Even more recently, there are striking differences. At the beginning of this season, many people mentioned the Red Sox as legitimate World Series contenders. At the beginning of this season, many people mentioned the Rockies as legitimate members of the National League West.
The two clubs have been built in dramatically different ways, the kind of differences that are underscored by a huge disparity in player payroll. The Red Sox have some homegrown talent, but they have been dependent on free-agent signings of the most publicized and expensive sort.
The Rockies have gone through a number of incarnations for a young franchise -- the Blake St. Bombers, speed and defense, very expensive pitchers. But the current Rockies have been built through the less expensive and more traditional manner of astute scouting and diligent player development. The Rockies have drafted well and they have augmented the Drafts with signings of talented young Latin American players.
The Red Sox are household names from two hemispheres: Big Papi, Manny being Manny, Curt Schilling being Curt Schilling and a man who led the world in hype before he threw his first Major League pitch, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The Rockies ought to be household names. Todd Helton's career has that status, but this is his first World Series. The Rockies will automatically receive more exposure now and they will get even more later, if justice is served and Matt Holliday wins the NL MVP and Troy Tulowitzki wins the NL Rookie of the Year.
The two clubs took dramatically different regular-season paths in 2007. The Red Sox built a huge early lead -- they led the Yankees by 14 1/2 games at one point -- saw most of that lead vanish, but then held on, breaking the Yankees' nine-year stranglehold on the AL East championship.
The Rockies were nowhere early and then went on a late-season tear that was unprecedented in the annals of late-season tears. They eventually won 21 of 22 games, including the postseason, but they had to go a Game 163, a one-game playoff to edge the San Diego Padres for the NL Wild Card berth.
What these two teams have in common now is basic -- their presence in the World Series. The Rockies blitzed their way through two rounds, back-to-back sweeps of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Red Sox had their own Division Series sweep, of the Angels, but they had to stage a remarkable recovery from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
The Red Sox will be the favorites in this World Series, but that will mean nothing. They will be the favorites because more people have heard of them. They will be the favorites because they have greater name recognition. Look what happened to some of the other alleged "favorites" in this postseason, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. When you examine the rosters involved, this is picking a favorite essentially based on who has the most money. This is also what the Democratic Party seems to be doing in its portion of the presidential campaign, but that doesn't make it any more useful.
There will be one unique factor to watch as this Series opens Wednesday night at Fenway Park. The only way the Rockies could get any hotter would be to play their home games on the surface of the sun. But because they charged through the NLCS without defeat, and because there were additional off-days built into this postseason schedule, they will have an eight-day cooling-off period between their last game and the beginning of the World Series. How will this affect them? Will they just be completely rested? Or will they be somewhat rusted? Stay tuned.
At the end of the day, when all the comparisons and the rhetoric subside, these two clubs have reached baseball's pinnacle because they pitched, hit and caught the baseball better than anybody else in their respective leagues at precisely the right time. There is much that will be new and different about Red Sox vs. Rockies, but in that sense, this meeting is completely traditional.