Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
We're down to the Final Four, and here's the question on my mind.

What's in it for me?

You may have noticed that just like last year, our Final Four teams are made up of of four of the Original 16. (Bearing in mind that the Original 16 is really no such thing, no more than Hockey's Original 6 - they're just the franchises that had been in place for a few decades before the great expansion era of the 1960s.) All four of our survivors have long and glorious histories, featuring multiple trips to the World Series and numerous championships.

And just like last year, what I'd really like to see is a match-up that's never happened before. Can that be arranged?

The Cardinals have won the World Series 11 times in 18 attempts, against nine different AL franchises. Along the way they've faced off against both the Red Sox and the Tigers three times. So they're out. But the three clashes with both AL teams were all memorable. In 1934, the Tigers and the Gas House Gang played a legendary seven game set, which featured Cardinals ace starter Dizzy Dean doing all sorts of wonderful things. Ol' Diz had been doing amazing stuff all year and he closed with a rush to end up with 30 wins (and 7 saves). He pitched 3 CG victories, two of them on one day's rest, two of them shutouts, in the final week of the season to carry the Cards to the pennant. He then tossed a routine  CG to win the series opener, 8-3. He then made a pinch-running appearance in the fourth game - and was knocked unconscious, carried off the field by his teammates, when he was hit in the head on a DP relay throw. Imagine that happening to Justin Verlander. That would probably get a modern manager shot, never mind fired. Luckily the X-rays of Dean's head showed nothing, as a famous headline of the day put it, and he came back to pitch the next day only to take a 3-1 loss. But little brother Paul Dean won both his starts, and Dizzy came back to toss a shutout in the 11-0 laugher that ended the series. That was a famous, famous game: it featured an on-field brawl, a near riot, a lengthy delay caused by disgruntled fans throwing stuff (lots of vegetables, oddly enough) on the field. Finally the commissioner, Judge Landis himself, intervened to summarily remove St Louis outfielder Joe Medwick out of the game. This was ostensibly done for Medwick's own safety, although it was probably about getting the game finished before the sun went down. The score was 11-0, after all. The two teams would meet again 34 years later, in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher. Detroit offered up Denny McLain, who had just become the first pitcher to win 30 games in a season since the Tigers' ancient tormentor from 1934, Dizzy Dean himself. McLain had gone a nifty 31-6, and everyone regarded him as the second best starter on display that fall. For St Louis had the most frightening man ever to take the mound, the one and only Bob Gibson. Gibson had posted a 1.12 ERA that very season, completing 28 of his 34 starts. He had also thrown CG victories 5 consecutive WS starts in 1964 and 1967. Gibson kicked things off by striking out 17 Tiger hitters - easily, they had no chance at all against him - in the first game of the series. He made great hitters - Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Norm Cash - look like the Detroit Kitty-Cats.  But yet another pitcher, the Tigers' fat lefty Mickey Lolich, kept Detroit in the series as Gibson beat McLain twice. Lolich then matched up with Gibson himself in a tense final game that was scoreless until Curt Flood (a great, great defensive player) mis-played Jim Northrup's deep drive to centre into a two-run triple. After those two tremendous series, the 2006 tilt is hardly worthy of mention. Still, who has forgotten all those errors by the Detroit pitchers. And whatever that was on Kenny Rogers' hand.

The Boston-St.Louis meetings have likewise been memorable. The 1946 Series starred two of the greatest players who ever lived, Stan Musial (who played first base that year) and Ted Williams. Both immortals had a quiet series - the star was St Louis pitcher Harry Brecheen, who tossed CG victories in games 2 and 6. And Brecheen, on in relief in the seventh game  was the pitcher of record and got the win when the series decided by one of the most famous plays in World Series history - Harry Walker's RBI double scored Enos Slaughter from first base in the bottom of the eighth, as Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky (allegedly) hesitated for a split second before relaying the ball home from the outfield.  (I've seen the video, I think Pesky got a bum rap.)  The two teams would meet again in 1967, the year of Boston's Impossible Dream . Boston had prevailed in one of the greatest pennant races of all time, thanks mainly to the greatest pennant race performance of all time. By any player,. In the Annals of Recorded Time. And probably before that, as well. I am speaking, of course, of Carl Yastrzemski, and Yaz and Jim Lonborg kept up their outstanding work in the Series. However, the seventh game pitted the all-but--invincible-in-October Bob Gibson against a Lonborg coming back on very short (two days) rest, and it proved to be a mis-match. The Cards prevailed again. But, in a Series recent enough that I assume most of you remember, it was against the Cards that the Red Sox finally laid some ancient ghosts to rest, sweeping them in 4 games in 2004.

No one remembers that the Boston Red Sox actually won the first five World Series they played in. There's a reason no one remebers - pretty well everyone who witnessed it is dead now. But it's true. The Bostons beat Pittsburgh in the very first WS of them all, back in 1903, behind the pitching of Bill Dinneen and Cy Young.  They beat John McGraw's Giants in 1912, one of the greatest series of all time as I'm sure I've mentioned once or twice. The beat the Phillies in 1915, the Dodgers in 1916, and the Cubs in 1918. Yup, the Dodgers. Well, sort of. Actually, it was the Brooklyn Superbas who met the Boston Red Sox in that World Series. A very young Boston LH named Babe Ruth pitched one of the greatest games in WS history, a CG 2-1 victory - in 14 innings. Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard also made outstanding starts as the Red Sox prevailed in five games. As you're probably aware, after their 1918 triumph, the Red Sox encountered something of a dry spell. You're probably aware, because heaven knows we heard enough about it The Sox would make just 4 WS appearance over the next 85 years and suffer an agonizing defeat each time. The two above to St.Louis were followed by their coming up short in a classic tilt with the Reds in 1975 and the famous, still hard-to-believe loss to the Mets in 1986. (Two outs, a two run lead, no one on base? What could go wrong?)

The Dodgers have played in the World Series 18 times (and they've won just six of them) - but no less than 11 of those match-ups came against the Yankees. Three of their WS titles came by beating the Yankees; besides Oakland, they beat Miinesota and the White Sox in October. They were on the losing end against the Yankees eight times, Oakland, Baltimore, and Cleveland once. And the Red Sox, of course.

The Tigers have made it into the Series less often than the other three teams. They've been to the Series just 11 times, usually against the Cubs (four times) or the Cardinals (three times). They beat the Cubs twice, the Cardinals and the Padres once, have lost in the Series to the Cubs and Cardinals twice, and once apiece to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and San Francisco.

And there it is. In 112 years, the Dodgers and Tigers have somehow never faced each other in the post-season.

So I think now's the time.

Look, I'll settle for Dodgers-Red Sox. After all, 1916 was a long time ago.  I'll cheer the Dodgers finally revenging themselves on the shades of Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore. But I absolutely don't want to see another St.Louis-Detroit series. Yes, they gave us two all-time classics, but now they're just boring the crap out of me. And on no account will I tolerate Boston-St.Louis. Enough is enough, I say.

So say we all?

The Championship Series | 20 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Friday, October 11 2013 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#279744) #
Well summarized, Magpie.  A quick shout-out to Lou Brock, whose performance in the 1967 World Series was one of the key factors leading to his quick election to the Hall of Fame. 

I still think that this is the Dodgers' year.  Dodgers over Cardinals in 6.  Red Sox over Tigers in 5.  Dodgers over Red Sox in 7. Clayton Kershaw is your Koufax of 2013, and Greinke is, um, better than Drysdale.

Magpie - Friday, October 11 2013 @ 11:40 AM EDT (#279746) #
Lou Brock, whose performance in the 1967 World Series was one of the key factors leading to his quick election to the Hall of Fame.

Yup, and Brock was probably even better in the 1968 Series. Absolutely, one of the greatest WS performers of all-time. The greatest World Series performers ever are Eddie Collins, Christy Mathewson, Lou Brock, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Whitey Ford, and that that Reggie fella... Very, very fast company.

Also outstanding in the 1968 series - and this was the heartwarming story of the day - was Al Kaline. Kaline had been a great player for a long time. Kaline was almost certainly a significantly better player than Roberto Clemente, for example. And Roberto was pretty darn good. But Kaline was a right fielder in the great golden age of right fielders, and it was hard to get noticed. Something that bothered Clemente a good deal - but the other RFs active at the time included Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Roger Maris... Guys like that. By 1968, Kaline was 33 years old, had played 15 seasons (he came up as a teenager) without getting into the post-season, and he'd missed a big chunk of the season with an injury. But he and Brock were the best players in that series, along with Lolich and Gibson.
Dewey - Friday, October 11 2013 @ 12:28 PM EDT (#279749) #
Yes, great summary, Magpie.  Reminds us that memories are one of baseball's pre-eminent attractions.
Thomas - Friday, October 11 2013 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#279752) #

I'm cheering for the Cards for a few reasons. One of which is that six out of 12 of the pitchers on their NLCS roster are rookies.

John Northey - Friday, October 11 2013 @ 03:32 PM EDT (#279753) #
I guess my preference order is...
1) Detroit -  haven't won it all since '84 and they have been good for awhile
2) Dodgers - Last WS was 88, have a few exciting players although I do enjoy Mattingly being a guy who never gets there yet is called a great leader by so many
3) Boston - the new Yankees with most WS in the 2000's?
4) Cardinals - not a fan, but would be good to see them show that TLR wasn't key to them winning.

No clubs I absolutely hate in the playoffs, but no one I love either. Really wanted the A's to keep going, or Tampa.  But no Yankees, Atlanta, Cleveland and that is a good thing.

Richard S.S. - Saturday, October 12 2013 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#279769) #
The best matchup for TV is L.A. (West Coast market) verses Boston (East Coast market) with huge viewership numbers.

The worst matchup for TV is St.Louis verses Detroit with much smaller viewership numbers. It all about what can be charged to Advertisers. The better the matchup the more that can be charged.

My preference is Detroit verses L.A. And it matters not who wins.
electric carrot - Saturday, October 12 2013 @ 08:52 PM EDT (#279776) #
I'm rooting for Detroit.  That city needs a beacon of light.
Oceanbound - Tuesday, October 15 2013 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#279811) #
Can you imagine if Uehara had accepted the trade to Toronto? Ho-leeee.
electric carrot - Friday, October 18 2013 @ 07:18 PM EDT (#279887) #
Would it be possible oh ye baseball gods that Detroit somehow wins the next two games by a combined 28 to 0 and I never have to endure the sight of John Farrell's smiling face again till 2015.
electric carrot - Friday, October 18 2013 @ 11:32 PM EDT (#279891) #

Eephus - Saturday, October 19 2013 @ 11:13 PM EDT (#279911) #
There's a real good chance he's about to lead his team to a pennant, but boy I don't miss John Farrell's managing style at all. That move to pull Buchholz in a 0-0 game in the 6th is just asking for trouble.
Eephus - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 12:03 AM EDT (#279912) #
Shane Victorino. You've gotta be kidding me.

Whether it was the Red Sox's decision or his own to change to an exclusively right-handed hitter, it looks like a genius move. Here are his numbers this season hitting against right-handed pitchers as a right-handed batter:

100 AB, 30 H, 6 HR, 14 RBI, .300/.386/.510, 11 (!) HBP

greenfrog - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#279913) #
It's odd that Detroit put together such a good rotation and lineup, yet neglected to address its bullpen needs. The lack of a quality bullpen may well have cost them a trip to the World Series.
CeeBee - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 10:58 AM EDT (#279914) #
One would think that Detroit might be looking for some bullpen help this winter.
Paul D - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#279915) #
Only 4 months until pitcher and catchers report!
Mike Green - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 04:47 PM EDT (#279923) #
Whether it was the Red Sox's decision or his own to change to an exclusively right-handed hitter, it looks like a genius move. Here are his numbers this season hitting against right-handed pitchers as a right-handed batter:

100 AB, 30 H, 6 HR, 14 RBI, .300/.386/.510, 11 (!) HBP

I would bet that the statistics crew in the Red Sox front office were well aware of Victorino's career splits- .303/.373/.506 vs LHP as RHB and  .268/.329/.401 vs RHP as LHB.  Normally, pure RHBs will have a less significant platoon split than that.  Also switch-hitters normally will hit better from the left side over time as they get more practice.  Victorino would therefore be a prime candidate to "unswitch" statistically, and then when you throw in the Green Monster factor, it is definitely an enticing prospect.  There is, of course much more to it than simply the statistical case- the player has to be comfortable with making the change.  I remember in the old Abstracts, Bill James once or twice mused that a certain player might be better off giving up switch-hitting.  Maybe it was the old sage himself who suggested it...
Chuck - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 06:22 PM EDT (#279924) #
Wasn't an injury behind Victorino's decision to stop batting left handed?
Mike Green - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 07:14 PM EDT (#279925) #
Yep.  A hamstring injury.  Management may (or may not) have planted a seed...
Dewey - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 09:35 PM EDT (#279927) #
 Management may (or may not) have planted a seed...

You mean, like, a vine seed or something?  So Victorino would catch his foot in it, hurt his hammie, and switch to not switching?  Damn, that Red Sox management is smart!  You think AA would come up with something like that?  Oh no.
greenfrog - Sunday, October 20 2013 @ 10:29 PM EDT (#279928) #
I doubt AA concedes anything of the sort.
The Championship Series | 20 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.