The World Series Begins Today!

October 19, 2011

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If you’ve been paying attention over the past few years, you might realize that I’m a baseball fan.  I love the playoffs and World Series, even when my team isn’t in it (sadly the case this year).  The World Series is my Super Bowl (times seven!)

This year’s matchup pits the St. Louis Cardinals from the good league versus the Texas Rangers from the inferior league.  The Cardinals are my second favorite team, so I’m naturally pulling for them.  It’s been a strange journey for the Cardinals, who had to make a miracle run in September just to get into the playoffs.  Early in the month, I commented to Bob Inferapels that while that Phillies had an insurmountable lead over the Braves, the Braves likewise had an insurmountable lead in the wild card.  Well, the Cardinals surmounted it.

This is a team that lost co-ace Adam Wainwright in the spring, had Matt Holliday knocked out early with an appendectomy (and other various injuries during the year), and lost Albert Pujols for a while due to an injury.  They did catch a couple of small breaks when Holliday and Pujols returned earlier than expected, but for much of the year it was guys like David Freese carrying the load.

A few years ago, many critics said that Matt Holliday was simply a product of Coors Field and would flop anywhere else.  While he hasn’t been able to duplicated the crazy numbers he put up for the Rockies (not even I expected him to), his numbers the past three seasons (OPS of .909, .922, and .912) still place him along the elite hitters in baseball.

The Rangers road the bat of Nelson Cruz into the series, returning to complete the unfinished business from last year.  They lost Cliff Lee as a free agent in the off-season, and very nearly traded away an at-the-time disgrunted Michael Young in the spring, but put those events in the rear view mirror early in the season and roared to a 96 win season.

Some of the Rangers players have faced a lot of struggles in their lives.  The most notable, of course, is Josh Hamilton.  The former #1 pick was always an elite talent, but his struggles with drugs and alcohol nearly cost him his career.  This season, Hamilton faced a tragedy when a fan fell to his death trying to catch a ball Hamilton had tossed to him.  It’s very common for outfielders to toss a ball to fan in the stands.  Shannon Stone was simply the unfortunate victim of a freak occurrence.  It would be nice for Hamilton to finish the season on a high note.

Pitcher Alexi Ogando had been invited to Spring Training in 2005.  However, when he arrived in the US that year, he was taken into custody for his role in a human trafficking ring.  The gist of the operation was that young baseball players were marrying women who had been denied visas, in order to allow the women to gain entrance into the country.  Ogando was banned from entering the United State for five years, derailing his Major League career.  Ogando started the season strong and cooled in the second half (likely due to a large increase in innings pitched), but still finished with a 13-8 record and a 3.51 ERA.

Even if the east coast media market doesn’t like this matchup, it should be a great World Series!

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