Wednesday, Oct. 01, 2003

Questions for Bill James

TIME: How did you feel after the loss (to the Yankees in the ALCS)?
James: I was extremely disappointed and extremely low. Was I more low than I was when the (Kansas) Jayhawks lost the national title game last year? Yes, I was. It was, and I'm sure a lot of other people had this feeling too, a sense of a year's work wasted. I know this is a wonderful team that in many ways had a wonderful year. But the feeling in that minute (that Aaron Boone hit the game-winning home run) was "there goes the year."

What about the curse?
In the 85 years of the curse, there have probably been 60 when the Yankees had a better team than the Red Sox did. In the other 23, we have had more than our share of bad luck. But it's done. Do I give any credence to the concept of curse? Of course not. Do I feel like we're cursed? Not at all. But we have had more than our share of tough luck.

Have you ever tried to quantify curses or anything like that?
I've never done anything like that. I would ask the question, does the run of bad luck here exceed normal boundaries? But the realistic answer is that it doesn't. If the Red Sox and the Yankees had been equal for 85 years, and the Yankees had won 26 world championships and we had won none, then certainly that would go well beyond rational explanation. But that's not the real situation. The real situation is that the Yankees have had super teams that have won with very little luck, and the Red Sox have not had the teams of that caliber.

Any World Series prediction?
I predict the ratings will drop sharply.

Are the Yankees an Evil Empire?
(Laughs) No.

What was the biggest difference between the Yanks and Sox this year, the difference that gave the Yankees the edge? Was it experience?
The difference was one run. Suppose two basketball teams play a game and the game is won 100-99. Which is the basket that won the game? They all won the game. It's the same thing here.

What do you have to do next year to get better?
We need to take seriously what has happened to us. We have a lot of work to do before next year. We have to take seriously the question of what you need to do to bounce back from what we've been through.

After Thursday's game, Theo Epstein guaranteed that the Red Sox would be back. Do you want to make any bold predictions?
I certainly hope he's right.