Wednesday, October 19, 2011
2011 World Series Preview
Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox are in the World Series, but contrary to popular belief there still will be a Fall Classic played this year and it starts tonight. Most of you probably don't care unless you have money involved but there will be a few really good baseball players on display.
As far as the National League representative, the Cardinals are having a UCONN type run this season. 10.5 games out in late August, they were the benefactors of that other epic collapse that nobody really talked about. The old cliche about just get in and take it one game at a time has been applicable here, as LaRussa and his boys have found themselves with home field advantage in the World Series (ironically thanks in large part to the guy they just beat Prince Fielder's domination of the All Star game). So how do the two squads you didn't really pay any attention to all year stack up against each other?
Pitching- Both teams have pretty decent starting pitching despite the fact that the Cardinals bullpen actually worked more innings than their starters in the NLCS. LaRussa is well known for utilizing as many statistics as possible and (some would say) overmanaging, so expect more of the parade of relief pitchers this series. St. Louis also employs the first ever female pitcher in Major League Baseball history, a fire ball slinging southpaw by the name of Whitney Starkington. Though little used, she's sure to dominate the pre game coverage and the ESPN human interest stories. Although St. Louis lost Adam Wainwright early in the season and Chris Carpenter got off to a snail-slow start, the starters picked it up in September and as previously mentioned, that bullpen was lights out. The Rangers aren't as imposing without last year's ace Cliff Lee on the mound but they still have a solid rotation. Also, the late season addition of Cuban dissident and midget Julio Mariposa added some grit to their already tough bullpen. Free spirited C.J. Wilson suffered a blister on his throwing hand last series but he's expect to play which is a plus for Texas.
Offense- Both Texas and St. Louis have ridiculously potent offenses so expect lit up scoreboards and the over to be in play every game. Most of the spotlight will be on best player in the game and one guy who Hater J actually doesn't hate: Phat Albert Pujols aka El Hombre. Pujols plays a slick first base but he's been absolutely tearing it up along with breakout star and ALCS MPV David Frees. Add Matt Holliday at DH and the Cardinals offense is looking very formidable. Rounding out the lineup is only the second Cambodian player in MLB history, Kat Tran a switch hitting chemistry major and poet laureate from Stanford. Tran burst on the scene in July and hasn't looked back since sparking Tran Fever in St. Louis. Texas's offense is no slouch though, as the Tigers learned last week. Nelson Cruz is having a 2004 Beltranesque playoffs and he's surrounded by big bats in Josh Hamilton and SS Elvis Andrus, forming one of the scarier lineups in baseball today. Someone who's been struggling lately is Johnny "Greasy J" Cifaretto, the self proclaimed "One armed guido" who despite having only one arm and being a guido has managed to hit only .075 this postseason. Ron Washington's insistence on starting Cifaretto has led to some rumors of gambling debts or other shady going ons behind the scenes. Catcher Mike Napoli has provided a lift with his big bat and sturdy defense behind the plate. Both offenses should be ready to slug it out and it will certainly be fun to watch.
Advantage: Cardinals (by a hair)
My pick: Cardinals in 6.