Only 24 hours after participating in an epic game six, and one of the greatest in World Series history, the St. Louis Cardinals completed one of the most dramatic seasons in the franchise’s history. The Redbirds beat the Texas Rangers in game seven of the World Series Friday night 6-2 to capture their 11th World Series title capping a great season. Manager Tony Larussa garnered his third overall trophy and second with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals won a World Series when they weren’t even supposed to be there. Seemingly down and out and on the brink of elimination in late August the Redbirds played the type of solid baseball play that fans in Cardinals’ Nation had come to expect. What would transpire in the ensuing days of September could not have been written even by Oliver Stone himself.
On August 25 the Cardiac Cardinals began their unexpected and unlikely rise to baseball’s promise land. At the time they faced a deficit that, to most, seemed insurmountable. They were looking up at the Atlanta Braves in wildcard standings from a 10.5 game hole. St. Louis would go 23-9 down the stretch and claim the NL wildcard spot on the final day of the season from the Braves, who suffered one of the worst collapses in baseball history.
First, the Redbirds defeated NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies (102 regular season wins) in five games in the NLDS. Then it was a four games to two victory over the NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers (a franchise record 96 wins) in the NLCS. That set the stage for the drama that was to take place in the World Series against the Texas Rangers making their second run as the American League champions.
As in the case with Philadelphia and Milwaukee, the Cardinals were once again underdogs to Texas in the World Series. Apparently undaunted by that fact the Redbirds would match the Rangers blow for blow and make believers out of them in the process. Their never-say-die attitude produced a year full (or maybe 2 months full) of inspirational rallies and unbelievable memories that will simply last a life time.
In game 3 Albert Pujols’exhibited perhaps the greatest hitting performance in World Series history with three homers, five hits, and 6 RBI’s in one night. His heroics are matched only by hall of famers Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. With their dramatic come from behind 10-9 victory in game six the team produced one of the most exciting World Series finales in the history of the event.
Hometown hero David Freese became the sixth player named MVP of both the World Series and NLCS. Freese batted .397 with a record setting 21 RBI and tied a record for postseason hits (25).
This series was initially dismissed by many fans as “dull” because it did not provide large market teams or marquee names. That theory went out the window though as the series progressed and the excitement and intensity grew with each pitch. Game 7 drew a viewing audience of 25.4 million people.
For those who argue that the better team did not win the title, I challenge you to consider this. The Philadelphia Phillies owned the best record in baseball with a 102-60 regular season mark. The Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers owned the third best record during the regular season, both with a 96-66 record. The Cardinals defeated the three “best” teams in baseball this post season on their way to the title. You don’t beat the best teams in the game and not earn the title as THE best, particularly in a best out of 7 series.
What may be a more accurate statement is to say that the Cardinals simply had not played up to their full potential prior to August 25, 2011 when they were perilously close to being a .500 team. Their record of 67-63 to that point had lulled their critics as well as their counterparts into thinking they weren’t a very good team.
But the supposed “best” teams in baseball should have considered themselves warned when the Redbirds entered the post season with the second-best record of any team after August 25. Only Detroit, who was defeated by Texas in the ALCS, had a better record than the Cardinals after August 25, going 24-8.
With their win the Cardinals became the ninth consecutive home team to win the World Series in a game seven. With the loss the Rangers became only the first team since the Atlanta Braves in 1991 & 1992 to lose two consecutive World Series. They lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games just last year.
It’s amazing what this Cardinals team accomplished this year. They persevered through some tough stretches of the season and overcame the temptation to give into apathy to become Champions when it was all said and done. Those of us in Cardinals’ Nation shouldn’t be surprised, however, because that’s just the Cardinals way.
About the Author
Written by Chaz Ingram
During his lengthy career Chaz has worked in various areas of the media. As an actor he has appeared on such shows as "Less Than Perfect" "CSI New York" and "Outlaw". He's performed on stage in such plays as "West Side Story", "The Wiz" "Oliver" and "Sugar". He has also landed roles in several commercials most notably as a reporter for "NFL Legends" and as a model for Ameriquest Mortgage. Chaz's extensive background in the broadcast industry has given him invaluable experience in several areas of the business. His work as an assignment desk intern as well as in the news and sports departments at the local ABC and NBC TV stations in St. Louis, MO has given him experence on various levels of news production. Chaz is a former host of of his own radio show "The Spirit of Chaz", where he was also writer and producer at KXEN in St. Louis. As a Marketing Consultant at KSDK-TV (NBC) Chaz was a major contributor to the station's #1 position in overall sales in the St. Louis market. At KEZK radio he was awarded "rookie of the year" for his achievements in sales. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized Chaz as one of their "40 Under 40" awardees for his work in the community with youth. Additionally, St. Louis public Schools recognized him as "Role Model of the Year" in 1995 & 1996. He is the recipient of the 1989 edition of "Outstanding Young Men of America". Chaz currently resides in Los Angeles where he owns Nicolexis Inspirations a motivational and life coach company.