It was tough deciding between the '01 and '11 series. There was so much emotion and that strong sense of patriotism surrounding the 2001 series ,and the entire nation's attention was on those seven games in New York
Looking past the emotional factor, it really signified the end of the Yankees' dominance. As would be the case in 2003, it was an expansion team that came out of nowhere to knock off the champions.
There was a high amount of emotion surrounding the 2011 series, but it was a different kind of emotion. St. Louis had risen from the ashes late in the season, pulling off an unprecedented run late in the regular season and through the playoffs.
There was a mystique surrounding Texas as well. Despite losing Cliff Lee to Philadelphia during the offseason, the Rangers still clinched the AL West title with relative ease and cruised to their second AL pennant in as many years.
The tiebreaker between these two series was the caliber of the games played. While the '01 series featured late-inning victories in Games 3-5 and a dramatic walk-off to end it in Game 7, six of the seven games in 2011 were dramatic in their own right. Even in the blowout in Game 3, there was Albert Pujols' historic performance to talk about.
Some may complain that the 2011 series was not nearly as big of a draw as the 2001 series, but after the dramatics of Game 6, Texas and St. Louis had everyone's attention.
Games 1 and 2 featured late-inning heroics from both teams against a pitcher who had been dominant up until that point.
Cardinal manager Tony La Russa gambled in Game 1, electing to pinch-hit Allen Craig for pitcher Chris Carpenter with two runners on in the sixth inning. Craig came through, delivering an RBI single off of Texas reliever Alexi Ogando to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
Texas responded in Game 2, capitalizing on an error by Pujols in the top of the ninth to take the lead and eventually tie the series as it shifted back to Texas. After the game, Pujols slipped out of the clubhouse without talking to any members of the media, drawing some harsh criticism from writers around the nation, including Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, who called the Cardinal slugger’s actions “cowardly.”
In Game 3, Pujols responded to his critics with three home runs in a historic 5-6 performance. He joined Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as the only players in World Series history to hit three home runs in the same game during the World Series.
The Cardinals' 16-7 victory did not come without controversy. With his team leading 1-0 in the top of the fourth and Pujols on at first, Matt Holliday hit a ground ball to Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus. Andrus flipped to Ian Kinsler, who rifled a throw to first baseman Mike Napoli.
Kinsler's throw pulled Napoli off the bag, but he grabbed the errant throw and quickly tagged Holliday on the back of the neck before he was able to reach first base. Napoli's tag was so forceful that it actually knocked Holliday off balance as he crossed first base.
There is no denying that Holliday was out, but first base umpire Ron Kulpa called Holliday safe, extending the inning for the Cardinals, who promptly blew the game wide open. As was the case in 1985 when the Cardinals fell victim to a blown call by Don Denkinger, Texas still had opportunities to stop the bleeding that inning, but were unable to.
After a slugfest the night before, Game 4 belonged to Texas starter Derek Holland, who pitched eight and a third shutout innings, holding the Cardinals to just two hits while striking out seven.
Pitching was the story again the next night. This time, however, it was a missed phone call for the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth that ultimately cost the Cardinals Game 5, putting Texas just one win away from their first World Series Championship in franchise history.
Game 6, which will go down as one of the greatest games in World Series history, saw Texas come within one strike of winning the World Series on two different occasions, but both times the Cardinals rallied to extend the game. In the bottom of the ninth, St. Louis-native David Freese smacked a two-run triple over the head of Nelson Cruz in right field to force extra innings.
In the top of the tenth, Hamilton hit his first home run of the series, a two-run shot to put Texas back on top.
It was the same story, but with different characters in the bottom of the inning for St. Louis. This time, it was Lance Berkman facing Scott Feldman. Down to his final strike, Berkman roped Feldman's 2-2 offering into center field, driving in Jon Jay and tying the game once again.
After a quiet top of the 11th, Freese permanently cemented his place in Cardinal history by crushing a 3-2 changeup from Mark Lowe to dead center field for a walk-off game winner.
With Carpenter on the mound for Game 7, the Cardinals cruised past a demoralized Texas team 6-2 to claim their 11th World Series Championship. While Game 7 was nowhere as exciting as Game 6, it did have its moments, the biggest of which came in the top of the sixth.
Trailing by three runs and needing just one more home run to break Barry Bonds' record for most postseason home runs, Cruz crushed Carpenter's offering to left field. Just as it looked as if the ball was going to sail over the wall, Craig jumped up and robbed Cruz of his record-breaking home run.
With his late inning heroics in Game 6, Freese became the sixth player in MLB history to win the MVP award in both the League Championship Series and the World Series.
Just a day after the city of St. Louis celebrated the Cardinals' 11th World Series Championship, La Russa announced his retirement. The team had not named a replacement at the time this article was written.