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World Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox

There's a case to be made that this World Series pits the closest things to "dynasties" that the two leagues have had to offer over the past decade.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

I don't like to say, "I told you so" - well, actually, like most people, I do.

Of course, I certainly wasn't the only person to make this prediction - I think soco was right there with me too. And you might say it's hardly a stretch to pick the two teams with the best regular season record to meet in the World Series. But you'd be surprised by how rarely that actually happens. The last time the National League pennant was won by the team with the highest winning percentage, was 2004, also the Cardinals, who posted 105 victories that ywar. [They played the Red Sox too, but the best AL record that year went to the Yankees] You've got to go back to the 1999 Braves-Yankees series to find the previous World Series between the two "best" teams.

It's also the first "repeat" World Series in the same period. As noted, this is a rematch of the 2004 World Series, though St. Louis will be hoping for a rather different outcome, since they were swept in four by Boston. I think the only other repeat since the seventies was also the Braves-Yankees match-up, which happened in 1996 and 1999. This could be seen as a testament to overall parity on the baseball landscape: however, it may also be simply a result of the crapshoot which is the playoff system. And yet, once the dust settles after this battle, the two participants will have won half of the World Series in the last decade between them.

Does that qualify them as "dynasties"? Is it possible to be one without winning consecutive titles? After all, it's been six years since the Red Sox were last here, and they didn't even make the playoffs the past three seasons. But I suspect the baseball landscape may have irrevocably changed: I think it may be quite some time before we again see anything like the millennium Yankees, who won three consecutive World Series titles, and came within a Gonzo bloop of a fourth. Indeed, 2000 was the last time that any team won back-to-back titles. One more season and that streak will tie the all-time mark for years without a repeat winner, set between 1979 and 1992.

But over the past decade, both St. Louis and Boston have been almost impeccably good, each with only one season at or below .500. The only other team which is comparable are the Yankees, who have been a perfect 10-for-10 in that department, but I'm pretty reluctant to apply the label "dynasty" to a team with only one league pennant over the time, and because when I try to praise the Yankees, my head rotates 360 degrees and this pea-soup stuff starts flying around. Both Red Sox and Cardinals have two World Series to their names this decade, before winning their pennants this year, with the Cardinals also having a fourth NL title.

That said, the National League hasn't seen much variety of late overall, with the Cardinals, Giants and Phillies combining to win all of the previous six pennants, and eight of the last ten - the exceptions being the Rockies in 2007 and Astros in 2005. The American League has a similar story: outside of the Red Sox' three, the Rangers and Tigers have two apiece. There has been one apiece for the Yankees (2009), Rays (2008) and White Sox (2005). All told, while the Red Sox and Cardinals may not be as dominating as the teams we usually think of as "dynasties," their track record, compared to the rest of their leagues has been unsurpassed over the last decade.

Certainly, this season, there's little doubt that they deserved their records. The Red Sox outscored their opponents by close to 200 runs this season (+197), giving them easily the best run differential in the American League. The same goes, to an only slightly-less dominating extent, for the Cardinals, whose +187 differential was 47 runs better than the next-placed Braves. There's little doubt that this series will pit the two overall best teams in the majors against each other, and without a real dog in this fight (though I thank the Cardinals for eliminating Mr. Puig!), I look forward simply to enjoying a good series of well-played baseball.