Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday October 26th, 2007: Boston Is On Top Of The Sports Universe

" Trying to stop my hands from shakin'
Somethin' in my mind's not makin' sense
It's been a while since we were all alone
I can't hide the way I'm feelin'."

We're everything.

I mark the date for my title because when I look back on the history of Boston sports, this will arguably be the highest of all highs that it can get to. The Sox just won their second straight World Series win, sending the series to Colorado needing just two wins for the franchise's seventh title. The Patriots have beat at least 17 points, and face a good Washington team this weekend (more on that to come). The Bruins are off to a 6-3 start, forcing my boss to order the hockey package for the bar. The Celtics are favored to win the Eastern Conference, and start regular season next week against the Wizards, and last but certainly not least...the Boston College Eagles.

I've said all along that the Eagles will not win the national title...but man was that a hell of a win last night in Blacksburg. Can anyone recall someone coming into a game as one of the favorites to win the Heisman, then becoming a goat on the wrong end of a dominating performance by the opposing team's defense, and then, in just two and a half minutes, he becomes the favorite to win the Heisman? Matt Ryan looked like a goat for basically the entire game, making horrible decisions, having no poise in the pocket, and just looking completely uncomfortable. But then, with the game on the line down 10-0, and Virginia Tech's unwillingness to win the game despite having tons and tons of opportunities to put the Eagles away, Matt Ryan stepped up and basically took the team on his back, chugging down the field and throwing a tremendous touchdown pass to make it a field goal game. Then, VA Tech made another blunder, and giving the ball back to the Eagles after being unable to recover the onside kick. Ryan then engineered another fantastic drive, throwing all over a Hokie defense that had been unforgiving through the first three and 9/10 quarters. Finally, Ryan, who had been running frantically away from the VA Tech D-line all game, and was once again forced to run around to escape the pressure, found a wide open Andre Callender, arguably the nation's most underrated running back, in the end zone to put the Eagles on top for the first time all game...with 11 seconds remaining. With a win against a top 10 team on the road, it may not even matter what happens to Ohio St. this weekend when they go on the road to Happy Valley this weekend. Because BC was so close to the Buckeyes in the BCS before this game, the win likely will help them jump Ohio St. into the #1 spot heading into next week. The funny thing was that I really thought the Eagles were going to win this one, and I was more worried for them about playing Maryland next week than I was against the Hokies. They really did not have much to lose. If they lost this game, they would likely have dropped to only #3 in the country because of the disparity between the third and fourth place teams in the BCS. Another thing: They were 'dogged going into the game, and yet, I was reading an article on ESPN about how VA Tech could pull off the "upset" despite the fact BC was 'dogged 3 1/2 points heading into the game. Is it my imagination, or doesn't a team have to be favored to get upset? Clearly, like myself, Vegas had underestimated BC's resolve, and did not think they could win a big game. While I thought they would win, I certainly had my doubts, but now, they go into College Park next week the #1 team in the country.

The Sox have shown so far they can win with everything. In the first game, they beat down both the starter, Jeff Francis, and the rest of the Rockies' bullpen with a never-ending offensive onslaught, tying and breaking team and baseball records along the way in the 13-1 win. Then, in Game 2, Ubaldo Jimenez, while throwing wild, was able to keep the Sox guessing long enough to keep the scoring to a minimum. However, Curt Schilling, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon were just that more impressive, and had it not been for a bloop hit by Matt Holliday that caromed off Mike Lowell's glove, they may not have scored at all. While Schilling pitched another great game, the credit really needs to be given to Okie. All postseason, he has shown why he was one of the most valuable Sox players all season long, but last night, if there was still any doubt about his ability to perform on the biggest stage, it was wiped away by 2 1/3 innings of brilliance, striking out four along the way, and not allowing a single baserunner to reach. In addition, he was brought on with two runners on in the sixth, and did not allow them to score, which was absolutely critical given the circumstances. I will say that the Rockies did perform a 180 as far as their bullpen goes. Pitching Herges, Fuentes, and Corpas, their three best, they only three hits scattered over 3 1/3 innings, keeping Colorado in the game all the way until the very last pitch. This will continue to be a big storyline as the series shifts to Mile High. With no DH, can the Sox keep pace with Colorado's offense, who will likely be at least a little more impressive than they were in the first two games? If Josh Fogg and Aaron Cook can make quality starts, and keep the Sox offense off-balance in the process, it may be a tough task for Boston to try and come from behind given how well the bullpen was in Game 2. I personally think Game 1 was an aberration of what the Rockies have out there. Morales and Speier literally walked the Rockies out of that game, and it's not like Josh Beckett is going to give up a lead like that in the World Series. So now, Game 3 at Denver, Dice against Josh Fogg. This will be the first ever outing for Dice in Denver. While I still am unsure of how I feel about that, the biggest question has to be the musical chairs match of Papi/Lowell/Youk. Right now, it would seem like you almost have to sit Youk, even though he has been scorching this postseason, for at least Game 3. Ortiz...well, I mean what else can possibly be said about him in October? And as far as Lowell goes, not only has he been the MVP of the team, a great defender at third, and the guy responsible, at least on the offensive side, for winning Game 2, he has played at Mile High a bunch, recording almost 100 plate appearances there. Again, it really comes down to what happens in Game 3 that will determine the fate of this series. If the Sox are able to win, I immediately sit Ortiz and play Youk at first, and throw Beckett in for Game 4 to try and win right now. If on the off-chance Beckett happens to appear human, you still have a 3-1 series advantage, and with a day off for Ortiz, he will be back in the lineup for Game 5, where Jon Lester will likely take the ball. Then, if that game doesn't go as planned, the Sox will return to Boston and pitch Schilling in a Game 6 again. Again, Schilling and Game 6 has proven to be a great combination. The Sox' thinking could be to wait on Beckett until Game 5, which I completely understand. You want to give the guy his four days' rest. However, if the Sox do win that critical Game 3, the Rockies will officially be in one-man's land, down 0-3, and that one man, or in this case, team, that has been able to navigate themselves out of that place is the team they are facing in this series. So, why even let the Rockies back in it? I love Jon Lester, but Josh Beckett is on another level...maybe even another planet compared to any pitcher in baseball right now. So, Saturday will be a huge game for the Sox, and the undercard will be the Cocks/Vols game, with both trying to rebound from two demoralizing defeats last week.

The view certainly is nice from up here. Sure, it won't last forever...I think, but for now, it's good to take it all in, and talk about it to every single living person I can get a hold of. That's all for the moment. Plenty still to come.




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