Let's hear it for your World Champion, 83-win, St. Louis Cardinals! Like it or not, that seems to be the label that will be affixed to this year's champions in baseball history. They will go down as the 102nd World Series Champion, but unfortunately, there will always be an asterisk attached to them, as if they didn't really deserve what they acheived. I really hope that people look at this Series and say that the Cardinals won it instead of, the Tigers lost it and handed it to St. Louis.
For me, what the Cardinals did is more impressive than a juggernaut regular season team rolling through the playoffs and winning easily (not that that happens very much anyway). They were given 50-1 odds to win the World Series at the start of the playoffs - the biggest longshot of all eight playoff teams - and overcame a multitude of adverse situations to win the big prize. It's amazing to think of all the Cardinals overame. For example:
Major injuries - Mark Mulder, one of the co-aces of the pitching staff along with Chris Carpenter, didn't make an appearance in the playoffs. Neither did their longtime closer, Jason Isringhausen. Losing just one of those would be devestating enough, but both could have been catastrophic. In fact, I think if you asked people why the Cardinals wouldn't go far at the start of the playoffs, people would say it was due to their questionable pitching.
Tony LaRussa vs. the players - Third baseman Scott Rolen and manager LaRussa got into a would-be tiff over Rolen's benching in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Mets. They must have kissed and made up since then, because Rolen was hot at the plate ever since then, hitting .421 in the World Series, with a key home run in Game 1. And both the players and LaRussa had to overcome the perception that his managing style makes the team too tense to perform in pressure situations. Well, I think that idea is out the window now.
The Near Collapse - Ah yes, how could we forget, the Cardinals were supposed to join the 1964 Phillies as the biggest regular-season chokers of all time, nearly blowing an 8 1/2 game division lead with less than two weeks left in the season. But they didn't and that's all that matters. And to anyone who thinks that they were not worthy enough to make the playoffs, who was a better team than the Cardinals in the NL Central this season? No one in that mediocore division, meaning that as the rightful division winner, they had every right to step onto the field with the Padres, Mets, and finally, the Tigers.
Just before the Cardinals won in the ninth inning, Fox announced that the World Series MVP would win a new Chevy Corvette. When I heard that, I couldn't wait to tune into the presentation of the awarding of the car, since I felt that David Eckstein was going to win it. David Eckstein has never had a new car in his life, this despite being a rich athlete. He's about as low-key an athlete as you can find, and the thought of him being given that flashy car was a little ridiculous. If I had to bet, I'd say he leaves the Corvette in his garage and keeps driving his old used car around.
Congratulations to the Cardinals, they deserve their championship, regardless of the regular season.