I have to say that bar-tending has really made it hard from me to blog. Where I would have been jotting down ideas on slow nights prior to tending bar, now I find that my writing has been stunted. Hence why I posts here have been few and far between. So for that I apologize.
Anyhow, what a whirlwind ride for the 2011 World Series Champions the St. Louis Cardinals. Who, including myself, would have made that statement on the day that it was announced that Adam Wrainwright would be sidelined for the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. From the distractions due to Albert Pujols' contract situation to the potential of Tony La Russa not returning as manager (more on that in a bit) the Cardinals' improbable run to the title was every bit a Hollywood story.
There's even a villain in the form of Nyjer Morgan who while twirling his imaginary mustache under his alter ego of Tony Plush proclaimed to the world that "Alberta" and the Cardinals would be watching the Brewers in the playoffs from the comforts of their houses. Well true believers, this may have been the proverbial straw to break the camel's back. To quote the immortal Popeye the Sailor Man: I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!. Indeed.
On August 25th the Cardinals were a whopping 10.5 games back of the Wild Card race. By the time September rolled around, the Cardinals engine was ignited and the team stormed to an 18-8 record winning series after series against such teams as Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta who they overtook for the Wild Card on the last day of the season leaving the Atlanta Braves dazed and confused. In doing so, what did the NL Wild Card Champs get for their accomplishment? The Cardinals were rewarded with a hefty prize of meeting the (some believed) uncrowned and eventual champions of Baseball: The 5x consecutive NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies and their vaunted offense and lethal pitching. Lo and behold (as I predicted), the Phillies succumbed to the momentum gaining Clydesdales known as the Cardinals in a five games. In doing so, it set up for the opportunity for payback in the form of a pairing between division rivals Brewers and Cardinals in the type of "high noon" duel seen in the old Wild West days.
As with professional sports, the one that makes the bold bulletin board statement usually ends up eating them and this time was no exception. The Cardinals lead by "The Big Chill" David Freese and "El Hombre" Albert Pujols put the Brew-Crew on ice, celebrating with some ice cold Buds at Miller Park as they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in six games to advance against the offensive juggernaut of the American League: The defending American League Champion Texas Rangers.
The lawmen from Arlington believed that they sufficiently learned from losing to those Giants from the Bay Area in last season's Fall Classic but little did they know that these plucky little red-birds were up to the challenge. Trading blows for blows, the Cardinals stared into the massive chasm of defeat and took a dive into the darkness, taking the Rangers with them snatching a well deserved victory. The Rangers were left even more astonished than during last year's World Series. In doing so the National League's royalty has added another title to it's now 11 World Series titles and 18 National League pennants.
With their victory came the end of the season and many unanswered questions for the Cardinals. Will Pujols resign. If so, will Freese become the man behind Pujols? Will Wainright return as dominant as he was in 2009 and 2010? Will Berkman be back in Cardinal Red? And the most important one after Pujols: Who will manage the Cardinals next season.
Yes, future Hall of Famer manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement from managing. La Russa, won 2,728 regular-season games, including 1,408 with the Cardinals to finish third in all-time wins behind Connie Mack and John McGraw to ride off victorious into sunset of the approaching cold winter that is the Baseball offseason. Well, its colder for the rest of us, since the St. Louis faithful will be kept warm with the memories of 2011.