So, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, we meet again.
This is the fourth Red Sox and Cardinals World Series. In 2004 . . . I actually have no memory of that post season, but baseball-reference.com tells me that Boston swept St. Louis. I believe that Red Sox team is most notable for the greatest exponential increase in the size of a team's bandwagon in baseball history.
Apropos of nothing else, why do the Red Sox have to have a "thing" if they have a good team? They had "idiots" and "cowboy up," and now its beards that make them look like homeless people who dressed in the contents of a box that fell off a sporting goods truck. Why can't being a good team be their "thing?" But anyway . . .
In 1967, the Cardinals derailed "The Impossible Dream" Red Sox in seven games. The Cards jumped out to a three-games to one lead, but Boston won games five and six to force a game seven at Fenway Park. St. Louis scored twice in the third and twice more in the fifth. After the Red Sox got one back in the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals answered right back with three in the top of the six, and won 7-2. Bob Gibson pitched a complete game for the win for the third time in the series, allowing three hits and striking out 10. Gibson's total line for the series: three games, 27 innings, three runs, 14 hits, 26 strikeouts (by the way, Gibson made three starts in each of his three World Series, going 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and eight complete games in those nine starts).
In 1946, the teams alternated wins in games one through six, with the Red Sox winning first. In game seven, the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a Dom DiMaggio sacrifice fly. The Cardinals tied it in the bottom of the second on Harry "The Hat" Walker's sac fly, then scored two in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. Boston tied it in the eighth on DiMaggio's two-out, two-run double. St. Louis took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, when Enos Slaughter scored from first on Walker's two-out base hit (the "mad dash"). The Red Sox actually got two singles to start the top of the ninth, then moved the tying run to third with one out on a force out at second base. The next two batters fouled out to first and grounded to second, and that was that.
Both of these franchises have impressive post-season resumes extending back about a century. This is the Cardinals' fourth pennant in 10 years (joining 2011, 2006 and 2004), with the previous two culminating in a World Series win. That ended a 17-year pennant drought, and a 22-year championship drought following the Whitey Herzog and Ozzie Smith Cardinals of the 1980s.
They won the World Series in 1982, and lost the World Series in seven games in both 1985 (to the Royals) and 1987 (to the Twins). The Bob Gibson Cardinals of the 1960s won three pennants in five years, with all three World Series going seven games. They beat the Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967 before losing to the Tigers in 1968.
The Stan Musial Cardinals of the 1940s dominated the National League during World War II. They won 106 games in 1942 before winning the World Series over the Yankees in five games. They won 105 games in 1943 before losing to the Yankees in five games. They won 105 games again in 1944, then beat the St. Louis Browns in six games. They "slipped" to second place with 95 wins in 1945 (finishing three games behind the Cubs), then won 98 games and the aforementioned 1946 World Series.
The original Cardinals dynasty was the mostly-Frankie Frisch-led Gashouse Gang, which won five pennants from 1926-34. They beat the Yankees in seven games in 1926 (game seven ended when Babe Ruth was caught stealing), were swept by the Yankees in 1928, lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in six games in 1930, beat those same Athletics in seven games in 1931, and beat the Tigers in seven games in 1934.
All told, the Cardinals 11 World Series championships are the second most in baseball history, trailing only the Yankees' 27.
The Red Sox were one of baseball's first dynasties. While still called the Americans, they beat the Pirates in the first World Series in 1903. Beginning in 1912, the Red Sox won the World Series four times in seven years: 1912 (over the New York Giants), 1915 (over the Phillies), 1916 (over Brooklyn, then called the Robins) and 1918 (over the Cubs). Babe Ruth started once in the 1916 series and twice in 1918. In those three starts (all complete games), he was 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 31 innings.
For all of the drama and infamy of the 85 seasons between their World Series championships, the Red Sox came within a few breaks here and there of winning any one of four World Series in the course of 40 years. All four times, they lost in seven games.
In 1975, they won game six (with Carlton Fisk waving his home run fair) to force game seven. They took a 3-0 lead in game seven before the Reds scored twice in the sixth (two-run homer by Tony Perez), once in the seventh (Pete Rose's single scored Ken Griffey), and once more in the ninth (Griffey scored again on Joe Morgan's two-out single) for a 4-3 win.
In 1986, they won the first two games at Shea Stadium, and returned to Shea for game six leading three games to two. Game six was the infamous Bill Buckner game. The Red Sox led 3-2 in the eighth, when Calvin Schiraldi allowed the tying run on a sac fly. The Red Sox actually scored twice in the top of the tenth, then retired Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez to start the bottom of the tenth. Three singles, a wild pitch, and a ground ball through the wickets later, it was on to game seven.
Even after that crushing loss, the Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second in game seven, and made that hold up until the Mets scored three in the sixth and three more in the seventh. Boston came right back with two of their own in the top of the eighth to pull within 6-5, but the Mets scored two more in the bottom of the eighth to put it away. Add in the aforementioned losses to the Cardinals, and that's some tough World Series luck.
There are virtually no Yankee connections to this year's World Series. By my count, there's a single former Yankee playing - Cardinals reliever Randy Choate, who last played for them in 2003. Nonetheless, I'm content to root for the Cardinals, just because they're playing the Red Sox.