First thing I read this morning was Cardinals Have a Chance to Repeat. Really? Already? How is anything written in October 2011, about the chances of winning the World Series a year from now, has any worth, or standing?
Did anyone think the Cardinals will be here? When Pujols held out before the season started? When the Cardinals were 10.5 games away from the Wild Card spot? When they got the Phillies? When they got the Rangers?
Improbable, nearly impossible keeps happening. The San Francisco Giants proved that last year, winning without an offense, using only terrific pitching. It’s not like the Cardinals were the worst team in Baseball this year, but most of us had in my at least six-seven different teams, including the Texas Rangers, to win the World Series.
But the Cardinals do have old and new to build on. Chris Carpenter, as Yadier Molina said last night after the 6-2 win, He’s a horse. Carpenter, in playoff games, a Cy-Young winner and two time World Series champion, is huge in the biggest moments. Yadier Molina himself got two hits and a walk last night with two RBIs.
In the fifth inning, the Rangers preferred to load the bases and intentionally walk David Freese so they can face Molina, hoping to get the final out through him. Instead, the Cardinals scored twice without actually using the bat to hit the ball. Walks, you know. The Rangers walked 41 batters during the series, a new record for a World Series. Six of them last night.
For Tony La Russa, this might be his sweetest championship, his third in over 30 years of managing Major League baseball. The 23-9 run and this incredible roller coaster ride of the 2011 postseason, sweeter than anything. The big mess up of game 5, the phone incident, something he took responsibility for, will only become a funny anecdote on his resume instead of something to be blamed for.
He was heavily favored to win the World series when he was with the A’s in the late 80’s, making three straight World Series. In both wins with the Cardinals, he was the clear underdog.
But now, everyone is waiting for Pujols to decide. Something that looked more than unlikely six-seven months ago. Now, a legacy and a chance of a dynasty, a third World Series ring with the same team might sway him from moving away for much more money. Every veteran on the team, especially Lance Berkman, are doing their best to convince the best hitter in Baseball to stay in St. Louis.
Mike Napoli could have been the star of this World Series, the MVP, if the Rangers would have gotten that last out. Instead, for the first time since August, they lost two consecutive games, and David Freese with Allen Craigh ended up as the big names.
For the Rangers? It’s going to be a depressing fall and winter. They were one out away, twice, from winning their first World Series in franchise history. A 51 year drought. Instead, they became the first team to lose consecutive World Series since the Atlanta Braves, 20 years ago. If there’s one thing that happened in this World Series that I’ll look back on is being so close, just having one pitch to be made and one out to be gotten, and it could have been a different story, said Manager Ron Washington.
It’s not a nice feeling, you know, being one strike away twice. I guess it’s probably easier to lose four games in a row in a World Series, but being a strike away it’s something that will be hard to forget. Different words, same meaning, from Adrian Beltre. This will haunt them for a while. Maybe even through April next year. Momentum, especially negative one, lingers a long long time.