There are damn good arguments for picking the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2013 World Series. First, the Boston Red Sox will be without Mike Napoli for games in St. Louis where there will be no Designated Hitter. Ortiz will play first base, where he’ll be a defensive liability.
Moreover, the Cardinals led the majors in batting average with men in scoring position. Allen Craig, who led the team in that category and who’s been on the disabled list, will be back for the Series as a DH—rusty but dangerous.
And the Cardinals have a slight edge in pitching. Adam Wainwright is now a savvy veteran and a postseason whiz. Michael Wacha, although a rookie, pitches like a veteran, and Joe Kelly, also young, has shown he’s not afraid to pitch inside, as Hanley Ramirez can attest. The Redbirds bullpen is stocked with young arms that throw sharp cheddar over the black. Finally, the Cardinals will have Adam Wainwright for the seventh game.
But Wainwright will not pitch the seventh game because there won’t be one. It’s the Sox in six! Two reasons, both of an intangible, metaphysical nature: First, the Boston Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia. The kid from Woodland, California, possesses a Nietzschean will; he won’t allow his team to lose. Don’t be surprised if wins the Most Valuable Player Award for the World Series.
Recall Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against Detroit. The Tigers, already the winners of Game 1, are up 5-0 and are dominating. In the sixth inning, with two outs, Pedroia doubles deep to left-center for an RBI, igniting a spark in the Boston Nine. Then, in the eighth inning, again with two outs, Pedroia comes to the plate with two on, knowing his team needs another base runner to give Big Papi a shot at tying the game. Pedroia singles, Papi homers, and the rest, as they say, is geography. The Red Sox fly from Boston to Detroit tied 1-1 instead of being down 2-0.
The second reason the Sox will win is also intangible. The Boston Red Sox, throughout the 2013 season won game after game with an eerie consistency. They exude—without swagger—a quiet confidence. Except for their motley appearance, they remind me of another team of recent history. Give those boys a shave, a haircut, and a bath and I would pay them the highest compliment one could bestow on any ball club. They would almost have the class and dignity of the New York Yankees—almost.