The Boston Red Sox host the St. Louis Cardinals in first game of the glorious 2013 World Series tomorrow night.
These two famed organizations have tangled before in Fall Classics of 1946 and 1967 when the Cardinals were champions, and the Red Sox broke the Babe’s curse in 2004 with a sweep.
While the Cards were guests in Beantown in to start the 04′ series as well, the similarities with the current roster end there.
A Bunch of Old Guys
Unlike in 2004, the Cardinals are not an old team led by an older manager. Tony LaRussa and Walt Jocketty put together a gang of veterans who were able to squeak by a solid Houston team led by Carlos Beltran in 7 games. They were outstanding in the regular season with a 105-57 record, but they were aged, and they looked ancient in late October.
Bet Against the Streak
The Cardinals had not won a Championship since 1982 when they played the Red Sox in 2004 who had been dry since 1918. The hunger and motivation which had been built up to push Boston back versus a stout Yankees ball club was overwhelming. It could be seen, heard, felt and even smelled. They were due and had all the pieces after winning game 7 in the Bronx.
Bud and Sam Adams
Examining the rosters from the 04′ series, with a hurt Chris Carpenter, a 34 year old Tony Womack and a 37 year old Ray Lankford, it all makes sense. Sure Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen were all beefed up, but could they compete with swollen Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Johnny Damon (not to mention Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis and Kevin Millar).
Even if their record does not illuminate it, the 04′ Birdinals were inferior to the 13′ Birdinals, just ask Fredbird.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Boston is almost as old (over 30 average) as their hated Yanks and they might be running out of juice this weekend. However it appears as if the Cardinals are just hitting their galloping stride as Allen Craig rejoins the Birds.
Actual male Cardinals eat bird seed and look handsome 100% of the time, and sox that are really red are forgotten in the dryer 17% of the time or forgotten in the white load in 3% of the washes.
MLB is distinct, partly because it’s fields can be physically unique giving one team a greater advantage. Playing half of it’s games during a season in a park with a green giant in left field creates great familiarity for the home side. While in other countries, a standard field is used and the stadium around it can be one of a kind.
One of Bud Selig’s mistakes was allowing the hill (deep center field) in Houston to be played on. One of the next commissioner’s successes will be not allowing Boston to recreate such a different playing field as well as controlling the play at the plate.
Fenway Park, or as Bostonians call it, Church, is going to see a ferocious American League like Redbirds squad tomorrow that can out bash Detroit, Tampa Bay or any team in Designated Hitterland. Beware Red Sox outfield, it is autumn, and the Birds are smashing balls like America’s Funniest Home Videos, so fans should keep their palms ready on the porches.
Matt Adams, Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter could all go long in Boston before the weekend. There is also the possibility that men without the name Matt will do the same.
The ZZ Top/rabbi beard that many of the Sox are sporting looks like it will keep them warm, but it is utterly possible that it will impede on their ability to succeed. As proper hygiene and maintenance might not have been strictly enforced by first year manager John Farrell, there could be grim consequences.
Never before have professional athletes gone this long without shaving, and rumors of lice and extensions could materialize. Perhaps their craving for clippers will push them towards taking a third strike in a crucial spot and end the season. Tagged in the beard?
The top two made it through and no matter how the 109th World Series plays out, it has already been fun. Bringing two massive fan bases together again so soon is a treat, especially when pumpkins are being carved and mirrors are showing costumes.
Lots of red is on the horizon for the end of October and there is no way to avoid it.