It’s hard to figure out where to start here. I counted out the Cardinals a long time ago, and here they are getting ready to host game 1 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers. After my Aug 16th article on looking ahead to 2012, the Cards lost 2 of 3 to the Cubs, and then were swept by the LA Dodgers at home. At that point, the Cards were 10 and ½ games behind the Braves in the Wild Card, but then an interesting thing happened with the Atlanta Braves. On August 30th, Jair Jurrjens made his last start of the season due to injury, and previous to that on August 6th, Tommy Hanson also went down with an injury. Even with their number 2 and 3 starters down, it didn’t appear the Cards had a chance, at least not to me. The Cardinals hadn’t put together a winning streak of more than 4 in a row all year long.
The Cards finally did put a 5 game winning streak together, from Sep. 6th to Sep. 11th, and in the middle of that winning streak was a sweep of the Braves. There continued to be instances where it appeared the Cards just didn’t have it, like on September 22nd when they blew a 6-1 lead to the Mets in the final innings, losing 8-6. However, the Braves continued to fall, and in the end, the Phillies thought they had a better shot against the Cards than any other team by playing their starters against the Braves in the final series of the year. Even after dropping game 1 in their final series against the Astros, they got to 90 wins, which was just enough. You can look at it as just luck with the Braves collapse, but the Cards had to continue to win, and they did.
So here the Cards are in the World Series. I did plenty of bashing of Tony LaRussa and was very critical of the Colby Rasmus trade, but a World Series shot is well worth it. I had read about the comeback in 1964, but this didn’t appear to be a Cardinal team that had anything on them. When the Cards made the playoffs, my first thought was that at least some of the young kids would benefit from getting some postseason experience. Nobody was supposed to beat the Phillies, who were sporting the best starting pitching staff I have seen in my lifetime. I’m still not sure if beating Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy OsWalt has really sunk in. Not without Adam Wainwright in the mix.
On to the Brewers, and again, it didn’t really seem possible. In the end, the Cards took out T-plush and the others in the best possible way, which was making sure Chris Carpenter could start game 1 of the World Series. By the way, I’ve never seen a platoon player get as much hype as that dickhead.
So here we are in the World Series, again the underdogs. The only expert I have seen pick the Cards to beat the Rangers is Billy Ripken of the MLB Network, and he picked them in 7. However the series ends up, 2011 has been a success. A lot of the key pieces of the future like Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, David Freese and others have gotten their feet wet in the playoffs and had success. The Cards are still playing with house money. I was wrong and have happily eaten plenty of crow. Tony LaRussa has been masterful with the bullpen. That’s enough to say for now, and I’ll do my best Crash Davis and write ‘em 1 game at a time. I will end today with one final thought though. That final thought is that I still hope the Cardinals let Albert Pujols walk at the end of the year. I’ll get into my reasons why later, but for now, let’s all enjoy what’s left of 2011.