Memories Help Come To Terms With The Season’s End

The manila envelope arrived on Thursday, the familiar handwriting of my Cardinals fan uncle Jim across the front scrawling out my name and address.

Upon removing it from the mailbox, I could immediately tell it wasn’t his usual gift of a Cardinals t-shirt — that kind of package will likely arrive in the months ahead, after the postseason merchandise ends up on clearance.

WS newspapersNo, this envelope contained something sturdier yet flexible. A magazine, perhaps?

I ripped open the end of the envelope and saw newspapers. Further inspection revealed special sections from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the World Series. Given the timing, not even 24 hours after Game Six and the Cardinals season had ended, I could only take a quick glance before replacing the newspapers in the envelope and tossing it on my desk. Too painful to investigate right away.

This morning, up early, curiosity — and coming to better terms with what happened in the final three games of the World Series — got the best of me. With a cup of coffee in hand, I went back to the envelope and removed the newspapers to have a closer look. They were all from Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, last Friday and Saturday’s editions of the Post-Dispatch, and are filled with stories on the Game Two victory in Boston and previews of Game Three at home in Busch Stadium plus page after page of glorious, full-color player and game photos.

Some of the articles were ones I’d read online last week, yet seeing them again and in print and now knowing just what was to come gave me a much different perspective. Especially of Bernie Miklasz’s column from one week ago today, in the photo above at the top left: “Can Cards Win Out?”

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Cardinals Fall Just Short Of Ultimate Goal

No legendary Game Six magic this time in the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals — unfortunately.

Which means thus ends the 2013 season.

baseball_fall-ballAnd in the World Series, with just two teams left playing, only one can celebrate as champions. As I said the other day, these October losses hurt more the farther we go — and this final one hurts most of all.

In the big picture of the 2013 season, what a ride for the Cardinals. Best record in the majors, National League Central champs for the first time in four years, two MVP contenders, rookie after rookie shining on the pitchers mound and so much more — plus winning the National League pennant in a tremendous month of October baseball.

Still, despite all the success, it didn’t end how any of us wanted. There should be celebrations by our team, not those terrible sad looks and tears.

And we each mourn that the Cardinals fell short of the final destination in our own individual way.

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So, This Is It.

Fenway awaits. Bring it on, Boston.

Fenway awaits. Bring it on, Boston.

“It starts with Game 6…” Adam Wainwright said, after predicting a “legendary” comeback for his Cardinals.

The team ace and Game 5 starter was certainly not satisfied with his performance in the final game at Busch Stadium. He knew that his leadership could have shifted the series in favor of the Birds. Instead, the offense that has been sputtering came nearly to a stop. (Kind of like the plane the team sat on for roughly six hours yesterday awaiting their takeoff to Boston…)

And with that, it all comes down to this.

…no pressure or anything, guys.

As a Cardinals fan, October baseball is almost expected these days. As a baseball fan, it’s never taken for granted. Continue reading

The Deeper Into October, The Harder The Losses

No one ever enjoys watching their team lose.

As Cardinals fans, we’ve had the good fortune to watch great games from our team throughout 2013, with 97 wins in the regular season and nine wins in October. Fantastic, each game in its own way. Every single victory.

BuschYet not every game was as bright and beautiful as this picture of a sun-drenched Busch Stadium. There also were the 65 regular season losses, made all the more painful when they came in bunches — three in a row from time to time, the brutal seven-game streak in late July.

And now the Cards have seven October losses following last night’s Game Five defeat to the Red Sox by the score of 3-1. It’s the second time this month they’ve lost two in a row.

But this latest loss feels so much worse, that much harder to take than losing Games Two and Three of the NLDS to the Pirates. Which makes sense — the stage is bigger in the World Series, more people are watching and paying attention as the teams still playing now stand at only two.  And the bigger the stage, the deeper into October we get, the more magnified everything is. Which makes the losses even tougher — especially losses in the World Series, and back-to-back losses at Busch Stadium where  the Cardinals have had so much success this season.

To lose the final home game of the year … ugh.

That’s not how any of us wanted it to play out, obviously.

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Not Much Positive In Game Four Loss

For the first four innings, Game Four of the World Series was good from the St. Louis Cardinals perspective.

Sad smileyThen it wasn’t.

And, since we all know there are nine innings in a game, we’re now looking at a 2-2 Series tie after the Cardinals lost to the Boston Red Sox 4-2.

Through the first four innings, Lance Lynn was terrific — facing only the minimum number of Red Sox after the one base runner he did allow (David Ortiz, of course, on a second inning single) was erased on a double play.

Plus the Cardinals scored a run in the third when Matt Carpenter singled with one out, advanced to second when Jacoby Ellsbury let the ball get past him in center field for an error and scored when Carlos Beltran (of course) singled.

Then the fifth inning arrived, as did the beginning of the end. We all know about Lynn and his one bad inning. As an October special, it actually extended over two innings, the fifth and the sixth. Although the fifth inning actually could have been much worse, as a lead-off double by Ortiz (of course) and back-to-back walks to Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts loaded the bases with no outs. Stephen Drew was next, with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game — and the only run of the inning.

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Bottom Line On Game Three: A Win Is A Win

We know the final score of last night’s Game Three of the World Series: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4.

And, by now, we do believe what we just saw in the bottom of the ninth — we’ve all watched replay after replay after replay.

The bottom line: this …

10-26-1was obstruction, since it illustrated the very example given in the MLB rule book:

BXjm3GDCAAA_SSB.jpg largeWe as Cardinals fans are thrilled.

Baseball fans who understand the rules — and appreciate the umpires not only making correct calls but also having a press conference with Joe Torre after the game to further explain, by reading the rule book, how the correct call was in fact made — are pleased with the outcome, even if the ending was something none of us have ever seen in a World Series game.

Everyone else? Not happy, to put it mildly. Red Sox fans (and players) in particular.

Plus those furious it’s the Cardinals benefiting from this call — Cubs fans, Reds fans, Pirates fans, probably Dodgers fans. Especially Braves fans, remembering last year’s wild card game and the infield fly call.

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Cardinal Love Letter: Carlos Beltran

Dear Carlos,

So here we are, the morning of your first home World Series game. Hopefully you will get a great and well deserved ovation from the Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium tonight, both as recognition that after 2,064 regular season and 45 postseason games you finally reached the Series and also for what you’re playing through just to be in there at all. Because, ouch.

Carlos BeltranLiterally and figuratively.

That literal and figurative pain both came on the same play Wednesday night, of course, and I found myself getting angry at the baseball gods. Like, what kind of deal has David Ortiz made with them anyway? Why does Fenway Park have to be so cruel to the opponents? (Seriously, Red Sox fans are arrogant enough anyway.) How can it possibly be that you finally make it to the World Series after all this time only to have to leave your first game in the second inning, and after saving a grand slam?

Yet there you were, back out there in Game Two despite the pain of your bruised ribs. Singling your first time up and driving in the final run as the Cardinals won and tied the Series. What you endured physically to be out there is so apparent in this video that was posted yesterday, especially in that sigh as you walk down the long hallway to get to the clubhouse.

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Cardinals Game Two Win Taught Us Six Valuable Lessons

Game Two was so much better than Game One for the St. Louis Cardinals, to state the absolute obvious. Then again, winning has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it? And the Cardinals were definitely better last night as they beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 and tied the World Series at one win each.

collage 10-24As it unfolded, Game Two also taught us some valuable lessons. Such as lesson one: a “bad” Michael Wacha is still really, really good. Last night was Wacha’s worst start since mid-September and, obviously, still incredibly impressive.

Yes, his October has been so unbelievable that we have to go back to Sept. 19 to find a game in which Wacha allowed more than the two earned runs he gave up on one swing by David Ortiz last night. And the only other time in his short big league career that he walked four, as he did last night, was on Sept. 14 against the Mariners. Yet even with those “bad” numbers from last night, Wacha gave up only three hits, struck out six and won his fourth game in October — and the Cardinals have won eight games this month so far. He’s been so very good that, going back to his final regular season start (his near no-hitter against the Nationals) through last night, he’s allowed just three runs in 35 2/3 innings pitched for a 0.78 ERA and struck out 37.

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Nightmare Game One Sets Cards Against The Odds

alexanderYuck.

Last night was a “Murphy’s Law” kind of night — not what the Cardinals wanted (or expected) in Game 1 of the World Series.

It was ugly all around. Adam Wainwright struggled as much as Waino ever does. Pete Kozma — in the game for his defensive abilities — had a pair of mistakes through two innings (one of which ended up in an overturned call at second base), and Shane Robinson bobbled a ball that resulted in three early runs.  Waino and Yadier Molina reinacted Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran’s lack of communication from the NLCS, watching a pop up drop between them. Beltran made a sensational leaping catch to rob Big Papi of a grand slam in the second inning, only to leave the game with a rib contusion from slamming into the low outfield wall.

With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, David Freese played the opposite of World Series hero and bounced right into an inning-ending double play. The next inning, with runners at second and third with two away, it should have been Beltran’s at bat. Instead, it was Jon Jay who, despite coming up with some big hits before, wasn’t a likely hero against lefty Jon Lester.

Oh yeah. They were facing a lefty, too. Continue reading

First Four Games of World Series Dedicated to Supporting Causes

For the fifth consecutive year, the first four games of the World Series will be dedicated to raising awareness for important causes associated with charitable programs and partners of Major League Baseball, it was announced today.

2013 WSMLB will highlight support for the military, specifically through the Welcome Back Veterans initiative, by dedicating Game One of the 2013 World Series to honoring veterans and military families.

Game Two will focus on two long-time MLB charitable partners in Boys & Girls Clubs of America, to demonstrate the ongoing effort to enriching the lives of young people, and Habitat for Humanity, to spotlight the organization’s efforts to provide safe, decent and affordable housing in partnership with low-income families. Game Two will also recognize the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint initiative of MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Game Three will highlight Baseball’s commitment to youth from underserved communities through Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the importance of education through the Breaking Barriers program and celebrate community service through the announcement of the winner of the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.

Game Four will look to inspire fans worldwide to join MLB and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in advancing the fight against cancer.

The 109th World Series begins tomorrow, Oct. 23, on FOX.

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