“What a team, what a ride, the Cardinals are World Champs in 2011!” Joe Buck called after Allen Craig caught the final out to clinch the Commissioner’s Trophy.
It certainly was a crazy ride. On August 24th, the Cardinals were 67-62, had lost 7 of their last 9 games and had just been swept by the last place Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cardinals were in a funk. Players held a team-only meeting to reaffirm everyone’s accountability. Essentially, they rededicated themselves to respect the game and the uniform they wear.
Manager Tony LaRussa explained that the meeting helped players “zero-in” on that night’s opponent–and nothing else.
The feeling of living on the edge gave them a mental boost, and it transpired onto the playing field.
The Cardinals won 16 of their last 21 games and clinched a playoff spot on the last day of the regular season. The drama was just beginning.
The Cardinals rallied in the National League Division Series, winning two elimination games against a favored Philadelphia Phillies team. Chris Carpenter threw a complete game shutout in Philadelphia to win the series 3-2.
In the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals defeated division rival Milwaukee Brewers. Somehow, Cardinal relief pitchers got more outs (86) than the starters (73).
How do you win the World Series when your best starting pitcher (Adam Wainwright) disappears for the season because of injury during Spring Training?
How do you win the World Series when you lose 25 games in your last at-bat … and 13 walk-offs … and 11 agonizing games you’ve led in the ninth inning or later?
How do you win the World Series when, amidst all that, Albert Pujols breaks his wrist … and Matt Holliday visits the disabled list twice … and Chris Carpenter starts out 1-7?
How do you win the World Series when Texas was TWICE just one strike away from winning it all?
It was an unbelievable fairy-tale story that will go down as the best comeback ever in Major League history.
On NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Bob Costas paid tribute to his hometown after the St. Louis Rams shocked the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
“Does any of this make sense? About as much sense as two comebacks from two runs down with two outs on the same night, twice down to your last strike in the World Series.
“In St. Louis this week, some things don’t have to be explained, just enjoyed.”