I guess we all hoped it would end this way. I’m not sure we really believed it would.
Before the 2006 season I had only seen the Cardinals win one title. Now they have won two in six years. Those two have been studies in contrast. The 2006 team limped in with no spark and somehow ignited. This team entered the post-season riding a wave of emotion and belief and refused to be denied. If the those two post-season runs don’t conclusively prove the playoffs are a crapshoot for people those people will never be convinced.
The Cardinals did this while Pujols was a non-factor for 6 of the seven games. Other than his 3 HR Game Three, and one out double in the ninth inning of Game 6, the Rangers kept Pujols in check. The hitting stars were Allen Craig (3 HR), David Freese (5 clutch RBI in Games 6 and 7 alone), and Lance Berkman (.430 Series average). It doesn’t matter if those stats are old school. Berkman was constantly on base. Freese was deadly with runners on. That offensive balance allowed this team to succeed even while Pujols struggled and Matt Holliday gamely played hurt.
Then there is Chris Carpenter’s night. Did you notice he allowed only 3 hits after Michael Young’s RBI double in the first? The first 4 Rangers reached. Carp throttled them after that. Cal Eldred pointed out that Carp started throwing curveballs after Dave Duncan visited the mound in the second inning. That pitch enabled him to keep the Texas hitters off balance the rest of the game. The usual parade of reporters did the rest.
I’ve been a Cardinals fan since I was 7, but had never been in St Louis when the won the Series. In 1982 my family lived on the West Coast. In 2006 I was on active duty. This year thanks to the rainout Game 7 moved onto my Mom’s birthday. The flight out of San Diego yesterday was speckled with fans in varying degrees of Cardinals gear, from the modest hat to the couple wearing Pujols and Musial jerseys. The mood was upbeat and expectations were high. I noticed that same mood everywhere I went in the city yesterday.
And last night, after it was over, those knuckleheads among us that went to Sports Authority in search of World Series gear were well behaved and happy.
The 2011 Cardinals should call their team video “Phoenix”. They rose from the ashes of a 10.5 game deficit and won the World Series. It’s been a great ride these last two months. I’m sad this season had to end because these guys are fun to watch.
Congratulations to the 2011 World Champion St Louis Cardinals!