Apparently with Josh Beckett on the mound, the easy selection for the American League Cy Young winner, the Sox do not have that problem.
So, despite the fact that I've managed to go five innings without even a glance at the screen, let's give these teams some credit and here's some quick thoughts on the ALCS:
- The Indians, to have any shot at this series, have to win three out of the four games that are pitched by their aces - C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. Thus far, the prospects are looking dim in Game One, placing even more emphasis on tomorrow night's start from Cleveland's other upstart righty. The two were dirty against the Yankees. I'd like to think that, even if overmatched by Boston, they will not go quietly into the night.
- Travis Hafner, who homered in his first at-bat of the playoffs, is poised for a break-out series. He was a frightening presence in the Division Series against the Yankees, seemingly up in every big opportunity. The Indians need Hafner. I'd think he may be a household name by the end of the series.
- We all know what's coming out of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. For Boston to take it all this year, they'll need that third big threat to emerge. While many will point to J.D. Drew's recent emergence as a sign of hope, I still think he's overpaid and overhyped. I think it will be Kevin Youkilis that helps the Fenway faithful get back to the Promised Land.
- Schilling and Dice-K. One is a little old, the other is over hyped. I'm interested to see their performances in this series. Schilling is going up against a younger, more energetic pitcher who was on his game against the Yankees. Carmona does have demons against Boston (David Ortiz owned him last year when he was a reliever), but this guy is a much different pitcher. Can Schilling keep up with him? As for Matsuzaka, I'm a little worried about him in a road game in a big spot in the postseason. If Cleveland can head back home with a 1-1 split, I think they could rattle Dice-K early. He has shown me no evidence he can pitch in a big game in 2007.
- Dustin Pedroia is a star in the making. You have to love a guy who plays the game with a lot of intensity and a lot of pride. The Red Sox have a great, homegrown talent that will be in that #4 position in the scorecard for quite some time.
- Ditto for Grady Sizemore, although you already knew that. Sizemore has the kind of talent that makes scouts drool and opposing pitchers shake. He had an uncanny ability of being able to hit for power and contact against New York in the Division Series. Sizemore, while a little over aggressive in his young age, can develop into a top ten player in the MLB. Whether or not this is the year he does it has yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, I'm left to cope with a terrible October by Derek Jeter, rumors of the best manager in my time being fired, and Alex Rodriguez opting out of his contract for even more cash. I very much admire the Yankee youth movement and their astounding resiliency in what looked like a lost season early on, but the media is certainly taking a negative spin out of their October exit. Whether or not they can recover, only time will tell.
While Fenway rocks, it's a tough time to be on the south side of I-95.