Two of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, will face off tonight to begin the 2013 World Series. For those readers who haven’t been following these two teams, we present a primer for the big game.
It’s a Rematch
For those who did not care about nearly 100 years of suffering by Red Sox fans, the Red Sox and Cardinals faced off in the World Series in 2004. The Red Sox won, breaking “The Curse of the Bambino” and making it so Red Sox fans would never have to hear Yankees fans chanting “1918” (the last time the Red Sox won the World Series) ever again. And the Red Sox didn’t just win—they swept the Cardinals in four games.
A lot has changed in the interim. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series in 2006 and 2011, and the Red Sox collected another trophy in 2007. Oh, and last year the Red Sox imploded and went 69-93—their worst record since 1965.
Of course, in 2004, the Cardinals didn’t have rookie phenom Michael Wacha. At 22-years-young, Wacha has been on fire this postseason, winning three games and losing none, while posting a microscopic ERA of 0.43. In just his first season in Major League Baseball after being drafted in 2012, Wacha went 4-1 in 9 starts with an ERA of 2.78. ERA, for those who need to know, stands for Earned Run Average, or the number of earned runs given up by the pitcher, divided by number of innings pitches, and multiplied by nine.
Of the past 103 hitters Wacha has faced, he has only allowed nine hits.
Beards, Beards, Beards
For those living under a rock—beards are back in. And despite Boston’s reputation for being, well, unstylish, they’re clearly bringing the trend to the masses. Looking at the team, one can be forgiven for mistaking them for portraits of 19th century presidents (or cast members of Duck Dynasty).
Baseball is an extremely superstitious sport (check out former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra’s batting routine in between pitches), and thus as the Red Sox continued their run to the best record in the American League, cutting their voluminous beards might have cost them. For a handy guide to the variety of facial hair grown by the Sox, head over to The Week.
There have been a lot of busts to come out of Japan to the MLB—one prime example being Daisuke Matsuzaka and his nonexistent “gyroball” for the Red Sox.
Koji Uehara, on the other hand, was nothing short of spectacular this season as the Red Sox closer. He dominated hitters, posting the top numbers in ERA, strikeout-to-walk, and the batting average of opposing hitters.