October 5, 2004


Reasons to believe: Sox just may be the team no one wants to face (Gordon Edes, October 5, 2004, Boston Globe)

This season, for perhaps the first time since Clemens and Wakefield (coming off the season of his life) carried the 1995 team, or surely since the Clemens-Bruce Hurst-Oil Can Boyd troika responsible for the last Sox Series appearance in 1986, the Sox have dual aces in Curt Schilling, who has already been to the mountaintop as co-World Series MVP in 2001, and Martinez, even if Pedro showed alarming signs of mortalty in September, when he lost his last four starts. Schilling is the difference-maker, the man who makes all the boats rise, the guy who has never taken his eyes off the prize, no matter how many Dunkin' Donuts spots he shot this summer. It was precisely for the chance to do this that Schilling stayed up on Thanksgiving night, posting Internet messages to the members of the Nation in cyberspace, so many of whom instantly grasped the implications of the Schilling trade.

Martinez must give a passable imitation of the good Pedro than the put-upon version who surrendered to the "daddy" Yankees, then pitched in disconnected fashion against the Devil Rays. Given the stakes, there's a fair chance he will. He would prefer a legacy with more dignity than a Grady bobble-arm doll. Bronson Arroyo, with the kind of calm confidence that a man, non-Pokey division, must have to braid his hair, has become the team's third-best pitcher, and Wakefield has done it before. It would appear then, that the Sox have four pitchers capable of getting into the sixth inning or better, game in and game out, while the Sox hitters, with their infinite patience, wear down the opposition.

The great hitting, the more committed defense, the closer with a pedigree, the deepest bench the team has had in memory, plus the kind of confidence that comes only when a team puts together a run of sustained excellence like the Sox had when they repulsed all three challengers in the West -- all of these combine to make the Sox a formidable opponent in October. But it is Schilling who gives these Sox their best shot at a ring in over a generation, and makes him the most likely player to be immortalized if it comes to pass.

With the elimination of the Cubs and A's the only other team in the playoffs that has two legitimate aces is the Astros. It's even easy to imagine the two best teams, the Yankees and Cardinals, getting knocked out in the first round because they don't have each a couple big-time starters.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2004 10:07 AM

As one who still has flashbacks to '86 I'll believe the Sox can win it all when they are at the White House in December being honored by President Bush.

Posted by: AWW at October 5, 2004 10:26 AM

Don't go jinxing our Astros with praise! :)

Goodness knows, going through the Braves is enough of a jinx.

Posted by: kevin whited at October 5, 2004 10:36 AM

Both the Yankees and the Red Sox care more about beating the other than about beating any NL team. Just like last year, if they face each other in the ACLS, they'll go into the anticlimatic Series exhausted.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 5, 2004 10:39 AM

Stupid Factoid: With the exception of Missouri, they all come from states with Republican governors.

Houston - Texas R
Atlanta - Georgia R
St. Louis - Missouri D
LA - California - R

AL: New York - New York - R Boston - Mass. - R California - California - R Minnesota - Minnesota - R

Posted by: pchuck at October 5, 2004 10:51 AM

Sox & Astros, game 7, Clemens beats Schilling (OK, heard it on ESPN Radio, but sounds like the Sox fate).

Posted by: Bill at October 5, 2004 10:59 AM

The only reason to not want to face the Red Sox is to not want to bear even the remotest responsibility for the ultrasonic whining after they (the Red Sox) lose. (It's the one good thing about Chicago NL fans-- mostly they've learned to live with, and accept, their team's destiny.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 5, 2004 11:40 AM

My Cards have the second best ERA in the league, thank you very much.

Posted by: Hunter Ratliff at October 5, 2004 11:49 AM


You know I'm a Red Sox fan, but Santana and Radke from the local squad are big-time starters. According to Baseball Prospectus, they're the #1 and #3 starters in MLB.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at October 5, 2004 12:07 PM


Whoa, whoa, whoa -- in the past you didn't say anything about it being easy to imagine the Yanks getting knocked off and I don't believe you called them one of the two best teams in baseball. You said they would get knocked off in the first round due to a lack of good pitching.

Hmmm...should I sign you up for what Mark Steyn has called the "Sears Roeback catalogue"? :-)

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 5, 2004 12:39 PM

Anaheim right now is the team with the biggest head of steam, so for Boston it's imparative that Shilling win Game 1 to avoid the Angels feeling like its 2002 all over again.

The really interesting thing is, even more than the Yankees being discounted because of their trauma-center starting pitching rotation, is how much everyone automatically assumes the Braves are going to go out before they even get to the Series (Atlanta's arrogance after winning the 1995 series and then taking the first two games in '96 from the Yanks in New York was apparently enough to bring the Braves their own version of the "Curse of the Bambino" in which they're destined too win the NL East from now until forever and then bomb out in the playoffs).

Posted by: John at October 5, 2004 12:55 PM


I'm a huge Santana fan but to be a staff ace you should probably have had more than one gopod year and have won some postseason games. Radke's decent but a third starter on any really good team.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 12:57 PM

Mr. Ratliff:

You're dangling over a volcano crater and you can pick any one starter to win a game to save your life--how many do you go through on these post-season rosters before you get to a Card?

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 1:07 PM


Normally one would need more than one year, but Santana is left-handed 1997 Pedro right now. And no one on the Yankees staff has put together a year like Radke's either. Hell, Radke's distinctly outpitched Pedro this year!

Posted by: Brian (MN) at October 5, 2004 1:44 PM

Its only the 4th inning, but the Cards seem to have shaken off the cobwebs.

Thank God for the Playoffs. I will not be watching the debates.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 5, 2004 2:44 PM


Hey, I'd be fine as long as the pitcher I choose has Pujols and Rolen taking care of business when he's not pitching.

But anyway, the Cardinals might not have one dominant pitcher, but if Marquis, Suppan, Williams, Morris, and Carpenter all pitch well (not to mention Isringhausen finishing things off)... I'd still take St. Louis over Boston or NY.

Posted by: Hunter Ratliff at October 5, 2004 3:40 PM


Rick Ankiel.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 4:52 PM


Rick Ankiel

Please, OJ. Ankiel wasn't a Cy Young winner or even a serious contender. Ankiel's 2000 (ERA 3.82) is inferior in every respect to Santana's 2004 (ERA 2.61) (and that's before BP translations' showing even a greater gap between them). Santana pitched 50 more innings with a strikeout rate nearly 2 batters higher per nine innings and a lower walk rate. Not to mention that Santana was about the best setup man in baseball for the last two years; Rick Ankiel threw 33 effective innings in 1999, had his big 2000 year, and memorably blew up. It's not Santana's fault that the Twins can be silly about using younger players. Santana has been historically great for four months.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at October 5, 2004 5:09 PM

Without ever making a pitch that mattered.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 5:32 PM

Without ever making a pitch that mattered.

Not true.

He also got beat up pretty good in game 4 last year.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at October 5, 2004 5:37 PM