I’m Back!

Posted: November 9, 2011 in MLB

I’m Back! After a long layoff of opinions, ideas and sometimes outright insanity, Presononsports makes its triumphant return. I can’t even count the number of stories that I have missed since the last time I made a contribution to the literary world. We had the melt down of the Boston Red Sox in the American League divisional race. We had the never ending talk about the NBA lockout and if we will miss a season, some wonder if we will miss two. We had the great story in the NFL of the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills, although the Lions are still a great story and are set towards their first playoff birth since 1999. The NHL has started another campaign with the Boston Bruins still feeding off the energy of their incredible cup win last season.

For my first article back I am choosing the most recent championship and the St. Louis Cardinals winning their second World Series title in 6 years, the previous being in 2006. This incredible story needs to be talked about because it is truly incredible. There were so many story lines that surrounded not only this World Series, the champions, the players, the roads taken to get here and what I considered great playoffs all around.

This year we had some great triumphs and failures on the way to the playoffs, but all around it was pure greatness we saw from the 2011 Major League Baseball season. People will complain about the season being too long, divisions needing to be re-aligned, or some other problem with baseball but this season was great.

I would go as far back as the all-star game where we had a resurgence of the homerun derby. The Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano came up with a mystifying performance that reminded us why chicks dig the long ball. Robinson, with the help of his father pitching to him, took the title of Homerun King on all-star weekend and let everyone know why he’s the leagues most powerful second baseman.

Then we had the playoff race down the stretch as the dog days of summer survived July and August and we came into September with the challengers laid out and the winners more or less in place. What we did not see however, was the other-worldly surge that came from the Cardinals in the National League wild card race that combated the collapse of the Atlanta Braves.

All season the Phillies were the favourite if not to win the World Series, then at least the hands on favourite to come out of the National League. Atlanta knowing this, played strong enough to establish themselves as a strong wild card candidate and going into September having almost a 10 game lead on everyone else. Like we’re always told though, never say never, and as we’re always reminded this is why we play the games.

St. Louis was well behind a strong Milwaukee squad for the division lead but they never said never when it came to the wild card. How well did St. Louis play? They were an outstanding 18-8 in September, 23-9 since late August. Those are dominating numbers in any month, but to come up with a stretch like that at the time it matters most is unthinkable.

Getting into the playoffs Michael Wilbon made a great point on his weekly sports talk show Pardon the Interruption, the Cardinals would be dangerous in the playoffs if they made it. They had all the pieces you need, a strong ace (Chris Carpenter), strong closer (Jason Motte), the best player in the game and maybe of all time (Albert Pujols) and a Hall of Fame bound skipper in Tony La Russa. Don’t forget they also had an incredible bullpen to get from their starter to their closer, as some would regard as the best pen in the league.

Skipping through the playoffs to the championship round, St. Louis always did what it needed to get a win. When I thought about the Cardinals as serous title contenders going into the playoffs I thought “Could this team really do it? I mean I know they’re the Cardinals but who do they have after Pujols?”

Apparently they had everybody as it turned out, or at least just the right people they needed to put it all together. David Freese, who I thought would be a solid pre-season fantasy stud, proved his worth and then some in this series taking home the title of WS MVP. If you were smart enough to watch these amazing games, you would have seen how he came through time and time again in both the late stages of game 6 with the two-run triple and the game winning HR in the 11th, as well as RBI’s in game 7.

The beautiful thing about this World Series was that it pinned two opposites against each other on the surface. We saw last year’s runner up in the Texas Rangers get back to the ship, which many people had them making if not winning from the start. At the very least almost everyone had them going to the World Series to face the Philadelphia Phillies, who were the other World Series champion favourites.

St. Louis was a dark horse in that they needed every one of their 162 games to get into the playoffs, but any smart baseball fan knows that this team was the farthest thing from a pushover. Tony La Russa, a respected and tenured baseball manager was looking to get his third championship, and second in the past 6 seasons after his first in St. Louis came in 2006. Albert Pujols was starring on a team of amazing roll players and rejuvenated careers.

So there you have it, the Cardinals were not really an underdog because their franchise is so rich in history and tradition winning is what they do. They know what player’s they need to have combined on their roster to make wins happen. In baseball there are so many components to the team and to a win that you are able to bring in numerous roll players. Pinch hitters, pinch runners, substitute fielders, and let’s not forget the bullpen. The almighty bullpen, have you ever seen two teams use them to such lengths as we did in this year’s World Series? I haven’t.

Well that should do it for the first article back, a little rusty? I apologize, my brain is still recovering from the daily workouts I put it through over the last 3 months but I am happy to be back where I belong, writing, complaining, and sharing my opinions with anyone who wants to waste their time reading them.

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