It took 2,431 regular-season games and 38 more postseason games, including six between the very best teams in the regular season and into October, to determine the best team in the 2013 season.
The Boston Red Sox earned that honor, that much is written in ink, pixels and concrete for any baseball fan to admire -- even the supremely talented and plucky Cardinals, who took Boston to six games before the Red Sox claimed their third title in 10 seasons.
With their decisive Game 6 victory Wednesday night, the Red Sox brought to an end a Road to the World Series that had started with a couple of won-and-done games to start the October tournament for only the second year, included amazing dramatic moments through each round and came down to a final homestand for all the marbles.
The Red Sox ensured there would not be another day of the 2013 season with a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals at Fenway Park, marking the first time since 1918 the Sox had clinched the World Series title at home -- that one coming with Babe Ruth having entered the game as a defensive replacement after winning two Series games as a starting pitcher ... eh, 'nuff said about how historic Wednesday night was.
What the Sox accomplished -- including a turnaround from a one-year lapse of a last-place finish -- was remarkable in its postseason frequency. Boston claimed its third World Series title in 10 seasons, a feat exceeded most recently by the 1996-2000 Yankees, who won four of five. What they've done is something extremely special, period.
YOUR RED SOX ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPS!! pic.twitter.com/jCrRSs4IxB- Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 31, 2013
And the one thread that works its way from the 2004 title that ended an 86-year drought through the 2007 sweep and into what turned out to be an amazing thriller in six games was David Ortiz. Going 11-for-16 in the Series, Big Papi took Most Valuable Player honors, becoming the first non-Yankee to win his third title with the same team since Jim Palmer (1966, '70, '83).
"I can't add anything more to the legend that's already there," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "He keeps writing more chapters on his own."
This was a Series that saw an obstruction call end a World Series game for the first time -- but it wasn't the first obstruction call in a Red Sox-Cardinals World Series, since the Cardinals' Whitey Kurowski scored a run in Game 1 of the 1946 World Series between St. Louis and Boston. And it wasn't all that long ago -- was it? -- that Bob Gibson had come to Boston and shut things down for the Cardinals with a Game 7 performance that included a complete game for his third win of the Series and, yes, a home run.
This was the fourth meeting of the storied franchises that don the red so proudly in each league, and now each has two World Series titles to show for it -- the Cardinals in '46 and '67 and now the Sox in '04 and '13, and if you don't know the centuries then bone up on your baseball history.
The Sox quelled a team that was historically successful in the regular season at bringing in runners in scoring position -- ultimately earning the respect of their National League peers.
"You have to capitalize on opportunities, especially when you play teams like you go up against in the postseason," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese, who had tremendous Game 6 background with his 2011 game-winning homer. "Collectively, we didn't do enough to help ourselves out tonight like we did in the regular season."
From Opening Day to Fenway, you were with us every step of the way. Thanks for a great season, Cardinal Nation. http://t.co/2KKGyTY57d- St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 31, 2013
And so the 2013 postseason comes to a close. There were bases-loaded jams, grand slams and so many other twists and turns -- who called the game-ending obstruction call anyway? -- that the whole thing couldn't be predicted anyway.
The Road to the World Series has reached its end for another year, and the Red Sox are the only team left standing.
* * *
2013 MLB POSTSEASON
Wild Card: Rays 4, Indians 0
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers beat A's, 3-2
Championship Series: Red Sox beat Tigers, 4-2
Wild Card: Pirates 6, Reds 2
Division Series: Cardinals beat Pirates, 3-2 | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
Championship Series: Cardinals beat Dodgers, 4-2
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Game 5: Cardinals 6, Pirates 1, St. Louis wins series, 3-2
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Los Angeles wins series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Boston wins series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6
Game 5: Tigers 3, A's 0, Detroit wins series, 3-2
NL Championship Series
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13 innings)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0
Game 4: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2
Game 5: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4
Game 6: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0, St. Louis wins series, 4-2
AL Championship Series
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5
Game 3: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0
Game 4: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3
Game 5: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3
Game 6: Red Sox 5, Tigers 2, Boston wins series, 4-2
Game 1: Red Sox 8, Cardinals 1
Game 2: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 2
Game 3: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2
Game 5: Red Sox 3, Cardinals 1
Game 6: Red Sox 6, Cardinals 1, Boston wins series, 4-2
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less