It’s taken the Cardinals six months plus three weeks to reach tonight’s World Series opener. Here’s hoping it won’t take quite that long to get to Game 2.

This World Series should take six or seven games. It drips with professionalism as each team can see its best attributes in the other. No one expects the preening that became a talking point in the National League championship series. Tuesday the teams played nice. Tonight they will play hard.

This is throwback which is a good thing in an era of alternate jerseys multiple wild cards and constant interleague action.

The Cardinals and Boston Red Sox play one other for the first time since a three-game series in June 2008. Of those on the Redbirds’ World Series roster only catcher Yadier Molina played that weekend. A significant percentage had never seen the city never mind the quirky confines that bills itself America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

When the Cardinals’ team buses reached Fenway Park on Tuesday morning many players rushed to the stands just to sit and observe. Not every yard after all is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It seems odd for a franchise appearing in its fourth World Series in a decade but the Cardinals fear distraction more than the Red Sox whom they respect instead.

This place is different an American League Wrigley Field with more charm and less summer stink.

“Right now I think one of the biggest things for our club is to eliminate distractions and to keep from getting away from what we’re good at” manager Mike Matheny said. “What we’re good at is staying within ourselves regardless of what the other club does. ... We’ve had plenty of opportunities to have distractions and the guys have done a real nice job of staying the course. This is going to be another test and hopefully they’re ready for it.”

Fenway is 101 years of nuance with several recent nice touches added. The Green Monster stands 37 feet above left field. Center field tilts to The Triangle 420 feet from home plate. The right-field Pesky pole where Mark Bellhorn took a Julian Taveras mistake to win Game 1 of the ‘04 Series stands only 302 feet away. Foul territory is claustrophobic. A smash over third base usually ricochets off stands that angle toward the left-field line meaning the shortstop must retreat on any ball past his third baseman’s backhand. Because of Fenway’s skewed outfield a second baseman must run farther out on anything through the right-center field gap.

There’s a lot going on especially on a chilled October night. Matheny catcher for the 2004 Cardinals who got swept by the Red Sox knows how up for grabs this place can become.

“The atmosphere here ... we know it’s going to be wild and loud and that’s exactly what we want” said Matheny realizing it’ll be crazy whether he wants it or not.

“You know it’s going to be loud so you expect it you embrace it” said Chris Carpenter who got to know Fenway as a New Hampshire native and as a Toronto Blue Jays pitcher before coming to St. Louis in 2003. “The thing is to keep yourself focused on your next pitch. It shouldn’t be a distraction.”

There’s enough tug here for the sidelined former Cy Young Award winner to ask Matheny if he could participate in batting practice. (Carpenter only bunted during pregame work with the Jays.) Permission granted Carpenter drove five balls over the Monster each to his teammates’ loud approval. “It felt great” Carpenter said as batting practice ended.

The opponent’s an unknown except for what the Cardinals have seen on television and tape and heard about via reports.

The Red Sox play at a glacial pace. Several starting pitchers including tonight’s Jon Lester hold the ball for up to 20 seconds between offerings An impressive balanced stable of hitters wades deep into counts fouling off the tough pitches they don’t take and often stepping out of the box in between.

Regardless of pace the odds of another Puig-like look-at-me display surfacing in this series are remote. The Red Sox and Cardinals refer to their offensive style as “grinding.” Most teams take at-bats; these two stretch them. The Red Sox may actually push it to another level: They are veterans of a 3:56 1-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS.

Of the Sox’ 144 nine-inning games this season 97 stretched past three hours including three four-hour operas.

There’s no crying in baseball. Thankfully (or regrettably) there’s no curfew either.

The Red Sox saw more pitches than any team this season. They spit on strike one and rarely expand the hitting zone. The approach can frustrate very good pitchers and chews up average ones.

“It shouldn’t change your approach one bit” said pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. “Our goal is to go out and attack the strike zone. Our philosophy doesn’t change regardless of what they do.”