So much for the preliminaries, now for the main bout - the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series.
It's never clear until it gets underway whether we're going to see a classic or a one-sided, five games and out matchup, but there's plenty of color heading into this series.
A pair of former Most Valuable Players still in their prime - Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton - anchor two offenses that can and have had their way vs. all comers most of the season. Both teams had trouble with pitching, but both are here because of their strengths, offense.
The Cardinals built part of their 2011 marketing around the fear Pujols, Matt Holiday and Lance Berkman put in National League pitchers, and the Rangers ... well, Texas pitchers have had an earned run average of over5.00 this post-season.
Which has worked out fine.
The Rangers offense figures if the other team has only five or six runs, it's their game. Hamilton, Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and the mos feared back-end-of-the-lineup bat in baseball, Nelson Cruz, don't believe they can be stopped. In the American League, they weren't.
Then, there are the managers, the venerable Tony LaRussa and Ron Washington. This will be LaRussa's sixth World Series appearance, but Washington now has two in just five years of managing. No Rangers team had ever won the AL title before Washington arrived, now he's done it in back-to-back seasons.
Give me the winner of this World Series, and the reason for your pick. Then let's sit back and hope for a Fall Classic that becomes one.