For the second straight World Series, the Rangers will be playing a team with loads of history. The difference this time is they face a team with some recent success. When San Francisco downed Texas, it was the first title the town had ever seen. St. Louis saw a championship just five years ago; their 10th to lead everyone in the non-Yankees category.
The collapse of the Red Sox masked the Cardinals incredible comeback. When September began, they were 8.5 games back in the Wild Card race, but came back to clinch a spot on the final day of the season. Then they took down everyone's World Series favorite, the Phillies, before making it through the Brewers for one hell of a Cinderella ride. So, that is the storyline you will get to deal with for the next week or two. Hopefully it will turn out just like the last time the Rangers faced this situation, against the Rays.
As far as first impressions, the Rangers look far superior, with Baseball Prospectus estimating their 2011 talent level as 16 wins better, despite playing in a more difficult league. They had a solid rotation, by leaps and bounds the best offense in the National League (after considering the park), but were one of the worst bullpens and fielding teams in the league on paper. The bullpen features Arthur Rhodes pitching important innings. They hit lefties just about as well as they hit righties, so this is likely the first time this postseason that three left handed starters is not a boost for the Rangers' opponents. None of this means they can't win, of course. Just ask the Phillies and Brewers. It just means Rangers fans don't have to pray for an upset to see their first championship.
St. Louis, by the way, is a seriously difficult park to hit home runs in, so hopefully Ron Washington will consider pitching Colby Lewis in game two.
The Cardinals have a legendary manager who has been to five previous World Series, losing three and never having seen a game six in either his wins or losses. They also have one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, and one of the few men alive with more postseason homeruns than Nelson Cruz. They also once got David Eckstein to win a pretty significant award.
Also, the announcers of the games are both former Cardinals broadcasters, one a long-time player, and one the son of their legendary announcer. If you thought they were bad before, it might be worse.
Oh, and St. Louis is the only baseball town the Texas Rangers have never played in even once. So that's something new.
Keep up with SB Nation Dallas-Ft. Worth for more news and analysis on the World Series in the coming days.