Well, we now know it will be the Cardinals in Boston on Wednesday night for game one of the 2013 World Series. As a Dodgers fan, I’m disappointed. But as a baseball fan it looks to be a good matchup. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. it will be the fourth time St. Louis and the Red Sox have squared off in a World Series. The Cards won the first two (1946, 1967), the BoSox the last (2004). So there’s a certain amount of tradition in the matchup and baseball loves its tradition.
2. Both are baseball towns. When the Rams won the Super Bowl, I recall the coach complaining that although he was congratulated, the next words out of people’s mouths were “But wouldn’t have been great if it were the Cardinals.” Robert Kraft is supposed to have said pretty much the same thing about Boston each time the Patriots won. I always like to see towns that truly embrace baseball get a chance at the Series.
3. The teams were the best in each league during the regular season. Both ended the season with the best record in their league and had home field all the way to this point. That’s kind of nice to see.
4. Ever notice how alike the players are on each team? Take a look down the stat chart of the Cardinals and essentially, excepting Kozma at short, you’re looking at pretty much the same player. All seven non-shortstop every day players have OPS+ between 101 and 144 (I’m presuming here that Craig is going to play in the Series. They say he will, but we’ll have to see.). All have OBPs .339 and .392. There aren’t a lot of big home run numbers (Beltran has 24). If you do the same thing with the Sox, leaving out one player, in this case Middlebrooks, and excluding the DH–Ortiz–because the Cards don’t have a regular DH (they used four in their interleague games) you find that Boston is pretty much the same. There’s a bit more pop in Boston and no Card steals a lot of bases unlike Ellsbury and Victorino (and Pedroia who on a lot of teams would hit 2nd rather than 3rd). I think that will make for a good Series.
5. Other than Wainwright neither team has a particularly outstanding pitcher. The Dodgers and Tigers had those and they’re sitting at home. Having just said that, I’m not sure what to do with Wacha. He had only 15 games during the regular season, but he’s been a revelation in his last regular start and in the postseason. I think following him could be one of the best stories during the Series (or he’ll get shelled and become an afterthought–who knows).
Those are reasons I think it can be a great Series. We’ve had a lot of blowouts lately (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012) and few really compelling confrontations (2001, 2002, and 2011 are the only 7 game Series’ in the 21st Century). Hopefully for fans and casual viewers this will be one of the latter. As to who’s going to win? I’ll quote, as I’ve done before, Winston Churchill, “It is always easier to prophesy after the event.”