Welcome to the 2013 World Series. I have just one question.
Where’s the hate?
We have the Red Sox and the Cardinals and one giant bowl of respect. Everybody loves everybody. The opponents are all worthy.
The Sox and Cardinals both worked out at Fenway Park Tuesday, and you could have gotten diabetes from the sugar pouring out of the clubhouses.
All You Need Is Love. Love Train. This World Series is all about Parliamentary Procedure, Marquis de Queensberry Rules, and (Dave) Roberts Rules of Order.
The 2013 Fall Classic could be played to the famous Harvard fight song penned by Tom Lehrer in 1945 (“Fight Fiercely, Harvard”), which includes these lyrics:
“Fight Fiercely, Harvard, demonstrate to them our skill . . . albeit they possess the might, nonetheless we have the will . . . Let’s not try to injure them, but fight! fight! fight!’’
Swell. The Sox appreciate the Cardinals and what it took for them to get here. The Cardinals are loving the Boston hospitality and are honored to have a chance to represent the National League against the venerable Red Sox. John Farrell has great regard for Mike Matheny and Matheny thinks Farrell is the Manager of the Year.
Boston loves St. Louis and St. Louis loves the Hub. Those of us who were in St. Louis for the Red Sox’ clincher in 2004 will never forget the generosity of the St. Louis people. Busch Stadium security folks opened the gates in the late innings of Game 4 and invited non-ticketed Sox fans to join in the celebration and the breaking of the 86-year-old curse. Terry Francona later noted, “All the people in St. Louis look like they just showered. They are so nice and clean.’’
Sorry, St. Louis, but most of us here in Boston would rather have the Dodgers in town right now. It would have been a hate-fest.
We’d have had Larry Lucchino wrestling on the mound with Stan Kasten. We’d have imported Larry Bird for a home run hitting contest with Magic Johnson. We’d have asked Carl Crawford why he made up all that stuff about a “toxic” atmosphere in Boston. We’d have asked Adrian Gonzalez if he minded playing late-night games in the World Series. We’d have teased Josh Beckett about a billboard (of Beckett) that still adorns the Kenmore Square T stop.
We’d have talked to Sox maestro Dr. Charles Steinberg about his position papers for Jamie McCourt’s presidential bid. We’d have thanked Dodger architect Janet Marie Smith for her great job rebuilding Fenway and asked her why the Sox let her go without even a thank you in 2009. We’d have chanted, “Beat LA,’’ as a Sox sendoff after Game 2 Thursday night.
But none of that will happen. Instead we have the worthy, well-scrubbed Cardinals, a team with history, integrity, and big horses that strut through the snow in the greatest Christmas television commercial of all time.
Personally, I miss the hatred. There has been far too much collegiality in this Red Sox postseason. Joe Maddon and Jim Leyland are baseball lifers, never to be mocked, nor despised. Evan Longoria and Miguel Cabrera were stand-up guys who refused to make excuses for their failures. Sox fans could not get into a lather about obnoxious fans in St. Petersburg or Detroit. It’ll be the same thing at the Arch by the banks of the Mississippi.
This series has no A-Rod. No Steinbrenner. No Mangini. No Parcells. No Ray Lewis, no Reggie Jackson, no Bucky (Bleepin’) Dent. We have no Luongo pumping his own tires, no Sedin twins, no streets of fire in downtown Vancouver.
Sometimes it takes a few games to generate some negative energy toward one’s opponent. This never happened when the Sox rolled over the Cardinals and Rockies in 2004 and 2007, but previous Sox World Series had a few dust-ups.
The 1986 Sox played seven famous games against the New York Mets, and even though it wasn’t the Yankees, that Series furnished all the typical Boston-New York drama and punch lines. The Sox were beaten by a team loaded with degenerates, including Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Keith Hernandez, and Dwight Gooden.
The 1975 Series had Sparky Anderson boasting that his starting pitcher, Don Gullett, was “going to the Hall of Fame’’ after the series (Bill Lee said he would be going to the Eliot Lounge), then things picked up steam when Ed Armbrister got away with interference on a bunt play at Riverfront Stadium. Pete Rose was an agitator, but nobody hated the way Rose played baseball.
In 1967, Dick Williams famously baited the Cardinals, claiming that his Game 7 plans called for “Lonborg and champagne,’’ and the Cardinals mocked Williams after Bob Gibson won decisively. The Sox accused St. Louis’s Nelson Briles of throwing at Yaz.
Sox-Cardinals in 1946 was a mild-mannered event. Boston would lose, but it was then as it is now; there was nothing to hate about the Gateway City.
The golden days of World Series loathing were in the early 20th century.
The Red Sox won five of the first 15 Series ever played and there was nothing genteel about any of it. The first Series in 1903, pitting the Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates, featured riots and fires in the stands.
When Babe Ruth beat Brooklyn in 1916, Ruth told his manager, “I told you I could take care of those National League sons of bitches!’’ Sox coach Charles “Heinie” Wagner got into a fistfight with Cubs coach Otto Knabe during the 1918 World Series. Ruth also went after Knabe.
Those were the days — a time when the World Series was an intersection of “The Natural” and “Boardwalk Empire.’’
The 2013 World Series looks like “The Love Boat.’’