BOSTON -- Larry Walker had a choice in the matter. Orlando Cabrera did not.
On the eve of the World Series, the two were just glad that the trade winds sent them their respective directions in the middle of the 2004 season, Walker to St. Louis and Cabrera to Boston.
Had Walker stayed in Colorado and Cabrera in Montreal, they wouldn't be preparing to meet in Game 1 of the World Series at Fenway Park on Saturday night, and they wouldn't be making their debuts in the Fall Classic.
The wait was quite a bit longer for Walker, who had spent the last 10 of his 15 years with the Rockies before he approved a trade that sent him to St. Louis on Aug. 6.
But as of the Cardinals' Game 7 victory in the National League Championship Series on Thursday, earning them the berth to the World Series, the wait was definitely worth it.
"This is why I accepted the trade," Walker said on-field during the Cardinals' workout Friday night. "You want to go somewhere that you think has a chance to play late into October.
"When I came over here, I knew every opportunity to go to the playoffs was going to happen, and so far we've done two of the things we've wanted to do, and we're going to try and finish off the last one."
Walker became a key part of the Cardinals' run to 105 wins in the regular season and, as the team's No. 2 hitter, helped give St. Louis an even deeper offensive lineup. Behind that lineup and a stellar defense, in which Walker roams right field, the Cardinals have reached the World Series for the first time since 1987.
Orlando Cabrera / SS
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
For Cabrera, the writing was on the wall in Montreal, so he knew he'd go somewhere. Naturally, he's happy he wound up in Boston, where he took over shortstop for Nomar Garciaparra and immediately meshed with the uniquely close-knit group of players in the Boston clubhouse.
Getting to the World Series was on his mind before he even changed uniforms, though it was painfully evident that wasn't going to happen in Montreal. The Expos wound up going 67-95 -- and moving to Washington, D.C.
"I thought about it the last month I was in Montreal," Cabrera said Friday of reaching the World Series. "I knew they were going to trade me, and I was hoping it would be to a team that was in contention, like this one. From that moment, I was just thinking about the World Series the whole time.
"This is a team that wasn't just thinking about the playoffs. This team's too good. We were just thinking about the World Series."
That's just one of the ways Cabrera felt he fit right in with the Red Sox.
"I'm an easy-going guy who likes to win, and when I step between those lines I'm going to give 100 percent in order to get a win," he said. "They saw that right away, the first day. That's what I was looking for, and that's what they got from me."
And now both are about to live the dream of playing in the World Series.
For Cabrera, at 29 and just hitting the prime of his career, it's a chance to live that dream and hunger for a lot more opportunities to come.
Larry Walker / RF
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
"I've been dreaming about it for almost 20 years," said Walker, a native of British Columbia. "Up until then, it was the Stanley Cup."
Had he stayed in Colorado, where the Rockies finished the season 68-94, Walker might be spending his time wondering if there will be a Stanley Cup this year, and preparing for Spring Training instead of soaking in the World Series atmosphere of Fenway Park.
"You don't come to Spring Training every year hoping you lose 110 games," Walker said. "You hope to win all year, make it to the playoffs and take it step by step. We're the two fortunate teams that got here."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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