The 2013 Fall Classic is finally here, although baseball has extended its season so much that the World Series is almost played exclusively in November. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers despite Detroit’s formidable 1-2 punch of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander and sluggers Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could pay for the salaries of about four other Major League teams if they wanted to.
These two teams have proven themselves worthy to play in the World Series, and hopefully they produce 7 games of entertainment for fans. I, along with other baseball fans, will probably watch the World Series regardless since it is the World Series, but here are 5 reasons that this match-up is bad for baseball.
- A rematch of the 2004 World Series – These two teams played each other in 2004 in the World Series. The Red Sox swept the Cards in four games which is always an anti-climactic ending for what is supposed to be the premier series of baseball. While some teams get hot and others get cold, a sweep is never good unless it is your team winning. The players on both squads are vastly different from back then and a sweep is not likely, but it would be a big disappointment for baseball fans if this happens again.
- The same teams are winning – The Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 and 2006. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and 2004. It is a great thing when organizations can find ways to produce winning teams year after year. Personnel and players come and go, so it is difficult to maintain competitive with so much turnover in rosters. While these two teams have proven themselves worthy for the last decade (with the exception of a dismal year last year in Boston), there would be much more to talk about with different teams playing for it all. Imagine a Cleveland Indians vs. Pittsburgh Pirates matchup. There would be much more hype about someone finally ending a championship drought and seeing new classic highlights as a new champion was named.
- Money is buying championships – The Red Sox are 4th in team payroll among MLB teams, and the Cardinals are 11th. While there was a balance among low and high payroll teams to start the playoffs, the bigger spenders ultimately prevailed. The Tigers had the 5th highest payroll and the Dodgers had the 2nd highest. Although anything can happen in the post season in a 5-game or 7-game series, I would like to have seen one of the lower payroll teams make it to the World Series. It would have shown that money doesn’t always equate to more wins, but it again seems that moneys does indeed make a difference in how far a team can make it in October and November. The A’s and Rays may make the playoffs frequently, but neither team has won a championship since 1989 (the Rays have never won in their 16-year existence)
There aren’t many superstars playing – The Cardinals and Red Sox are great teams. They don’t have many big name superstars on their rosters though. Aside from David Ortiz, neither team has a player who could be considered the face of baseball. The NBA has LeBron James playing in the NBA Finals. The NFL usually has a player such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers. The MLB doesn’t have a marquee player it can showcase for non-baseball fans to tune in to watch. Miguel Cabrera, the most recent Triple Crown winner is out. Bryce Harper’s Nationals didn’t make the playoffs. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez barely played this year, but they are highly marketable players who aren’t playing in the World Series. Justin Verlander was cut short of another World Series appearance. Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig couldn’t make it past the NLCS. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols suffered a sub par performance from their team this year. Big Papi is indeed a fan favorite, but he is also a designated hitter. He is probably the most well-known DH of all-time, but the Cards and Sox are great teams that do not have great individual players. This is great for baseball fans, as you never know is going to step up and dominate the next game, but it is bad for casual fans that rely on big names to tune it to watch on television. Another big name would be beneficial for the game of baseball.
- The story lines are repetitive – This ties in to the second reason I listed about the same teams winning, but there aren’t stories about new teams and how they were able to make it to the World Series. If you look back at the playoff push, teams that were fighting to make the playoffs included the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Baltimore Orioles. These teams have had very little success recently and finally were making a splash in the standings. There was so much to talk about as to how and why they were winning. The baseball world knows relatively little about these teams compared to the Cardinals and Red Sox. Even teams like the Dodgers, who surged after the All-Star break to claim the first post season berth, hasn’t received much coverage in recent years. I would much rather have analysis and stories about a different team with its own history than hearing about the Red Sox drought before 2004 and how their team looks like the cast of Duck Dynasty. There is plenty to talk about the teams in this year’s World Series, but their teams have been covered so much over the last decade that there isn’t any new history to compare their success to.
Cardinals and Red Sox playing in the Fall Classic
I think the World Series will be a great match-up in terms of talent and baseball play. The Red Sox went from worst to first and have gotten back to their winning ways from the late 2000’s. The Cardinals have again relied on role players and used their farm system to find guys to fill in holes when starters went down. They are two great teams that earned a shot to play for it all. As a baseball fan, there’s not much more you can ask for, except the 5 things I just mentioned. Baseball has taken a backseat to the NFL and even the NBA in terms of popularity, and tradition isn’t exactly the way to gain more fans. Although I’ll watch every game of the World Series, it would be more entertaining to have something new to talk about besides the Green Monster and how the Cardinals are better off without Pujols. But….. go Cardinals.