The 2011 World Series may not present the sexiest matchup to the casual fan.But that doesn’t make the series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers any less interesting.
Wednesday night’s narrow Cardinals’ 3-2 victory was full of excitement, drama and a bit of controversy.
There are many interesting storylines in this series regarding how each team reached the fall classic.
From forgotten players, to a stark contrast in history, to a guy that’s going to win a World Series ring – no matter who wins; there is more to this matchup then meets the eye.
St. Louis won game one by the narrowest of margins Wednesday night. If this series follows the script of recent World Series' past, they may have already won the series. The winner of game one has won seven of the previous eight WS. And 12 of the previous 14.
The Rangers began as the Washington Senators in 1961, moving to Texas in 1972. Until last year, they hadn't even appeared in a World Series. They are the first team to return to the WS after losing in the final round the previous year since the Braves did it in 1992.
The Cardinals have a storied history dating back to 1882. They are appearing in their 18th World Series, having already won the trophy 10 times - the second-most in MLB history.
The Rangers don't have a single player on their World Series roster drafted by the team in the first four rounds. Nor do they have a single Latin American free agent, a rarity these days. Adrian Beltre is the team's only big free-agent signee. They can thank GM Jon Daniels' shrewd trading and scouting ability for the rest.
The Cardinals have only one first-round pick on the roster. Remember, a portly Albert Pujols wasn't selected until the 13th round. They've also made some impressive moves, like signing an injured Chris Carpenter and a presumed-done Lance Berkman.
But in different ways. The Rangers' postseason hero from a season ago, Cliff Lee, bolted for Philadelphia.
Adam Wainwright finished second in last season's NL Cy Young voting. Then the presumed opening day starter suffered a serious elbow injury in Spring Training and required surgery forcing him to miss the entire season.
When the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a huge free-agent contract, Michael Young saw the writing on the wall. The face of the franchise asked to be traded. But after a difficult Spring Training adapting to his new role as a designated hitter/supersub, Young excelled. He started a team-high 159 games and batted a career-high .338.
Prior to this season, Lance Berkman hadn't hit over .300 since 2008. After struggling last season as a member of the Yankees, many considered his career over. The Cardinals gave him a chance, signing him to a one-year deal. Berkman responded by hitting 31 homers and has already signed a new contract for next season.
Both teams led their league in batting average. Texas led the AL, hitting .283 on the season, and blasted over 200 home runs.
The Cardinals led the NL, hitting at a .273 clip thanks to the tutelage of hitting coach Mark McGwire - one of the most overlooked stories of the season.
The Rangers' bullpen recorded all four wins in the ALCS. Just the second time that's ever happened.
In St. Louis, the evil genius that is Tony LaRussa used 28 relievers during the NLCS. The Cardinals bullpen responded with a 3-0 record and a 1.88 ERA.
Nelson Cruz set all kinds of records in the ALCS. He hit an LCS-record six home runs and 13 RBIs against the Detroit Tigers en route to the series' MVP.
Meanwhile the Milwaukee Brewers couldn't seem to get David Freese out. The third baseman hit .545 with four homers and nine RBIs and was awarded the NLCS MVP.
For the second consecutive season, a player will win a ring no matter which team wins the World Series. Arthur Rhodes is in his 20th MLB season and has pitched for many teams. Including the Rangers and Cardinals - this season alone. Released by Texas on Aug. 8 and picked up by the Cardinals just three days later, the reliever will win his first ring. He just doesn't know which team's logo will be on it.
Texas starter C.J. Wilson could be the most sought-after pitcher on the market this offseason. rumours are already swirling about what team will overpay for the Rangers' ace. Of course, his 0-3 postseason record isn't helping his case.
Albert Pujols, one of the best players of all-time has been able to keep his impeding free agency from affecting the team. But that will change when the season is over. He deserves to be the highest paid player in baseball. But St. Louis may not be willing to give him amount of money he deserves.
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