Yankees beat Sox for naught; Cards will win
Last week, the world was shocked to learn that the New York Yankees would face the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. People around the baseball world began to talk of an ALCS with the power to revolutionize the American League and baseball in general. It would be naive to say the revolution started last week in the Division Series, but that was when the long-awaited winds of change seemed to blow strongest. Boston hammered the Angels in their strongest series all season. Five Red Sox starters hit .300 or better, including David Ortiz?s frightening .545 and Johnny Damon?s comparatively modest .467, scoring 25 runs over three games. A powerful Anaheim team led for no more than one inning the entire series due to a pitching staff that held their offense to a .240 average. Curt Schilling was 5?0 with an ERA under 2.00 in his last six post-season starts and looking unstoppable. On top of this, the Yankees, whose entire pitching staff was surrounded by question marks, were struggling to put down the Twins. And so the titans were set to clash.
Could this be it? Could the Red Sox Nation finally exact their revenge on the Evil Empire and ?reverse the curse?? Could anybody be expected to believe Gary Sheffield didn?t know he was using steroids? Could endangered birds be nesting in Johnny Damon?s beard?
COULD THIS SERIES HANDLE ANY MORE HYPE???
Of course not. It?s not as if every baseball fan in their right mind has not anticipated this for the past year. They have. It?s absolutely not as if these two teams have a long, drawn-out history reliving the exact same situations, the exact same brawls, with the exact same result. They do.
However, while Joe Buck and Tim McCarver butcher America?s pastime into another highly-rated Fox reality show, the World Series that so many viewers have long forgotten about is being won in the National League.
As opposed to examining what has gone wrong with Boston, already on the brink of elimination, and why nobody should be surprised, I?m going to spend the rest of the article examining why either the Houston Astros or the St. Louis Cardinals will reign as 2004 World Series Champion over the Yankees.
First, I?d like to make a proposition. Imagine you are the general manager of a Major League club and you need to pick a player for your lineup. Guy A hits .314 with 34 home runs, 124 runs batted in, and a .598 slugging percentage. Guy B hits .286 with 36 home runs, 104 runs batted in, a .512 slugging percentage. In addition Guy A commits fewer errors, makes over 60 more assists, and gets paid $14 million less. Whom do you choose?
If you said Guy A, you?ve just taken Scott Rolen. If you said Guy B, then you?re probably a die-hard Alex Rodriguez fan and have his stats committed to memory. Aside from the Cards having the advantage at third base, they also have a much better first baseman in Albert Pujols (who has better all around numbers than any Yankee), a much better center fielder in Jim Edmonds (who also has a higher average, more home runs, and a higher slugging percentage than Gary Sheffield). In addition, the Cards have given up 150 less runs than the Yankees this season and New York is the only team left whose opponents had a higher average than they do in the regular season.
Although St. Louis has the lowest playoff ERA of the four remaining teams at 4.12, they lack the dominating one, two punch that the Astros have in Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt. The Clemens-Oswalt pair has an overpowering playoff ERA of 2.61 and has yet to lose, including Clemens? silencing of the Cardinals bats on Saturday. Regardless, the two are reminiscent of the Diamondbacks? dynamic duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling which wreaked havoc on a similar offensively stacked Yankees team in the 2001 Series. Though the Yankees have the greatest closer in baseball history, Brad Lidge has yet to give up a run in the postseason for the Astros either, and Dan Wheeler has held his opposition?s batting average under .100 with six strikeouts in four innings of relief, better than any other reliever on either the Yankees or the Cardinals.
While watching Game 1 of the Yankees/Red Sox hatefest one of my good friends, a Yankee fan, told me the Astros or the Cardinals can?t win because they cannot compare their meager amount of World Series experience to that of the Yankees. Although the Yankees do have more rings than Sonic the Hedgehog, inexperience didn?t stop last year?s Marlins from winning nor did it stop the Diamondbacks in 2001.
If the Astros win the NLCS, the Yankees offense can look to face Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt in at least 4 of the seven games. If the Cardinals win, New York?s weakest pitching staff in years will have to deal with an offense even more explosive than their own.
So while Pedro Martinez?s daddy may be the Yankees, don?t expect them to father any children in the National League.