If the St. Louis Cardinals are pleased, thrilled, delighted, excited (pick one) to be in the World Series, most of them did a masterful job of disguising their glee today.
On the eve of the first all-night World Series, between the Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals (Game 1 Saturday is at 8:35 p.m.), the two league champions could work out only briefly on the wet outfield at Royals Stadium because of a daylong rain.
Inside the clubhouses, where each team met to go over scouting reports, there wasn't a lot of sunshine, either.
On the Cardinals' side, John Tudor, the starting pitcher in Game 1, snapped at suggestions his 21-8 record and 1.93 earned run average this season might indicate he is a different pitcher than the last time he faced the Royals as a member of the Boston Red Sox two years ago.
"Different?" he said. "I'm no different. Just older."
As to how he felt about pitching in the World Series, Tudor said, "It's just another game, just another ballpark, that's all. All this stuff about the fun starting after 162 games is nothing but bull. This is work. We're here to work. That's all it is."
Vince Coleman, the favorite for National League rookie of the year who missed the last three games of the NL Championship Series after being caught under a tarpaulin roller, told reporters he would play Saturday. This came moments after Manager Whitey Herzog said he didn't know if Coleman would play.
"I'm playing," Coleman said, refusing to look at his questioners, among them Reggie Jackson, who is working here for ABC-TV. "I knew when I woke up this morning I was going to play."
Informed that Herzog said he wasn't so certain, Coleman said again, "I'm playing. You got any more questions, I got an answer: 'Talk to me tomorrow.' "
Herzog, who managed the Royals from mid-1975 through 1979, winning three division titles but no pennants, was asked -- naturally -- how he felt about managing against his old team in the World Series.
"I'm in St. Louis now," Herzog said. "That's what matters."
Across the hall, the tone in the Royals' clubhouse was softer. Lonnie Smith sat in one corner patiently answering questions about starting the season in St. Louis and ending it here, playing against the Cardinals in the World Series.
Manager Dick Howser was his usual bubbly self. Hal McRae answered 100 questions about how it felt to be benched because this is a no-designated-hitter year in the World Series.
In another corner, shortstop Buddy Biancalana, who has become something of a cult figure of late -- first because of David Letterman's spoof of his "chase" of Pete Rose's hitting record (he trails by 4,146) and then because of his clutch double in Toronto on Tuesday -- held court.
Because the Royals pitchers will hit in the World Series, Biancalana will bat eighth instead of ninth. "I want to see the lineup," he said. "I was a little afraid Dick might bat the pitchers ahead of me."
If a loose locker room wins games, the Royals are a lock. But Herzog was far from loose during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in Los Angeles and the Cardinals won.
Perhaps the Cardinals' general surliness was a reflection of nerves. Or perhaps it was being thrust suddenly into the favorites' role for the first time all season.
"We were picked fifth in our division, and we won," Tudor said. "We were picked to lose to the Dodgers, and we won. Now, we're being picked to win this. I hope that doesn't mean we're going to lose."
"All year long, people talked about the West Coast teams and the New York teams," said shortstop Ozzie Smith, the MVP against the Dodgers. "They didn't want to give any credit to the Midwest teams. Now, we're here."
"The Show Me State showed 'em," Brett said.
Now, the championship of Missouri and of baseball will be decided on opposite ends of the 250-mile stretch of I-70 that cuts through the state. The Cardinals are considered almost prohibitive favorites because of their speed and because, position by position, they are almost overwhelmingly better than the Royals.
The intangible, as always, is the Royals' pitching. Left-hander Danny Jackson will start Game 1 against Tudor. In his last two starts, Jackson beat the California Angels, 4-1, to put the Royals in first place during the last week of the season and shut out the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-0, with the Royals down, 3-1, in the league championship series.
"All I know about the Cardinals is that they're fast, they can hit with power, they field well and they have good pitching," Jackson said, expressing the company line. "I have to pitch good to win."
All the Kansas City pitchers will have to pitch that way to win. Charlie Leibrandt, the winner in Game 7 against the Blue Jays, will start Game 2 against Danny Cox, who said today his tender right elbow was fine.
Howser's concern is Bret Saberhagen's hand. The Royals' whiz kid had to come out after three innings Wednesday after being smacked in the first inning by a Willie Upshaw drive. There is no break in the hand and Saberhagen should be able to pitch Game 3, but no one is certain.
If the Royals do not get the kind of pitching they enjoyed in the last three games against Toronto -- five runs in 27 innings -- they almost surely will lose.
Consider some of the position matchups: Jack Clark vs. Steve Balboni at first base (40-point difference in batting average); Tom Herr vs. Frank White at second (53-point difference in batting average, 41-RBI difference); Coleman vs. Lonnie Smith in left field and leading off (110 stolen bases to 40, and Smith is a poor outfielder), and the most outrageous of all: Ozzie Smith vs. Biancalana at shortstop. Biancalana is a decent fielder, Smith perhaps the best of all time. Smith batted 88 points higher, drove in 54 runs to six and stole 31 bases to Biancalana's nine.
"Give him the slight edge," Biancalana said, grinning.
Only at third base, where Brett resides, do the Royals have a clear edge. But Terry Pendleton is no slouch and made two superb defensive plays in the key third game against the Dodgers.
"That's all right," Howser said, looking at the comparisons. "They're a great club. We know that. But I think our pitching will keep us in. To win the World Series, you should have to beat a great club. That's just what the Cardinals are."
If they win, they might even be an openly happy one.