One of the constants in baseball in the 2000s has been the Cardinals' and Red Sox's status as contenders. Not every year, sure, but most years. So while only a fool would attempt to predict the 2016 World Series matchup with certainty on October 1 of that year, let alone today, it's a safe bet these two franchises will soon find their way back to the big stage. Maybe they'll do it in the same season. Maybe that season will be 2016. Maybe we don't want to talk about PED allegations, and engaging in this little thought experiment seems like a better way to spend the first stretch of baseball's offseason.
So let's go head and assume. Let's assume the Cardinals and Red Sox, two organizations rife with considerable young talent, will meet again in the World Series three years from now. And let's predict what headlines we might encounter at that time.
In case you were busy coming around to the idea that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is just the sort of guy who sometimes has to be yelled at, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
In what may prove to be the biggest upset of the entire NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers stormed out to an early 19-0 lead before holding on late to beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat 114-110. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams looked like a star, putting up 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, and seven rebounds in his NBA debut. Unfortunately, Carter-Williams was shut down for the season after the game by 76ers GM Sam Hinkie for what he described as "precautionary reasons." When asked to clarify, Hinkie said, "I'm hoping this will serve as a precaution to the rest of the team as to where looking like a star will get you."
The Red Sox are your 2013 World Series champions after John Lackey powered Boston past the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in a deciding Game 6. "Just as I predicted," said Boston superfan Aaron Sullivan. "Lackey brings us another banner. Never doubted that it would happen." When asked specifically when he made that prediction, Sullivan replied, "Fourth inning, right after we went up 6-0. And I swear I only backed off it three or four times," before promising to name one of his middle children John Lackey Sullivan, assuming that one of them came out looking a little squished.
In case you were busy walking the plank at the behest of Bill Belichick, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
LeBron James and the Miami Heat opened their NBA championship defense with an impressive 107-95 win over Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. An optimistic Rose, who was playing in his first regular-season game since recovering from a torn ACL, said, "I'm disappointed in the loss, but my performance, I can easily change that by making shots and keeping down the turnovers." When Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau heard his point guard's comments, however, he flew into a rage, screaming, "He could have made more shots and avoided turnovers? Well, why didn't he? What the hell was he thinking?" Thibodeau then threw his hands in the air and said, "Jiminy Christmas, he was only out for a year. I have to micromanage everything with this team."
For the second time in five games, Jon Lester annihilated the Cardinals lineup and now has the Red Sox on the brink of winning their third World Series in the past decade. As crazy as it is to say this about any Red Sox–related story, it feels like not enough is being made of this.
As a 22-year-old rookie back in 2006, Lester was diagnosed with cancer, specifically anaplastic large cell lymphoma. After the season, he went in for chemotherapy treatments. He started the next season at Single-A ball. By July 23, he was back in the big leagues. In October of that year, he won the World Series–clinching Game 4 in Colorado. A year after that, he was one of the 10 best pitchers in the game, posting a strong 3.21 ERA and getting hitters out by mixing well-placed fastballs, cutters, and curves, without throwing overwhelmingly hard. In less than two years, he went from pondering his mortality at a ludicrously young age to becoming a 210-inning workhorse pitching in a brutally tough environment in the toughest division in baseball.
In case you were busy polishing the screenplay for your gritty new take on Entourage, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Jon Lester and Koji Uehara were too much for the Cardinals as the Boston Red Sox now stand one win away from their third World Series title in a decade after beating St. Louis 3-1. "Dus-tone," Red Sox infielder Mike Napoli called across the locker room to his teammate Dustin Pedroia after the game. "This beard thing has really worked out, huh?" Pedroia smiled and said, "Yeah, yeah man, sure has. Can't wait to win this ring and shave this bad boy off." "What?" a stunned Napoli replied. "Shave it? Nah, man, you can't. You're the Mighty Mighty Dus-tone, and I am Mike Skapoli and together we're beard bros forever." Pedroia looked away from his teammate and said, "It's my wife. She's serious. No offseason beards." Napoli nodded at his teammate, but his eyes betrayed his disappointment. "It's for the best," Pedroia assured him, but it took all of Napoli's nerve to force an awkward smile.
In case you were busy regretting your attempt to introduce that exchange student living in your home to the joyful simplicity of America's pastime, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
A weird weekend in the World Series left the Cardinals and Red Sox knotted at two games apiece, after Saturday's game ended on an obstruction call that handed St. Louis a 5-4 victory, and Sunday's game closed with a Koji Uehara pickoff in Boston's 4-2 win. "What a weekend!" declared MLB rules aficionado Peter Greggsman. "The only way it could have been better is if one of these stadiums had been a dome, so we could get some catwalk interference in there." Greggsman's demeanor then darkened, before he added, "The real tragedy though is that the World Series can't end on an infield fly call. No game can." Greggsman then pounded his fist on his Hardball Times Baseball Annual and cried to the heavens, "Oh founders of baseball, you've cursed us with the possibility of perfection, yet made it as impossible to witness as a local game without digital cable! Damn you apocryphal Abner Doubleday! Damn you straight to the fictional hell you belong in!"
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson amassed 329 receiving yards, the second-most in NFL history behind former Rams receiver Flipper Anderson, as Detroit came from behind late to stun the Dallas Cowboys 31-30. Meanwhile, back at his New Jersey home, Anderson cracked a bottle of champagne as the game ended. Not because his record was preserved; that would be incredibly tacky. Who would do that? No, he popped a bottle of champagne because it pairs well with the panko-crusted halibut he whipped up for his wife as a special Sunday treat.
The Cardinals beat the Red Sox, 4-2, on Thursday night, sending the World Series back to St. Louis in a 1-1 tie. They won largely because one pitcher didn't do his job. It's baseball, that happens. But with the game on the line, the Sox and manager John Farrell didn't use their best pitcher. That's less Farrell's fault specifically as it is a fundamental misuse of resources by all 30 current major league managers, the 30 men they replaced, and the next 30 to follow.
It needs to stop. If not in the regular season, then at the very least in the postseason.
A sterling combined effort from a trio of rookie pitchers led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox, evening up the World Series at a game apiece. The game hinged on the Cardinals' aggressive baserunning and a clutch hit from veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran, once again proving that the same things that won big games in the mid-'60s will still win them today.
The pitching matchup for Game 1 of the World Series looked like a potential mismatch. The overmatched team would have to compensate by grinding out productive at-bats, playing better defense than the team in the other dugout, and getting at least a decent performance from its own starter.
Turns out it was a mismatch, but not the way you might've expected. Jon Lester, not Adam Wainwright, was the pitcher in complete control Wednesday night. Throw in the Red Sox's productive at-bats and superior defense, and we got a blowout. Boston 8, St. Louis 1.
In case you were out giving the ol' trick-or-treat route a dry run, much to the chagrin of everyone on Greenleaf Street, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox opened the World Series in dominant fashion, beating a sloppy St. Louis Cardinals team 8-1. "We may have played sloppy tonight," said freshly shaven Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma after the game, "but at least we didn't look sloppy. I mean, seriously the Red Sox looked, whoops—" Kozma then fumbled the microphone he was speaking into and bent over to try to pick it up, only to somehow trip over his own shoes, leading to an awkward three-quarters front flip. Writhing in visible pain on the ground, Kozma then added, "As I was saying, seriously, they looked terrible. I could smell sneeze off of Jacoby Ellsbury's beard from the dugout. Have some dignity. Also, I think I just threw my back out."
More bad news for Cardinals fans: Outfielder Carlos Beltran, who was playing in his first career World Series game, was diagnosed with bruised ribs suffered while he was making a grand slam–saving catch. Beltran's injury, however, was good news for fans of correcting people who refer to things as being ironic, when what they mean is coincidental and tragic.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The San Francisco Giants are World Series champions. Marco Scutaro hit the go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning as the Giants beat the Tigers 4-3 to sweep the series. Pablo Sandoval, who hit .500 in 16 at-bats with three home runs, a double, and four RBIs, was named the Series MVP. "Total bullshit!" said delusional Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks, who got his first hit of the series in the sixth inning of Game 4. "The MVP is so political now. It's all about who you know."
We hear it time and time again in baseball. A team's struggling, looking for a spark. To snap out of that funk, someone needs to make something happen. A bunt, a steal, a bit of baserunning derring-do. Anything to get the ball club going.
The Tigers got blown out in Game 1 of the World Series, with Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum neutering the big bats. So when Delmon Young doubled into the left-field corner with Prince Fielder on first and nobody out in the second inning of Game 2, third-base coach Gene Lamont sized up the situation, then sent the big man careering toward home. Gregor Blanco fired the ball to Marco Scutaro, who heaved a perfect relay throw to Buster Posey, who applied a terrific sweep tag on Fielder's foot, nailing him a split-second before he touched the plate. Madison Bumgarner wiggled out of the inning from there, and the Tigers never got that close again, pushing just one other runner as far as second base.