2011 World Series: Cardinals Add to Baseballville, USA's Championship Lore

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2011 World Series: Cardinals Add to Baseballville, USA's Championship Lore
Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images

In light of winning the 2011 World Series, can St. Louis truly be called Baseballville, USA? At least one New York Yankees fan has voiced an opinion to me about doing it. In a nutshell, according to the commenter, I should not.

The reader in question believes only the New York Yankees should own that fresh and distinct moniker.

While it is true that the Cardinals are second to New York in terms of total championships won, the Redbirds, however, have a 3-2 advantage over the Yankees in World Series play.

Besides, the beast in the east, New York, has an appropriate nickname. We don’t call it “The Bronx Zoo” without good reason. With all due respect to the late George Steinbrenner, some Yankees players like Dave Winfield lived in the belly of the beast for years.

Further, my calling St. Louis “Baseballville” has little to do with the number of World Series championships won. I grew up in the Greater St. Louis Area. Obviously the commenter has never been to St. Louis. Those who have been there know what I mean.

Greater St. Louis is a baseball town like none other in the world. The legendary players, managers, coaches and owners perhaps come secondary to the lore of the world-renowned Cardinals fans.

The media, including Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, who are former Redbirds, and the baseball world outside of Cardinal Nation, know what I mean. Anyone who has seen an opening day with the automobile parade of former stars and the Clydesdales for sure know what I mean.

People who know the meaning behind Busch Stadium and the king of beers know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, then I encourage you to come see and hear the magic of an opening day in St. Louis.

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

Now, was World Series championship No. 11 the most magical in franchise history for the Cardinals? The Baseballville Redbirds certainly pulled it out of a hat—a red one with the famous STL logo on it.

The Cardinals have had many magical teams including the 1968 champions when Bob Gibson was almost unhittable. Not almost, he was unhittable. Ask any of the Detroit Tigers who faced him in the 17-strikeout game during the World Series.

St. Louis’ fans, therefore, are accustomed to baseball magic and entertainment. Similar to Vaudeville, I call it Baseballville.  

Nobody thought the Redbirds would perform magic this year, except the people in the clubhouse and front office. The media, including myself, was calling for Tony LaRussa’s employee identification card. Fans were majority-polling that he should not return in 2012.

The criticism was justified. Including another epic collapse last year, the Cards had not performed well down the stretch in the last few seasons.

The Redbirds were 10.5 games out of the NL Wild Card race on August 25. Another collapse was happening before the beloved eyes of Baseballville’s fans. Despite being the hottest team in baseball, St. Louis was still three games out with five left to play.

Working their magic, however, they won the Wild Card race on the last day of the regular season.

Inching their way into the playoffs, they knocked off the No. 1 seed in the NLDS. St. Louis then beat the team that finished in first place ahead of them in the NL Central (Milwaukee).

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The magic further continued when the Redbirds played Three-card Monte with Texas and came back to win Game 6 in 11 innings. The Rangers could taste their first-ever World Series championship on Thursday night. Instead, the Cardinals left Texas with a bitter taste in their mouth.

While St. Louis’ defense was sweet and sour, the bullpen was mostly sour. They were sweet, however, in Game 7 of the World Series.

The Redbirds’ bats were likewise honey all season long. They dominated offensive statistics in the National League. Two unsung stars came of age in the playoff run.

David Freese and Allen Craig showed Baseballville what they could look forward to in 2012 from America’s pastime. To be sure, there have been serious predictions about the world we’ll live in during 2012.

If any of those prognostications ring true, then baseball could provide a diversion for fans.

With their young star power, the Redbirds showed fans in the Lone Star State what championship baseball is all about. By winning the 2011 World Series—their second in five years—the Cardinals added to their NL-best total.

St. Louis’ 11 World Series titles are the third-most championships in American professional sports. Only New York, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have more.

The Cardinals will be loaded next season, if all goes well.  

The closer on the 2006 team, Adam Wainwright, has been one of the best starters in the previous three seasons. He was lost for the year in spring training this season. Yet, the Cardinals still won it all.

Although Tony LaRussa could choose not to come back, their core will return in 2012. Tony LaRussa, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Skip Schumaker won their second title in St. Louis.

Don't hate, the Redbirds could go back-to-back and make more magic. For these and many more reasons, St. Louis can heretofore be called "Baseballville, USA."

Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net

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