Cardinals and Rangers in old-school World Series

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St Louis Cardinal vs Texas Rangers in 2011 World Series
Rangers' Josh Hamilton and Cardinals' Albert Pujols
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(CBS/AP) - Commentators are calling it a return to an old-school style of World Series. Two teams, loaded with talent, whose younger players have never played the opposing team. Some see it as a return to form, a call-back to the days before NL and AL teams faced each other in mid-season series. In fact, other than a three-game matchup in 2004, the Cardinals and Rangers have never played each other.

But of course, none of this matters for the Series itself. But it should be a great one.

The World Series will feature a matchup of two sluggers with Most Valuable Player awards - Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The championship will also showcase two emerging players making a name for themselves with each home run swing - Nelson Cruz and David Freese.

The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals will meet in the baseball classic starting Wednesday. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, with ace pitchers Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals and C.J. Wilson set to start. Texas is considered a narrow favorite.

The National League holds home-field advantage this year because it won the All-Star game. The weather forecast calls for clear skies.

"The Rangers are scary. They're a scary team," said Freese, the MVP in the National League championship series victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. "You look at that lineup, you look at that staff. It's going to be a battle."

"I think we're a team that can match up with them a little bit. And they're confident, we're confident. It's been a tough road. I've definitely been watching the ALCS for sure. That's some good ball over there," he said.

St. Louis has won 10 Worlds Series titles, second most to the New York Yankees' 27. Manager Tony La Russa, Pujols and the Cardinals last took it in 2006. Texas is looking for its first Series championship, having lost to the San Francisco Giants in its first appearance last year.

"We weren't very happy with the results, and we certainly knew that we were a better team than we showed," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Stan Musial might even be at the ballpark next week. The 90-year Hall of Famer who helped the Cardinals win three World Series crowns was at Busch Stadium during the playoffs for pregame ceremonies.

Musial and the Cardinals beat Ted Williams and the Red Sox in the 1946 Series. More than a quarter-century later, Williams became the first manager in Texas history after the franchise moved from

Washington.

This year, hardly anyone expected St. Louis to make it this far, especially when it was 10½ games out of a playoff spot on Aug. 25. A sensational run in the last month, plus a tremendous collapse by Atlanta, gave the Cardinals the NL wild-card spot on the final day of the regular season.

The Cardinals did what many fans considered almost impossible in the first round - they eliminated the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies. Carpenter outdueled Roy Halladay 1-0 in the decisive Game

5, then St. Louis relied on its bullpen every day to beat Milwaukee in the NL championship series.

A resurgent Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and the emerging Freese got a boost in the lineup from trade-deadline addition Rafael Furcal, one of several moves by general manager John Mozeliak that worked out well.

The Rangers powered to the AL West title this year. Texas began the playoffs by beating Tampa Bay in four games and defeated Detroit in the six-game AL championship series. Cruz was the MVP against the Tigers, hitting six home runs with 13 RBIs.

  • Bailey Johnson

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