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Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis Cardinals’

The Fall Classic

In MLB on October 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

By Chris Hallenbrook

The World Series is baseball’s ultimate showcase, not only for the talent, but also for the history of a game that embraces continuity with its past in a way that few sports can match. Toward that end, this year provides an ideal matchup, not only because the Red Sox (est. 1901) and Cardinals (est. 1882) have both played in their cities of origin for over a century, but also because of their October history together, having met in three previous fall classics that have woven together the fates of generations of fans in Boston and St. Louis.

1946 – Cardinals in 7. Stacked with Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, as well as Hall worthy players Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky, this Red Sox team inaugurated decades of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Ted Williams was hit with a pitch in an October exhibition game, and played the World Series with a swollen elbow that held him to a mere .200 batting average. In Game 7, with the Red Sox down 3-1 in the top of the 8th, DiMaggio laced a two run double off the wall that missed going out of Sportsman’s Park by mere feet. Trying to leg for third, DiMaggio went down with a hamstring injury. In the bottom of the inning, Enos Slaughter would fly through the stop sign to test the arm of DiMaggio’s replacement, scoring all the way from first with the game, and Series, winning run (Pesky didn’t hold the ball. Leon Culberson was no DiMaggio, and Slaughter admitted he wouldn’t have tried it if the Little Professor was still in the game). For my grandfather, a 14 year old coming of age in postwar America, Slaughter’s Mad Dash was the first time the Red Sox broke his heart.

1967 – Cardinals in 7. This was such a watershed year for the Red Sox that losing the Series couldn’t ruin The Impossible Dream. The Sox had been so bad for so long that many thought the young Dick Williams was in over his head when during spring training he brashly declared that “we’ll win more than we lose.” A Yastrzemski triple crown/MVP campaign and a Jim Lonborg Cy Young season later, the Red Sox inched out victory in a four team pennant race on the last day of the season. The Red Sox were fantastic in that Series, with Yaz posting an other worldly 1.340 OPS and Lonborg allowing 1 run in 18 innings during his first two starts. But a 101 win Cardinals team featuring Roger Maris, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, Steve Carlton and the legendry Bob Gibson were too much for the Sox. Lonborg made a valiant effort in Game 7, but working on two days rest he just didn’t have enough left to truly compete with the dominance of Gibson. My father, a 22 year old private just home from Vietnam, would watch The Cardiac Kids come just short, blissfully unaware that he wouldn’t live long enough to see their Idiot cousins finish the job.

2004 – Red Sox in 4. By now you surely know the story of the team affectionately known as the Idiots. (If not, go watch the “Four Days in October” episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.) The Varitek vs. A-Rod midsummer brawl. The 0-3 deficit. The Steal. The Bloody Sock. The Slap. The Comeback. The New York tabloids running headlines such as “Hell Freezes Over” and “The Choke’s On Us.” Momentum may only be as good as your next day’s starting pitcher, but this Red Sox team rode a wave of emotion (and solid pitching) to the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years. I was a 17 year old high school senior, and within a week my classmates were wearing t-shirts that read “Now I can die happy.” My grandfather celebrated his first Red Sox World Series Championship at the age of 72.

2013 – This is the story that is yet to be written. Will Carlos Beltran add to his portfolio of post-season heroics? Will Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha remind the world that pitching wins championships? Or will David Ortiz add to the legend of Big Papi? Perhaps Koji Uehara will put a fitting capstone on one of the greatest seasons in the history of relief pitching. The only thing we know for sure is that with these two franchises, and these two teams, each winners of 97 regular season games and each fresh off a 6 game LCS triumph over a championship caliber opponent, it will be a Fall Classic in the truest sense of the term, and two fan bases will always remember where they were when “it” happened, whatever “it” may be.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @CHallenbrook.

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Gone Fishing

In Keep Updated on October 17, 2012 at 6:47 am

Delicious.

“Gone Fishing” isn’t a clever pun on some current sports topic. I literally went fishing today. Up before sunrise and all that. By the time I get back (late) I will be so tired everything I write will be blah blah blah, the LiveStrong Foundation won’t be as strong without Lance Armstrong as the head of the organization, blah blah blah, the Cardinals and Giants and Tigers oh my, blah blah blah.

As if it wasn’t already like that, you know?

I will try to make up the article this week.

Until then.

To End All Flukes

In MLB on October 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

Considering where I currently live, and considering who a lot of my family members root for, this article is not going to make me too popular at backyard BBQ’s or family reunions.

Either way, the playoff series taking place in San Francisco is one of great importance to Major League Baseball. The Giants, winners of the 2010 World Series, are playing the St. Louis Cardinals, winners of the 2011 World Series, to see who will get to play for the 2012 World Series.

It’s battle of the titans, only both teams haven’t been considered very colossal given their achievements. And that’s because of how both teams accomplished their most recent World Series wins.

“2010 was a fluke.”
“No, 2011 was a fluke.”

Halfway through the 2010 regular season, it did not look like the Giants were going to contend for much of anything, let alone the Commissioner’s Trophy. Coming into the final series of the season against the San Diego Padres, the Padres, who had led the division for 148 days during the season, trailed San Francisco by two games with only three games left to play. After winning the first two games of the series, the Giants were finally able to shut out the Padres and win their first NL West since 2003.

The Giants then continued their tear into the postseason, beating the favored Atlanta Braves, the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies, and then Texas Rangers to win their first World Series since moving to the Bay Area in 1958.

It’s San Francisco, so all of the confetti is made from 100% recycled, biodegradable, bird friendly, angel kisses.

It had been seven years since the Giants had even been to the postseason, and all of a sudden they were in it to win it. In 2010, the Giants were the poster children for a team that may not have had the most talent on their roster (on paper, it was the Phillies), but who got hot at the exact right moment; when it counts.

That was, of course, until they were replaced on that poster by the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.

This World Series made as much sense as the new Wild Card format. Wait, the Cardinals won that too?

The last day of the 2011 MLB regular season will go down as the craziest day in the history of the sport. Not even considering the Tampa Bay Rays win over the New York Yankees (that is a whole other article), the St. Louis Cardinals completed the greatest season comeback in MLB history (or perhaps it was the Braves performing the worst collapse in history) to win the NL Wild Card on the last day of play.

Like the Giants the year before, the Cardinals (considering the odds) shouldn’t have even been playing October baseball, but there they were; beating the heavily favored Phillies, the juiced up Milwaukee Brewers, and the “There’s-No-Way-They-Can-Lose-Two-World-Series-In-A-Row” Rangers.

The Cards were another team that got hot when it mattered most.

Now, to call either St. Louis of San Francisco total flukes would be unfair, but let’s be honest, their wins were at least a little flukey at best.

(And before my family in the Midwest, or my neighbors in California get all crazy about me calling their team flukey, think about this: regardless if it was a fluke or not, your team has a banner in their rafters. Isn’t a “flukey” World Series better than no World Series? Know what I’m saying North Side of Chicago?) 

“WE’D SELL OUR CHILDREN FOR A FLUKE!”

The Giants weren’t in the postseason in 2009, and they weren’t in the postseason in 2011. They almost didn’t even make they playoffs the year they won.

The Cardinals weren’t in the postseason in 2010, won a 2011 Wild Card spot on the last day, won the whole shebang, and then lost their longtime manager (Tony La Russa) and longtime face of the franchise (Albert Pujols) in the offseason. By all accounts, they shouldn’t even be in the postseason this year, but look where they are.

Both teams need this 2012 World Series berth to legitimize the current state of their franchise. The Giants need it so they can look at the league and say, “See, losing Buster Posey last year really was as devastating as we said it was.” The Cardinals need it so they can say “We were more than just La Russa and Pujols.”

Considering both franchises wish to be considered legitimate contenders and powerhouses (who doesn’t?), both teams need this series. After the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan allegedly told Ray Allen (I’m quoting from memory here), that winning one championship is lucky, but winning two is validation.

This series is that validation.

What’s Old Is New Again

In MLB on October 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm

With the one-and-done elimination game already taking place, this is going to be quick. Before we go any further, it’s time for the baseball lovers in all of us to take pause. To take a moment and make sure we realize what is happening before us.

A tip of the hat to you.

Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown since 1967.

October baseball is being played in DC.

The Baltimore Orioles are in the playoffs.

So are the Reds.

The Oakland A’s look like the most dominant team in baseball.

In 2012, what is old is new again, and some of the oldest, most storied franchises in the sport are in the hunt for another World Series banner.

The Tigers haven’t won it all since 1984. DC last hosted a series in 1933. The Orioles last won in 1983. The Reds, 1990. The A’s, 1989. Heck, even Chipper Jones is in the playoffs right now, and he’s retiring after this season after playing nineteen years for the same franchise (Atlanta Braves).

An old boys club with nothing but fresh, young faces.

Sure, there are some old timey teams who won a ring recently (the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants), and one old timer who always seems to win (New York Yankees), but this is a special year. It’s as if all of your grandpa’s teams are having a revival.

And while we wouldn’t want October to become solely an old boy’s club, sometimes it’s nice to party like’s it’s 1933. Or ’83. Or ’84, or ’89, or ’90. Or…

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