They Are the Champions, My Friends

Steve Mitchell/US Presswire


For the 11th time in history, the St. Louis Cardinals are MLB’s World Champions.  The National League team downed the Texas Rangers 6-2, in-game seven of the Series on Friday night.  The final game was a bit of a letdown after the previous six games were battles of sheer will, neither team willing to cave in for second place.  While many of the Fall classics of past have disappointed, been grossly overmatched or just plain boring, the 2011 World Series will be one that fans of the sport will keep in memory, at least for the near future.  Watching it myself, it conjured up images of when the Houston Rockets kept teetering on elimination during the NBA finals in the 90’s.  The Cardinals  just wouldn’t go away.

The turning point really came the night before when after several lead changes, the Rangers finally gave up the ghost in the extra inning game that had Texas one strike away from securing their very first championship on two occasions.  So close to the golden ring were the Rangers, that their locker room at Busch Stadium was covered in visqueen, World Series Champion tee shirts waiting to be worn and wetted with champagne.  The set up in the room had to be taken down several times, before Texas finally submitted in extra innings.

It was a valiant effort by the Cardinals, but quite honestly, the Series seemed to actually hinge on Texas not being able to seal the deal.  The Rangers walked 41 batsmen in the Series, which is now a record.  Lackluster pitching was most certainly a weak spot for Texas in the Series, and although the team could be a top contender next year, the pitching question marks will have to be solved.  Ironically,  pitching legend and ex Ranger Nolan Ryan is the architect of the Texas pitching staff.  Not to take anything away from the NL representation, of course.  The Cardinals played an extremely scrappy Series.

Said St. Louis skipper Tony Larussa after the game, “It’s unbelievable, amazing, incredible. Bob Gibson told me before the game, ‘In ’06, you became a part of this club.’ Now, we’re all here in cement.”

Now although St. Louis never quit and fought down to every last pitch, the real question is, was the skill and tenacity of St. Louis the difference maker, or was it the fact that Texas, just found a way to lose the Championship that seemed to be theirs?  The Texas bullpen had St. Louis dead to rights, and the simple fact is, they gave the Cardinals a reprieve.  The sheer number of free bases the Rangers gave up will almost certainly be addressed by fans and staff alike of  the ballclub.

Both of these teams should remain relatively together for next season, with the exception on Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols, so don’t be surprised if one, or both teams are right back here for round two next season.  After two dropped rings in a row, we may just find out if the Texas Rangers will become MLB’s version of the Buffalo Bills.


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