This one could be a Classic
The World Series often is referred to as the Fall Classic.
Yet, other than the fact it’s the World Series, it often isn’t all that classic.
This one has all the makings of a seven-game, down-to-the wire battle between two franchises with great fan bases and rich traditions.
While it’s disappointing at least one of our three local teams didn’t capture a pennant, we’re still going to be treated to a high-profile event that will live up to -or even exceed -all the hype.
I realized that on Sunday, when one of my friends unexpectedly hit me with the question, “Who’s going to win the World Series?”
Me, the guy who always has a pick on everything from Sun Belt Conference games to U.S. Senate races, was forced to blurt out, “I don’t know.”
I don’t know because this is one of the most even matchups ever to grace the, er, Fall Classic.
It’s easy to make a case for either team.
Start with St. Louis, which may well have the best management team in all of baseball. When the Cardinals got rid of Albert Pujols, arguably the best player in the game, they roundly were criticized for what many believed was a bone-headed move that made the Los Angeles Angels the best team in baseball (how did that work out)?
The Cardinals -perhaps more than any other organization -have lived by the philosophy that pitching is indeed 90 percent of baseball. It seemed like every year, manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan -who teamed for World Series titles in 2006 and 2011 -would put together a solid pitching staff. Manager Mike Matheny, who took over in 2012, knew better than to mess with success, and has continued that tradition.
They may not be household names outside of St. Louis, but Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Mike Wacha and Shelby Miller give Matheny plenty of options. Plus, catcher Yadier Molina is a veteran who superbly handles this staff. The Cardinals don’t have a home run hitter a la Pujols but the likes of Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday give St.Louis enough pop to stay in any game.
Speaking of pop, that’s the first thing on your mind regarding the Boston Red Sox. Big Papi. Mike Napoli. Home run hitters in a home run park. A team tailor made for its home. A quirky home that isn’t named for some business. It’s as traditional as baseball gets.
This is a well-rounded team with Dustin Pedroia, who reminds me of Pete Rose with his hustling style, and Koji Uehara, a lights-out closer that virtually assures the opponent won’t score in the ninth inning.
Given all that Boston has been through, it’s likely the Red Sox will be the sentimental favorite.
Baseball, like every other sport, has its problems. But this is its one time to shine in the annual spotlight. Let’s hope it’s a classic.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org