St Louis Cardinals will be going back to the World Series for the second time in three years.
The news is that, after they eliminated Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, they actually broke out their smiles.
In this post-season, the Cards have been the serious ones, the players who keep their personality to themselves.
St Louis will be facing Boston Red Sox, the furry-faced crew who conquered Detroit Tigers for the American League title.
No doubt, the Sox will keep tugging on each others’ beards and mildly butting each other to celebrate big plays.
Do not expect the Cardinals to form human tunnels for teammates to run through after home runs, as Oakland Athletics once did.
Nor will Cardinals baserunners shoot imaginary arrows into the dugout, as did Tampa Bay Rays, who emulated closer Fernando Rodney’s game-ending routine.
The Dodgers had a one-man fireworks show in the emotional, ebullient rookie Yasiel Puig. Even the normally staid Adrian Gonzalez got on base and made explosion gestures with his hands.
The Cardinals? They just watch.
Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran sniffed that Puig needed to tone it down. Pitcher Adam Wainwright said that Gonzalez’s giddy displays were “Mickey Mouse”.
If some teams like to party through the play-offs, the Cardinals are the nightclub bouncers.
The Red Sox, of course, will bring more than bountiful facial hair.
Veterans of their last World Series victory in 2007 – David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester – have been re-energised, most notably, by the journeyman free agents Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, whose home runs were the difference in three American League Championship Series (ALCS) victories. The Sox also have a closer, Koji Uehara, whom hitters have not been able to solve. In the ALCS, he won one game and saved three. Ortiz celebrated each by hoisting Uehara over his shoulder.
The Cardinals would not approve. Their tone-setter is the manager Mike Matheny, who learned his craft from his predecessor, Tony LaRussa.
LaRussa was always the smartest baseball man in the room, and the most taciturn.
Matheny has the gravitas part down especially well.
The Cards won the 2011 World Series under LaRussa. His always-in-control approach still permeates the clubhouse. Knowing they have the most balanced team in baseball is exciting enough. The pitching staff is loaded with young, hard-throwers, each one topping the next on the radar gun. Michael Wacha, 22, who spent most of the season in the minor leagues, overpowered the Dodgers twice.
Beltran and Matt Holliday are the centrepieces of the line-up, but everyone hits.
Just do not expect them to celebrate, until there is something truly worth celebrating, such as their 12th World Series championship.
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