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[October 20th] -- And so now we know -- it's the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers in this year's World Series. Though I've lived in both cities, I don't particularly have a dog in this hunt this year (for those of you who don't speak "Dr. Phil," that means I don't care who wins). But I like this year's pairing because both teams bring interesting story lines into the series.

The Tigers are what the Nationals hope to soon become. Having lost 119 games just three years ago, Detroit built a winner the proper way, with just the right blend of veterans, rookies and free-agents. When they lost the pennant to the Twins on the last day of the season (talk about a near record-setting collapse!), everyone gave them up for dead. After losing the first game of the LDS to the Yankees, they won the next seven games they played to reach the Fall Classic.

The St. Louis Cardinals came into this season missing two very important pieces of last season's puzzle: Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker. Without them, they weren't as good on the field, and they were even worse off the field. The Cardinals' clubhouse had many problems during the last month of the season. It got so bad that some players were suggesting that Albert Pujols was turning into the next Barry Bonds. What? But the amazing thing is that the Cardinals reached the World Series with just 83 wins. Eighty-three wins! The Washington Nationals won just two less games in 2005, and there was no way that team had any hope of succeeding in the playoffs.

I guess I'm going to root for the Tigers, only because their appearance in the Series is so improbable. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not a Detroit fan. That city was by far and away the worst I've ever lived in. St. Louis was a very clean and enjoyable city -- lots to do and I felt safe wherever I went.

The Cardinals - Tigers matchup is very interesting, particularly for me. I was 12 years old the last time the two teams met in the World Series, and it was the first year I followed baseball. Though it was 38 years ago, the memories from that series are still fresh: (note -- these are from memory; I didn't look anything up. I may get a couple of facts wrong, but memories don't mean much if they are fact-checked).

Denny McLain struggled throughout the series, going 1-2. Mickey Lolich, however, was superb, winning 3 games and almost single-handedly brought the championship to Detroit. That the Tigers won it all wasn't a surprise -- Detroit was clearly the best team in the major leagues that year.

The "year of the pitcher" came to a close with Mickey Lolich jumping into catcher Bill Freehan's waiting arms. Bowie Kuhn and the team owners were so concerned that the lack of offense was keeping fans away from the parks that they lowered the mound five inches. And it worked. Once again, baseball was a balance of offense and pitching.

Okay, I waited until the last paragraph to mention Endy Chavez' great catch that robbed Scott Rolen of a two-run home run. Without a doubt, it was the finest post-season catch I've personally seen, and that covers more than 40 years of baseball. I just hope you got tired of reading this story and moved on before you had to read this, painful as I know it is.

I too remember that rainy game -- I didn't remember Horton's utensil as being a knife -- I thought it was a plastic spoon.

Either way, thanks for the memories. I was 15 that year and was rooting for the Cardinals because it was Roger Maris' last season, and I was a big fan of his.
The Cards win made me happy, mostly because Omar Minaya is the Mets GM. Minaya, as GM of the Expos, was Selig's toadie and the architect of the dismembering of the Expos/Nats franchise, including the farm system, before it came to DC. After the dismembering, Minaya didn't have the guts to show his face in DC, instead opting to take Wilpon's big check book in NY and buy a team of superstars, thus taking a page out of George Steinbrenner's book. So it didn't work for Omar. Now he has a winter to think about a team that, with the exception of Wright and Reyes, is very old. Your future was now Omar and you struck out last night.
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