Every World Series has its compelling story lines. Indeed, the 2011 Fall Classic has several.
Will this be Albert Pujols' last few games in a Cardinals uniform? Will his performance affect how big of a contract he's offered this winter?
Will Ron Washington finally get the monkey off his back and win the respect of the league with a World Series title?
Does Tony La Russa still have what it takes to manage a winner? Or do his strange moves so far suggest he's near the end of his managerial career?
Perhaps the most significant plot line is this: will the Texas Rangers win their first World Series in 51 years as a franchise, or will the St. Louis Cardinals, who were 8.5 games behind in the wild-card race with less than a month to go, come from behind yet again to complete their miracle season?
An even more interesting question is, which story is most important?
The long wait for Texas
The Texas Rangers began as the Washington Senators in 1961. Ten years later, the Senators relocated to Arlington, Texas as part of baseball's continued westward expansion, following teams like the Giants, Dodgers and Athletics.
Renamed the Texas Rangers, the team has suffered in futility on a grand scale. Prior to this season, the Rangers had only made the postseason four times in 40 years since moving from the nation's capital (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010).
Flame-throwing starter Nolan Ryan, who is now president of the club, was seemingly the only bright spot for the franchise until the mid '90s when, despite getting to the playoffs, the club never won a postseason series in three tries.
In 2010, they not only won their first playoff series but advanced all the way to the World Series, in which they were beaten by the San Francisco Giants in five games.
Now back in the Series for the second straight year, the Rangers look to bring home the first World Series trophy in franchise history.
The Cardinals and destiny
The St. Louis Cardinals are not supposed to be in the World Series. They weren't supposed to be in the National League Championship Series, either. To get there, they had to defeat the mighty Philadelphia Phillies, owners of the best record in the regular season and the best pitching staff in the big leagues.
Even before the divisional series, the Cardinals were not supposed to be in serious contention for a playoff spot at all, as they were trailing the Atlanta Braves by 8.5 games on Sept. 1.
But here they are, and despite being down 3-2 in the Series, the Cards are still two victories away from a world championship. If you told anybody on this team back in August that come Oct. 27 they would be down 3-2 in the World Series, you can bet they'd take it in a heartbeat.
St. Louis went 18-8 in September and squeaked into the postseason on the final day of regular-season play. Since then, the Cardinals have been on a run that has become more magical by the day.
So, which story would be better?
One thing's for sure in this season's Fall Classic: whichever club hoists that trophy in the end, it will be a great story, indeed.
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