Archive for the ‘Postseason’ Category

MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

The World Series is over and the Boston Red Sox are your deserving champions. Maybe deserved isn’t the right word. By having the best record, they weren’t entitled to go all the way and claim the title. The Red Sox earned it. They earned the title of best team in baseball this year, from April to October.

Before the hot stove season kicks off and hot contract takes fill our lives, a few lingering thoughts about the just concluded World Series and its final game.

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MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

They might not be your World Series champions but the Boston Red Sox will raise another banner at Fenway Park either way. The Red Sox dramatic turnaround from very good team to very bad team and back to very good team is complete as Boston beats St. Louis 6-1 to clinch the 2013 World Series, four games to two.

The Red Sox built a balanced club around an pre-existing core of all stars. They negotiated more than their fair share of injuries and turmoil to 97 wins and an AL East division title. Once into the playoffs, they went right through the teeth of two of the better rotations in baseball, besting the Tampa Bay Rays and then blasting through the tough Detroit Tigers rotation full of studs.

And now they’re the World Series champions, having defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. A testament to smart signings, to organizational depth and total buy-in from the front office all the way down to the players on the field. They put all these organizational pillars into play during the World Series, outpitching the St. Louis Cardinals, outhitting them and, for good measure, outmanaging them, too.

It all adds up to one thing – the Boston Red Sox, your 2013 World Series champions. Congratulations!

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MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

If the St. Louis Cardinals want to win the World Series this year, they must win two more games. They cannot afford to lose one and must tackle this challenge on the road at Fenway Park.

We can safely assume the Cardinals do want to win the World Series because they’re currently competing in the World Series. They want to win it very much and will do whatever they can to ensure victory each of the next two evenings.

This presents a timeless baseball paradox – there is only so much a team can do to “amp” up their performance. The Cardinals need to win but they still must bat in order, field the ball only when it is hit to them, and face the Boston hitters as they come. It is a practice in controlled, or at least managed, energy.

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Boston Red Sox's Ortiz greets crowd from dugout after hitting two-run home-run against Detroit Tigers during MLB American League Baseball game in Boston

David Ortiz is one of the most recognizable baseball players in the world. If we brought out the reliable Nana Index, I hazard a guess that David Ortiz would do as well as anybody. More people know who David Ortiz is than could pick Miguel Cabrera out of a lineup and is at least double the amount of people who can claim to have heard to words “Mike” and “Trout” in the same sentence.

This doesn’t mean David Ortiz is the best baseball player. He is just one of the most recognizable. The most iconic, if we dare head in that direction. His lovable bear persona play into this but, more than anything, David Ortiz seems to play the best when the most people are watching.

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MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals managed four hits against Jon Lester tonight. Koji Uehara pitched tonight so we know the Cardinals four hits and zero walks total. They came to the plate a grand total of 30 times. Rearrange that order any way you like, that isn’t going to get it done.

Despite what the pregame shows and twitter moaners say, the order in which this collection of batters is not the issue. The rotting remains of Allen Craig are an issue. That Craig’s a better option than Matt Adams is an issue. The disappearance of leadoff man and regular season line drive machine Matt Carpenter is an issue. That there is no way to sufficiently shuffle the bottom of their order is a very real issue.

Carlos Beltran shifted to the cleanup spot tonight as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny looked for a spark. Grasping at straws, it also meant Carlos Beltran watched the final out of the game from an agonizing distance, rather than settling matters with his prodigious bat.

Given how good Koji Uehara is and how bad the Cardinals offense looks, does it really matter in the end? You can’t hit a game-winning home run down two runs without anybody on base. These issues have the Cardinals down three games to two in the World Series, needing to win twice at Fenway Park if they want to keep their title hopes alive, after they fell 3-1 to Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox.

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MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at St. Louis Cardinals

There is nothing like the short series concept of momentum. After each game, you wonder how the winning team could possibly lose a single game. The losers? Doomed. From game to game, the pendulum feels like it swings from one extreme to another. The Cardinals kick the ball around as Boston’s pitching shuts down the offense? Plan the duckboat parade!

The Cardinals mound youth is served in Game Two? The Red Sox are in trouble! The Cardinals dynasty is well under way! The obstruction call? The Red Sox are doomed! Jonny Gomes is awful and doesn’t below in this game! Wait, I can’t even tell any more.

Of course, that is not the case. The World Series is as much in doubt now as it was before the first pitch of Game One. Two games apiece with the Red Sox once again holding home field advantage. The aces and kitchen sinks due to throw again as rotations turn over and the stakes rise. It’s a good time to be a baseball fan, in other words.

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MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at St. Louis Cardinals

Nothing makes me feel dumber than typing the following sentence – the Boston Red Sox won Game Four the World Series because of guts. They aren’t in the World Series because of guts or intangibles or magic potions but they certainly look like a team on level footing because of guts. John Farrell, the erudite manager who combs through myriad reports and confidential cables from his front office brain trust, is making decisions that can only by his guts. His feel. Educated guesses informed by a watchful eye and a hopeful heart.

When half the baseball consuming public was ready to pull the plug on Clay Buchholz when his turn in the batting order was due up in the third inning, Farrell stuck with him. Farrell ended up ringing four excellent innings out of the stringy hair of his weary starter. His velocity obviously lacking, Buchholz worked around his lessened zip and pitched great, allowing three hits and three walks. “Great” might be strong but “good enough” fits nicely, given the situation. Dare we say…gutsy?

Then Farrell leaned on Felix Doubront for nearly three innings. Eight invaluable outs after Doubront threw two equally strong innings the day before. Farrell might not have the lefty again until Game Seven but going down three games to one is simple not an option.

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