Cardinals a franchise steeped in baseball tradition
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Kevin Millar said the Cardinals have an American League-type offense. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have their opponent in the World Series. And that opponent happens to have as much of a rich tradition as they do.
The Cardinals clinched their trip to Boston for Saturday's Game 1 of the World Series by ousting the Astros in Thursday night's Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
If there is a city with as much pure baseball passion as Boston, it might just be St. Louis. And both cities have been thirsting for another taste of the Fall Classic.
The Red Sox -- after their historic comeback against the Yankees in the ALCS -- are in the World Series for the first time since 1986, when they lost to the Mets in seven games. For St. Louis, it has been a similar wait, as the Cardinals lost to the Twins in seven games in 1987.
"The Cardinals are phenomenal," said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar. "They're almost like an American League team playing in the National League with that offense."
The Sox and Cardinals last met during Interleague Play a year ago, with the Cardinals taking two out of three in a wildly entertaining series at Fenway Park. The finale of that was an 8-7 victory by the Cardinals in a 13-inning epic.
The franchises also have an intertwined history that goes back far longer than that. The Cardinals and Red Sox tangled in the 1946 and '67 World Series, with St. Louis winning both of those in seven games.
Back to the present, the Red Sox are trying to build off their heroics against the Yankees and bring home the franchise's first world championship since 1918.
"We need four more wins," said Millar. "When we started these playoffs, we needed 11 wins. We're down to four."
Not many teams can match Boston's two fearsome sluggers, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. But Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen have put up similarly gaudy numbers for the Cardinals this season.
There are ties between the two teams.
Mike Timlin / P
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Sox reliever Mike Timlin pitched for the Cardinals from 2000-02, before being dealt to the Phillies for Rolen.
Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack was in Spring Training this year with the Sox as a non-roster invitee, but Boston -- unconvinced his surgically repaired elbow would hold up -- dealt him before the season started.
St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan broke in with the Red Sox, and was acquired by Boston for the final two months of last season. He signed as a free agent with the Cardinals in the offseason.
It will be a homecoming for Sox third baseman Bill Mueller when the series moves to St. Louis, as he is the pride of Maryland Heights, Mo.
"We respect everybody," Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez said when he wasn't sure if it would be the Astros or Cardinals coming to Fenway. "Whoever comes, we'll play."
The Cardinals are coming, as they represent the final obstacle to the Sox reaching their long-awaited goal.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.