Adam Wainwright. The starter in Game 1 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Wainwright has continued his postseason dominance into 2013. Having famously sealed the Cardinals trip to the 2006 World Series with a knee-buckling curveball to Carlos Beltran, then with the New York Mets, Waino has produced sterling career postseason numbers: The 32-year-old righty has a 4-1 record and 4 saves to go with a 2.10 ERA in the postseason.
Boston Strong: The outfield at Fenway Park has been adorned with the "B Strong" logo throughout the postseason, a symbol of Boston's unity and resilience following the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The bombing occurred just a short walk from Fenway Park and the team has honored first responders and victims throughout the season and during the playoffs.
Carlos Beltran. At age 36, Beltran is making his first appearance in the World Series. Despite putting up incredible stats during previous postseason trips with the Astros, Mets and Cardinals, the switch-hitting outfielder had never advanced beyond the League Championship Series. Beltran passed Babe Ruth on the all-time postseason home run list during the NLDS and delivered several plays with his bat and his arm against the Dodgers in the NLCS. With a strong performance in the Fall Classic, Beltran can cement his legacy as an October great and further erase the memory of that strikeout against Wainwright (everywhere but Queens).
Designated Hitter. The presence or absence of the DH spot in the lineup for any given game poses problems and opportunities for both teams. With American League rules in place in Boston, David Ortiz can stay at DH and Mike Napoli can play first for the Sox. When the Series switches to NL rules in St. Louis, however, Red Sox manager John Farrell faces the choice between benching his team's hottest power hitter in the ALCS (Napoli) or his team's talismanic slugger (Ortiz). For the Cardinals, the DH spot may permit manager Mike Matheny to work Allen Craig back into his lineup. The Cardinals' most reliable hitter with runners in scoring position is returning from an injury and has yet to appear in the 2013 postseason.
Enos Slaughter. The first meeting between the Red Sox and Cardinals in the World Series came in 1946. Although that Series was headlined by Stan Musial and Ted Williams, the decisive moment belonged to Slaughter. The 5'9" outfielder scored the series-winning run in the eighth inning of Game 7 with his famous "Mad Dash" from first base on a double off the bat of Harry Walker.
Facial Hair. From Jonny Gomes' "Ironsides" to David Ross' grey-infused "Wolf," the beards of the Boston Red Sox are so popular that they have names.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 13, 2013
Grand Slams: Despite struggling mightily against the Detroit's starting pitchers, the Red Sox produced two crucial grand slams against relievers. David Ortiz crushed the first in the eighth inning of Game 2 to keep Boston from falling into an 0-2 hole in the ALCS. Shane Victorino then hit a bases-loaded homer of his own in the seventh inning of Game 6 to turn a 1-2 deficit into a 5-2 advantage. That scoreline would hold up and the Red Sox would celebrate winning the pennant a few innings later.
Handedness: The St. Louis Cardinals have only started right-handed pitchers in the postseason thus far. The Red Sox had a team OPS against righties of .818, best in MLB, during the regular season, according to Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated.
Impossible Dream: Boston was carried into its second World Series meeting with St. Louis by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The left fielder won the AL's Triple Crown as the Sox narrowly edged the Tigers and Twins to win the pennant. In the Series, the "Impossible Dream" Sox received a rude awakening from Bob Gibson, who pitched three complete game victories as the Cards won in seven games.
John Farrell: Brought to Boston from the Toronto Blue Jays by way of a trade after the Sox finished a terrible 2012 campaign, Farrell has overseen the worst-to-first turnaround from the dugout.
Koji Uehara: The MVP of the American League Championship Series, Uehara has been a revelation for the Red Sox. The 38-year-old Japanese righty took over the closer role in June and finished the season with 21 saves and 1.09 ERA. Mixing his fastball and his splitter, Uehara saved three games in the ALCS without allowing an earned run. He also has an adorable son.
Lisfranc Injury: St. Louis run producer Allen Craig missed the NLDS and NLCS due to a lisfranc injury to his left foot. He has been cleared to play and was added to the roster for the World Series. With the DH in place at Fenway Park, Craig will be able to swing the bat without having to tax his foot in the field.
Mike Matheny: In his second year as Cardinals manager, Matheny is distinguishing himself from his predecessor, Tony La Russa. After a trip to the Game 7 of the NLCS in 2012, Matheny has the Cards in the Fall Classic in 2013. Matheny was behind the plate for the Cards in 2004, the last time St. Louis and Boston faced off in the Series.
Neophytes: The St. Cardinals will start Michael Wacha in Game 2 (age 22) and will rely on Trevor Rosenthal (23), Carlos Martinez (22), Kevin Siegrist (24) and Seth Manesse (25) out of the bullpen.
Outfield Defense: Although Carlos Beltran contributed a pair of highlight reel plays in the field during the NLCS, the outfield defense of the Cards can be a bit of an adventure. According to defensive metric UZR, Matt Holiday, Jon Jay and Beltran all ranked in the bottom 12 among outfielders during the regular season. How will they fare in the unfamiliar dimensions of Fenway?
Power: In the ALCS, the Sox offense was feast or famine, with a pair of grand slam spreads. During the regular season, Boston ranked fifth in the American League in home runs (178) and first in slugging percentage (.446). The Cardinals, meanwhile, ranked second-to-last in the National League with 112 longballs.
Quintin Berry: The Red Sox ace pinch-runner will have his work cut out for him if he's called to swipe a base in a key situation. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had the second-highest caught stealing percentage in all of baseball during the regular season. Berry is 24-24 in steal attempts during the regular season and 4-4 in the playoffs for his career.
Record (And Runs): The 2013 World Series matches the teams with best records (97-65) in each league. The Sox and Cardinals also paced their respective leagues in runs.
Sweep: The Red Sox and Cardinals last met in the World Series in 2004. Riding high off their stunning comeback against the New York Yankees in the '04 ALCS, the Red Sox rolled right through the Cardinals to break the "Curse of the Bambino." The Sox scored four runs in the first inning of Game 1 and never looked back. Manny Ramirez took home World Series MVP honors.
Trevor Rosenthal: After incumbent closer Jason Motte went down with an elbow injury earlier this year, the Cardinals needed to find someone to pitch the ninth inning. After Edward Mujica picked up 37 saves during the season, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny turned to Rosenthal deep into September. The move has paid off so far. The 23-year-old rookie has 3 saves and 0.00 ERA over 15.2 innings in the playoffs entering the World Series.
Umpires: John Hirschbeck will be the crew chief for the World Series and will be calling balls and strikes for Game 1. Hirschbeck will be joined by Mark Wegner, Dana DeMuth, Paul Emmel, Bill Miller and Jim Joyce.
Velocity: After dominating the shaky Detroit Tigers' bullpen in the ALCS, the Red Sox will be facing a tougher task in the late inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. Per MLB.com, these are the average fastball speeds of the top St. Louis relievers:
Carlos Martinez, 100.2 mph.
Trevor Rosenthal, 98.8.
Kevin Siegrist, 97.7.
John Axford, 96.9.
Wacha Wacha: Not only did Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha dominate Pirates and Dodgers hitters in the National League but he became a favorite of Pedro Martinez. The 22-year-old made his debut in May and more recently became the first rookie to win a postseason series MVP Award since Livan Hernandez did it for the Marlins in the 1997 World Series.
Xander Bogaerts: The 21-year-old will get the start at third base for the Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series. He made his Major League debut on Aug. 20 and is the youngest player to start a playoff game in Sox history.
Yadier Molina: The St. Louis Cardinals catcher is the only member of the team who played in the 2004 World Series against the Red Sox. The 31-year-old veteran enters the World Series with a better batting average in the postseason (.293) than in the regular season (.284). That being said, it his defense that could determine the outcome of the Fall Classic. The Red Sox
ZZ Top: The Southern rock band known as much for its bearded look as rock hits like "Legs" and "Sharp Dressed Man" has, to the surprise of no one, backed the Red Sox. Vocalist Dusty Hill told The Associated Press that the Red Sox are "looking good."