ST LOUIS, MO - (L-R) CJ Willson #36, Adrian Beltre #29, Elvis Andrus #1, Michael Young #10 and Ian Kinsler #5 stand on the field during batting practice and at Busch Stadium. The Texas Rangers will take on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game One of the 2011 World Series on October 19. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals are two good teams, and the 2011 World Series should be a heckuva match-up. But there's something to be said for what we're missing ...
I'm not proud of what I'm about to write. Please, believe me. This is an embarrassing confession -- something from the dark recesses of my subconscious that I shouldn't admit, like the time I went to the theaters and saw Spice World alone because I had a crush on Ginger Spice. Worst $99 I ever spent1.
I'm really, really not proud of what I'm about to write. Please, please believe me.
And this has nothing to do with the Rangers and Cardinals. Really, it's a fine match-up for a World Series. I've been singing the Rangers' praises for a while, and they really are one of the elite teams in the game. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols, who is worth watching in any series from now until his arms fall off. I'm genuinely excited for this World Series, as most baseball fans are.
Yet. And yet.
A substantial part of me regrets that this isn't a World Series match-up between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. I know, I know. It's shameful, gross, and tacky to actually type those words out. Before the season started, a majority of pundits picked a Phillies/Red Sox World Series. I'm sure if you asked most of them at the time how sure they were of that prediction, most of them would lead with the caveat that anything could happen in a 162-game season. Still, the point stands: they were the heavy, heavy favorites this year.
That's part of what made the Red Sox collapse and Phillies' early exit so enjoyable for a lot of fans. It was an affirmation of baseball's unpredictability, but more importantly, it was some good ol' fashioned schadenfreude at the expense of fans who got too giddy, too soon. There were certainly a lot of World Series dreams floating around as fans watched their teams fly atop the league standings on wax wings.
And this latent desire has little to do with Red Sox who were screwing around with Kyle Weiland and daydreaming about Bruce Chen. I'm writing about the team that the Red Sox were supposed to be -- the one we thought we were getting before the season started, with a healthy Clay Buchholz and a John Lackey who was merely disappointing instead of hot garbage.
Before the season started, the Red Sox had added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to a lineup that was already strong. They had a deep rotation. They were supposed to be so freaking good. Before the season started, the Phillies had a rotation with four top-flight starters that would be unbeatable in a short series. It was a popular preseason pick for a reason.
So what I want isn't necessarily to watch the Phillies and Red Sox as they finished the season, but to watch a match-up of what I thought they were before the season. I'd love to watch Roy Halladay pitch versus Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Dustin Pedroia. I'd love to watch Josh Beckett attempt to continue his amazing World Series career going against Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It'd be interesting to see how Cliff Lee would attack Carl Crawford (the one who hit 20 Fenway triples in my mind, not the one who had a wretched year).
The current match-up isn't a consolation prize. Albert Pujols is an all-time great, the Rangers are a ridiculously well-built team. There are things of baseball beauty to watch in this Series; it's not like the Astros snuck in via a court order, and we're all talking about Henry Sosa starting in Game 1. But I miss the World Series that I was reluctantly thinking about in March. Those spring thoughts, roughly in order:
- Bah. No one's a lock for a World Series. Weird things can happen.
- So sick of everyone proclaiming that the Red Sox and Phillies have won the pennant before spring training starts.
- So tired of everyone slobbering over the Phillies' rotation and the Red Sox' lineup.
- (But it would be a pretty sweet World Series if both teams made it, I guess.)
- Where the hell did that come from? Shut up, you awful subconscious. Don't make me turn on the TV again to drown you out.
It's the parenthetical thought that is sticking with me today for some reason. It would have been predictable for both teams to make it. It would have reinforced the bleating from people who think that baseball doesn't have parity. It would have been awful.
Except it would have been awesome.
I'll show myself out. Sorry.
1.I went eleven times.