World Series Diversion

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November 4, 2013

by Irvin Muchnick


P.S. OCTOBER 31. That line of baseball predictions didn’t turn out so well. The very deserving Red Sox played better than the Cardinals in every one of six games, minus a couple of fluky plays. Congratulations, Boston.

P.S. OCTOBER 29. Well, so much for the grand design below. Lester outpitched Wainwright again. We’ll see what happens back in Boston, but the Red Sox have established clear superiority over the Cardnals, with or without the familiar DH advantage.

As you may have noticed, we paused our coverage of federal investigations of USA Swimming sexual abuse and cover-up. There is a lot happening behind the scenes, and my collaborator Tim Joyce and I will be reporting those developments.

Over the last week I have taken a break in order to complete my book THE CONCUSSION INC. FILES, which will be published next year by ECW Press. I also am kicking back to enjoy the native St. Louisan’s lay religion that is the baseball World Series. Here are a few just-for-fun observations on what is shaping up to be a classic climax in the evenly matched battle between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.

I think these are the two best teams in baseball – not a given in light of the modern multi-tiered playoff system. I also think the Red Sox are slightly better, overall, with that advantage neutered by their inability to use the designated hitter in the three games in St. Louis. The Cardinals are fortunate to be even in the Series after four games, and will be very lucky to win the thing in seven. With that combination of wishful thinking and random projection that springs eternal, that’s the way I see things playing out. Here are the specifics of my prediction; you can hold me accountable later.

GAME 5, tonight: Adam Wainwright bounces back from his horror show in the opener and outpitches Jon Lester this time. I even expect a breakout offensive performance from the Cardinals’ bats, which so far have been silenced by better and grittier pitching than they faced across 162 regular-season games and the first two rounds of the playoffs.

GAME 6, Wednesday in Boston: Red Sox find a way to win and make the clock strike midnight for Cinderella Michael Wacha.

GAME 7, Thursday: Cardinals win with the assorted twists and wackiness that have marked this entire wonderful Series.

The World Series this year reminds me eerily of the Red Sox loss in seven to the Cincinnati Reds in 1975.

In Game 1 that year in Boston, Luis Tiant shut out the Big Red Machine.

In Game 2, the Reds stole a win in the 9th inning against the Red Sox bullpen. Johnny Bench hit a disciplined opposite-field double and scored the tying run on a two-out hit by Dave Concepcion, who proceeded to steal second and score the game-winner on a double by Ken Griffey. Ken Griffey Senior, that is.

In Game 3 in Cincinnati, they were tied in the 10th when we had the Ed Armbrister play – a precursor of Saturday night’s obstruction controversy in St. Louis. Pinch hitter Armbrister, sent in to bunt the winning run into scoring position, arguably interfered with Boston catcher Carlton Fisk’s throw to second to force Cesar Geronimo. The throw sailed into center field, the runner advanced to third, and the game was effectively over.

In Game 4, pitching on three days’ rest (they did that in those days), Tiant had another complete-game victory to even the Series, though he wasn’t as dominant. With the tying and winning runs on base, the game ended with National League most valuable player Joe Morgan popping out, in part because Geronimo ran on the pitch, needlessly distracting Morgan out of the corner of his eye. I got an echo from that in Kolten Wong’s disastrous pickoff adventure to end last night’s game.

Let’s see how the 2013 baseball season concludes.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick