Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The World Series: Boston v. St. Louis

On paper, this is a great World Series for people who love the World Series:

Over the last ten seasons, the Cardinals have won four pennants, the Red Sox have won three, and no other team has won more than two.  So these are the two best organizations in baseball.

This year, Boston and St. Louis were the only two teams in baseball to win 97 games.  So they are the best two teams in baseball as well.

Boston and St. Louis are two of the very few American cities where you could make a strong argument that baseball is more popular than football.  So these are two of the best fan bases in the game.

And they have a rich history against each other.  This will be the fourth time they've met in the World Series.  In 1946, the Cardinals won in seven games.  Game Seven was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 8th, when Enos Slaughter singled to start the inning.  Slaughter was still on first when Harry Walker whacked the ball into left-center on a hit-and-run.  By the time Red Sox center fielder Leon Culberson (who had replaced the injured Dom Dimaggio) relayed the hit back to shortstop Johnny Pesky, Slaughter had rounded third.  Ignoring the third-base coach (who wanted him to stop) Slaughter headed for the plate.  Pesky hesitated -- either from surprise or because he was checking Walker at first -- and Slaughter scored the Series-winning run from first on a single.

Boston didn't return to the Series for 21 years, and when it did the Cardinals were there again.  Once again the Series went seven games.  This time the Cardinal hero was Bob Gibson.  In one of the all-time great pitching performances, Gibson won Game One (2-1), Game Four (6-0), and Game Seven (7-2).  Gibson threw three complete games, giving up only 14 hits in 27 innings.

The next time Boston and St. Louis met was in 2004, when the Bosox were trying to end an 85-year streak of no World's Championships.  The Red Sox crushed St. Louis, winning four straight games by a combined score of 24-12.

So each of the three meetings between the Red Sox and the Cardinals has been fraught with some historical significance.  It will be interesting to see what happens this year.  We no longer have to deal with all the "curse" stories that used to appear every time the Red Sox made the World Series, so we can just enjoy the baseball.  Vegas has made Boston the favorite, which makes sense given that the Red Sox have home field advantage.  But there are a lot of old campaigners on both teams, and I will be surprised if we don't get at least six games.

Pennants won by each team (World Titles in bold) (there was no World Series in 1904):

Boston (7-4-1)1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 2004, 2007, 2013

St. Louis (11-7)1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013


  1. As usual, we have to wait until 7:07 Central time before anything actually happens.

    I think it made sense to play the World Series at night in the 1970's, when you still had a lot of folks who would go home, get something to drink, and watch the game in front of the old tube. But people don't live that way anymore. I honestly think the World Series would be a bigger deal in the culture if they would start every game at 2 PM Eastern Time. Most kids could watch it when they got home from school, and us working stiffs would have something to talk about during the workday. It would be like March Madness. Heck, it would be like the World Series was for most of the 20th century.

    But instead, we will start at night, and only Boston fans and people who really care about baseball will stay up to see how it turns out.

    1. I totally agree. I wish the A's would just schedule all of their games during my biz afternoon.

  2. The Guardian reports that the World Series is being broadcast on BBC5 Live in the UK -- the games start at 1:07 A.M. London time -- and the BBC announcers have a tradition of wearing tuxedos for the World Series. Good for them.

  3. It's 49 degrees in Boston. Joe Buck is on the field, in coat and tie. Erin Andrews is also on the field, wearing some sort of Dick Cheney-style parka.

  4. The Red Sox still have the giant "B STRONG" mowed into the outfield grass. This has been their rally cry since the explosion at the Boston Marathon, and it has already taken them to the pennant.

  5. According to Google Maps, it is 1,176 miles from Fenway Park in Boston to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Here's what you do:

    1. Take I-90 to the New York exurbs
    2. Take I-84 to Eastern Pennsylvania
    3. Take I-81 to I-80
    4. Stay on I-80 until you cross the Ohio line
    5. Take I-76 and I-71 until you get to Columbus, O.
    6. Take I-70 to St. Louis

    In 1903, when modern baseball got started, Boston was as far North and East as major league baseball went, and St. Louis was as far South and West as it went. To this day, those two cities seem to be at opposite poles, but literally and figuratively.

  6. You could also go by train. You'd take the Lake Shore Limited from Boston's Back Bay Station to Chicago's Union Station, and from there you would take the Texas Eagle to St. Louis's Gateway Station. It takes 1 day and 9 hours to make that trip.

  7. Lineups: Here's the Cardinals:

    1. Matt Carpenter, 2B (.318, 11 HR's, 78 RBI's)
    2. Carlos Beltran, RF (.296, 24 HR's, 84 RBI's)
    3. Matt Holliday, LF (.300, 22 HR's, 94 RBI's)
    4. Allan Craig, DH (.315, 13 HR's, 97 RBI's)
    5. Yadier Molina, C (.319, 12 HR's, 80 RBI's)
    6. David Freese, 3B (..262, 9 HR's, 60 RBI's)
    7. Matt Adams, 1B (.284, 17 HR's, 51 RBI's)
    8. Shane Robinson, CF (.250, 2 HR's, 16 RBI's)
    9. Pete Kozma, SS (.217, 1 HR, 35 RBI's)

    The starting pitcher is Adam Wainwright (19-9; ERA of 2.94)

  8. Here are the Red Sox:

    1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (.298, 9 HR's, 53 RBI's)
    2. Shane Victorino, RF (.294, 15 HR's, 61 RBI's)
    3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (.301, 9 HR's, 84 RBI's)
    4. David Ortiz, DH (.309, 30 HR's, 103 RBI's)
    5. Mike Napoli, 1B (.259, 23 HR's, 92 RBI's)
    6. Jonny Gomes, LF (.247, 13 HR's, 52 RBI's)
    7. Xander Bogaerts, 3B (.250, 1 HR, 5 RBI's)
    8. Stephen Drew, SS (.253, 13 HR's, 67 RBI's)
    9. David Ross, C (.216, 4 HR's, 10 RBI's)

    The starting pitcher is Jon Lester (15-8, ERA of 3.75)

  9. Using SABRmetrics, the player with the most Wins Above Replacement for the Red Sox is Dustin Pedroia (6.5). For the Cardinals, the highest WAR belongs to Matt Carpenter (6.6). So we will pay special attention to the two second basemen.

  10. In the top of the 1st, the Cardinals get a two-out single from Matt Holliday, but that's it. After half an inning, the Cardinals 0, the Red Sox coming up.

  11. In the bottom of the first, the Cardinals are immediately in trouble. Ellsbury walks, Pedroia singles him to second. Ortiz hits what appears to be a double-play ball, but Kozma drops the throw from second and everyone is safe. So the bases are loaded, there is one out, and Mike Napoli is coming to the plate.

  12. Two years ago, Mike Napoli (then playing for Texas) tormented the Cardinals in the World Series -- he had a slugging average of .700. But the Cardinals won the World Series anyway. Now Napoli gleefully takes his revenge, whacking a double to left center that clears the bases and puts Boston up 3-0.

  13. Wainwright gets out of the inning, but he's already thrown 31 pitches. Fangraphs gives Boston a 77.8 percent chance of victory. That was a dreadful start for St. Louis.

  14. The Cardinals, looking wholly cowed, go down 1-2-3 in the 2d.

  15. Oh, my goodness. Stephen Drew leads off the second with an easy pop up that should have been caught by Wainwright -- but there was a horrific miscommunication between the two, and the ball dropped between them. So Drew is on first with no one out.

    The Cardinals looked so focused and determined in their last two games against Pittsburgh and the six games against L.A., and they look absolutely hapless here. Those of us who follow the National League never see this type of performance from the Cardinals.

  16. Of course, in the National League, Wainwright is a good pitcher. He has been terrible tonight. Ross, the number-9 batter, lifts a single into center, Drew advances to second with nobody out. The top of the Boston order is coming up, and they have a chance to bury the Cardinals right here.

  17. Victorino hits a one-out grounder to Kozma, which of course he drops, and the bases are loaded again. Honestly, at this point I no longer expect the Cardinals to field anything cleanly. They look like how the Buffalo Bills used to look in the Super Bowl.

  18. I'm really glad that the Cardinals are getting the chance to show Yasiel Puig how the game is supposed to be played.

  19. Pedroia singles into left to make the score 4-0. On ESPN Radio, Hershiser suggests pulling Wainwright right now, and then bringing him back to pitch Game Three. This strikes me as a very good idea, because this game is lost.

    1. I'll bet Orel Hershiser's house is neat as a pin, and I'll bet he's never scrambling on the 31st of his renewal month to re-up his driver's license.

    2. The Cardinals did not take Hershiser's advice, so now they can only use Wainwright one more time in the Series.

  20. Ortiz almost hits a grand slam, but Beltran makes the first good play by any Cardinal tonight, catching the ball at the wall. Another run scores anyway. 5-0.

  21. The Red Sox have five hits. The Cardinals have three errors.

  22. The inning finally ends with a ground out from Napoli to Wainwright.

    After 2:

    Boston 5, St. Louis 0

    The BoSox have a 90.6 percent chance of winning, and I won't be posting any more comments unless that percentage goes down significantly.

  23. Here's one more comment: Beltran hurt himself when he banged into the wall catching Ortiz's long fly. He's now out for the game, replaced by John Jay. What a disaster.

  24. In the top of the 4th, the Cardinals are trying to rally. A walk to Jay, and singles by Craig and Molina, have loaded the bases with one out. David Freese comes to the plate.

  25. But Freese hits into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. This is not going to be St. Louis's night.