The chips are on the table; starting Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, two teams that faced each other in the 2004 World Series, will square off again for a shot at the 2013 title. In 2004, it was all BoSox. They swept the Cardinals four games to none.
This year, however, marks a new chapter in baseball. The Red Sox do not carry nearly the same batting power they did in 2004, nor is their pitching quite the same. But, what they do have, and perhaps more of, is grit and audacity. The team has trailed in the 2013 playoffs, but has never let up. They get dirty, and they leave every bit they have on the field.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are back to the World Series, two years removed from a 2011 World Series title, and they only look better. No Albert Pujols, no problem. With Carlos Beltran and Matt Holiday picking up the slack and a solid pitching rotation, the Cardinals are back with energy and competitiveness.
Both teams have been to the title before and surely know what it takes to win. This year's title will come down to who truly wants it. Is someone going to make an improbable homerun-robbing catch, or will there be a walk-off hit?
With home field advantage and momentum of their side, the Red Sox seem destined to win the title. If they can continue to bring the same bullpen pitching night in and night out, that will be the difference maker, and that is what will win them a ring. When seventh inning fatigue hits, the name of the game is consistent bullpen pitching coupled with late bat power. Thus far, the Red Sox have met that challenge; I like the Sox. Nonetheless, two respected ballclubs, two poised teams. Grab your cap for the first pitch on Wednesday night.