Where to begin.
Last night's victory ended the longest stretch in franchise history without a title since it's inception in 1892 (they went 34 years before their first appearance in the series - a win - in 1926). It also ended the longest stretch in franchise history without someone on the team who had won a title as a Cardinal (7 years since Willie McGee retired; the previous had been 3 - the time between Lou Brock's retirement in 1979 and the 1982 title). That will suffice as the 'randomly obscure fact' for the day.
The baseball world was shocked by the Cardinals title only becasue of how difficult the season had been following Pujols' oblique strain. Saint Louis had the best record in the NL when he went down (a fact which was conveniently forgotten until they had a 2-1 series lead). This team, at it's core, was still the same dangerous team that had won 205 games the previous two seasons. Injuries had hit the team hard, as they had last season, but this year the team did not play well for long stretches like they were able to do last year. In the end, only getting into the post-season mattered. After that, the team was able to field a reasonably healthy lineup, and they started to produce around AP against the Padres and really against New York, and never stopped, leading us to this result.
Other random thoughts from the clincher:
- So Taguchi becomes only the third Japanese League star to win a World Series Title, joing Hideki Irabu (NYY, 1998-1999) and Tadahito Iguchi (ChiSox 2005).
- Fox still sucks. Graphic as the Cardinal lineup was announced: Cardinals are 9-12 in World Series elimination games. Not quite. Cardinals were actually 14-14 in those games going into last night (15-14 now). You may say, but they've only won 10 titles, so how can they be 15-14? Because in 1926, 1934, 1946, 1967, and 1982 the team was down 3-2 in the series and came back to win. Also, anyone else besides me half expect Jeannie Zelasko to take off her jacket and start slapping Mr. Dewitt in the ass while screaming 'SAY MY NAME! SAY MY NAME!' during the trophy presentation? What a tart. Dewitt and Walt Jocketty looked a little non-plussed at her idiocy, although they handled it well.
- David Eckstein was a pretty good choice for MVP. But he won it based on two games worth of excellence (he started the Series 0 for 11). I think any of the below would have been a better choice: Scott Rolen: .421 Average, 5 R, 3 2B, HR, 2 RBI (first and last), .476 OBP, .736 SLG. Only player with a hit in every game of the World Series; his post-season hit streak stands at 10. Yadier Molina: .411 Avg, 3R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, .500 OBP, .473 SLG. Think the HR in Game 7 gave him a world of confidence? It would appear so. Let's see if he can keep it going next season. Sean Casey: .529 AVG, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .894 SLG, .529 OBP. The only truly dangerous bat in the Tiger lineup (other than Guillen). Cardinals Bullpen: 1 ER in 10 innings (0.90 ERA). Seem silly to give it to a group of guys? The 1981 MVP went to a trio of Dodgers following their win over the Yankees.
- Pitching, pitching, pitching. It all starts there. Viva El Birdos does a great job showing the improvement the playoff Cardinal staff had as compared to the regular-season staff.
- I would like to know the real reason why Kenny Rogers didn't pitch last night. Jim Leyland is a good manager, but Verlander's first inning is exactly why I didn't think he should start. Why would you go with a rookie instead of the 18 year vet in the biggest game of the season? Seemed strange at the time and still does. I wonder if he was goaded into that decision based on the rumor that Carpenter would start Game 6 - his thinking: that Rogers was the only pitcher he had that stood a chance of matching Carpenter's excellence. We'll never know now.
I'll take a little time off to absorb everything that's happened in October, before I start taking a look at the free agent market and what I think the Cardinals should do roster-wise going into the winter meetings. I also look forward to seeing who's the Cy Young (my money's on Hoffman, although Carpenter was the best pitcher in the NL the whole season) and MVP (AP is the MVP, but based on TSN MOP and the Hank Aaron Award, it will probably be Ryan Howard) winner in the NL for 2006. That, and trying to figure out how to transfer Game 5 to a DVD for permanent inclusion in the archives.
Congratulations to the 2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
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