Here we are again nation, the eve of yet another Fall Classic – and what a classic Classic it will be.
In a postseason that has seen ‘Mickey Mouse’ antics, an American League champ who started from the bottom, now they’re here (pardon the Drake reference) and an aging veteran in Beltran, who is looking to capitalize on his first World Series appearance before his star fades into the darkness.
Obviously this Series is a 2004 rematch- even your Aunt Estelle knows that much since it’s been drilled into our heads by MLB Network, ESPN, and whatever Senility Center Dick Stockton is a resident at…Nevertheless, this isn’t just a rematch of 2004. These teams have met in October four times before. The uniforms donned will be the same, but the storyline is very different. Two storied franchises and fan bases that have been through their ups and downs, many of which were witnessed by the other from the visitor’s dugout. Slaughter’s Mad Dash (or as Bostonians would see it, Johnny Pesky’s delayed relay throw) in 1946, Gibson’s Game 7 in 1967 (10 K’s, hit a HR, and it was his 3rd complete game of the Series!) and of course the Breaking of the Curse in 2004. All hold a prominent spot in postseason history for one reason or another, and all of them can still feel like a swift kick to the groin for the fans on the losing end of those outcomes.
2013’s Fall Classic will be the 5th installation of this old school rivalry. It has almost been ten years since I stood in the crowd at Busch Stadium II watching those Red Sox celebrate their first World Series since sliced bread in 2004 and the scars are still visible. Not necessarily in the clubhouse , but rather in the heart of a city and of a nation- Cardinal Nation. (If Jimmy Fallon or Drew Barrymore attempt to enter the St. Louis city limits in the next week, they are, by police order, to be detained and held without bail until Nov 1.)
(Don’t worry Cubs, you still hold the spot in this Cardinals fan’s heart reserved for # loser.)
Having said that, this is not the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals or Boston Red Sox. What is done, is done. Does it sting to re-watch Suppan forget how to run the bases? Is it funny to watch Manny get his spike caught in the turf under the lights of Fenway and tumble forward, full well knowing the onslaught that will unfold the rest of the Series? What about Rolen and Edmonds’ combined 1 for 30 at the plate?
Those are questions for you to answer. If you are a Cardinals fan, like me, then yes, they are bitter to relive. As a city who lives and dies by our baseball team, we want redemption. Will a World Series victory over these 2013 Red Sox make up for our embarrassing showing in ’04? No- it won’t.
What it will do is give solace to a fan base that has come to know a level of success that, in recent weeks, has began to draw the merciless attacks of the national media as the Yankees did in the 90’s. A level of success that was never more apparent than in the 2004 Cardinals, yet fell flat in the Series.
Does it surprise me that Cardinals fans were outraged by the Deadspin article that was released recently bashing the Cardinals, St. Louis and our fans? No.
Then again, nothing does since watching Michael Wacha, a rookie, almost throw several no hitters and then decide he wants to barrel through the playoffs and win the NLCS MVP…in less than a season.
Whether or not you have a horse in this race is a moot point. What this World Series will have that many do not is something that can only be taught. Class. Am I saying that there are teams out there that tend to be classless and irreverent to the game? Absolutely.
There will be none of that in this Series. No showboating. No mouthing off. No acts of childishness. Both of these teams know how they are expected to act on and off the field. Much to those outside of St. Louis or Boston’s surprise, it isn’t just their managers that command that discipline and respect from them. It is their fans; to those Red Sox and Cardinals greats who came before them. These teams are students of the game. They play a hard nine, and they do it the right way. This Series will be the closest thing that someone my age (25) will get to watching Stan square off against Ted in the ‘glory days’ of baseball. Two evenly matched teams doing battle for one last series before Mother Nature tightens her frigid stranglehold on the country. As fall arrives, the rest of the country embraces for the touch of her long frozen fingers, but in downtown St. Louis and off of Yawkey Way in Boston, the winter winds still carry the tinged, warm remnants of summer. The hope of another Championship. For these two teams, being League Champion is only second best.
This World Series is the time for Boston and St. Louis to show the rest of the country what baseball in October is all about. It is not about the endorsements or the bonuses- it is a tale of two cities and their peoples. For the next week or so, life along the banks of the Mississippi and the docks of Boston Harbor will come to a stand still. Work and school will be skipped without consequence, as is customary every Opening Day and every Postseason for a Cards or Sox fan.
Regardless of what the outcome, (obviously I want the Cards to sweep.) what I am most excited about is watching two of the most prestigious and storied franchises take to the field Wednesday night at Fenway. As both teams are announced and take to their respective baseline for the national anthem, the country will get to see firsthand what a World Series is supposed to look like. The storylines are set. #BostonStrong, Beltran’s quest for a title, and two young managers looking to prove themselves to name a few. When the dust settles and our grandkids read about the 2013 World Series, all that they will see is another chapter in this old school rivalry.
2 Classic Teams. 2 Classic Uniforms. 2 Classic Fanbases.
1 classic Classic.