Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Red Sox - '07 World Series Favorites!

The Old Dame of Baseball - Fenway Park is groomed a ready for its World Series!

The Red Sox "Rebel with a Cause" is on the bump for Game 1 tonight. Josh is 3-0 in playoff competition thus far. The Rockies "did" defeat him in Inter-league play, but this is the big time and The Texas Buzz Saw is locked and loaded.






Rockies - Lefty - Jeff Francis warms up at Fenway in preparation for his Game 1 start to open the 2007 World Series. Francis is 2-0 in the playoffs and won against the Red Sox this season @ the Fens.


This Rebel Has A Cause
Bold, Brash Beckett Out to Be Best

By Tony Massarotti -- Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What we have here, by all accounts, is a gunslingin’, brash-talkin’, tall-walkin’ cowboy, right down to every last detail.

In the baseball sense, Josh Beckett [stats] is part Roger Clemens, part Pedro Martinez and part Curt Schilling [stats], the aces who have preceded him in the Red Sox [team stats]’ line of kings. In the Hollywood sense, Beckett is more like John McClane, the renegade New York City police detective in the ‘‘Die Hard’’ series who was reckless, fearless and arrogant enough to believe he could make a difference.

Yippee ki-yay (fill in the blank)!

‘‘He can be a bit of an antiestablishment guy from time to time, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that — a contrarian, I guess,’’ Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said of Beckett, who is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts this postseason. ‘‘If you tell him east, he’ll say west — even if he knows it’s east.’’

What Beckett knows now, like everyone, is that the world is watching, even if he will not necessarily admit it. Speaking at Fenway Park [map] yesterday in anticipation of his World Series Game 1 start against the Colorado Rockies tonight, Beckett continued to talk with both disdain and contempt. Ask Beckett what he is doing differently to excel on this, baseball’s grandest stage, and he all but delivers the answer with a sneer.

Nothing.

Nonetheless, as Beckett prepares to take the mound against the Rockies and lefthander Jeff Francis, the numbers belie his response. In the last 70 years, among all major league pitchers with at least 50 career postseason innings, Beckett’s 1.78 ERA ranks third, behind only Mariano Rivera (0.77) and Sandy Koufax (0.95). In Rivera’s case, he was a closer who never had to face the same hitters three or four times in a game; as for Koufax, he pitched in an era that existed before the advent of the designated hitter.

And then, of course, there is this: During Beckett’s career, his teams are 5-0 in postseason series.

Big-game hunterLong before he won 20 games this season, long before he even arrived in Boston with an air that suggested he was unimpressed by it all, Beckett had the swagger of a 300-game winner.

‘‘He was often referred to as cocky,’’ said Red Sox principal owner John Henry, who owned the Marlins when they chose Beckett with the No. 2 overall selection in the 1999 amateur draft. ‘‘Dave Dombrowski (then the Marlins general manager) saw that as a vital ingredient because he thought that translated into confidence. We did quite a bit of studying (on Beckett). Taking a high school pitcher with the second pick in the draft — back then, that was a lot of money.’’

Of course, Beckett’s ascension drew predictable attention, culminating with his performance against the New York Yankees in the decisive Game 6 of the 2003 World Series. Much like the current Rockies, the 2003 Marlins were a young, talented team that matured greatly through the season, resulting in a spirited, second- half run that brought them to the postseason.
What the Marlins lacked, many believed before the start of the playoffs, was experience, particularly on the pitching staff. But in his first postseason, after a regular season during which he went a mere 9-8, Beckett pitched in six games, posting a 2.11 ERA and averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings while authoring a pair of complete-game shutouts.


At the time, Beckett was just 23. Still, Henry had long since recognized what Dombrowski saw in Beckett and what 2003 Marlins manager Jack McKeon also would identify: his ability to intensify his focus at those moments that called for it.

‘‘I went to see his first game at Double A (in 2001), and the jump to Double A can be a tough jump,’’ Henry said. ‘‘I think we counted something like 37 or 47 pitches before a batter even made contact. That confidence is a result of just knowing how good your stuff is.’’
Said McKeon when asked about Beckett’s nature: ‘‘He’s a fearless guy and







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