We’ve arrived at 2011, the Cardinals’ most recent World Series title featuring the unlikeliest of games to go along with the unlikeliest of teams (read about 1982 and 2006 here and here). This team had no business winning the World Series. No business at all. In late August they got smoked in Los Angeles and left town with a double-digit deficit in both the NL Central and wild card standings. All they had to do from there was win 23 of their final 32 games and scoreboard watch each night in hopes that the Braves would somehow lose 20 of their final 30. The Braves, of course, were happy to oblige, culminating in the greatest final day of the regular season that most of us can probably remember.
There was so much more though. Like Adron Chambers scoring the walk-off run on a wild pitch in late September, there was a squirrel, a tortoise for some reason, Chris Carpenter in Game 5 of the NLDS, David Freese in the NLCS, Allen Craig’s pinch hits, Pujols’ three home runs, a rain out, Freese again, Lance Berkman’s flair, Freese again, until we finally got to October, 28, 2011, the last time we would see both Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa in the Cardinals dugout.
Here’s Joe Buck with the perfect call on the final out:
Personal note: I was at this game. Game 6, too. I had a perfect vantage point and can still vividly remember the ball dropping into Allen Craig’s glove for the final out. It was wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for much. One thing you do miss when you’re at the game, however, is the up-close emotion of a bunch of guys who: 1) were lucky enough to win final game of the season; and 2) don’t have to go to work the next day for the first time in eight months. That’s a great cause for celebration.
Back to the beginning though, or more specifically the 0:09 mark. This picture illustrates the two easiest ways to get noticed at a Cardinals game. You can be a professional baseball player and actually be on the field participating in the game, or, take the easier route and be the lone guy in the powder blue in a sea of red.
Jump to the 0:17 mark and take a look at this guy.
He briefly contemplates running aimlessly to the outfield by himself which would have been a joy to watch but then he corrects himself with a 90 degree turn to join the rest of the team. Also, side issue: Who is this guy?
Must-follow @SimulacruMusial, who helped out with the GIFs, did some sleuthing and noted that the red jacket denotes that this is probably a bullpen arm. He also dug up another angle of the wayward celebration.
Why that’s Octavio Dotel running to nowhere in particular, right? (Also, notice the position of Yadier Molina’s shinguard. How did he survive?)
Yes, definitely Octavio.
If you’ve ever been as happy as 26-year old Jon Jay at the 0:22 mark then you’ve done okay.
The World Series is thrilling and cruel partly for its random allocation of equity. Ted Williams never won a World Series, but Shane Spencer won three. Quality or seniority matters not. Below (1:04 mark) at the top right is a barely visible Adron Chambers celebrating in the same mob with Arthur Rhodes (bottom left). It was the first World Series title for both. Chambers had less than nine career plate appearances at the time, while the then-41-year old Rhodes had exactly 900 pitching appearances over the course of a career that began in 1991. It would be Rhodes’s last game before retiring.
The same is true for Corey Patterson, seen at the bottom. Patterson had 56 plate appearances for the Cardinals in 2011 and I don’t remember a single one of them. Being the most forgotten guy in the Colby Rasmus trade is not the easiest of feats. Pretty impressive, really.
Lastly, here are a few jubilant shots of Albert Pujols.
Albert Pujols is likely to not retire as a Cardinal and even if you 100 percent agree with the decision to not outbid the Angels for his final ten years (obviously a reasonable position to hold), we should all find common ground that it’s still a shame on some level. The bright side though is that we never had to witness his decline up close. His eleven years with the Cardinals were as near to perfection for a baseball player as is humanly possible, and that this was his last game in St. Louis drives home that point even more.
Again, credit to @SimulacruMusial (né VanHicklestein) for his help with this post.