The World Series is the fall classic, and it should be fitting. It’s supposed to pit the best team from the American League against the best from the National League. And it has done exactly that starting in Boston where the Red Sox welcomed the St. Louis Cardinals to Fenway Park for Game 1 of the 2013 World Series.
Not only is this a matchup of the two best teams throughout 2013, but it also represents the fourth time these two have met up for the World Series.
The Cardinals hold the advantage 2-1. After winning in 1946 and 1967, they were understandably beat by 86 years’ worth of demons in 2004. So, yeah, they’ve got some pretty good history, which is always nice.
But let’s just focus on the present fall classic right now because it might be more impressive.
When you take a step back and look at what these teams have accomplished, it’s like staring at twins. Twins that are impossible to tell apart because they are incredibly good at baseball in just about every facet of the game. And they both wear red, so it is like they are trying to get mixed up.
Both teams finished with a 97-65 record in the regular season while surviving a competitive division. Both defeated a young upstart team in the divisional series just before facing a free-agent loaded power team in the Championship Series. Both pennants were captured in six games. Both teams even hit uncharacteristically bad in those LCS games. It’s freaky. A .133 average for Boston, .134 for St. Louis. And both managers are in their first fall classic.
Dear God, they are the same.
And here is their shared checklist for postseason success. Good pitching? Check. Good lineups? Check. Reliable bullpens. Solid defense. Timely, effective hitting from unlikely heroes. Check, check, and see here and here.
Each team is also playing with a distinguished purpose. The Cardinals’ have last year’s meltdown in the NLCS that took them from one win away from the World Series to an early tee time the morning after Game 7 for motivation. This is a team that is looking to cement themselves as baseball’s present dynasty. And quite frankly, they are making a pretty strong case.
The Red Sox got their chip via the franchise’s worst record in over 40 years. A 69-93 humbling in 2012 left them scrambling to rediscover a winning way. Thanks to a well-constructed team over the offseason, the strong direction of manager John Farrell, and beards, they did. When that is combined with the emotional strength of their city, which has defined their play all season, that’s a pretty high wave to ride.
So which team is the favorite? Is it the one with the solid rotation? How about the one with the deep batting order? Oh, I know, it’s the one that has earned its way to the World Series by defeating the best competition thrown at them all season? Oh, that’s right, that’s both of them.
I dare you to pick a favorite in this series. And I double dog dare you to feel confident about that pick.
We have ourselves two teams of equivocal talent. Two teams that have every right and every chance to win the 109th running of the World Series. And you won’t be able to tell them apart until one team checks off the win at the fall classic on their season to-do list and the other can’t.
It’s a series baseball analysts and pundits drool over, and one that forces fans of either team to check Amazon for pacemakers in case of emergency.
It’s just the way the Fall Classic is supposed to be.