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The World Series – History and 2004 Analysis


Perhaps no championship in professional sports is more popular or as coveted as baseball’s World Series

Known as the Fall Classic since it is played during the fall.  The World Series determines the best team in the Major Leagues.  Pitting the champions of the American and National Leagues against each other, it is the most watched baseball event in North America, and quite possibly the world.      

Over the last century, the World Series has been woven into the fabric of America’s culture evolving far beyond a mere baseball tournament.  It is the pinnacle contest that celebrates America’s national pastime.  The World Series become the game of all games and has continued to provide us with an endless highlight reel of magical moments evoking childhood memories of agony and ecstasy.  Its importance has been based on its long and illustrious history dating back to the 19th century.

The first world championship was played in 1884 between the winner of the National League and the winner of the American Association, a now defunct league.  The first winner was the National League’s Providence Grays.  However the term World Series was not actually coined until the American Association closed down in financial ruin, and another more successful league, the American League, took its place.  In 1903, the first World Series was played between the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

The World Series is a best-of-seven series pitting the American League Champion against the National League Champion.  Up to the 1969, the teams with the best record would be named the Champions in their respective leagues, who then proceeded to play each other in the Fall Classic.  In 1969, each league was divided into two divisions – East and West.  Divisional Champions, those with the best regular season record, would then play each other in a best-of-seven League Championship Series (LCS) to determine the League Champion.  Each League Champion would then meet in the World Series.  In 1994, after the Major League had undergone considerable expansion, each League was further divided into three divisions – East, West, and Central.  A new playoff format was made, with each divisional leader advancing to the playoffs along with a Wild Card, the team with the best overall record from each league that didn’t win their division.  Thus the playoffs began with a best-of-five League Divisional Series (LDS) to determine who would play in the LCS.  The winners of the LCS would then meet in the World Series.           

2004 World Series

The 2004 World Series matches the National League Champions, St. Louis Cardinals, against the American League Champions, Boston Red Sox. 

St. Louis got here by winning the Central Division title with a 105-57 record.  They faced the Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69), the Western Division winners in the NLDS and won the series 3 games to 1, advancing to meet the Wild Card, Houston Astros (92-70) in the NLCS, who had earlier defeated Eastern Division winners, Atlanta Braves (96-66) in the other NLDS.  In the NLCS, St. Louis defeated the Astros in six games to win the National League Championship and advance to the World Series. 

Boston got to the playoffs by clinching a Wild Card birth with a 98-64 record.  They had come in second behind Eastern Division leaders, New York Yankees (101-61).  In the ALDS, the Red Sox swept the Western Division winners, Anaheim Angels (92-70) to advance to the ALCS against the New York Yankees.  The Yankees had beaten Central division leaders, Minnesota Twins (92-70) in five games.  In a memorable ALCS between bitter rivals, the Yankees appeared like they were going to easily advance to the World Series as they beat the Red Sox in the first three games.  However, the Red Sox surged back to win the next four games to capture the American League Championship and advance to play in the World Series.  This marked the first time a baseball team has recovered from a 3-game deficit to win a playoff series. 

Roster Analysis

Both Cardinals and Red Sox have a lot of offensive firepower.  For instance, check out where these teams rank among the Major Leagues. 

·        Batting Average – Boston is ranked 2nd (.282) while St. Louis is ranked 4th (.278).                                                                                                             

·        Runs Scored – Boston was ranked 1st in the league (949) while St. Louis is ranked 6th (855).      

·        Home Runs – Boston was ranked 5th (222) while St. Louis ranked 7th (214).                                   

·        Total Bases – Boston was ranked 1st (2702) while St. Louis is ranked 4th (2553).                           

·        On-base % – Boston was ranked 1st (.360) while St. Louis is ranked 8th (.344).

·        Stolen Bases – St. Louis was ranked 5th (111) while Boston is ranked 21st (68).

Both teams have strong, effective pitching staffs with different styles.  Two dominant power pitchers - Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, lead Boston’s staff.  St. Louis has a deep pitching rotation that rely predominantly on pitch location and getting the opposing batters to ground or fly out.  Here is where these teams rank in regards to key team pitching statistics:

·        Earned Run Average – St. Louis ranks 2nd (3.75) while Boston ranks 11th (4.11).                       

·        Strikeouts – Boston ranks 5th (1132) while St. Louis ranks 16th (1041).                                         

·        Shutouts – Both teams are tied at 4th with 12 shutouts.                                                                     

·        Saves – St. Louis is ranked 2nd (57) while Boston is ranked 18th (36).