Debating William & Mary, sports and culture since 2011. Updated every Wednesday.

2013 World Series Hangover

In Baseball on November 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

With their mourning period over, CDH’s Ian Brickey and Becky Koenig are ready to talk about the 2013 World Series, the hot stove league, the St. Louis Cardinals’ prospects for 2014 and, of course, beards.

IB: Well, it’s been two weeks since the Red Sox romped their way into the Boston night after their Game 6 victory in the 2013 World Series. I know you and I were disappointed that the St. Louis Cardinals’ season ended two games short, but if you had told me before opening day that the Cardinals would win the National League pennant and take arguably the best team in baseball to a sixth game in the Fall Classic, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat. It’s never fun to lose, especially when your team comes so close to winning it all, but that’s the great thing about baseball — there’s always another season, and that six month offseason is never as long as it seems. But with our cursory mourning period over, let’s take stock on a remarkable season for the Redbirds.

1. The emergence of Matt Carpenter. For as long as I can remember, second base has been a revolving door for the Cardinals. Since 2004, seven — SEVEN — different players have made the opening day start at second base. Carpenter didn’t make the start at second in 2013, but there’s a good chance he will in 2014. Let’s look at his offensive production, shall we? .318 batting average, 199 hits (led the league), 126 runs (led the league), 55 doubles (led the league AND broke the club record, which had been held by Stan Musial for more than 60 years) and a tidy OPS+ of 143. Carpenter shouldered his way into the NL MVP conversation, and he’s under team control until 2018. Expect to see a lot of Matt Carpenter for the foreseeable future.

2. The dominance of Allen Craig. After Albert Pujols left town for LA-LA land in 2012, many St. Louis fans were worried about the gaping hole at first base. It turns out their fears were unwarranted. In two seasons, Allen Craig has established himself as one of the premier offensive first basemen in the National League. Craig was on pace for a career year before a linsfranc injury sidelined him in September. But Craig would not be denied, rehabbed obsessively, and worked his way back onto the Cardinals roster just in time for the World Series. David Ortiz deservedly received attention for his historic offensive performance in the Classic, but Craig was clearly the Cardinals MVP in the series: .375 BA and an .849 OPS on one foot. Master Allen is ready for a national breakout, and if you’re not following @TortyCraig on Twitter, you’re missing out.

3. National trolling. You know you’ve made it when the national media compares you to the New York Yankees. 2013 saw the emergence of Cardinals trolling — the organized effort by Deadspin et al to make Cardinals fans cringe. They trashed the team’s icy demeanor and attacked the “Best Fans In Baseball” reputation of the fans. Some people didn’t get the joke, but others took the ribbing in stride. For years, St. Louis fans — myself included — have lamented the lack of national attention given to the Cardinals. But with four World Series appearances since 2004 and two titles, the Cardinals have established themselves as one of the most successful franchises of the 2000s. Sure, mock the BFIB thing — we still have Adam Wainwright’s curve, Yadier Molina’s right arm and toasted ravioli. Deadspin can hate on the Cardinals all they want, but there’s something special happening on the banks of the Mississippi.

BK: What a sad way to end the season. But as my grandpa says, winning the pennant is the REAL accomplishment — the World Series is just a bonus. Here are my thoughts on what made the 2013 World Series stand out:

1. The politics of sport. It’s hard to put this delicately, but Boston’s decision to link the fate of the Red Sox with the bombing of the Boston Massacre seemed a little…exploitative. From the “Boston Strong” slogan mowed into the outfield grass to the appearance of bombing victims during the seventh-inning stretch, the connection drawn between the unrelated events put everyone rooting for St. Louis in an awkward position. The bombing was a national tragedy, especially since runners travel to Boston from across the country to participate, so for the baseball team to appropriate the incident seems not only a little inappropriate, but also simply inaccurate.

2. Beards. The facial hair sported by the Boston Red Sox was, in a word, gross. I know superstition is one of baseball’s endearing quirks, having watched my brother and his high school teammates get mohawks during every playoff season, but those beards were uncivilized. When the season ended, David Ortiz and Shane Victorino shaved their beards off during a Gillette marketing stunt to benefit victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The Red Sox may have played better this time around, but their gimmicks were pretty irritating. Give me a rally squirrel any day.

3. Rookie magic. No more bitterness; the Cardinals have enough young talent to give St. Louis fans lots to look forward to next season. Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha had the old men on the radio more excited than I’ve heard in a long time, and it will be fun to watch them take the mound next year already having World Series experience. How many days until spring training, Brickey? Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

IB: According to Springtrainingcountdown.com — which, yes, is a real thing — there are 90 days until pitchers and catchers report. And you’re right about hope. Not a single game has been played, nor a single pitch thrown, but 2014 looks pretty good to this Cardinals fan.

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