Beards Over Birds

It’s time for the World Serious, the Red Sox against the Cardinals. Or, the Beards vs. the Birds.

Since 2004, St. Louis has been in three WS; Boston, two. Each has won it all twice. It marks the fourth time they’ve meet in the WS, Cardinals winning in 1946 (4-2) and 1967 (4-3) and the Red Sox sweeping in 2004.

Each reached the Fall Classic by taking a six-game League Championship Series. Each was the top offensive club in their respective leagues. But there are differences.

St. Louis (average age of 27.4) features home-grown players, something like 17 or 18 of their own. Their farm system produced each of the eight starters, except in RF and LF. Their starting rotation and bullpen are filled with rookies. How deep is their minor league system? They lost Pujols to free agency and filled first base with Craig, who got injured on September 4. Rookie Adams stepped in and hit .326 the rest of the season. Adams, from Philipsburg, PA, and Slippery Rock University, was the 699th player drafter in 2009.

Boston (average age of 30.1) is fresh from a 93-loss season a year ago and retooled via free agency. Very few have come up through the Red Sox system. They are the seventh club to go from last to the World Series. It is similar in roster make-up to the 1993 Phillies who went from last to first and then saw a story-book season end in Game 6 of the World Series.

In today’s game, closers are premium commodities. Teams pay big bucks for such a commodity. Usually championship clubs have one guy in that role. That didn’t happen with these two teams as Rosenthall (St. Louis) and Uehara (Boston) weren’t the closers at start of the season.

Motte saved 41 games for the Cardinals in 2012, underwent Tommy John surgery this past May 13, was replaced by the set-up guy, Mujica, who had four saves in his career until adding 37 as the replacement this year. He was then replaced in the last week of the season by 23-year-old Rosenthal, who posted three saves that final week. During the postseason, Mujica has pitched only twice so far.

Uehara was signed as a free agent to be a set-up reliever. (The Phillies had pursued him last winter for a similar role). He became the closer on June 21 after two closers went down with injuries. Uehara, one of the few beardless ones on the Red Sox, has been unreal. Prior to this year he had 14 saves in 157 appearances.

Uehara, 38, was the ALCS MVP and makes $4,250,000. Wacha, the Cardinals 22-year-old rookie starter who was pitching for Texas A&M a year ago, won the NLCS MVP. He is one of four on the roster making $490,000.

Who will win?

St. Louis’ rightfielder, Beltran, is Mr. October. He’s put up unbelievable postseason numbers. Boston’s rightfielder, Shane, is a friend who excels in postseason bases-loaded situations, two grand slams and 16 RBI. He’s the only Phillies Alumnus in this series, so the Red Sox will win in six. Boston Strong.

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