Never Say Die
The St. Louis Cardinals battled the Texas Rangers from the brink of elimination to the apex of jubilation to force Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. This improbable journey that started way back in August finally culminates in Major League Baseball’s ultimate clash Friday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
And yours truly will be there.
What can you day about the 2011 Cardinals? They started off slow, looked ugly at times, found ways to hang around, and at the end muscled up to show the world that not only were they still alive; they were well and able to kick the ass of the best teams in the league. And this description covers the entirety of the 2011 season as much as it covers Game 6 on Thursday night. Microcosm? You bet, brother. But once again, the Cardinals came out on top when, by all accounts, they probably shouldn’t have.
It’s hard to put into words how I feel about what will go down over the next 24 hours. Through sheer luck of the draw, I have been able to see three potential “final games” at Busch this season: the last home game of the regular season vs. the Chicago Cubs; Game 4 of the NLDS vs. the Philadelphia Phillies; and Game 5 of the NLCS vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. And I sat on tickets for Game 7 of the World Series for a week and a half knowing the odds weren’t necessarily in my favor. There hasn’t been a Game 7 in the World Series since 2002. The Cardinals were not favored by most of the so-called experts. And I’ve never been very lucky at anything at all. It almost doesn’t quite register that this World Series is happening the way it is.
But this Cardinals team is not one to lay down in front of a challenge. They’ve had their backs against the wall since sometime in late August; every game has felt like a must-win. So why on earth would anyone ever doubt this team? How can even the most seasoned and numbers-conscious tactician look at the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals over the last two months and say “There’s no way these guys can pull this off?”
It’s a ridiculous notion, now. Down to the last strike? Pfft. No problem for this team. How about two 2-run comebacks? Where does that fit in on your Sabermetric spreadsheet?
This is what baseball is truly all about. It’s about impossible comebacks and stellar series and two teams pushing each other to the brink. It’s baseball’s version of Mecca, and it all goes down at Busch Stadium. Remarkable.
If the Cardinals lose Game 7 it will be disappointing. But the season will not be a failure. The Texas Rangers should feel the same way. These teams have given baseball something special to this point, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Friday night.