Joe Buck on World Series: ‘These are two teams that don’t quit’
|10.22.13 at 12:16 pm ET|
A baseball fan’s favorite date on the calendar sits only a day away.
After a seemingly never-ending season, America’s pastime enters its main event with the World Series. This year’s Fall Classic features two of Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises in the Red Sox and Cardinals. Both clubs led their respective leagues with 97 wins, and this marks the first time since 1999 that the top team in the National League faces off against the top team in the American League.
The voices of October remain the longtime pair of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Buck is calling his 16th World Series broadcast, which is miles behind McCarver, the Hall of Famer who is behind the microphone for his 24th World Series broadcast. This is the 16th World Series broadcast on Fox, and also the curtain call for the retiring McCarver. Both men spoke on a national conference call Monday, previewing the matchup between two evenly matched clubs.
Though Sox fans may not always agree with McCarver and Buck, all parties can agree these are the two best teams in baseball.
“That’s why this series is so exciting to me,” Buck said. “These are two teams that don’t quit, and they’re two teams who play the game fundamentally well. This is as exciting a matchup as we’ve had in the 16 times we’ve done it. With the way these two teams hammer away, nobody’s going to roll over. They just coming, and that’s what’s going to make this fun and a long series.”
“The list of really terrific players is on both sides,” McCarver marveled. “How can you respect anybody more than Dustin Pedroia? He told me that he thought about, with runners on first and third against the Tigers and nobody out in the sixth inning of Game 6, when he made the play on Victor Martinez and getting Prince Fielder in a rundown, that he thought about pulling off a triple play. I’ve never talked to any infielder who thought about a triple play before a double play happened. That, to me, is the type of player you’re getting with Boston. Pedroia is the blood and guts of this team.”
Both teams have won at least one championship at the expense of the other. St. Louis beat Boston in 1946 and (with McCarver catching) 1967, while the Sox swept in 2004.
“I don’t think anybody in baseball was going to beat the Red Sox in the World Series in 2004,” McCarver said. “Once they came back and won the Yankee series like they did, nobody was going to beat the Red Sox. But this year is different. The Cardinals can match them with their young pitchers and the bullpen.”
The resurgent Red Sox have exposed flaws in all of their opponents, abusing the Rays lineup and finding holes in Detroit’s bench and bullpen, but McCarver warned that the Sox will face a superior opponent in the Cardinals.
“The Cardinal Way,” explained McCarver, “means the St. Louis Cardinals are meticulous about the way they play the game. Their pitching, defense, and baserunning are all superb, and they rarely got beat in not playing the right way. That’s the mark of a great organization.”
McCarver shared no shortage of praise for the Cardinals pitching staff.
“They all seem to be signature, young hard-throwers,” McCarver said. “Michael Wacha had only nine starts all year during the regular season, but was only six outs away from a no-hitter on his last start. Kevin Siegrist, the left-hander nobody has heard of, [closer] Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness. They all throw differently, and that’s one of the reasons, as a group, they’re so successful. The fact they can all get it over 95 miles per hour, with the exception perhaps of Maness, is just a real credit to the Cardinal organization in bringing up these young pitchers.”
McCarver also took a moment to discuss arguably the greatest World Series of all time in 1967. After Bob Gibson pitched St. Louis to a 2-1 victory in Game 1 at Fenway Park, McCarver was amazed with what he saw in the game’s aftermath.
“One of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen between the white lines in my 55-year career,” said McCarver, “was Carl Yastrzemski taking the batting cage from underneath the stands in center field. After 163 games, he went out to take extra hitting. We were waiting with our wives for the team bus, and Yastrzemski hit, and that impressed us all to a man. And it worked, because the next day Carl went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI.”
Added McCarver: “It was an acrimonious series, too. We came back [to Fenway] for Game 6, and the Red Sox beat us badly. Before Game 7, the headline in the Boston Herald read ‘[Jim] Lonborg and Champagne,’ and that made us mad. I’m not saying it was the reason we won — the reason we won was because Bob Gibson was on the mound — but we were very, very upset. That was the way the Boston press played it, and that did not work in the favor of the Red Sox.”
As for this year’s battle, Buck noted that those searching for an advantage for the Sox need look no further than the man in charge in the dugout.
“Managers get far too much blame and not enough credit,” said Buck. “John Farrell came in last year after Bobby Valentine and the mess they had last year, finishing in last place, and now here they are in the World Series as a grinding, ‘We’re going to keep coming at you until we run out of outs’ team.”
Another fascinating facet of the 109th World Series will be the games in St. Louis. Playing under National League rules with no designated hitter, the Sox will be forced to sit David Ortiz or Mike Napoli.
“It’s huge,” said Buck. “The Red Sox are built classically like a great American League team, and that means they have the best DH in the history of DHing. Ortiz still has that flair for late-inning magic, but you balance that with Napoli — who’s getting hot — and one of those guys is going to have to sit for three games.”
Even though the Sox own home-field advantage, Buck sees that as a potential boost for St. Louis.
“The irony of it all is the Cardinals have no bench whatsoever,” Buck said. “That was blatantly obvious in the NLCS, yet now — because you can use the DH — they’re getting Allen Craig back, who was their top run-producer. In some weird way, because Craig may not be healthy enough to play in the field, it kind of benefits the Cardinals that way, too.”
As McCarver prepares to retire from the broadcast booth, he cited three World Series that will always resonate in his mind: the Royals’ victory over the Cardinals in 1985, Jack Morris’ dominance in 1991 as the Twins beat the Braves, and the Diamondbacks’ victory over the Yankees in 2001. All of those series went to a full seven games, just as the ’67 Series did. Red Sox fans across the globe are hoping to close his career with another seven-game series, just this time with the Sox walking away champagne-soaked and victorious.
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