Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2004 World Series: And so it ends

The Teams
American League: Boston Red Sox (98-64) - Tenth World Series (won in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918)
National League: St. Louis Cardinals (105-57) - 16th World Series (won in 1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982)

What Happened 
Everything that mattered for the Red Sox in 2004 happened in the ALCS. That's just the simple truth. They famously went down 3 games to 0 to the Yankees, and then Dave Roberts stole second, turning the series on its ear. David Ortiz got a couple of clutch hits, Curt Schilling's foot started bleeding, and the Red Sox exorcised their demons by beating the Yankees in seven games.

After the drama of the ALCS, the World Series was pretty anticlimactic. People expecting the Curse of the Bambino to rear its ugly head must have been disappointed. Boston committed eight errors combined in the first two games, yet left Boston with a 2-0 series lead because of an offense that kept scoring runs in bunches. (Schilling's foot started started bleeding into his sock again in Game 2, but for the record, the true Bloody Sock Game was Game 6 of the ALCS. So there).

Armed with a 2-0 lead in the World Series, the Red Sox did what they had been waiting to do since 1998 - they gave the ball to Pedro Martinez in a World Series game. He completely controlled the Cardinals from the first pitch, giving up only four hits to put Boston on the brink. Game 4 was nothing more than a nine-inning-long party, as Red Sox fans were finally able to celebrate after 86 years of pain.

Perhaps more impressive than ending the curse, though, was the ease in which they did it. St. Louis was a legitimately good team in 2004, probably the best team of Tony LaRussa's tenure as manager, and they were relegated to nothing more than a footnote to history.

Defining Game
Game 1. Boston scored four runs in the first and three in the third, but kept letting St. Louis back into the game because of poor pitching and poor fielding. Boston finally got the lead for good after a two-run 8th inning home run by Mark Bellhorn. With the Cardinals finally beaten back, the Red Sox could relax the rest of the series.

Manny Ramirez. It really could have been anybody. Schilling, Martinez, and Derek Lowe all got through their starts without giving up a run. Four different hitters batted above .300 for the series, and five hitters had more than one extra base hit. The voters settled on Ramirez, despite the fact that he only had one extra-base hit for the series. But really, it didn't matter. In the aftermath of Game 4, very few people were paying attention to who the MVP was.

(Home team in Bold)

St. Louis 9 2 1 0
Boston 11 6 4 3

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:

93. 2004 - Boston (A) def. St. Louis (N) 4-0
94. 1932 - New York (A) def. Chicago (N) 4-0
95. 1908 - Chicago (N) def. Detroit (A) 4-1
96. 1999 - New York (A) def. Atlanta (N) 4-0
97. 1963 - Los Angeles (N) def. New York (A) 4-0
98. 2010 - San Francisco (N) def. Texas (A) 4-1
99. 1937 - New York (A) def. New York (N) 4-1
Numbers 100-107

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