published Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Wiedmer: Boston seems too strong now for Cardinals

  • photo
    Boston Red Sox's David Ross hits an RBI double during the seventh inning of Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

My 7-year-old daughter Ella Beth calls them her "birthday team."

That's because on the night she was born, as I held her in my arms in Erlanger East's Magnolia suite, the St. Louis Cardinals knocked off the New York Mets to advance to the 2006 World Series, which they eventually won against Detroit.

So as Game 6 of the 2013 Fall Classic begins tonight between the Redbirds and the Boston Red Sox, the visiting Cards will be rooted on by at least one fourth-generation fan who's almost as concerned about her birthday team as she is about the size of her Halloween candy bucket.

That loyalty may also end up delivering her a trick rather than a treat come the stroke of midnight, since it's kind of tough to see St. Louis overcoming a 3-2 deficit against the BoSox inside their quirky masterpiece of a ballyard, Fenway Park.

And if you're a Red Sox fan today, you'll no doubt see justice in this, convinced that no team should potentially lose a World Series on an "obstruction" call, which was the final straw for Boston in its Game 3 loss at Busch Stadium on Saturday night.

Never mind that it's a rule and that you may never see a more textbook example of it than Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks impeding Allen Craig's path to home plate for the winning run. Yet even the Cardinals seemed uncomfortable with that victory, so much so that they haven't won since, dropping the last two on home soil.

So one of the tensest, tautest World Series in memory, one framed either by outstanding pitching, anemic hitting (other than Boston's amazing David Ortiz) or a little of both, continues for at least one more night, quite possibly to extend to a deciding seventh game on Halloween night if St. Looie rookie Michael Wacha can spook the Red Sox enough to claim his fifth straight postseason win.

And that's really as it should be between two of the sport's most storied franchises, each of which has claimed multiple titles since 2004. They finished the regular season tied for the best record in the majors (97-65); they both won their league championship series in six games; they each represent two of the most loyal and passionate fan bases anywhere, regardless of the sport.

It even seems to appeal to the average fan, given that ratings are not only up across the board from last season, but Sunday night's Game 4 outdrew NBC's NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

Any sporting event that can outdraw the NFL these days has to have something going for it.

But to better understand this Series' importance to each city's fan bases, consider that the average price for a resale ticket Tuesday reached beyond $1,800. According to ESPN, one especially well-heeled Red Sox fan paid $24,000 on StubHub for a pair of tickets in the first row in a dugout box between home plate and one of the on-deck circles. How juiced is Red Sox Nation? A week ago, bleacher seats for Game 1 were going for $300. Tonight they're expected to top $1,200.

Of course, as all this was going on following Boston's 3-1 win on Monday night, the Cardinals were struggling just to reach Boston, thanks to problems with their plane, which was still on the tarmac in St. Louis late Tuesday afternoon.

"Everybody seems to be doing all right," Cards skipper Mike Matheny said during a conference call. "We're fortunate that our club allows our families to travel with us. We have plenty of food, snacks for the kids. Most of these kids are pretty happy they're not in school right now."

When I wasn't much older than my daughter, my elementary school ushered us to the lunchroom to watch the Cards play the Red Sox in the 1967 Series, which St. Louis ultimately won.

My DNA hopes the Cards win it again, which would be their 12th world championship and third since 2006. But if it's Boston, there's also this reason to feel good about a baseball season that's felt far better than most.

As the Fox cameras will no doubt show again tonight, "Boston Strong" is mowed into the outfield at Fenway, a reference to the tragic, senseless bombing at last spring's Boston Marathon.

Because of that, you get the feeling that while the Cards want this, the Red Sox need this, a tiny band-aid for an unimaginable act of terrorism.

This isn't to guarantee a Boston title. If a senseless tragedy could do that, the Yankees would have won the 2001 World Series instead of the Diamondbacks following 9/11.

But on baseball alone, if only because of the singular brilliance of "Big Papi" Ortiz, the Red Sox just seem a little too strong for my daughter's birthday team. The Series should end tonight, and with relative ease for the home team.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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