A Brotherly Battle

The Red Sox have spent untold hours and resources this season tracking their possible playoff opponents. But their American League Championship Series foe will be a most recognizable opponent.

As often as the Sox have played the Yankees over the last five years, it's the Indians—who finished off a four-game vanquishing of the Yankees in the AL Division Series Monday—with whom they are most familiar. Numerous players and executives in the ALCS have ties to both franchises, which will lend an air of sibling rivalry to the best-of-seven battle for the pennant.

Before Curt Schilling began lauding him as the best pitching coach he's ever had, John Farrell was on the front office fast track as the Indians' director of player development. Current Indians cornerstones such as Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and Rafael Perez all emerged under the tutelage of Farrell, who was viewed by many as a future general manager before he accepted his job with the Sox last October.

Sox director of player development Mike Hazen spent five years with the Indians' player development department before he joined the Sox in January 2006.

Terry Francona, who was born while his father played for the Indians in 1959 and later played for the Tribe himself in 1988, spent the 2001 season as a special assistant to Indians general manager John Hart. One of the executives he befriended was Mark Shapiro, who became the Indians' general manager in November 2001. Shapiro's dad is famed agent Ron Shapiro, whose clients include Indians outfielder Trot Nixon—who, of course, was the Sox' beloved right fielder from 1999-2006.

Former Nixon teammate Ellis Burks, who emerged as an All-Star with the Sox in the late ‘80s and ended his career by winning a World Series ring in 2004, now works for the Indians in their baseball operations department.

Indians manager Eric Wedge was drafted as a catcher by the Sox in the third round of the 1989 draft and spent the bulk of his nine-year professional career in the organization. He hit five homers in 75 big league at-bats for the Sox between 1991 and 1994 and liked the Boston area so much that he opened an indoor baseball complex in suburban Danvers.

Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp was acquired from the Indians in January 2006 in exchange for a trio of players that included Kelly Shoppach, who won the backup catcher's job for the Indians last year and delivered a pair of hits to help the Indians beat the Yankees Monday. Sox infielder Alex Cora was acquired from the Indians in July 2005 while Manny Ramirez signed with the Sox in December 2000 after more than six seasons with the Indians. And Sox swingman Julian Tavarez was signed by the Indians in 1990 and pitched for the club from 1993 through 1996.

And while the likely Game Two starter for the Indians, Carmona, has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, a poor experience against the Sox set into motion the chain of events that turned him into one of the AL's top starting pitchers. Carmona blew two saves in a span of three games against the Sox last July 31 and Aug. 2, after which the Indians sent him back to Triple-A to work as a starter. He opened this season in the minors but won 19 games and finished second in the AL with a 3.06 ERA.

Game One of the ALCS is scheduled for Friday at Fenway Park. The top two candidates for the Cy Young Award—20-game winner Josh Beckett and 19-game winner C.C. Sabathia—are expected to take the mound.

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or diehardmagazine.com, please CLICK HERE.

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