World Series in a box
We can all stop crying now. The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs will not meet in the World Series. With both teams five outs away from the Fall Classic and with three-run leads, the Curse of the Goat (Cubs) and the Curse of the Bambino (Red Sox) struck again as a fan and a struggling third baseman sent the two Cinderellas home with no glass slipper.
Instead, we get the New York Yankees, with 26 World Championships, and the underdog Florida Marlins, who have never lost a postseason series. In just their 11th year, the Marlins will make their second trip to the Series.
Here's a breakdown of how the teams match up and a slightly dangerous prediction.
Derrek Lee has established himself as a bona fide power hitter for the Marlins, and Nick Johnson is up-and-coming. Jason Giambi will play first in the National League park.
Luis Castillo is a burner at the top of the Florida lineup and Alfonso Soriano is struggling. However, Soriano is a 40 homer-40 stolen base guy and he's a stud defensively.
Mike Lowell was the best third baseman in the NL before he got injured in September. He found his stroke in the NLCS, hitting two key homers against the Cubs. Aaron Boone may have crushed the hearts of the Sox, but that's the only thing he'll be crushing.
Alex Gonzalez doesn't even deserve to be on the same field as the key of postseason himself, Derek Jeter.
Miguel Cabrera is a phenomenon who established himself in the last two months of the year. Hideki Matsui is also a rookie, kind of. Cabrera's young, brash and talented, and that's why he gives the Marlins the edge.
Coming into this year, no one knew Juan Pierre. Now, he's the best outfielder in this series. It kills me to bet against Bernie Williams, but Pierre is just better right now.
The platoon of Juan Encarnacion and Miguel Cabrera is better than the platoon of Karim Garcia, Juan Rivera and David Dellucci.
Jason Giambi is still one of the game's best bashers. Jeff Conine is not.
Mark Redman, Brad Penny and Carl Pavano will have to do their part to help the next great pitcher, Josh Beckett. The Yanks will entrust David Wells, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens. New York has experience and talent. I favor them.
The Yanks have been decent, if not solid, with Jose Contreras, Felix Heredia, Jeff Nelson and Gabe White setting up for Mr. Automatic, Mariano Rivera. The 1-2-3 punch of Dontrelle Willis, Braden Looper and closer Ugueth Urbina is too good though.
Encarnacion (who will sit in the NL park) is the only real weapon the Marlins have. The Yanks are just as thin, although Ruben Sierra is definitely a factor as a left-handed bat off the bench.
It pains me to bet against miracle worker Jack McKeon, but Joe Torre is a man among boys in the post-season. With the assistance of the next heavyweight champion of the world, Don Zimmer, and pitching guru Mel Stottlemyre, the Yanks have the advantage.
Well, that leaves us tied at 6-6. Here you go, Red Sox fans, you can exhale. This series will be a lot better than people think. The Marlins are dynamic, young and are hot at the right time. Breathe easy, Beantowners. The Yanks will NOT collect championship No. 27.
Marlins in 7.