They are the best that baseball has to offer. They won the most games in their respective leagues. Pitching, key hitting, and defense got them to where they are today. The Boston Red Sox have scored the most runs in the majors. The St. Louis Cardinals are clutch, with the best batting average when a runner has gotten as far as second base. So now that these two teams have collided for baseball's championship, what is everyone talking about? Errors and crazy plays. And we love it.
Game one was a blowout. Boston won it 8-1 and Mike Napoli hit a three-run blast. The Cardinals, however, made three errors in the game, and one in the first inning became Series memorable moment number one. With Dustin Pedroia at first, David Ortiz hit a ground ball to second base that Matt Carpenter fielded, flipped to shortstop Pete Kozma at the bag, who dropped the ball. Second base umpire Dana DeMuth originally called Pedroia out, claiming that Kozma caught the ball, then dropped it when transferring to the bare hand. The umpires huddled, and reversed the call. You didn't things would get any stranger, but strangers things happened, and kept happening.
Game two was a pitcher's duel. Veteran John Lackey on the hill for the Sox, against rookie phenom Michael Wacha for the Birds. The Cards had a 1-0 lead until David Ortiz homered in the sixth, and a St. Louis error led to another run and put Boston up 2-1. The memorable play in this one was not the game-ender, but it felt like it. The Cardinals scored three times in the seventh. With the bases loaded, Matt Carpenter flied out to left. Pete Kozma tagged at third, and scored when Jonny Gomes' throw to the plate was off line. For some reason, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia acted like a first baseman, and kept one foot on the plate as the throw sailed by him. Pitcher Craig Breslow backed up the play, but then threw wild to third, allowing Jon Jay to score, and Daniel Descalso to move to third. Descalso would score on the next pitch—a single to right by Carlos Beltran. Two crazy games at Fenway Park with the series tied 1-1, but that was nothing compared to what happened when the series moved to Missouri.
Game three at Busch Stadium. The Clydesdales were there to see another battle. It was 2-2 at the seventh-inning stretch. The Cardinals scored twice to take a 4-2 lead, only to see the Red Sox tie it in the top of the eighth. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, and appearing that the game may head to extra innings, Yadier Molina singles. Closer Koji Uehara is brought in to face pinch-hitter Allen Craig, who doubles, putting runners at second and third. Few will be able to recall those details, but many will remember what happened next. Jon Jay hit a ground ball to second. Dustin Pedroia comes home, and they get Molina at the plate. Catcher Saltalamacchia fires down to third to try to get Craig, but throws it away. Craig gets tangled up with third baseman Will Middlebrooks, obstruction is called (an error on Middlebrooks), Craig is awarded home plate, and St. Louis wins it 5-4.
This brings us to game four. A relatively calm game by this year's World Series standards. The Cardinals got off to an early 1-0 lead. Boston ties it in the fifth but takes the lead in the sixth on a three-run homer by (The Pride of Petaluma) Jonny Gomes. A Redbird run in the seventh makes it 4-2, which was the final score, but not without some ninth-inning drama. Uehara is back on to close it out, and has been lights out all year, but he gives up a one-out single to a hobbled Craig. Rookie Kolten Wong comes in as a pinch-runner, and after a Carpenter popup, is picked off first base to end the game. Red Sox win. Series tied 2-2.
By the time you read this, you'll know what happened in game five. I don't. I taped it. Nothing staranger could happen tonight, could it? Doubtful, but people said that way back after game one.
Dodgers postscript: If you get blown out 9-0 in your final playoff game, it must be the fault of the bench coach. The Dodgers fired Trey Hillman this week, while manager Don Mattingly, after two days to reflect on the six-game loss to the Cardinals, whined that he wasn't respected by Dodger ownership and given a new contract. This from a man who is lucky to have a job in the first place, and almost lost it earlier in the season...I forgot to mention this last week, but it's still relevant. With Game Six well decided late, Mattingly sent up Michael Young to bat for the pitcher. A classier move would have been Tim Federowicz. The backup catcher did not get one plate appearance in the post-season.
The cryin' Hawaiian: I never root for anyone to get hurt during a game, but there had to be some sort of poetic justice when Shane Victorino got hit by a pitch in Game Four and it actually smarted a bit. Since giving up switch-hitting, Victorino has been crowding the plate, and has had a pitch either just brush his jersey or glance off an elbow pad numerous times, and being awarded first base. Victorino did not play Sunday, and was not in the starting lineup tonight, but it's because of a back issue, not the hit-by-pitch.
Oh say we can sing: Fox has always been notorious for blatant self-promotion, but for some reason, had broken away from its self-serving tradition a little bit when it comes to the national anthem. Usually it's some American Idol or X Factor performer, but this year, there have been big names. They rolled out Mary J. Blige and James Taylor in games one and two (I think Taylor forgot which song he was doing, and started the Star Spangled Banner with “O Beautiful”, then quickly changed), and Colbie Caillat, Rascal Flatts for games three and four in St. Louis. But just when you thought Fox had classed it up, the shamelessness returned this evening when Harry Connick, Jr. sang before game five. Another big name, but they had to mention in his public introduction, that he is the new judge on Idol.
Fair and what?: If you are one of those people who watch the Fox News Channel (first of all, really?), it must have been really weird if you were watching at 4:30 Pacific Time on Saturday. I'm sure Shepard Smith or one of those guys was going on and on about Obamacare, and then all of a sudden, there was a football game on. Fox was showing the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game, but it was running way long, and was moved to FNC for the start of the World Series. Weird, but I guess the newly-created Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 had their own football games on.
Hoop Non-Hysteria: Tomorrow is Opening Night in the NBA and for some reason this year, I couldn't care less. I'll probably watch a little of the Lakers-Clippers game, but if I miss it, it's no big deal. I won't be home in time to see the Heat get their rings, and I'm not crying over that either.
To the 10, to the 5...: I'm broadcasting high school football this year in Grass Valley, and the Nevada Union Miners are 0-8. Friday night's game was amazing, however. They scored 42 points, only to lose at home to Roseville 69-42. It's not often that a team can score that many points and lose by four touchdowns. There were 16 TDs in the game—an average of one every three minutes.