Color this World Series red. The 2013 Series feels a lot like 2004.
It was, of course, in 2004 that the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals en route to winning their first World Series in 86 years. Nine years later, these same two teams shall meet again.
In the grand scheme of things, the St. Louis Cardinals have been a model of consistency despite letting go of some of their premier players when said premier players started plastering too many zeros on their price tags (Albert Pujols). Also, despite having to replace an all-time great manager in Tony La Russa with Mike Matheny.
Still, all they do is win in St. Louis.
Adam Wainwright will be the Cards’ game one starter, but perhaps, the story of the 2013 season for the “PostCards” (the Twitter hashtag the Cardinals are using for their postseason run) is that of Michael Wacha. Drafted last year out of Texas A&M, Wacha has become an overnight household name throughout Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. He’s gone from being a relative unknown to winning NLCS MVP as a 22 year old.
It’s what the Cardinals have done a lot of recently to develop young players such as Wacha, David Freese, and Matt Carpenter alongside established veterans such as Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Carlos Beltran. If not for Wacha, Beltran (who is playing in his first ever Fall Classic) made a strong case himself for NLCS MVP as he batted .286 with 6 hits and 6 RBIs against the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, on the other side is the Boston Red Sox. The backstory behind the 2013 Red Sox is no less remarkable than that of the Redbirds. In 2012, the Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball, fraught with internal drama, and a manager in Bobby Valentine who was the least bit interested in being the skipper for a Major League Baseball club.
Apparently, Bobby V left his managerial skills back in Japan.
One move made all of the difference—hiring John Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays. Immediately, the drama ended and the wins came back in droves to 4 Yawkey Way. Of course, many of Boston’s familiar names are back once again such as Clay Buccholz, Jon Lester (Game 1 starter for the Red Sox), David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia.
Speaking of names to remember, how often is it that a closer wins the MVP award in a championship series? Not too often, but that’s what Koji Uehara did for the Red Sox as he notched 3 saves for Boston against the Detroit Tigers. Uehara wasn’t even the Sox’ closer on opening day, but eventually settled into the role after originally being seen as a setup man.
If these playoffs are an indication of how the World Series will go, then these games are likely to be pitcher’s duels and low scoring. The Cardinals were able to beat Clayton Kershaw twice in the NLCS while three of the Red Sox’ four victories over Detroit came in games where Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander were pitching. For the most part, two or three runs could be enough to get it done.
Prediction: Even though I only got fifty percent of the World Series correct, the team I picked to win the whole thing is one of the team’s that’s in it. Red Sox in 7 with Jon Lester or Koji Uehara winning MVP.
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