Hamm Hooper, Sports Editor
November 9, 2011
Filed under Sports
A Series of the Impossible
As my brother and I drove home from another tiring football practice, a squirrel made a daring attempt to cross the road right in front of us. My brother, who was behind the wheel, jokingly tried to hit the squirrel, and might have done so had I not punched him right in the gut, yelling, “That could be the rally squirrel!” Matthew, realizing that the Cardinals were moments away from playing in a National League Championship game against the Brewers, quickly swerved out of the way realizing the grievous error he almost made. Squirrels around St. Louis no longer fear for their lives now that the Cardinals have taken the city by storm.
In spring training, when the Cardinals lost their best pitcher, Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery, nearly everybody wrote off the team’s chances for a winning season. Yet, the Cards played well through the first half of the season, carrying a slim divisional lead into the All-Star Break, and left fans with hope.
Then, however, the dog days of summer hit the Cardinals like an atomic bomb. They were flat out awful. Led by a bullpen of misfits, they blew every possible lead their offense gave them. The Cards were second in the National League with 26 blown saves, nearly a month’s work of games lost in the last inning. It was pure devastation for the team and its fans.
The bullpen, however, was not the only problem. First, Pujols hit so poorly that fans got a chance to imagine their team without the future Hall of Famer. In addition, the level of fielding was similar to that of the Bad News Bears, as the Cardinals were second in the league with 116 errors. They were flat out disastrous, while the Brewers shined as the best team to walk the earth, winning 23 of 26 games.
Then, out of nowhere, the Cardinals exploded to go on one of the greatest runs in baseball history. During September, they had a record of 18-8 thanks to improved play all around. The bullpen, bolstered by the midseason additions of Dotel, Rhodes, Rzepczynski, and new “closer” Motte, shut down opposing teams and actually did what they were supposed to do, save games. The defense also improved after picking up Gold-Glover Furcal at shortstop, and Pujols became the machine we all expected him to be, finishing the year with a .299 batting average and 99 RBI’s.
Led by the cheer “Happy Flight,” the Redbirds won 16 straight games and defeated the Astros. They rushed back to the clubhouse to pop bottles of Champaign and gleefully watched the Braves lose to the Phillies, punching the Cardinals tickets to the post-season.
The rest is history. The Cardinals went on to beat the heavily favored Phillies in 5 games, thanks to the greatest pitching performance in history by Chris Carpenter, and one determined squirrel.
Ahh, the squirrel. The critter made an appearance in games three, four and five against the Phillies, and the Cards won two of those three games. The squirrel obviously deserves credit for the victories, and as a result of his rallying, a nutty fetish has taken over St. Louis. It’s perfectly normal to see people walking into Busch Stadium wearing rally squirrel hats or carrying around a taxidermist squirrel.
The Cardinals went on to win the World Series against the Rangers, and fans should take a step back and relish in what has been one of the greatest seasons so far. Future generations may never see this type of comeback by the Cards, for this could be the last time Albert Pujols is donned in red, and Tony La Russa just announced his retirement. By winning their eleventh World Series, the Cardinals have truly done the unthinkable, and this season will be one for the books. #