Scoring the teams in the 2013 Fall Classic
Red Sox: 8
It’s the battle of old versus new. Fenway Park has been around since 1912 and still has a manual scoreboard in leftfield (the inside of which once doubled as a restroom for Manny Ramirez). That Green Monster wall in left field is also known for being pretty tall—37 feet, to be precise—and pretty close to home plate at a 310-foot distance. Busch Stadium opened in 2006 to replace the demolished old Busch Stadium next door and is one of baseball’s best new stadiums. Its trademarks are the statue of Stan “The Man” Musial in front, the Gateway Arch design cut into the outfield grass and a view of the actual Gateway Arch unfortunately distorted by the downtown Deloitte building. Despite Fenway’s renovations, Busch is undoubtedly a more comfortable place to see a ballgame, but the nod here has to go to tradition. –Alex Leichenger
Red Sox: 10
Ted Williams of the Red Sox and Musial of the Cardinals are two of the all-time greats in Major League Baseball history. Baseball-Reference has Williams as the third-ranked batter of all-time and Musial as the eighth. Williams was a two-time MVP and 17-time All-Star, all with the Red Sox, despite missing three years from 1943-45 for military service in World War II. Musial was a three-time MVP and 20-time All-Star in his 22-year career, all with the Cardinals. Williams is the all-time leader in on-base percentage (.482) and ranks second all-time in slugging percentage (.634); he also led the league in batting average six times (including a .406 average in 1941) and won the triple crown in 1947 (with 32 home runs, 114 RBIs and a batting average of .343). Musial is second all-time in total bases (6,134), third all-time in doubles (725) and fourth all-time in hits (3,630) and led the league in batting average seven times. This one is just too close to call, but Williams had a higher career batting average (.344 vs. .331), more home runs (521 vs. 475) and a higher on-base plus slugging percentage (1.116 vs. .976). –Sahil Patel
Earth-shattering playoff moment
Red Sox: 8
The Red Sox dropped Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on their home field against the Detroit Tigers and trailed Game 2 by four runs in the eighth inning. Not only that, but the Sox were being no-hit through the first 5 2/3 innings of Game 2 just a day after taking 25 outs to break up another Detroit no-hit bid. David Ortiz, who previously shattered baseball fans’ worlds in 2004 with back-to-back walk-off hits that helped bring Boston back from its 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees, delivered a game-tying grand slam on the first pitch of his at-bat against Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit. The Red Sox went on to win 6-5, and Big Papi’s blast reversed the narrative of the series. It also delivered the sports photo of the year—Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter falling over the fence in juxtaposition to a police officer rejoicing in the bullpen. With all that said, nothing beats the narrative switch of one strike away from World Series defeat to forcing a Game 7 (though David Freese owes Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz a thank-you card for his ninth-inning misplay). –Alex Leichenger
Red Sox: 7
Though it understandably saddened Cardinals fans at the time, letting Albert Pujols sign in Southern California for 10 years and $240 million looks like the franchise’s best move since drafting him in the 13th round. The compensation pick received from the Los Angeles Angels allowed St. Louis to draft Michael Wacha, who has dazzled on the mound in his rookie season and looks like a foundational player for years to come. To replace Pujols, the Cardinals signed outfielder Carlos Beltran, who has delivered consistent production and clutch hitting for the Redbirds at nearly half the annual and almost one-tenth the overall cost. With the payroll relief, the Cardinals were also able to lock up younger franchise cornerstones Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright to long-term contract extensions. The Cards have hardly even missed Pujols’ production at first base. Allen Craig has posted a higher on-base plus slugging percentage than Pujols in each of the last two years, and so did Matt Adams in 2013, a season in which Pujols missed 63 games due to injury.
Despite the silliness of the chicken-and-beer narrative in Boston, the Red Sox needed a culture change and got it by unloading Josh Beckett and the underperforming Carl Crawford. Surprisingly, the Sox haven’t even missed Adrian Gonzalez, with former Texas Ranger and Cardinals revenge-seeker Mike Napoli mashing on a $5 million deal. Still, Boston’s shrewd trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers doesn’t quite eclipse letting a local icon walk and saving the franchise as a result of it.
Red Sox: 8
“The Flyin’ Hawaiian,” Shane Victorino’s moniker, is one of the best nicknames in baseball: it rhymes, it describes the Red Sox’ right fielder’s style of play and it includes one of his unique characteristics—hailing from the 50th state. Dustin Pedroia’s “Laser Show” is clever, formed from his tendency to spray line drives like lasers to all fields, and “Big Papi” gets a bonus for being so well known that it has become a sobriquet for David Ortiz by this point.
The Cardinals’ nickname well, on the other hand, is quite dry. Pete Kozma has a few, but “Pistol Pete” and “The Wizard of Koz” have both been appropriated from superior athletes (Pete Maravich and Ozzie Smith, respectively). “WachaFlockaFlame,” for rising star Wacha, has promise but hasn’t caught on yet nationally, though a big series for the rookie might reduce that anonymity. According to Baseball-Reference, Jon Jay’s nickname is “The Federalist,” and though I have never heard this moniker actually applied to the Cardinals’ center fielder, it wins a few points for an awesome historical reference to the country’s first chief justice. –Zach Kram
Red Sox: 10
The Sox’ Mike Napoli—no joke—uses shampoo and conditioner for his glorious beard. Pedroia could probably hide in Johnny Gomes’ majestic mane. Backups David Ross and Mike Carp spend their time on the bench growing out testaments to their masculinity. And Victorino’s American League Championship Series-winning grand slam, which just cleared the top of the Green Monster, had just enough oomph to fly over the fence likely due to its hitter’s Samson-esque powers. The cavalcade of Cardinals rookies, meanwhile, may still be too young to be able to grow such impressive facial hair. Ultimately, the Boston’s bearded brigade bests St. Louis’ neatly trimmed stubble in length, shape and team cohesion. As viewers, let’s just hope the actual World Series games are more closely contested than this category. –Zach Kram
Red Sox: 6
In the ALCS, the Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts replaced a slumping Will Middlebrooks at third base and in so doing became the youngest Boston player ever to start a playoff game, earning a distinction previously held by Babe Ruth (you may have heard of him). Bogaerts couldn’t even legally buy a beer until earlier this month, but he reached base eight times in 11 plate appearances against the Tigers’ formidable pitching staff, and all of his hits went for extra bases. In game 2 of the World Series, Bogaerts will bat against Wacha, the Cardinals’ rookie who owns the second-lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in these playoffs (0.43, trailing only Justin Verlander’s 0.39). Wacha has tallied 22 strikeouts and surrendered only eight hits in 21 innings this postseason, and he has emerged as a co-ace next to rotation stalwart Wainwright. When the two youngsters face each other, Wacha will probably get the better of Bogaerts, but given the latter’s impressive plate discipline (five walks against Detroit), his at-bats will be battles between two players whose combined age of 43 is equal to Mariano Rivera’s. –Zach Kram
Red Sox: 3
Samuel Adams, the Revolutionary War hero, actually has no affiliation with the current Samuel Adams beer company other than his foray as a maltster. The Boston Beer Company was founded in 1984 by Jim Koch, Lorenzo Lamadrid and Harry Rubin and has remained small, producing around 2.5 million barrels each year. Adolphus Busch and Eberhard Anheuser co-founded Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. in 1852, and it has grown into one of the largest companies in the world. In 2011, the beverage juggernaut reported a net income of over $8.5 billion. The iconic Budweiser bowtie is known worldwide, and the famous Clydesdale horses are fixtures in St. Louis culture. According to Huffington Post, Anheuser-Busch has six of the 8 highest-selling domestic beers. Anheuser-Busch blows Sam Adams out of the water. –Sahil Patel