Sunday, October 20, 2013
Rare thing: Two best teams in World Series
By David Schoenfield
There was a lot of consternation on Twitter last night -- at least among those people I follow -- about a Cardinals-Red Sox World Series, primarily because both franchises have won two World Series in the past decade and diehard fans prefer to see new blood if their team isn't in it.
Or, as one friend of mine emailed me, "What were the odds that Red Sox Nation would be by far the less insufferable fan base during the World Series?"
Yes, not a love out there for either the Cardinals or Red Sox from the nonpartisan fans. But that's winning does: Fans of other teams grow to resent your success.
The exciting thing about this matchup, however, is we have something we rarely see anymore: The best teams in baseball are playing for the World Series title. For all the statheads out there who often decry the randomness of the baseball playoffs, they should be embracing this result.
The Red Sox, playing in the toughest division in the majors, had the best record in the American League and the best run differential in the majors. The Cardinals, playing in the toughest division in the National League, had the second-best run differential and matched Boston's 97-65 record. Yes, both teams benefited from a key injury from their opponents in the LCS -- Miguel Cabrera on the Tigers, Hanley Ramirez on the Dodgers -- but both also beat the impending Cy Young winners in Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw in their clinching victories.
In the wild-card era (since 1995), only twice before have the teams with the best records in their leagues met in the World Series -- the Indians and Braves in 1995 and the Yankees and Braves in 1999. The last time the teams with the best run differentials met was 2004, when the Red Sox met the Cardinals. In the wild-card era, only seven times in 18 years had the team with the best regular-season record reached the World Series; only three won it -- the 1998 Yankees, 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees. So we're guaranteed that a team with the best record will go home as the champions.
So while there are reasons not to love this matchup, you can also choose to embrace the best World Series showdown since 2004 or 1999.
Of course, both of those Series ended up in sweeps. Let's hope that doesn't happen.