be viewed as a dynasty. They expressed both messages loud and clear.

Any one of Boston's hitters could have been named MVP without much argument. As it was, third baseman Mike Lowell got the honors, probably because the voters wanted someone other than David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez to get some of the credit for once.

The Scores
(Home team in Bold)

Colorado 1 1 5 3
Boston13 2 10 4

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here's the ones I've done so far:

102. 2007 - Boston (A) def. Colorado (N) 4-0
103. 1938 - New York (A) def. Chicago (N) 4-0
104. 1998 - New York (A) def. San Diego (N) 4-0
105. 1989 - Oakland (A) def. San Francisco (N) 4-0
106. 1928 - New York (A) def. St. Louis (N) 4-0
107. 1917 - Cincinnati (N) def. Chicago (A) 5-3

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