St. Louis Cardinals: The Story That Almost Wasn’t

The next chapter starts here with Chris Carpenter’s Cardinals taking on C.J. Wilson and the Rangers.

Game one of the 2011 World Series begins in three hours.

Busch Stadium will be ready, even though towards the end of August, the staff was expecting to be closed for business.

Those red-hot Redbirds? They’ll be there, trying to continue the streak that came *this* close to never happening.

And the writers who were fully prepared to write the story of the Phillies winning with the best pitching rotation in baseball will be there with a whole bunch of blank pages to fill.

This story wasn’t supposed to happen. But I’m sure glad it has, not just because I get to watch my favorite team play in the Fall Classic, but because it means we get to read, write and hear all kinds of stories that would never have made their way to the surface.

Like how Chris Carpenter gave his team the biggest boost of the season off the field, in a players-only meeting just one day before the streak began. Downplay it all you want, Chris, but for the sake of everyone in Cardinal Nation, thank you!

Or the one about Jeanine Duncan and how Tony La Russa credits her for one of the most important factors in the run through the playoffs.

By now, we’ve all seen this one featuring baseball’s new favorite, David Freese who stepped away from the sport, convinced he’d never look back. Stubborn as he tried to be, he just couldn’t stay away (and we’re all quite glad!).

And now there’s a new twist — his mom’s side of the tear-jerking tale. She was the first person he called when he got word he’d been traded to St. Louis for Jim Edmonds.

But how about this narrative: Jason Not-The-Closer Motte? He can’t see. No joke — that 99 mile-an-hour fastball that clips the inside corner of the plate? Better hope he doesn’t miss…

Then there’s a little gem of a story on Arthur Rhodes — the Rangers should know him quite well. They did, after all, release him. But with his former team and his current team facing each other, he’s guaranteed a new bit of bling when this one’s all over.

No one saw this storyline falling together, but that’s what makes it the best one yet. It’s unpredictable. It’s emotional. It’s silly. It’s the kind of story that leaves you shaking your head, voiceless from cheering at home on the couch, and trying to figure out which twist you mis-predicted first.

And I wouldn’t change a thing. Not that I could. This team seems pretty set on changing every narrative possible, defying every odd, and bringing a city (and those who live there vicariously through the internet and television interviews!) to its feet.

This story still isn’t supposed to happen, just ask the experts. But then again, none of them saw this coming. So I say we let the story write itself instead of trying to read the back of the book first. It’s better that way.

Three hours. And my heart’s already in my throat.



Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman

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