BOSTON (AP) - Curt Schilling thought his Boston Red Sox would sweep the "bloody sock" World Series of 2004.
He was right.
Now the big right-hander's former team is playing the St. Louis Cardinals for the championship again, and he expects a much tighter competition.
"I think it's going to go the distance," Schilling, an ESPN baseball analyst, said Tuesday. "I don't think either team has a clear edge."
But nine years ago, it was different. The Red Sox had the momentum with four straight wins after trailing the New York Yankees 3-0 in the AL championship series. The Cardinals didn't have the power pitching they have now.
And there was the emblem of it all - the bloody sock. Or socks.
The first was soaked when Schilling won Game 6 of the ALCS after having stitches to mend an ankle injury. The second was bloodied when he won Game 2 in the World Series, a six-inning stint in which he allowed no earned runs in six innings of a 6-2 victory over the Cardinals.
"I'm not even going to talk about that," Schilling said when asked if he regretted having sold the World Series hosiery.
He was eager to discuss the fourth World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals that starts Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
"They've been memorable World Series because you have two of the originals in the mix," he said in a conference call. "They've got a century's worth of history coming out of these two cities, two towns that are absolutely in love with their baseball teams. It's a religion, a way of life. Those go together well in the World Series."
In 2004, it went Boston's way, just as Schilling suspected it would.
"The thing I remember is how confident we were going in," he said. "I sat in the advanced scouting meetings, the pitcher prep meetings for that World Series. We didn't think they could win a game. It had nothing to do with the Cardinals. They were a good team. We felt we had built the thing the way it was supposed to be built and we were unbeatable at that point, especially coming off the Yankees series."
But now the Cardinals have a pitching staff built on power.
Starter Michael Wacha "is one of the reasons why you look at this World Series and I don't think there's a clear favorite," Schilling said. "As good as Boston's offense is, the Cardinals are running out as good of a power pitching bullpen as I've seen in my lifetime."
And the Red Sox?
They won the 2004 title and started a legacy that led to a 2007 championship.
"I think that '04 team made a lot of things possible," Schilling said. "I don't think you have '07 without '04. I don't know how it works after that. I think what we did in '04 opened the door for guys to come here and play that might not have come here and played, had they not won a World Series."