By Rich Coutinho
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I walk around the streets of New York and nobody cares about the World Series.
It is sad to see, because if you love baseball, you have to love this series. I know the Mets had a rotten year and the Yankees made a quick exit in the first round but this Texas/St. Louis series has some juice. It is a shame New Yorkers don’t see it.
You know we all say the New York baseball fan is smarter and more perceptive than any other fans in the country, but if the truth be told we’re as provincial as any of those other fans. When our baseball teams are out, we shut down and I guess what that means is we are really not baseball fans. The NY football fan still had interest in the Super Bowl after the Jets were bumped by the Steelers and the NY NBA fans were certainly mesmerized by Heat/Mavericks last year, but if we don’t see Yanks, Mets or Phils or Red Sox (only because we hate those last two teams) we shut down.
But this is an interesting series and one that will go the distance. It features a team that had to inch their way into the post-season party and one who is returning to the Fall Classic in a year most thought the Yanks, Red Sox, Rays, and even the Verlander-led Tigers were better bets than then they were. The Texas Rangers are an interesting case because Nolan Ryan had to endure losing Cliff Lee to the Phillies and instead of brooding about it, they went out and signed Adrian Beltre – making an awesome lineup deeper. When you consider that the core bats of Beltre, Cruz, Hamilton, Young, and Kinsler are tough enough, try pitching against a lineup that features a sixth bat in Mike Napoli that crushed 30 homers. Quite simply, it is the most potent lineup in baseball and has the Rangers on the brink of their first-ever World Championship. Texas could actually get by with less starting pitching because of their high-octane offense coupled with a very efficient bullpen that was heavily reinforced with the addition of Mike Adams at the trading deadline.
Standing in their way is the St. Louis Cardinals who also endured losing their ace when Adam Wainwright got hurt in spring training. Couple that with a bullpen that stumbled through most of the summer, the Cardinals were put to bed by the experts in early August, but a slumping Braves team left the door open a crack which the Redbirds kicked in during the season’s final week. And oh by the way, they had to beat Cliff Lee in Game 2 and then Roy Halladay in a Game 5 do or die matchup in Philly and then proceeded to take 2-of-3 in Milwaukee where the Brewers were nearly unbeatable this year. And like the Rangers, the Cardinals made some under the radar moves at the deadline obtaining both Rafael Furcal (who saved Game 5 with a defensive gem) and Octavio Dotel who got some real big outs for Tony LaRussa in the ALCS.
A series like this is good for baseball — it is nice to see different teams in the mix who really had to fight to get here. So why the indifference by fans? What they tell me is it has no juice — there is no yapping by the players, no wild predictions, these teams respect each other too much.
Is that the world we live in?
The game is not enough anymore — the back story complete with nasty tweeting is what sells. For me, the game has always been enough and this series is a great matchup of 2 teams that have struggled to get here and that is what sports is all about — the games that have everything on the line. Not how many twitter followers you have.