With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, Shane Victorino etched his name in Boston postseason lore, delivering a clutch grand slam over the Green Monster to send the Sox to the World Series with a 5-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday night at Fenway.
The celebration began early at Busch Stadium on Friday night, as the Cardinals chased Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and cruised to a 9-0 victory to clinch the National League pennant in Game 6 of the NLCS.
Cardinals rookie right-hander Michael Wacha put together arguably the greatest National League Championship Series ever by a rookie pitcher, and he was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player Award winner after leading the Cards to the World Series with yet another sterling postseason performance in Friday night's 9-0 blanking of the Dodgers in Game 6.
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara was named the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player after picking up his third save of the series and punching Boston's ticket to the World Series in Game 6 on Saturday night.
The Cardinals' World Series matchup vs. the Red Sox marks the first time since 1999 that the two teams with the best regular-season records in their leagues will meet to decide it all. But this is how Major League Baseball once operated on a routine basis.
The signing of Shane Victorino, a talented and scrappy veteran with a work ethic larger than his star power, epitomized the Red Sox's offseason reshaping, so it was only appropriate that he hit the grand slam that propelled the club to an improbable World Series berth one year after finishing in the AL East cellar.
In opposition of the warped significance of regular-season standings wrought by the Wild Card era, this 2013 World Series matchup is a reminder of what once was. The St. Louis Cardinals won 97 games this season, the best team in the National League. The Boston Red Sox won 97 games, the best team in the American League. This sort of thing never seems to happen anymore.