ST. LOUIS -- Long before his days as the principal owner of the Red Sox, John W. Henry made himself a wealthy man by dissecting numbers as a stock trader.
Forget about the baseball owner and fan in him. The numbers maven in Henry didn't like what he saw just 10 days ago, when his Red Sox trailed the Yankees, 3-0, in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
The odds were so grim that Henry likely would have been shy about relaying them while his team was trying to climb its way out. But now, with his team up, 3-0, in the World Series entering Wednesday night, and on the verge of the franchise's first World Series championship since 1918, Henry was more than happy to spell it out.
"I quantified it. It was pretty bad," said Henry. "Pretty [darned] bad. Well, actually the number if you discount everything, say it's 50-50. Take out everything such as home-field advantage and the strength [of opponent], it was 6 1/4 percent. Baseball Prospectus on that day, they were doing their calculations that day taking everything into account. At that point they brought it down to a 1.8 percent chance to win the series."
And then Henry proudly watched as the numbers were completely defied and the drama played out.
"It's not an accident we were the first to come back," said Henry. "There's two main factors. How they feel about each other. This team has more affection for one another than any team I've seen in my life for 55 years in looking over sports. It's evident.
"The second is, they realize how much this means to the fans of New England -- and what it would mean to New England to win a championship."
While the Red Sox will clearly have some personnel changes in 2005, Henry said reports that the team would have a drastic reduction in player salaries has been greatly overstated.
"From the time we bought the team, people have been speculating we were going to blow up the team," said Henry. "I think our record speaks for itself. We're going to have a very, very competitive team next year. We're going to do everything we can to win a championship next year. There's no doubt about it. We don't do this as a hobby."
Curt Schilling / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Bonus prize: Without Curt Schilling's 21 wins during the regular season or the way he gutted it out in the postseason to win three games with a badly injured right ankle, it's nearly impossible to think that the Red Sox would still be on the verge of their first championship since 1918.
Aside from the satisfaction Schilling would get from winning his second World Series ring, he will also get a financial reward. When Schilling -- serving as his own agent -- negotiated the contract extension with Theo Epstein that made him a member of the Red Sox in November, one of the perks was a $2 million bonus for winning the World Series.
By winning the World Series in 2004, 2005 or 2006, the contract also stipulated that Schilling's $13 million option for 2007 automatically kicks in.
After the Red Sox and Diamondbacks agreed to a trade in principle, Epstein was given a window by Major League Baseball to work out an extension with Schilling that would convince the right-hander to waive his no-trade clause. Epstein and his assistant Jed Hoyer wound up literally negotiating at Schilling's house over Thanksgiving dinner.
"That must have been a hell of a turkey dinner," quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Schil was on the plane the other night getting on Theo about [the World Series clause], it was hilarious."
Making your luck: Francona was asked if he felt his team was lucky to be in this position, given some of the things that went Boston's way during the epic comeback over the Yankees.
"I don't think luck," said Francona. "I think you make some fortune. You have to put yourself in a position where if you catch a break, you make it work. We made some breaks and guys took advantage."
Still, he acknowledged his team walked a significant tightrope, particularly in Game 4 against the Yankees.
David Ortiz / DH
Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
Well-executed play: While Jeff Suppan's baserunning gaffe in Game 4 will be a lasting image in this series for the Cardinals if they don't come back, Francona noted that his team still had to execute the play.
David Ortiz, playing just his second game at first base since July 21, made a perfect throw across the diamond to Bill Mueller, who was in the proper position to nail Suppan as he slid back to the bag.
"I was glad he made a good throw," said Francona. "That was a pretty nice play. I thought Billy Mueller got himself in position to be a target. That was a good play. You know what was funny with that play, if there ended up being a play at home, it would have been interesting because Larry Walker was so far inside the baseline. It was actually a heads up play because he's trying to get in the way, he was in the way. We would have had another discussion [with the umpires]."
Class from the Patriots: While the Red Sox have understandably stolen the thunder from the New England Patriots, who have won a record 21 games in a row, there is no animosity between the two franchises. In fact, Patriots owner Bob Kraft has become good friends with Henry, and Pats coach Bill Belichick has left Francona numerous messages of encouragement during the postseason.
"He could not be more supportive," Henry said of Kraft. "He and I have just the warmest, best relationship."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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