By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
This N’ That With Tony Mack: World Series Preview
NEW HAVEN — A postseason that’s been off the hook now reaches its climax on Saturday at Fenway Park. Baseball’s newest comeback kids, the Boston Red Sox meet the team with the game’s best record, the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Here’s how they matchup.
Terry Francona has already said that DH David Ortiz will be playing first when the series shifts to St. Loo. At Fenway, it will be Kevin Millar with Doug Mientkiewicz in for defense. However, the Cards counter with one of their three MVP candidates, Albert Pujols. Arguably the game’s most versatile player, Pujols clearly gives the Cards the edge in this matchup.
Tony Womack and Mark Bellhorn are both solid defensively and they’ve had big hits during the postseason past and present. Despite playing with some aches and pains, I favor Womack in this matchup because of his leadoff capability and his speed.
Edgar Renteria has been here before (remember his Series-winning hit for the Marlins in ’97) and has been a very underrated all-around shortstop. Orlando Cabrera’s glove has given Boston the defensive stability they lacked early in the season. He’s also been wielding a big bat as well.
Bill Mueller battled injuries early in the year, but has been able to bounce back for the Red Sox. Despite a hitless (0-for-12) NLDS against the Dodgers, Scott Rolen’s bat came alive during the NLCS. The MVP candidate’s homer in Game 7 put the Cards in the World Series. Both are excellent defensive players, but I give the nod to Rolen.
This is where the arguments start. Which is better: Ramirez, Damon, and Nixon or Sanders, Edmonds, and Walker? If you go strickly with the bats, it’s pretty even. As for defense, Edmonds and Walker have more Gold Gloves combined than the entire Red Sox outfield. There in lies the difference in this matchup.
Jason Varitek and Mike Matheny are very similar catchers. Both are great handlers of pitchers and excellent defensively. It tend to give the nod to Varitek only because of having to dealing with the large egos (i.e. Schilling, Pedro, etc.) in the Boston pitching staff.
Edge: Red Sox.
While the Cardinals’ starters are solid, I think this is a clear edge for the Red Sox. Not because of Curt Schilling. St. Louis has seen him before, so they won’t be intimidated by him. The wild card in this could be Game One starter Tim Wakefield and his dancing knuckler. Also, now that Pedro has left “his daddies” place, he should be a key factor in this series.
Edge: Red Sox.
Given the uncertainty of Steve Kline’s availability, the St. Louis pen enters this series at a slight disadvantage. You really could have made a case for Keith Foulke being named the ALCS MVP after his performance against the Yankees. Now the Boston relievers have something that they didn’t have going for them vs the Yanks — lots, and lots of rest.
Edge: Red Sox.
Will Tony LaRussa over-manage his way out of a title? There’s always a possibility of that. Will there be a lingering hangover for Boston now that they’ve finally beaten the hated Yankees? For those who think the curse is dead, think again. It’s only done if the Red Sox can finish the entire deal.
They went seven games in 1946 and 1967, both times ending with the Cardinals taking home the ring. Who am I to go against history. Sorry, Beantown. You’ll still have to hear 1918 again and again.
Pick: Cards in 7.