Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Had 'Em All the Way, Harry
Game Seven is upon us, thanks to the redemption efforts of Curt Schilling and Mark Bellhorn. It's been noted elsewhere, by the Baseball Prospectus analyst Joe Sheehan (who, once again, is turning in the best baseball writing of the postseason. He's taken what Rob Neyer started towards a few years ago--holding onto a fan's perspective while adding that of an objective performance analyst--to another level) that if it had been the Red Sox who blew a 3-0 series leads, we would be drowned in the language of "curse," "choke" and "clutch"; since it's the invincible Yankees, with their unmatched October presence and their veteran poise and the power of myth, the Boston comeback has been met with understated bemusement.

Sheehan also pointed out in his piece yesterday that Derek Jeter's generally lousy performance in the series has been largely overlooked. I'd add that Manny Ramirez, Boston's biggest bat and a legitimate AL MVP candidate, has been even worse. I don't think he has an RBI in this round.

An interesting side note raised by both Joe Buck on the TV broadcast and Joe Morgan on ESPN Radio: why didn't the Yankees test Schilling's ankle by bunting? It's not like they were teeing off on him anyway, and Jeter at least is an excellent bunter. Maybe not in Jason Varitek's league (!), but still. Morgan hypothesized that it was a gentlemanly decision on Joe Torre's part; I think it had more to do with the fact that this is a team that, much more than in their 1996-2000 glory run, lives and dies by the longball. At any rate, I would have tried it were I in Torre's shoes.

I actually think the Yankees have a slight edge tonight. You never know with Wakefield's knuckler, but Kevin Brown should be better than he was on Saturday and the Yankees have a pretty rested bullpen behind him, from Javier Vazquez and El Duque Hernandez to Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, both of whom got the night off in Game Six. The Red Sox had to use Keith Foulke heavily yet again, as well as Bronson Arroyo, and none of their other relievers inspire much confidence. It probably hangs on Wakefield and Derek Lowe if Boston is really going to complete the comeback.

No comments: