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Heartwarming win or 'Fall Classic Follies'

Reuters
MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox
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Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox owners including John Henry (right) and Larry Lucchino …

By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - It was a feel-good story for Boston, a victory for the bearded band of Red Sox brothers, who tipped the standings upside down in going from last to first by beating the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series.

It could also be titled "Fall Classic Follies," considering the errors, misjudgments, bizarre plays and delays that could easily fill a TV bloopers special.

There were 13 errors in all, five by the Cardinals and eight by the Major League Baseball champion Red Sox.

The keystone combination of shortstop Pete Kozma and second baseman Matt Carpenter made two errors apiece for St. Louis.

Seven Red Sox players got into the error column, with centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury topping the chart with a pair of miscues.

A pop fly that fell comically untouched in between St. Louis pitching ace Adam Wainwright and All-Star catcher Yadier Molina for a single in the Series opener, and a botched rundown by the Cardinals in the final game would make perfect bookends for a 'How not to' instructional series for aspiring Little Leaguers.

In the high-pressure spotlight of a championship series, the human element displayed by MLB's two best teams can actually be endearing, reminding us that athletes are not perfect and bringing a potential shock factor into play.

The shock factor was in full force in two game-ending plays.

Game Three, the last game won by the Cards, was decided on an obstruction call, when the third base umpire ruled that the third baseman, lying on the dirt after diving in vain for an errant throw, got in the way of a baserunner, who looked to have been thrown out at the plate for an inning-ending double play.

Allen Craig was credited with scoring the winning run in a 5-4 victory in the first World Series game ever to end on an obstruction call.

Game Four came to an abrupt ending when Hawaiian rookie Kolten Wong was picked off first base with the tying run at the plate in a 4-2 St. Louis loss.

That was the first World Series game to end on a pick-off.

Then there was the take-off that seemed like it would never end for the Cardinals, whose charter plane was held on a St. Louis runway for nearly seven hours on Tuesday due to problems with its navigation system.

The Cardinals finally arrived in Boston at 11 p.m. ET, ensuring that the 109th edition of the World Series would continue as scheduled on Wednesday.

There were heroics to be sure.

Series MVP David "Big Papi" Ortiz batted a mind-boggling .688, going 11-for-16 at the plate and reaching base eight more times on walks for an on-base percentage of .760.

Starter Jon Lester won a pair of brilliantly pitched games, Japanese closer Koji Uehara saved two, Jonny Gomes hit a three-run home to fuel the Game Four win, and Shane Victorino drove in four runs in the 6-1 Series clincher.

Other than Ortiz, the hitting was generally anemic. Subtracting Big Papi's contribution, the Red Sox batted .169.

St. Louis hit for a .224 average, registering 45 hits to 41 for Boston, but failing to deliver the clutch blows that allowed the Red Sox to outscore them 27-14 in the Series.

"We all know that we could come out and play a better game than what we did here, but we did a whole lot more than anybody gave us credit for or expected us to do," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the Game Six loss.

"There's a lot of things that they can look on in a negative way, but this isn't the time for it."

Next season might be an even better time for the Cardinals and their young core of hard-throwing pitchers, who could make them a force to be reckoned with for many seasons to come.

This time, the celebration belongs to the Bostonians.

And on Saturday morning, the Red Sox begin their victory parade through Boston, a chance for the players and a city that was scarred by the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon in April to share their triumph.

(Editing by ......)

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