The Weekly Tail ‘Gater: Yankees Fan Can’t Admit Truth and Picks the Rockies to Win the World Series

Mike Nanna

With the Fall Classic upon us, it is worth taking a look at the two teams who will battle it out for baseball supremacy on the grandest of stages in all of professional sports. The World Series will feature a veteran Red Sox team with ice in its veins and a young and vivacious Rockies team ready to go toe-to-toe for the title. Who has what it takes to accomplish what Ted Williams, Ty Cobb and Ernie Banks never could during their illustrious careers?

The Rockies certainly didn’t look the part less than a month ago. So uninspiring was this team that when the Maroon-News published its baseball playoff preview article in September, the Rockies weren’t even mentioned as a possibility. Since that time the Rockies have gone on an unprecedented crunch-time hot streak, winning 21 of 22 games and going undefeated thus far in the playoffs. During this recent playoff run they’ve looked like a man with a new haircut, telling other teams, “Not now chief, I’m in the f***ing zone”. If someone had asked you at the start of the season whether Kazuo Matsui, Ubaldo Jimenez and Manny Corpas would be carrying their team into the World Series, you probably would have burst out laughing. This Rockies team did everything they could to unload the face of their franchise, Todd Helton, before the season began. After failing to do so, Helton decided to grow what can only be described as the juggernaut of facial hair and rally a young team around him. Matt Holliday developed into one of the league’s best players, Garrett Atkins rebounded from a rough start and Jeff Francis slipped into the ace role armed with only marginal talent and his knowledge of the physics of pitching. In fact, the much-doubted Rockies pitching staff actually had the lowest earned-run average in the National League over the second half. Don’t forget that Colorado boasted the highest fielding percentage in history. Coors Field gives the Rockies the most substantial home-field advantage in the league, which is amplified even more in this series since the Red Sox will be forced to bench either David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis for games three, four and five. The hunger of this team is truly remarkable considering how little hope they’ve had over the years and how many skeptical experts the team had to prove wrong. The Rockies decided to show their critics how good they are and the rest of the National League has paid for it. The Red Sox could be next.

As a lifelong Yankees fan, I hate the Red Sox with a burning passion. It makes me queasy every time I see a Big Papi walk-off homer or Jason Varitek being Jason Varitek. That’s why it was so painful for me to acknowledge, with the Red Sox down three-games-to-one in the American League Championship Series, that the Indians still didn’t really have a chance. I happen to know the enemy quite well and I was certain, even in such a large hole, that the Red Sox would prevail in seven. Indeed they did, with a crushing Game seven defeat of the Cleveland franchise that had so unceremoniously discarded of my beloved Yanks in the opening round. The Red Sox have the weapon that every team wants in October, namely an ace that is pitching with an attitude. Not only does Josh Beckett throw in the high nineties with a knee-buckling curve and wicked change, but he does so with an approach that screams “I own you.” He looks like the same arrogant young ace that dominated the Yankees during the 2003 World Series. What frustrates me the most is that Beckett’s utter dominance has taken away my ability to mercilessly abuse Red Sox fans for trading away shortstop stud Hanley Ramirez to get Beckett. That is certainly depressing.

When deciding who will win this series, it’s easy to see why most experts are picking the Red Sox. They are a much stronger on paper, feature the most decorated clutch performer in baseball outside of King Jeter and are extremely playoff tested. The eight-day layoff for the Rockies won’t help them much either since there is a good chance that the time off could cool them down a bit. And how would the young Rockies’ pitchers fair against such a patient Red Sox lineup? However, something was still nagging me as I was going to type in my pick of the Red Sox in six. I kept remembering how the Red Sox lost two of three at Fenway against the Rockies in June. I thought about how both Beckett and Schilling got rocked in that series and how comfortable the Rockies hitters were against those two pitchers. I thought about how weak the Red Sox bullpen has looked at times and the way they have reacted to high pressure situations in the past (and yes, that includes Jonathon Papelbon). I thought about how no one gave the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals any chance last year against the powerful Detroit Tigers. I picked that Cardinals team to win against all odds last year in this very newspaper, and I can’t ignore the signs of destiny surrounding this Rockies team. Plus, how could I live with myself if I ever picked the Red Sox? My pick is the Rockies in five.