Throughout the six games of the ALCS, I had a text conversation going with my friend Scott. I’m a Tigers fan. He’s a Red Sox fan. We’re both adults so the texts were civil. There wasn’t any taunting. If anything there was a mutual respect for the tight, well-played series as we toasted quality baseball while mourning our rapidly declining stomach linings.
Eventually, the discussion turned toward one of (the many) FOX segments on the Red Sox players’ beards. (Did you know the Boston players grew Civil War-worthy beards this season?) As you’d expect, as a Red Sox fan, he loved the beards, the team and all the camaraderie associated around the facial hair. Meanwhile any talk about the Boston beards left me cold and indifferent, which we concluded was perfectly normal. Why would a non-Boston fan find the beards charming?
If you’re on the Internet, you’ve no doubt read plenty of stuff about this Series. Outside of the typical narrative stuff — the beards, the Cardinals’ farm system — or the statistical breakdowns, a lot of the talk on this series has focused on how much everyone outside their respective fanbases aren’t very fond of the Sox and Cards.
Casual fans aren’t exactly going to gravitate toward a pair of teams who’ve won four of the last 10 World Series. Had we somehow wound up with a Pirates/Athletics series the bandwagon would’ve filled up quickly, but by the same token how many of those people would actually tune in and watch the games?
Yet here we are, with casual fans either ignoring the series entirely, forced to pick between the lesser of two evils or mocking both sets of “long suffering” fan bases. This isn’t quite on the level of having the Yankees in the World Series, where you’re compelled to root hard against a clear villain, although the Sox are getting close. The Cards, meanwhile, aren’t beloved very much either.
To some degree, the apathy coupled with animosity for this series is surprising, if not expected in this day-and-age. If we had such a marquee matchup in our other team sports, think an NBA Finals with the Lakers against the Heat or a Super Bowl with the Steelers playing the Giants. Non-partisans wouldn’t exactly be driven to root for one side or the other, yet you’d have a strong opinion rather then the “meh” this World Series seems to be generating outside its respective cities.
Anyways here are a couple things from the Series which have my interest:
- Michael Wacha. Can the Cards 22-year-old rookie, with a 0.57 WHIP and 0.43 ERA in the postseason keep it up vs. the Sox in Fenway?
- Will a Red Sox batter swing at a first pitch of his at bat, even if the pitch isn’t right down the middle?
- The fact the two World Series participants will have guys with beer guts — Matt Adams and Mike Napoli — playing first base.
- The fact this will be the last time we hear Tim McCarver on a national stage.
Considering this is the first World Series since 1999 where the teams with the best record in each square off, it should be a good one regardless of the storylines.
We know all about the 2004 World Series, when the Sox swept the Cardinals. Here are clips from the other two times the clubs have met in October, both won by the Cardinals: