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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Cardinals top Rangers in memorable World Series

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Sports

In what can only be called the closest World Series matchup in recent memory, the St. Louis Cardinals edged out the Texas Rangers to win their 11th World Series championship. In the end, it came down to who had more fight in them, and the St. Louis Cardinals proved they could face anyone and beat them. For the first two games, one run separated the winner from the loser. In the third game, the St. Louis bats came alive and crushed the Rangers’ pitching. The Rangers’ pitching came back the next game with an impressive pitching performance by Derek Holland. Game five turned on a miscommunication between Tony La Russa and his bullpen. His inability to communicate the right people to warm up led Marc Rzepcynski to pitch to Mike Napoli, instead of their right-handed closer, Jason Motte, and, as Napoli has done this whole season, he came up big for the Rangers. After game five, many people thought the Cardinals were done, as they had their backs against the walls in this series.

Then came the epic game six, arguably the best World Series game ever played. After rain postponed the game for a day, the Rangers and Cardinals started their game. For the first six innings each team matched the other point for point. Then, in the seventh inning, the Rangers jumped ahead to a three-run lead. After getting one run back in the eighth inning on an Allen Craig homer, the Cardinals went to bat in the ninth, with their season on the line. David Freese, an unlikely hero for the Cardinals this postseason, came to bat with the Cardinals down 7-5 and runners on first and second with two outs. Down to his final strike, David Freese hits a two-run triple off of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz to tie the game. Then in the 10th inning, Josh Hamilton slammed a two-run homer, despite his much-publicized injury, to give the Rangers another two-run lead.

Once again the Cardinals came back, however, this time with the help of a Ryan Theriot’s RBI groundout and a Lance Berkman RBI single. In the 11th inning the Rangers failed to score, and David Freese tomahawked a ball from Rangers pitcher Mark Lowe in the bottom of the inning to give the Cardinals the win.

In game seven, as usual, the teams matched each other run for run. As the middle innings went by, it was clear that the Cardinals were in control of the game. The game, the series, and the season ended on a Jason Motte fastball that David Murphy hit to left field. Luckily, Allen Craig tracked down the ball for the Cardinals and grabbed the ball for the third out making the Cardinals the 2011 champions.

Inconsistent playing and their co-ace, Adam Wainwright losing his season during spring training, led the Cardinals to be 10.5 games out of the wild card in late August and into September. The Cardinals pulled off what can only be remembered as one of the most epic comeback in baseball history. Once their parade and partying are done, the Cardinals GM, John Mozeliak will have his hands full in this offseason. His top priority will be to convince the face of the franchise, Albert Pujols, to stay with the team. Albert Pujols is by far the best player among the current generation. He consistently provides the Cardinals with a true leader on and off the field. His statistics speak for themselves, 445 home-runs and more than 1,300 RBIs, while the effect he has on the city of St. Louis is quite remarkable as well. The only problem is that keeping him could force the Cardinals to stretch out their checkbooks. Some rumors have said that his contract could go upwards of 10 years and $30 million, something few teams could afford. Now people are wondering how the retirement of Tony La Russa, the legendary coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, will affect the team and Pujols going forward. It will be important for Mozeliak to choose the right coach because that could also affect Pujols’ decision.

For the Rangers, they face another off-season where they will focus on fixing their weaknesses, so that they can finally try to get over the hump next year and win their first championship. The main issue that they face is whether they want to re-sign pitcher C.J. Wilson. He has been an effective number one starter for the past couple of seasons now and he feels that it is time for his salary to be comparable to those of other aces. If the Rangers are unable to re-sign him, they will have to decide who will replace him and how their rotation will look next year. Some rumors have mentioned their talented young closer, Feliz, moving into the rotation. He would be part of a long line of recent Rangers who have made the switch from bullpen to rotation. Another issue is the fact that Hamilton will be entering the last year of his contract. This means that in order to avoid losing another face of the franchise (Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Juan Gonzalez, etc.), the Rangers will have to dish out a large amount of cash for him to stay. Of course, winning a championship next year, would help the Rangers efforts to keep him, and manager Ron Washington must be thinking about that in the back of his mind. It will be interesting to find out how this off-season plays out, since off-season trades and free agents can make or break a season before it begins.