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2011 World Series -- The Selection

For this entire baseball season, I fully expected to be writing about the Philadelphia Phillies in the column called "2011 World Series -- the Selection."

It's still hard to believe that the Phillies are not representing the National League in the Fall Classic. The Phils ran into a red hot team, their big bats went cold, and that was that.

So now, it's the team that took Philly down, the St Loius Cardinals, in the World Series, facing the Texas Rangers.

Many Phillies fans are strongly hoping that Texas wins the series ... anybody but St Louis.

But I am not in that corner. The Cardinals played their way into the playoffs (yes, they were aided by an epic collapse by the Braves...) and have been the underdog in every round of the playoffs, but they have come through, and they deserve to be here. They have earned it. And I believe they can keep it going for one more series.

The Cardinals are once again the underdog in this series, they are currently +135, while Texas is -155. That number has been coming down, as many people are concluding that you just can't count this Cardinals team out.

For one thing, St Louis has home field advantage. That is due to the fact that the National League won the All-Star game back in July, and not because of their regular season record. It can easily be argued that it is not a fair system, that it is actually silly that an exhibition game decides home field, but nevertheless, St Louis will play 4 of the 7 games at home, should this series go 7.

There is no DH for the St Louis home games, which obviously favors the NL team, who play with no DH all season long. Texas's pitchers will have to hit, and suffice it to say, they will be easier outs than your average NL pitcher. And the AL players who's job it is to DH, will become just pinch hitters.

The home field advantage has been huge in the World Series. In the last 30 years, the team with home field has won 23 times. Thats a big number....

Both of these teams have great lineups, but Texas has more big time hitters. Their star of this postseason, Nelson Cruz, is their number 7 hitter. Enough said.

Starting pitching is maybe slightly tilted in St Louis's favor, but Texas has a definite edge in the bullpen.

Its clear why Texas is a fairly heavy favorite in this series. So, why am I picking St Louis?

Besides home field, the Cardinals also have the huge edge at manager. Tony La Russa is a master. The moves that he makes work, it seems like he always pushes the right buttons. The Rangers skipper Ron Washington is OK. He seems well-liked and he can cheer really loud when his team is scoring runs ....

Also, I like the Cardinals to win Game 1, when they send Chris Carpenter to the mound. He may not be quite the dominant pitcher he once was, but he still is the best pitcher in this series. If St Louis wins Game 1, they then become the favorite to win the series. I will have them at +135 when the odds swing after the first game.

You also have to throw in the fact that Albert Pujols plays for St Loius. He is considered by most to be the best player in baseball. He comes up with huge hits in big spots, and there is no reason to feel that he will not continue to do so in this series.

And mainly, St Louis has been on fire for a long time now. They were good enough to come back and beat Cliff Lee in a game when Lee was staked to a 4-0 lead. They were good enough to beat the Phillies, a team with the best starting pitching staff maybe .... ever. If they can beat Philly, they are good enough to beat Texas.

At home.

As the underdog.

The Pick:

***** St Louis finds a way to complete this improbable run, and wins the World Series, in 6 or 7 games. The Cardinals, +135 to win the series

***** St Loius, -120 in Game 1

 

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