So we’re heading to Busch Stadium tonight for the Cardinals’ tilt against the Philadelphia Phillies. The last time I saw the Phillies play in St. Louis, it was Game 4 of the 2011 Division Series. As you may remember, that’s when this happened:
It was an epic night in St. Louis Cardinals lore. That was actually the second time the squirrel had run across the field; the first was the night before in Game 3 but his route wasn’t nearly as disruptive to the flow of that game. At the time, knowing the Cards had to go back to Philly and win Game 5 just to advance, we wondered if this early appearance of what would soon be coined the “Rally Squirrel” was the most exciting thing we’d see during the 2011 postseason. Of course, we were proven naïve in the following weeks.
Fast-forward to last night, the first meeting at Busch between the clubs since. By now you probably know that this happened:
Again, it’s the Phillies. Again, it was the first night of the series at Busch. And again, I will be there for the second night. I fully expect to see a naked person charge toward the plate while Skip Schumaker stands in the batter’s box. It’s destiny. Especially since I have all these “You still need four balls to get a walk” jokes ready for tomorrow.
Less than a month ago, the St. Louis Cardinals capped off one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history by defeating the Texas Rangers in an epic World Series. In this day and age, finding video and audio replays of any baseball game is as easy as pulling up an internet browser on the nearest online device. But for an expertly assembled package of storytelling, highlights, interviews and emotion, the only true option is Major League Baseball Productions’ presentation of The 2011 World Series Film, which is now available in a two-DVD set (the Blu-Ray version is available December 6).
Disc one features the official film, narrated by actor and St. Louisan John Hamm. The film starts on the St. Louis Riverfront, with the iconic Gateway Arch making an immediate appearance as the stage is set for the telling of the ups and downs of the Cardinals’ 2011 season. Obviously, early in the year, there were more downs than ups as Hamm guides the viewer through the Adam Wainwright injury and Albert Pujols contract drama that overshadowed the team from the beginning of Spring Training. Next is footage of Ryan Franklin giving up a late-game home run and Colby Rasmus bobbling a fly ball that turns out to be the game-winning hit for the opposition. Seems like eons ago, doesn’t it?
But these nasty memories are merely part of the set up. The film briefly covers the big trade with Toronto, the Rafael Furcal acquisition, and the sweep by the Dodgers—the last low point of the season. From there, the chasing down of the Atlanta Braves over the regular season’s final five weeks culminates in the Cards celebrating their NL Wild Card clincher after Chris Carpenter’s gem in Houston and the Braves’ loss in Philadelphia while the Cardinal players watched in the Minute Maid Park visitor’s clubhouse.
From there, the film summarizes the Cards’ NLDS win over the Philadelphia Phillies and NLCS win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Throughout the show, broadcasts from TV and radio are seamlessly merged with Hamm’s narration so the story feels like it’s told from multiple angles. When significant records were tied or broken throughout the year and the postseason, a graphic appears illustrating the feat. The editing and production on this film is nothing short of superb, and it adds an element of dramatic flair not found in straight highlights and replays from the games themselves.
But the real story here is the World Series, and not surprisingly, that’s where the detail in the story explodes. Each of the series’ seven games gets a long segment, and each game’s story is built up with a relevant introduction. For instance, after the segment featuring the Cards’ Game 1 win, the footage shifts to Jason Motte enjoying some pre-Game 2 BBQ at Pappy’s in St. Louis with his family and, obviously, a room full of restaurant customers who happen to be Cardinals fans. Before Game 3 and Game 6, the footage shows the perspective of rolling into the home team’s city as the series shifted to a new ballpark.
This series had so many side stories and subtexts, and each was covered brilliantly in this film. The on-paper match-ups and how similar the Cardinals and Rangers were…the Allen Craig-Alexei Ogando battles…the offensive powerhouses and their pitchers duels in the first two games…The Albert Pujols Game…The Derek Holland Game…Game 5 shenanigans, including the Pujols-Craig hit and run fiascos and “Phonegate”…it’s all here. And it’s all great.
Then there’s Game 6, perhaps one of the greatest in World Series history. From the start, with the Rangers putting up early runs, to the errors and misplays on both sides, the game unfolds as one of the sloppiest anyone has ever seen. And then the Cardinals mount their comeback. David Freese’s game-tying triple in the 9th, Lance Berkman’s game-tying single in the 10th, and the game-winning homer by Freese in the 11th are all highlighted in their amazing baseball glory. “We will see you tomorrow night.” Smiles, chills, and tears are included free of charge.
And the Game 7 segment puts an exclamation point on a tale that wouldn’t be believed if it wasn’t captured on film. After the teams exchanged two run frames in the 1st inning, the Cards took charge of the game. But one of the most poignant moments of the film was when Motte came out of the bullpen in the 9th–in his interview, he said he took a couple of slow steps down the ramp to look around and take in the scene at Busch Stadium. It was yet another moment of profound reality, like David Freese becoming the hero for the team he grew up rooting for or Chris Carpenter re-assuming the role of Ace after Wainwright went down. The only thing missing from the film—curiously—is Joe Buck’s “What a team…what a ride” call as Craig caught the final out. The omission is probably only noticeable by those with the St. Louis bias, and it doesn’t ruin the film. But it is somewhat conspicuous.
The film also captures some of the parade through Downtown St. Louis as well as the announcement the next day of Tony La Russa’s retirement. This comprehensive look at the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals covers all the bases and does so beautifully. It should be enough to get even the most die-hard fan through the cold winter until the next Spring Training.
2011 World Series Film DVD Bonus Features
This Week in Baseball: Lance Berkman
Prime 9: Tony La Russa
Cardinals Clinch Wild Card (team watching PHI beat ATL from visitor’s clubhouse in HOU)
NLDS Game 5: Last Out and Celebration
NLCS Game 6: Last Out and Celebration
World Series Game 3: Albert Pujols 3 Home Runs
World Series Game 6: David Freese Triple to Tie
World Series Game 6: Lance Berkman Single to Tie
World Series Game 6: David Freese Walk-Off Home Run
World Series Game 6: Lance Berkman/David Freese Presser (funny exchange between the two as Freese recalls Jim Edmonds’ 2004 NLCS walk-off)
World Series Game 7: David Freese Double to Tie
World Series Game 7: Last Out and Celebration
WS Parade (brief ride-along with Freese)
Want More? (Nick Punto mic’ed for final play of World Series; MLB Productions Social Media links)
Disc Two contains the complete Game 5 of the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies, with a menu to start the game from any half-inning or the pre-game show on TBS. Overall, both discs comprise about four hours of video. Order your copy here or check your local retailer.
The St. Louis Cardinals kicked off their three game series vs. the Philadelphia Phillies by allowing 14 hitters to come to the plate in the top of the eighth inning, resulting in nine runs in what was, up until then, a close game. But the Phillies’ formidable power was not to blame—the Cards’ bullpen was.
The frame featured five St. Louis relievers. And the Phillies did have six hits in the inning. But hit batters and walks? Unacceptable. This had the makings of a really good win: Going into the eighth inning with a lead against Roy Halladay, who by that time was out of the game, and the Phillies is a place not a lot of teams find themselves. Kyle McClellan pitched a great game, going seven innings and only allowing one run. A win tonight would have meant getting the series off on the right foot, holding onto first place, and bolstering team confidence a little after the Albert Pujols injury.
But Pujols’ absence had no bearing on this game whatsoever. This game was pissed away. And not because the Phillies are that good; Cardinal relievers could not throw strikes. It’s just about time the front office finds guys who can.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup for tonight’s game against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies has been posted. The batting order looks normal, but pay attention to the positions:
- Theriot – SS
- Jay – CF
- Pujols – 3B
- Holliday – LF
- Berkman – 1B
- Craig – RF
- Molina – C
- Punto – 2B
- Westbrook – P
That’s right…Albert Pujols starts at third tonight. Lance Berkman takes his place at first, and Allen Craig—who originally was slated to play second base, for some reason—has been bumped to right field. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the reasoning and timeline for the switcheroo. On 101.1 ESPN radio in St. Louis, Bob Ramsey asked where this has been all year if Pujols is capable of playing third?
I would like to take it a step further: Where was this last year, when the Cards were running out butt-asses like Pedro Feliz and Felipe Lopez for two thirds of the season? The Hot corner was a major hole for the Cards in 2010, and though it wasn’t the only reason they finished second, the dearth there certainly was a factor. So what changed? I always thought Pujols playing at third base wouldn’t work because of his elbow and the risk of injury. I guess he’s better now. Or maybe the Cards aren’t concerned about that risk anymore.
The other moves I’m on board with, although obviously Pujols is a better defensive first baseman than Berkman. But Berkman’s bat needs to be in the lineup…so why isn’t Daniel Descalso playing third, Punto second, Pujols first, and Berkman right? Can LaRussa simply not bear having Descalso face the left handed Lee? Is that worth the risks associated with the current lineup’s positioning? Maybe this is as much an indictment of Berkman’s play in the outfield and the Phillies’ lefty- and switch-heavy lineup.
Should be an interesting game…maybe an interesting series.
No, I’m not happy Cliff Lee spurned both the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers this offseason. No, I’m not happy Lee joins a rotation that will include him, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, and that rotation is one the Cardinals will have to face at least twice a year. And no, I’m not happy that a starting pitcher in his mid-30s will be making $20 million per year, though I am thankful Adam Wainwright is locked up for a couple more seasons.
What I am happy about is the overall meaning of Lee’s signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. He left seven figures and another season or two on the table to return to a team he loved playing for. Even though it’s still ridiculous money, Lee demonstrated through his actions, not just his words, that money isn’t the only thing in this game. The precedent has been set.
And the Cardinals have to be jumping for joy today, because they still have to sign Albert Pujols this offseason.
Now I’m not delusional. I don’t believe Pujols will look at Lee’s deal and say, “$20 million for five years? I can live with that.” Pujols is still extremely likely to be the highest paid player in baseball history when it’s all said and done. But maybe, just maybe, some of this $280 million over 10 years talk can die down a bit. Pujols has said, on numerous occasions, that he wants to be a Cardinal for life. He’s also said he’s not all about the money, and he wants to play on a team that has a chance to win every year. Well, Albert, here’s the deal: the Phillies are all in. The Cardinals want you just as bad as you want them, but they don’t have the ability to jack their payroll up to $150 million per season. You want to have the chance to beat those Phillies every year? It’s time to sign a deal. And you may not necessarily have to take a “discount,” because you’re easily going to make more money than any Cardinal ever has. But don’t balk (pun intended) if John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt try to get creative with the numbers. This team can’t compete if they can’t afford to surround you with great talent, and that doesn’t come cheap either. We, as Cardinal fans, are taking you at your word. And now we have an example to point to in Cliff Lee: money, in fact, isn’t everything.
It’s time once again for the United Cardinal Bloggers to gather in the virtual meeting room and tackle a roundtable discussion. Here’s the question I posed to my UCB brethren, inspired in part by my InsideSTL column on Monday:
The 2010 Postseason is in full swing, and for the third year out of the last four Cardinal fans are watching someone else play baseball. Or are they? What are you doing with your Cardinal-free October? Are you still interested in the Postseason? Are you rooting for or against specific teams, and why? Are you protesting the playoffs but still staying glued to the rumor mills for hints about the Cards for 2011 and beyond? Or have you given up on baseball altogether and shifted your attention to football and hockey?
–I will pull for whoever wins tonight to beat the Yankees, and root for the NL to win the World Series. -Mike, Stan Musial’s Stance
—A couple weeks ago, I guess I was being bitter and had very little interest in watching postseason baseball. However, I convinced myself that at least I needed to root for the Reds to lose (of course); not necessarily rooting for the Phillies to win. And, thanks the almighty powers of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, that happened; the Reds were swept right out of the postseason. So, I am happy. I wanted the Braves to win, only for Bobby Cox. Now that the Giants are in the NLCS, I guess I am being forced to root for the Phillies again. Although I haven’t really followed the games closely, I can’t help but pay attention – sports will always run my life.
As far as the Cardinals in October – I am doing my best to avoid listening to rumors regarding contracts and free agency, at least for right now. I would like for us to get to November before we really start in on all that. (Let’s face it; the rumors will be flying for this team this offseason.) After this year, I think we all need some breathing room/re-grouping since we have all were crowded around the ledge for some time.
Rooting for two things: Giants lose, Yankees lose. I guess I would be OK with the Phillies winning the World Series since they are in the NL.
P.S. yeah, I am in hockey season now – Go Blues! -Cadence, Cardinal Diamond Diaries
—I try to watch as much postseason baseball as I can. It’s definitely not as high on my priority list as it would be if the Cardinals were in it. I went in cheering heavily against the Yankees and Reds but have also developed more and more of a dislike for the Giants. As far as the Cardinals off season is concerned, well it’s time for Mozeliak to have a productive one. He’s got a lot on his plate that’s for sure. I love hot stove time so I’ll be tuned in for that and everything surrounding the winter meetings. In the meantime I’ll have college and NFL football to pass the time along with Blues hockey. We only have 4 months or so until pitchers and catchers report. -Dustin, Welcome to Baseball Heaven
–I do not watch post season baseball if the Cardinals are not in it. I follow all the rumor mills and read all the blogs and suck up all the winter activities I can find. There are too many other sports to watch now with NHL, NFL and NCAA football for me to look in on the other teams. It just kinda makes me throw up a bit in my mouth to see some of those teams playing! -Tom, Cardinals GM
–I want the Cardinals to remain the last team to win 3 consecutive NL pennants (1942-44). So I’m rooting for the Giants. -Mark, RetroSimba
–I’m a sports fan, so I’m really into college and pro football. I always participate in way too many fantasy leagues. I’m psyched that the Rams are showing improvement and the Chiefs are doing so well. As a Mizzou alum, I try to attend as many home Mizzou games as possible. I’m also a Gator. I love watching the big games of the week. I’m a huge hockey fan as well, so go Blues!
But all that doesn’t preclude me from staying up to date on all the Cardinal scoop. I want to know everything that’s going on. I enjoy watching the baseball postseason. I don’t watch all the games as much as I do when the Cards are involved. I despise the Yankees, so I always want to see them get beat. I watch the NL games more because the AL is not real baseball. The DH is an abomination. I like the Giants and the Phillies so as long as one of them win the Series, I’ll be a happy camper. Now sign Albert and all will be right with the world. -Jacqueline, Cardinal Diamond Diaries
–I still watch the playoffs. Every year. Of course I’m without a doubt upset that the Cardinals aren’t competing, but at the end of the day, I’m still a baseball fan. There’s no better baseball than playoff baseball. I have a deep appreciation for the game of baseball and I love seeing magical moments happen. That’s sure to happen during the post season.
I usually find a team to root for – one with a good story, or one that has assumed the “underdog” role. This year, I found myself rooting for the Braves for the Bobby Cox story. Now that they’re out, I root for anyone who isn’t the Yankees or Phillies (except when the Phillies played the Reds). If it comes down to Yankees vs. Phillies (like last year) I tend to side with the Phillies (lesser of two evils). It’s not an ideal situation like it would be if the Cardinals were playing, but it’s still fun to watch. For those of you who chose not to watch, you missed history in Game 1 of the Phillies/Reds series. I’d hate for you to miss more by simply not watching. -Cole, Redbird Report
–While there is always disappointment and frustration when your team doesn’t make it, I can never get enough of the baseball playoffs. Whether my team is playing or not, nothing tops October baseball. I guess I just love baseball enough that I can find a reason to be excited. It doesn’t take much when the World Series is on the line. The point is every year is making history. Another team gets etched in history and the moments that led to that pinnacle are all a part of the game’s history and I don’t want to miss out on that because I was sulking about my team’s failures. How can you not get chills watching Roy Halladay throw a no-hitter in the playoffs? And then be excited to talk about it all day until the rest of the games start at night. I know I am and I can always feel it every October. How can’t you at least get a little emotional watching Bobby Cox talk at a post-game press conference for the last time? There has to be something to grab you in the postseason. Your favorite team is what brings out the passion in the game. But the game alone is why you have that favorite team and that passion. It’s still baseball and it’s the best baseball of the year, so I’ll be watching year in and year out regardless of the competition. And when my team’s in it, I’ll be even more interested and I’ll be rooting like crazy to see them win it. When they’re not, the interest will still be there. -Ryne, Redbird Rants
–I think great minds think alike. Here is my Monday post for a website called “More Hardball”.
I am enjoying a great post-season despite by birds being on the sideline. I always keep my eyes peeled for Cardinal news throughout the year, that is a 365 day addiction for sure. As for Football and Hockey, I am not a Hockey fan at all and, while I watch football, it will not get my full attention until Baseball crowns it’s world champions.
I hope that helps, great questions, let’s just not start saying “Wait until next year”, there are a group of fans that phrase belongs to. -Bill, I-70 Baseball
–There are other sports? Really?
I’ll kinda keep up with how the Razorbacks are doing, but that’s the extent of my following of other sports. Don’t get me started on how football is over-hyped and overrated. As for the playoffs, I’ve not been able to see as much of them as I’d like. I’ll catch moments here and there, but not as much as if the Cards were still in it.
Basically, I just spend my time with my various baseball related projects–this roundtable, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, the blog, the UCB Radio Hour–and keep whiling away the time until the Hot Stove League really kicks off. -Daniel, C70 At The Bat
—I am watching and following the post-season. My only favorite team I am rooting for are the Rangers. I am hoping the Rangers are able to make it through the Yanks and meet the Phillies in the World Series! -Joe, The McBrayer-Baseball Blog
—I’m watching every possible game of the playoffs, and my interest has nothing to do with placing a pre-season wager on the playoffs. Nope, it has nothing to do with any such hypothetical wager that never, ever took place. I never even considered picking the Cardinals, Phillies, Giants, and Reds (WC) in the NL. (Maybe the AL picks would’ve been more accurate, but this conversation never took place.)
I’m done rooting against the Reds, because they were dropped like a wingman at midnight. I’m still hoping for a Rangers/Yankees ALCS, because that match-up intrigues me more than Yankees/Rays (they play each other enough as it is). If there is a Yankees/Phillies WS rematch, I’ll probably spend my time focusing on something compelling like starting a chain letter to John Mozeliak and Mr. Dewitt about coughing up the money for Cliff Lee. Oh, there will be plenty of college football, hockey, and professional football. Multitasking at its finest. -Dennis, Pitchers Hit Eighth
Wow! As usual, various viewpoints and great answers. If you are unaware of the UCB and the individual member blogs (most of which are linked above), make yourself aware pronto! All it will cost you is some fantastic fan journalism if you don’t…
As for me, I have to side with the watchers. While I’m excited about the St. Louis Blues and encouraged by the St. Louis Rams, I can’t seem to turn away from baseball while it’s being played. That’s especially true about playoff games. Maybe I don’t sit down and devote undivided attention to every inning, but I’m into it. Now that the NLCS and ALCS teams are set, I’m in full underdog mode. The Texas Rangers may technically be seeded higher, but almost any team playing the New York Yankees in the playoffs can’t be an overwhelming favorite. And the Philadelphia Phillies will be tough to beat, but I’d really like to see the San Francisco Giants get a chance to erase 50+ years of World Championship drought.
But even if it’s a Phillies-Yankees World Series rematch, I’ll be watching.
Tonight’s lineups, courtesy of Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Cards are playing the Phillies at the right time, though both teams have been plagued by injuries this year. After dropping three of four to the Chicago Cubs, the Phillies are likely craving wins. But the Cards have momentum coming off a four game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend. Plus, the pitching matchups favor the Cardinals: after Blake Hawksworth’s start tonight, the Phillies will have to face the Cards’ big three of Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright. Roy Halladay started the final game in Chicago on Sunday, so the Cardinals will not have to face him at all.
I say the Cards take three of four in this series.
For more on the Cards’ sweep of the Dodgers, take a look at my column over at InsideSTL.
Well, I was 3 for 4 on my Guessology picks in the Division Series. Unfortunately, the one I guessed wrong is the one that hurts the most…my Cardinals got swept by the LA Dodgers. If you’d like to read my take on that series (or lack thereof), check out my column from last Sunday.
OK, moving on…
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Ladies and gentlemen, we have a rematch! These two teams battled it out last year, with the Phillies taking the series in five games to earn a trip to the World Series. The teams obviously haven’t changed much, so short memories could play a role in the demeanor of this NLCS. And the secondary stories are intriguing as well.
Dodger manager Joe Torre is trying to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2003 with the New York Yankees, and if he does he has a shot at facing his former club in
the Fall Classic. The Dodgers have also reunited Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, who enjoyed a lot of success as teammates in Cleveland. Even though the Indians made a couple of World Series appearances in the 90’s, they never could win it all. Ramirez eventually won a couple of rings with the Boston Red Sox, of course, and Thome just missed his chance by joining the Chicago White Sox in 2006. When they look across the diamond, they’ll see former Dodger Pedro Martinez, scourge of both the Indians and Yankees a decade or so ago and Ramirez’s teammate on the 2004 World Champion Red Sox.
The Phillies are up against a lot of history. They are trying to become the first NL team to win back-to-back World Series since the Cincinnati Reds did it over three decades ago in 1975-76. The Dodgers are hoping for a shot at their seventh world championship, and if they make it they’ll have to battle some history as well…they will either be a part of the first ever all-Los Angeles World Series against the Angels, or they will re-kindle one of the longest and deepest World Series rivalries of all time against the Yankees.
These teams match up pretty well top to bottom. Both have big bats in the middle of their lineups. Both have deep benches. Both can play defense, steal a base or two, and scratch out a run with smallball. Overall, the Phillies have the better rotation and the Dodgers have the better bullpen. It’s like a pick’em, really.
Pitching does win championships. The Phillies’ rotation isn’t vastly superior to the Dodgers’, but it is better. The Dodgers’ bullpen, however, is vastly superior to the Phillies’. When it comes down to it, a good starter can get you far…but a solid bullpen is essential to winning the four games it takes to finish off a seven game series. Dodgers in six.
Now that the AL Central Division has finally been clinched, the playoff matchups are set. That means it’s time for some wild (but somewhat educated) guesses as to who will survive to play in the League Championship Series!
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees: The Twins won a thrilling game to take the AL Central Division crown Tuesday night. Momentum may be on their side initially, but the Yankees are a juggernaut. They have superior pitching, superior hitting, and at least equal defense to the Twins. They also have home field advantage and a day of rest that the Twins will eventually wish they had. The Metrodome gets no more than a two-game stay of execution, and even that may be generous. Yankees in three.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels: Again? These two teams seem to make a postseason meeting mandatory, and the Red Sox always seem to have the Angels’ number. But all good things must come to an end. The Angels have a very solid team top to bottom. Their defense will be the difference in this series, and it won’t be easy, but I think the Angels have more of a sense of purpose than the Red Sox this year. Angels in five.
Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies: This series could set a record for most runs scored in a five-gamer. The thin air in Colorado; the cozy confines in Philly…and both teams have a ton of offense. The pitching? Well, the Rockies’ rotation is suspect with the injury to Jorge De La Rosa, and the Phillies’ bullpen is terrible. In the end, I think the Phillies have more firepower…and if they put up a ton of runs the closer issues will be moot. Phillies in five.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: The two most storied franchises in the NL hook up for only the third time in playoff history. Neither team was great down the stretch. The Dodgers can do some damage on the basepaths, and manager Joe Torre isn’t afraid to play smallball…but these situations can be countered with (if not nullified by) catcher Yadier Molina and the Cardinals solid if unspectacular infield. The Dodgers have the superior closer, but he’s useless if they can’t get a lead for him. Pujols. Carpenter. Wainwright. LaRussa. It’s all too much for LA. Cardinals in four.
Stay tuned…we’re just getting started, baby!