Boston Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez was named the World Series most valuable player, although the honor could have gone to just about anyone on their roster, so swift and complete was their domination of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ramirez won for his home run in Tuesday night's Game 3, for his throw home to nail Larry Walker in the same game and for his Series-leading four RBI. He finished 7 for 17 (.412 average).
"I never thought I'd get to this point," Ramirez said. "But let me tell you something. Before I went to spring training, I told my wife, 'I'm going to be the MVP of something.' "
Ramirez is likely to finish behind Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero in American League MVP voting, but he now owns something Guerrero does not: a World Series ring.
"I wanted to get the ring, and I got it," he said. "That's something no one is going to take away from you."
Other candidates could have been Mark Bellhorn, who had perhaps the biggest single swing of the Series -- the two-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 1 -- or any of the trio of Red Sox pitchers, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez or Derek Lowe, who did not give up a run for a combined 20 innings in Games 2-4.
Although Martinez sounded like a man saying goodbye to the organization in his postgame comments following his win in Game 3, Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein had a different interpretation of Martinez's comments.
"I didn't think Pedro's comments were inappropriate at all," Epstein said Wednesday prior to the Red Sox sweeping the World Series, four games to none.
"He's given all he could for the organization and its fans. He wants to come back [in 2005], and we want him to come back. That said, we're going to build the '05 club the same way we have the '04 and '03 clubs -- and not put one individual ahead of the team."
Martinez becomes a free agent after the season. Most Red Sox insiders expect him to depart the organization.
Following Game 3, he spoke of his Red Sox career in the past tense.
"It's been a great ride," Martinez said. "I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did."
La Russa Shuffles Cards
With their season heading toward a disappointing finish, Manager Tony La Russa returned second baseman Tony Womack to the top of the order on Wednesday, the spot where he hit for most of the season.
La Russa made other changes. Reggie Sanders, who had yet to get a hit in nine Series at-bats, was benched in favor of John Mabry. Catcher Mike Matheny was replaced by Yadier Molina. Mabry and Molina had a combined 18 at-bats in this postseason, including Wednesday, when they went a combined 0 for 5.
What Might Have Been
Only a few weeks before Terry Francona was named as Grady Little's replacement as Red Sox manager, he was passed over for the same job with the Baltimore Orioles in favor of Lee Mazzilli.
While the Orioles had their seventh straight losing season, Francona guided the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years. Not surprisingly, Francona has earned the praise of his bosses.
"He blew me away in the interview," Epstein said. "And I knew he had a lot of great qualities. But the thing I didn't realize at the time was how good a fit he would be in Boston. He takes the big picture. He's supportive of his players.
"A lot of fans cry out for a disciplinarian manager. But in Boston, with so many things capable of derailing you, I think it's better to have a more laid-back approach."
Raising His Glass
Epstein has been making one concession to superstition of late, drinking a glass of Metamucil before each Red Sox postseason game -- a ritual he began prior to Game 4 of the ALCS, which launched the Red Sox to a remarkable comeback win over the New York Yankees.
Epstein said he noticed Francona drinking the stuff -- which "looks like something a 70-year-old grandma would drink," Epstein said -- and decided to give it a try.
"We're undefeated," Epstein said. "And I've paid the price."