After 86 years without a World Series championship, the Red Sox finally won it all by sweeping the Cardinals in 2004.
The 2013 World Series will, in fact, determine which team is the best of the best.
This matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals has a lot more to it, though, than simply pitting the best in each league against each other.
This marks the first time since 1999 that's happened, as both teams finished atop baseball with identical 97-65 records. But these two Major League Baseball franchises were overflowing with success prior to this season, too, and they just so happen to have quite a history against each other in the Fall Classic.
Here's a quick rundown of the World Series between this proud pair:
|SEASON||WORLD SERIES WINNER||# GAMES|
The first two encounters, of course, came prior to MLB's expansion in 1969 that brought about a second round of postseason play. Prior to that point, there was only the World Series, which was a battle between the teams with the best record in each league. Sound familiar?
Those showdowns in 1946 and 1967 were memorable for two reasons. First, they both went the full seven games, as the table shows. And second, because the Cardinals emerged victorious from both of those winner-take-all contests, the Red Sox's title drought—and the Curse of the Bambino—continued for nearly four more decades.
Here's the Game 7 scene back in '46:
And here's a gander at the decisive game in '67:
Those were the first two World Series the Red Sox participated in after winning the championship over the Chicago Cubs in 1918. To make matters worse, they would go on to lose the 1975 Series to the Cincinnati Reds (shout out to the "Big Red Machine") as well as the 1986 Series to the New York Mets (who could forget Mookie Wilson's grounder through Bill Buckner's legs?).
But wait, there's more. The Red Sox lost both of those Series in seven games, too. In all, that means from 1919 through the early part of this millennium, they played in four World Series—and lost each one in dramatic, heart-breaking, loser-gets-nothing seventh games.
With two of those epic defeats coming at the hands of the Cardinals, it was somewhat poetic when the Red Sox finally—after 86 long, long years—won it all in 2004...by sweeping St. Louis.
And now? Well, it's the Cardinals' turn to try to exact some revenge for going from the team that helped prolong the Red Sox's misery and perpetuate the Curse of the Bambino to the team against which that very misery and that very curse ended.
If that's not enough on the line, the winner of this year's World Series will be the first to three titles this millennium.
Best of the best, indeed.