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October 12, 2013

Red Sox vs. Tigers worth the wait

BOSTON — After more than a century, two of the game’s most historic and colorful franchises will finally square off in the postseason.

The Detroit Tigers are taking on the Red Sox in the best-of-7 American League Championship series. Game 1 is today (8:07 p.m. first pitch) at Fenway Park.

Each team’s history borders on the epic. Detroit boasts one of the game’s greatest legends, Ty Cobb, who, as the story goes, made his Tigers debut just weeks after his father accidentally was shot to death by Cobb’s mother, who thought he was a prowler. He was spying on his wife, suspecting her of infidelity, as many have documented.

Persevering through tragedy, Cobb had a Hall of Fame career. He still holds the record for the best lifetime batting average, .366, and he stole 897 bases from 1905-28 while intimidating infielders by sharpening his spiked cleats in their view.

In the legends’ department, Boston can counter with one of the game’s greatest and, unlike the reviled Cobb, most respected: Ted Williams. He’s the last player in the majors to bat over .400 (.406 in 1941) and also was a war hero, serving as a Marine fighter pilot during World War II and the Korean War.

With immortals like Williams and Cobb and a slew of other greats, Detroit and Boston have two of the most storied, tradition-rich franchises in baseball history, yet the clubs have never met in the playoffs, until now.

It’s difficult to believe; after all, they both were among the original eight teams in the American League and played in the same division from 1901 through the end of the 1997 season.

The biggest reason for the lack of a playoff rivalry is that it wasn’t until 1994, when the Wild Card was introduced, that two teams from the same division could meet in the postseason.

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