Let’s start at the end. Our St. Louis Cardinals are the 2011 World Series Champions!! OK…now let’s take a step back.
I passed on Game 6 tickets and instead had a few neighbors over to have snacks and drinks to cheer our Cards on. Boy was that a mistake! My neighbors have kids and they had to bail about the 6th inning and I am left all alone with a ton of snacks, beer and my TV. To that moment the game was about as sloppy as it could have been both on the Rangers and Cards side and I was just praying we stayed in it to the final innings and could make one last run. Lynn comes in for the 7th inning after we just tied it up AGAIN in the bottom of the 6th. He promptly gives up back-to-back homers to Beltre and Cruz and then another run scores to put the Rangers up by 3. My excitement turned to disappointment and the thought of our season ending started embedding in my mind. But I still thought…this game is crazy and we must have a run in us that could make this game interesting. Well we all know what happened next…FREESE HAPPENED!!
So what now…we are going to a Game 7 which is the first time the series has been 7 since 2002. I knew I had to be there. So I did what so many other crazy Cards fans did…got online immediate finding how bad the damage would be. I called my sister whom was in Boston laying in bed and getting prepared for a wedding her husband was in the next day. I convinced her and my brother-in-law (a huge…and I mean HUGE Georgia Bulldog fan) that she needed to fly to STL immediately and joining me in going to Game 7. I them called my dad to take him to his first World Series game ever…he drove up to STL the next day. Then my wife…also a massive Cards fan. She was in an all-day meeting with many other Managers and Directors in Springfield, MO. She said buy her a ticket and she may be late but wouldn’t miss this for anything. So there it was…a commitment from the 3 people I would want to witness this historic game with me. So I spent a small fortune to be a great host while everyone else scrambled to get to STL. So let’s jump ahead…
My sister, dad and I head downtown to take it all in and keeping tabs on my wife’s progress. We head into Busch Stadium, like I have many times before. But this time it felt different…even different from Game 1 of the World Series (which I also attended). The fans of Cardinal Nation appeared nervous but confident in our team and couldn’t wait to catch the last game of the season. We headed to our seats which were 3 rows from the field right at the Right Field Foul Pole. It was perfect…right up until Carp’s first inning! It was a mess! Carp, on short rest, was the obvious choice to pitch Game 7 for our Birds. After 2 runs he was able to get out of it. The crowd was electric and the rally towels were in full force. You could actually feel the stadium swaying under your feet. The bottom of the 1st started very blah. A GO and a FO and it looked like a quick inning was in order. But then back-to-back BB’s brought up Freese. The remarkable WS continued for him as he hits a double to score both Pujols and Puma to tie it up. The crowd went absolutely nuts…beyond anything I had ever witnessed! Our whole section was throwing high 5′s like we had known each other for years. Unfortunately my wife was in the process of driving downtown from West County at this point and missed it. The 2nd was fairly uneventful which was good for Carp…he was settling in.
The bottom of the 3rd inning and my wife is walking in the stadium. She was walking through the tunnel as another WS hero comes to the plate in Craig. He proceeds to hit a bomb that created an eruption in Busch. My wife then makes it down to the seats to join in the celebration. At this point Carp was really settling in and mowing down each Ranger that came to the plate. You could tell he was really in a zone. I still felt we needed to provide more than a 1 run support to pull this out against a stacked Rangers lineup.
In the bottom of the 5th the Rangers decided to bring in Feldman to relieve Harrison. After a GO Feldman proceeded to walk Craig and Pujols and then Berkman hit into a GO that moved the runners up. They proceeded to intentionally walk Freese (can you blame them!). After a 2 out full count to Molina he lost him to walk in a run. To stop the bleeding the Rangers turned to Wilson to face off against Furcal. Wilson was getting ready in a hurry. First pitch to Furcal and he hits him…probably wasn’t ready to enter the game. This scored another run. This gave the Cards and Carp a 5-2 lead and a little more cushion. At this stage I was starting to lose my voice and I was going crazy as was the other 47K+ people in the stadium and who knows how many people in their homes and bars across the World. I was starting to get a good feeling about the game…I couldn’t sit still.
We headed to the 7th inning and Carp comes out to continue his brilliant outing. Murphy stepped up to the plate and Sec 130 was going crazy. Then Murphy ropes a ball down the Right Field line and the ball bounces over the fence and the guy 2 rows in front of me got the ball and we all went even more crazy insane! He was beside himself and was generous, or crazy depending on how you look at it, as he let almost everyone around him hold the ball and get their picture taken with the ball. You better believe I jumped at that opportunity! Back to the game though. A lead off double ended Carp’s outing. Rhodes and then Dotel came in to shut down the Rangers with no damage done. In the bottom half Molina provided more cushion with a single up the middle that scored Puma. This gave us a 6-2 lead and all momentum was on the Cards side.
The 8th inning came and gone extremely fast as Lynn shut em down with a FO and 2 K’s. Then the 9th inning came and Busch was actually moving. The crowd was louder than I have ever heard in the stadium. And I have been to approx 12-20 games a year for the last 8-10 years including multiple playoff games. This was the moment I had dreamed about for years…World Series Game 7, watching your lifelong team in their home ballpark with the 3 people you want to be by your side. Heading into the 9th with a 4 point lead and your crazy closer coming into the game! Motte mowed down the first 2 and everyone in Sec 130 was jumping up and down and screaming to the top of their lungs. My voice was hangin in there! 2 pitches later and a fly ball that lands in Craig’s glove and my dream was complete. Players were jumping around like toddlers and headed toward the pitchers mound. Molina charged Motte on the mound and tackled him like a LB taking out a QB. The rest of the dog pile ensued. The crowd hit its peak and the fireworks were getting prepared.
The rest was kind of a blur as I was beside myself. The ceremony was getting setup and I was getting video of the events and the crowd. We hung around for another 45 mins to take it all in. MY St. Louis Cardinals are really World Champions for the 11th time!!! Me and my 3 person crew then headed out to the cars to head home as my voice could barely spit out a word or 2 without failing me. Downtown St. Louis was as electric as it has been in years.
October 28th, 2011 was the 2nd best day of my life…just behind the day I married the best gal in the World. Check one off the bucket list…