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Sports Commentary 10/23/13

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(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Sport)

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Sport)

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Scott makes his pick for the World Series….


THE HISTORY OF THE THING

The Yankees and Dodgers, specifically the Brooklyn Dodgers, now that was a World Series rivalry steeped in history, probably, from an historical standpoint, the best rivalry ever.  But, in terms of history, the Fall Classic that opens tonight in Boston is easily a close second.

This will be the fourth World Series meeting between the Red Sox and Cardinals and there were events in each of the previous three that remain staples of baseball lore.  The Cardinals seventh game win in 1946 has been clouded a bit, most often related with the game ending on Enos Slaughter’s “Mad Dash”.  In reality, while Slaughter’s run was the winner, it came in the bottom of the eighth inning, after a two run double by Dom DiMaggio in the top of the eighth had tied the game at three.  Slaughter took off from first on a single to left center and kept running.  Johnny Pesky took the throw from the outfield and held the ball while Slaughter rounded third.  To say Pesky held the ball, as the story is most commonly related, is a disservice to the Sox shortstop.  He took the throw with his back to the infield no one gave him a ‘cut’ call or even let him know Slaughter was still running.

The Sox wouldn’t get back to the Series for 21 years and the 1967 encounter with the Cardinals was another classic, going seven games as Carl Yastrzemski extended the “Year of the Yaz” into the, then, only post season game, batting .400 in the Series with three home runs.  In game seven, with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson bearing down on the, then, standard three days rest, the Cards won 7-2.  It was still a game in the sixth when, dealing on just two days rest, Jim Lonborg’s weary arm finally gave out and Julian Javier, who had the only hit off Lonnie in game two, hit a three run homer to seal it.  “The series that nobody lost”, one sportswriter called it, the final chapter of the Impossible Dream season for the 100-1 Sox.

The 2004 Series stands as another historic moment in Red Sox, and baseball, history, the end of “The Curse of the Bambino”.

That was then, this is now.  Who knows how much of a factor the home field will be, but, if needed, the Sox will have the bats of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, two of their most important producers all season, in the lineup at the same time for every game at Fenway Park.  Who knows how being told he’s out of the lineup for the games in St. Louis will set with Napoli, without whom the Sox may very well not be here?

Everyone gives the Sox an edge in offense, but the Cardinals were only behind the Sox and Tigers in total offense in the majors this season, and they did it with the watered down National League lineup.  The Sox pitching, led by Jon Lester, has been formidable but, with the emergence of some brilliant young lions in the absence of Chris Carpenter, rookie sensation John Wacha, super soph Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn, to compliment Adam Wainright, while Jake Peavy is the “four deep” guy for the Red Sox, I’ll give the rotation to the Cards.  The Sox have the closer with Koji Uehara.  The Sox have the better position by position defense.  It’s won them at least as many games as their offense, or at least kept them in at least as many.

John Farrell has been the perfect manager for this Red Sox team but Mike Matheny may actually be the better day to day tactician.  Slight edge to the Cardinals there.

History being what it is, this is now.  Now, I’m going with the Red Sox in seven, and another one for the history books.

With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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