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Friday, October 28, 2011
Congratulations, Cardinals; farewell, baseball

By Amanda Rykoff

New York City-based Yankees super-fan and espnW contributor Amanda Rykoff has shared her thoughts on the World Series. Today she provides her thoughts on the Cardinals' World Series win on Friday night.

It's a bittersweet time for me. Not because I picked Texas to win the World Series in six games. Of course I do like being right, but the truth is that the Rangers didn't close it out when they had the chance. I'm offering a hearty congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on the 11th World Series title in franchise history. It's bittersweet because even though we had the joy and wonder of a World Series Game 7, baseball is now over.

After Thursday night's Game 6, Game 7 proved to be a bit of a letdown (for those of us rooting for bananas). The Cardinals' 6-2 win was arguably the least suspenseful game of what has been one of the most enthralling World Series in history. After six games filled with drama, intrigue and heart-stopping moments, most of Game 7 proved anticlimactic.

Game 7 did include a few of the hallmarks we'd grown to expect from this series -- offensive heroics from Allen Craig (three home runs in the World Series), questionable umpiring in the form of a very inconsistent strike zone, two more RBIs for David Freese and of course managerial head-scratchers from Ron Washington.

Like every game this series, we did see something new in Game 7 -- the Cardinals scoring two runs in the fifth inning without a hit or a ball leaving the infield thanks to two hit batters and three walks. The Rangers issued a World Series-record 41 walks.

Hometown hero Freese set an MLB record with 21 RBIs in one postseason and deserved his World Series MVP award (he's just the sixth player to be named both LCS and World Series MVP). But I have to give a runner-up nod to Washington. Yes, we love the entertainment his dancing in the dugout provides -- I would like a Wash Cam during every Rangers game -- but he often has fans yelling at their televisions over his (mis)management of the bullpen. Or is that just me who yells at the TV?

As long as we're talking about it, let's give an honorable mention to Mother Nature for the rainout of Game 6 that pushed the schedule back a day and allowed Chris Carpenter to pitch Game 7 on three days' rest. After a rocky top of the first in which he surrendered two quick runs, Carpenter regained control and pitched into the seventh inning. The Rangers didn't score a run after the first inning. Credit to Carpenter and the Cardinals' bullpen for coming up huge when it mattered most.

I said this in my Game 6 post after the Cardinals came back from "one strike away" twice. Their late-season September run to clinch the wild-card spot on the final day of the regular season should have proved that despite their early season struggles, they were legitimate. Then they knocked off the Phillies in the NLDS in a fifth game on the road. And we looked a little closer. Their storybook season continued when they eliminated the team that won their division -- the Milwaukee Brewers. Now they are the 2011 World Series champions. This was one of the great late-season and postseason runs we've ever seen.

Thank you, baseball. Thank you for giving us that crazy bananas final game of the regular season. For Albert Pujols' singular offensive outburst in Game 3. For David Freese's storybook heroics. For Nelson Cruz's boomstick. For Allen "The Wrench" Craig. For Ian Kinsler's high socks. For Lance Berkman's Calico cat beard. For Ron Washington dancing in the dugout. For the Bullpen Phone. For Mike Napoli and the Legend of Naptober. For Game 7. Thank you, baseball, for being awesome.

But now that it's over, we're faced with the long, lonely offseason. I'll miss you. There are just 97 days until pitchers and catchers report. But who's counting?