So. Here we are again, facing off with Boston for the World Series title, just like in 2004.
Or is it? As much as people are clamoring to call this a re-match, in all reality there too much about it that’s a re-match. The fact is, only one active player on each side was even around for that World Series (David Ortiz for the Red Sox, Yadier Molina for the Cardinals; while you could technically include Chris Carpenter, he also didn’t pitch in the post-season at all that year). Even the coaching staff is largely different.
I get the distinct impression many people will be picking the Red Sox to win it all, and to be honest, they’re a justifiable choice. They were an offensive juggernaut, and the fact that they have home field advantage is going to help them immensely if it goes six or seven games.
Having said that, let’s not count our boys out that quickly. Too many people have made that mistake already. I’m a staunch believer in the Cardinals, so I’m presenting a list for you (yes, you!) to use in your arguments against those who favor the Bostonians as to why this could be a different go-around. So the next time ESPN or some online know-it-all tries to use some crazy thing called stats against the Cardinals, you can throw it right back in their face.
It’s not 2004.
First of all, the obvious. For those in Boston saying it’ll be just like then, I think this series is going to be a lot closer than nine years ago.
The 2004 Boston Red put together the most incredible run in post-season history. Down 3-0 in the ALCS, they managed to win four in a row, the only MLB team in history to do so. They then swept a favored St. Louis team, who won 105 games and played the best post-season series nobody outside of St. Louis or Houston saw.
Boston was also a much stronger offensive team back then, though. They scored an incredible 949 runs, thanks in no small part to their incredible 3-4 combination, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. They also had Mark Bellhorn, Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, and Johnny Damon, all of whom hit 17 or more home runs and drove in at least 73 runs. On the mound, they had two aces: Curt Schilling, one of the greatest post-season pitchers in history; and Pedro Martinez, who was just coming off an incredible six-year stretch that was as dominant as any in baesball history. Boston came into the series on an incredible high after destroying their arch-rivals, the Yankees, and also had two full days of rest.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, did win 105 games that year, but in a drastically different fashion. They were truly a stars-and-scrubs team. Sure, they boasted the MV3 of Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen, but other than Edgar Renteria (who had a good season, but not nearly as good as his 2003), Larry Walker (a late-season addition), and Reggie Sanders, they didn’t have too much help otherwise (although Jon Mabry did do a solid job as a utilityman).
The pitching during the regular season was pretty good, but they lost their ace, Chris Carpenter, at the end of the season. Matt Morris’ ERA had jumped nearly a full point from the previous season. Jason Marquis had only pitched in two post-season games before that season, and Jeff Suppan had never even seen the post-season before 2004.
This time, though, the match-up appears to be much more even.
I’ll get into this year’s team shortly, but one final point about the comparison. The Cardinals wrapped up the NLCS two nights before the World Series was to begin, meaning they had short time to celebrate, fly to Boston, and get ready. Boston, who clinched on October 20, had two full days to prep and had a much shorter trip back home to Boston from New York. This time, the Cardinals managed to clinch on Friday, giving them four full days off before they head to Boston, giving Matheny ample time to set his rotation.