4 Things to Watch for in the World Series

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

As the World Series kicks off tonight on FOX, this year's Fall Classic promises to be a doozy: The Boston Red Sox will face off against the St. Louis Cardinals in a much-anticipated rematch of the 2004 Series. That year, the Sox surprised the Cards with a 4-game sweep to win their first championship since 1918.

Though the stakes aren't quite that high this time around—Boston last won it all in '07, and St. Louis took home the title just 2 years ago—it's still a matchup of the two best teams in baseball. Plus, there are secret story lines in play that might surprise you—and may even make you a richer man.

Here, MLB Network's Kevin Millar (himself a member of that famed '04 Sox squad) reveals four big things to watch for in this year's World Series.

1. There will be no Cinderella story.
More often than not, the World Series tends to feature the two teams that get hot at the right time—but not this year. No Wild Card team even made it to the Divisional round this postseason. "The two best teams with the two best records almost never happens," says Millar. "These two clubs as evenly matched as you get. I think in St. Louis, maybe the Cardinals have the advantage, because you have to lose a Mike Napoli or David Ortiz, since designated hitters aren't used in NL parks. But at Fenway, you have to give the advantage to the Red Sox, because that's a tough place to win." In other words, bet on a Game 7, Millar says.

2. But there'll be a frog who turns into a prince.
Alright, we'll stop with the fairy tale stuff. But know that this year's star will be the guy you least expect, since the Series is designed to make big names out of unknowns. "It's an event," Millar says. "People have a chance to make a legacy for themselves." He points to the case of Keith Lockhart, Atlanta's backup second baseman in the 1990s. Lockhart became a hero when he hit an RBI triple to give the Braves the lead in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series. This year, Millar is singling out Cardinals centerfielder Shane Robinson, who toiled in the minors before making noise in the NLCS. Before last week, "no one knew who Shane Robinson was," says Millar. "Those guys are pretty neat."

3. Those meetings on the mound you see? They're meaningless.
Even on a stage as big as the World Series, baseball players tend to talk utter nonsense when they conference on the pitching mound, Millar says. "We're grown-ass men, dads, and husbands, but we're such little kids," he says. "You see a big mound visit in the sixth inning with two outs and men on first and second base. The pitching coach comes out, and everyone wonders what he's going to say. But most of the time it's like, 'Hey, you look great in this white uniform. Very slimming. Maybe you'd look better with a black jersey on.'"

4. There's no such thing as World Series pressure.
As with in-game conversations, baseball players don't put much stock into pressure. Whereas you might sweat through every pitch, the guys on the field take a calmer approach, Millar says. "I never understood the whole pressure thing. It's a game. This is a baseball game you make millions of dollars playing, and people are here to watch you. Where's the pressure? Because you strike out or hit a home run? Pressure is having to worry about paying your bills. Pressure is knowing they're going to lay off 150 employees and you could be one of them. Sure, it might be a little uncomfortable if you're Michael Wacha and you have to get David Ortiz out, but that's not pressure—it's execution."

Kevin Millar and Chris Rose will co-host Intentional Talk on-site throughout the World Series at 5 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

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