Sunday, October 24, 2004
I’m thrilled to see two teams with as much history as the Cardinals and Red Sox fighting it out: seeing teams like the Marlins and D-backs win the series detracts from the game’s history somehow to me. Maybe it is my background as a history guy coming out, but baseball’s history, its link to America’s past, is its best asset. Seeing teams as ancient as the Cards and Red Sox in it is good to me. It makes the game better.
Last year’s Yankees-Marlins clash bored me to no end: was Steinbrenner going to buy the Yanks 27th world championship? Or were the no-name, no-history Fish going to win their second? (I think the '97 Series was the dullest in memory.) There was little-to-no passion from the fans in South Florida, and the Bronx faithful seemed bored, more interested getting home in time to watch Survivor.
Well, there’s passion galore in ’04. There’s history. There are teams that actually have recognizable players: Rolen, Ortiz, Pedro, Schill, etc. (Quick, name three Marlins. Let me guess: you can’t.) This is a great World Series matchup. Baseball couldn't have asked for a better one.
-And Game 1 was pretty great too. Lots of runs, lots of pathos. If the rest of the series is anything like this then we’ve got a real treat: it will be close, hard-fought and very, very exciting to watch.
-Commentary from observers that the Red Sox had the more balanced attack was born out last night: of the Red Sox nine starting position players, eight had hits. Larry Walker, in contrast, had four of St. Louis’s 11 hits. He also had three of their five extra-base hits. The Red Sox depth is emerging as their decisive advantage.
The Big Four were 5 for 17, with three runs and two RBIs. While Larry Walker had a monster evening (4 for 5), Pujols, Edmonds and Rolen had scant success.
-What was the deal with LaRussa having Tony Womack sac bunt in the second? Trailing 4-0, runners on first and second with an out, and you play for a run? That is the problem I have with the Cardinals strategy: they steal bases with their power hitters up and they bunt the runners over when they are on the verge of a big inning. National League small ball won’t win, especially in an American League park.
Everyone gives LaRussa the edge in managerial skills, but I wonder if that it true.
-I wonder what effect facing Wakefield will have on the Cardinals hitters. Knuckle-ball pitchers are often difficult for hitters to recover from because they lose their focus later on: I remember reading in George Will’s Men at Work that LaRussa didn’t bat Mark McGwire against knuckle-ball pitchers when they were with the A’s because it would take days or even a few weeks to get him back in the groove.
-David Ortiz is making a run at Series MVP with his four RBIs in game one.
-Game two: Morris v. Schilling. If Schilling’s ankle holds up, advantage Red Sox. The fans in Boston will be pulling hard for him, so he should be able to grit it out and stay in the game.
2-0 going into St. Louis?