Brace yourselves. In the next few days we can expect to hear a lot about how Red Sox second baseman Johnny Pesky held the relay throw too long in the seventh game of the 1946 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals allowing the Cards’ Enos Slaughter to score the winning run all the way from first base on a double by Harry Walker.
Or maybe you would prefer the countless retellings no doubt in store for us about the remarkable pitching of Bob Gibson and Jim Lonborg in the 1967 Series, also won by the Cards in seven games. Going into their final game match-up Gibson and Lonborg were both 2 – 0 in the series. Gibson had given up four hits in eighteen innings and Lonborg had yielded one lone run and four hits, also in eighteen frames. Gibson won the decisive game easily, 7-2.
So you see, despite Wednesday night’s comeback for the ages by the Red Sox, not all of the demons and curses have been exorcised. Boston and St. Louis have a history, too, maybe not as steeped in lore and loathing as the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry, but just as one-sided.
The Cardinals’ triumph in game seven of the NLCS was expected in this quarter. Roger Clemens took the mound for the Astros and though he pitched decently, the 42-year old hurler has never been the dominant force in the post-season he has been in the regular season. All that aside, the Cardinals simply have too much fire power to keep down. As usual Albert Pujols got the offense rolling but it was Scott Rolen, grim-faced as always, who put the Cardinals ahead to stay with a two-run first pitch shot off of Clemens in the sixth. Rolen stroked the ball over the fence, put his head down and literally sprinted around the base path. There ain’t no standing around and admiring his handiwork for this strapping lad from Jaspar, Indiana.
What nearly everyone tends to forget about this St. Louis team is that they have a lot of guys who can really catch the ball. Last night after Craig Biggio led off the game with a home run, six-time Gold Glover Jim Edmonds literally cut off a potential huge second inning for the Astros with a spectacular diving catch with two men aboard. Edmonds was shaded toward right center when he got on his horse and made the catch running full tilt toward the alley in left center.
This combination of an explosive offense, spectacular fielding and good if unremarkable starting pitching is a combination that will prove too difficult for Boston to overcome. Sorry, Red Sox Nation, the curse will endure.