Why the Red Sox can win their second world championship in four years after going 86 years without one.
Before this season started, this writer was asked to write a column on why the Red Sox could beat out the New York Yankees and win their first American League East championship in 12 years.
The story was written and the Red Sox then jumped out to a big lead in the American League East and battled the Yankees to the wire for that division title.
Now, the demand is there for another column, this time on why the Red Sox can win their second world championship in four years after going 86 years without one.
So here we go, seven reasons why the Red Sox can win their seventh world championship in 2007.
1. THE ACE - Everyone has one at the top of their starting rotation, and the man the Red Sox turn to, Josh Beckett, is as good as anybody.
The battle for the American League Cy Young Award is a good one, but Beckett looks like the favorite.
Remember the last time he was in the postseason? He pitched the clinching game to win the World Series for the Florida Marlins. Yeah, and it was a three-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium to beat the Yankees.
He was four years younger then and he showed he could handle the heat in the biggest of games on the most intimidating of stages.
There's no reason he can't do it again.
2. THE OLD PRO - Curt Schilling was as big a hero as there was when the Red Sox won it all in 2004, and he's a lot healthier now than he was then.
His six weeks on the shelf this season may have been a blessing in disguise because his arm is fresher.
There is no ankle problem this time, and there will be no bloody sock to talk about.
Schilling has been pitching well since his return, and has always pitched well in the money games during his career, whether it was for Philadelphia, Arizona or Boston.
This is probably his last time pitching in a Red Sox uniform, and there's no reason to think he won't go out with a bang.
3. THE CLOSER - Other closers might have more saves, but, overall, none has been better than Jonathan Papelbon. And you get the feeling he's itching to get on that postseason stage and strut his stuff for the baseball world to see.
He's got that cockiness - some might call it arrogance - that a top closer needs. The Sox have kept him fresh so he wouldn't wear down or be injured again, and the slipups have been few and far between.
The Red Sox got great work from their closer, Keith Foulke, in 2004 and they will need it again this year from Papelbon.
4. THE PITCHING DEPTH - The Red Sox have four solid starters, assuming Daisuke Matsuzaka catches his second wind in time and doesn't wilt in the postseason spotlight.
The bullpen has developed a few chinks in the armor late in the season, but they also have more options than most. They have to hope the strength in numbers is enough to get them through.
5. THE SLUGGER - David Ortiz didn't come close to the monstrous numbers he has put up the last couple of years, but he clearly picked up the pace the last six weeks and even hit his first walkoff homer of the season to beat the Devil Rays in September.
Ortiz is back to being the most dangerous hitter in the lineup. His knee and shoulder seem healthier than they were, which is why the power hits came more frequently late in the year.
Pitchers have to fear him again.
6. THE OTHERS - Like the pitching, there appears to be strength in numbers in the lineup. Anyone in the regular lineup is capable of producing the big hit at any time, which means there is no breathing room for the opposing pitchers.
The hitters also make the pitchers work hard, so they drive the pitch counts up and get into the bullpen earlier than the opposition would like.
7. THE KIDS - I'm assuming here that late-season call-ups Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury will be on the postseason roster because they could both becontributors in the postseason.
Buchholz could be the X-factor as a middle man out of the bullpen if one of the starters doesn't get through six innings, and Ellsbury could be a factor as a pinch-hitter and/or pinch-runner, and also defensively in the outfield.