Game 1 

 Game 2 



Saturday, October 21st—World Series Game 1 @ Detroit: Cardinals 7, Tigers 2
Back in July, my family bought tickets for the Redskins vs. Colts game Oct. 22nd in Indianapolis. At the time, of course, we were hoping that this would be a marquee matchup of upper echelon NFL teams. Well, the Colts held up their end of the bargain. The 'Skins are now 2-4 and going in to play the undefeated Colts. So this doesn't look too good. And with the Cardinals in the World Series, the football game seems pretty irrelevant. Still, I'm true to my teams, so I'll find a way to watch all the games this weekend. The Cards are in Detroit anyway, so I'd be watching those games on TV regardless.

The plan is that my family is meeting up tonight at my brother Paul's house just outside of Indianapolis. Christine stays home, and I set the DVD-R to record. I drive down to Paul's in the afternoon, trying to catch pregame coverage on the radio. The Cardinals are heavy underdogs by all accounts. Check out the prediction by the USA Today. I sweat a little that I might not make it in time, but I arrive just before Eckstein takes the first pitch. (That's one nice thing if you're cutting it close to watch a Cardinals road game: you know at least nothing major will happen on the first pitch, because Eckstein will always take it.) I'm the only Cardinal fan on this side of my family, but Paul (a Red Sox fan) graciously allows me to temporarily "decorate" his apartment with my paraphernalia.

The Cards don't do anything in the top of the first, and Reyes gets a little roughed up in the bottom half. I'm hacked off that we have to use our #4 pitcher in Game 1. That is NEVER supposed to happen in the World Series. We're huge underdogs anyway PLUS our rotation is hosed. Of course you might expect your #1 and #2 to be unavailable if they pitched games 6 and 7 of the LCS. But even a team that has the later League Championship Series that goes 7 games (thus ending Thursday) is supposed to be able to use at worst their #3 pitcher, even if he pitched game 5. That's because there is supposed to be an off day between games 5 and 6 of the LCS. So the pitcher who pitched game 5 gets to rest that off day, then game 6, then game 7, then the travel day, thus giving him 4 days of rest before Game 1 of the World Series. So that should be Weaver for the Cards, our #3 starter. But because of the original game 5 rainout in the NLCS, we didn't get that off day between games 5 and 6. Thus Weaver isn't fully rested until tomorrow, so we're stuck with the rookie Reyes.

Reyes has shown flashes of brilliance, but has been extremely inconsistent this year. And here it's not looking good, as he gives up a double, a walk, and a base hit, giving Detroit a 1-0 lead. Plus Encarnacion boots it, making it runners on 2nd and 3rd. This could be a disaster similar to the last time Reyes started: NLCS game 4. But the kid gets out of the jam. Whew...for now.

In the second, Rolen turns on an inside fastball and BANG! Endy Chavez this time! Nice, tie game. I call Christine, who is watching at home. "Wooo!" She's excited. The Tigers also have a rookie starting: Verlander. In fact, it's the first time in World Series history that two rookies have started game 1.

In the 3rd, the Cards mount a 2-out rally. Duncan drives in Yadi with a double, making it 2-1 Cards! Wow, a LEAD in a World Series game! Then Albert comes up with 2 outs and first base open. The Tigers decide not to intentionally walk him (gotta give them credit), opting instead to sort of try to pitch around him. But Verlander leaves the first pitch a little too close to the plate and BANG! Pujols takes it the other way...and it's gone!! Mmm! How's that for intimidation? The rookie got burned even when he was trying to pussyfoot around!

My family is supportive, but not excited, so again I call Christine. "WOOOOO!!" She is really pumped—she tells me she's jumping around the house and everything. It is so fun calling her. Man, she's never that excited when I'm watching it with her! But then again, the Cardinals have never had a lead in a World Series game since we met in 1994. Now the Cards lead 4-1!

Then in the 6th the Cards start to pour it on. Pujols walks (there's a shocker), and then Verlander—apparently still intimidated by Albert even though he's on base with a bad hamstring—throws the ball away in a pickoff attempt. Pujols goes all the way to third. Then Jimmy drives him in with a hit, and Rolen strikes again with a ground-rule double. Encarnacion—who has been struggling at the plate—finds the key to success against this Tigers team: put the ball in play. Third baseman Brandon Inge makes two errors on the grounder. He tries to throw home, but throws it away, then runs into the baseline and gets smashed by Rolen. Scott is awarded home by interference. So 2 runs score on the play and it's 7-1 Cards! "WOOOOO!!" Christine laughs and cheers on the phone.

Anthony Reyes is having the game of his life. At one point, he retires SEVENTEEN (17) in a row! What a performance. Craig Monroe leads off the 9th with a homer, making it 7-2. That's all for Reyes, but he gave much more than we expected or even needed. Looper puts the Tigers to bed.


All right. It's already not as bad as '04. This is the first World Series game the Cards have won since '87. Obviously I'm hoping for a different result this time around.

Sunday, October 22nd—World Series Game 2 @ Detroit: Tigers 3, Cardinals 1

My family and I watch the Colts and Peyton Manning dismantle the Redskins. Clearly the 'Skins are not in the Colts' league, so it's a bummer game as a 'Skins fan. But as a sports fan, it is something to watch the Colts in action, especially at home. Their offense is like a machine, and it is worth the price of admission to see this machine in action. If we have to see the 'Skins lose, I'd rather it be at the hands of an excellent team, which is clearly the case today. But I was hoping for the football-baseball double. Three Sundays ago, the 'Skins won and the Cards lost (though won the division). Two weeks ago, the 'Skins lost but the Cards won game 4 of the NLDS (and I was there). Then last week both teams lost, with the Cards getting pummeled in game 4 of the NLCS. So I was hoping for the fourth possible combination: both teams winning. Alas, it was not to be.

Also unfortunately, the football game is the late game, so by the time we get out of the parking garage and on the road, it's nearing game time. My parents head back out of town as Mark, Paul, and I go quickly to Paul's to watch game 2. Again I'm cutting it close to see the first pitch! But we make it, and of course Eckstein takes it.

After an uneventful first inning, FOX stirs things up by showing a picture of Kenny Rogers' hand with some smudges on it.

After a discussion with the umpires, he has a clean hand in the second inning. I am among the fans who think that Tony should have had him tossed. But oh well, maybe we can beat him anyway. If the Cards lose this game, all that means is it's a series. If the Cards win this game—coming home with Carpenter and Suppan—then it's not even a series!

During the game, my brothers keep themselves entertained by finding famous people who combine to look like Magglio Ordonez. They conclude that Magglio is a cross between Eddie Vetter, Pauly Shore, Jackie Chan, and Lou Diamond Phillips. Weaver pitches quite well, but it's not enough as the Cards can't get anything off smudgeboy. Finally with Rogers out in the 9th, the Cards mount a little rally, aided by a boot by the closer Todd Jones. Jimmy has a little flair to left field, and we're on the board! And the tying run is on base. But Yadi grounds out to end it. Darn. Still, I really like the never-say-die attitude of the team. Even though the Cards lost, we again scored the final run and made the Tigers sweat. The Cards haven't lost back-to-back games all postseason, and we're coming home with Carpenter on Tuesday night. AND...I will be there!

Monday, October 23rd—Other Responsibilities
I wake up at Paul's place in Indiana and drive all the way up straight to UIC to teach. It has been such a continuous whirlwind all month. I really wanted to have a way for some youth to be able to go to Six Flags who might not be able to afford it. So I decided to have a Window-Washing Night. All kids who come to wash windows get a free trip to Six Flags on Saturday. I scheduled it for tonight, knowing that even if the Cards were in the World Series, it would be a travel day. And this time, it actually is a travel day, thankfully.
The turnout for this event is incredible, of course. We get all the windows in the whole church washed, and I hope the budget will pay for all these kids! I get home and we pack up our stuff, ready for the big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 24th— Game 3: Cardinals 5, Tigers 0
Christine and I get on the road just before noon, and get to Springfield around 3:00. I set up the DVD-recorder and then Nana arrives around 4:00 with her niece Terri. Apparently the World Series is important enough for the Brandt's guy to use the sweet seats, so it will be just us four. No limo this time; we’re taking Nana’s car and John drives. (Gotta give Nana credit for not being wasteful.) On the way down, we listen to pregame coverage broadcasting from the Stan Musial statue.

We get to St. Louis and find a parking garage. We have a few blocks to walk to the stadium. It is a chilly evening, but this city is fired up. I take pictures of everything. They have dyed the fountains red (actually looks pink, but it’s the thought that counts), and red-clad people are milling around everywhere.

We get to the stadium and go down to the sweet seats for the pregame. Wow, here I am at the World Series.

The Tigers are taking batting practice. I can see lots of famous sports people milling around: Chris Berman, Bud Selig, Dusty Baker, plus the FOX coverage crew. Baker chats with Jim Leyland behind the cage. Someone has a sign that says "Employees must wash hands before leaving dugout." I can't believe I'm right here.

Chris Berman"Employees Must Wash Hands"Dusty Baker chats with Leyland

Cards GM Walt Jocketty Dusty Where we'll be sitting

Ironically, I tried to purchase broker tickets to this corresponding game two years ago: Game 3, 2004 World Series, Red Sox at Cardinals. That game was so horrible, with Suppan deciding to get doubled off third instead of scoring, and the Cards going down 3 games to none in the series. This situation is much, much better. Plus, I'm going for FREE instead of paying $650!

We head toward our seats with about a half hour before game time. I see a vendor stand and decide to make my purchases now. As I'm standing in line, it hits me. I am in the stadium at the World Series. A Cardinals World Series. I think of all the talk I've heard and seen recently about the 1968 Cards-Tigers World Series, hearing people talk about their memories and showing their memorabilia. There is something timeless about the World Series. I realize that the purchases I make right here will likely stay in my family for generations. So I spend more than I normally would, and it is certainly going to be worth it.

I meet everyone at our seats a few minutes before the national anthem. They have the U.S.-shaped flag and jets fly over. This is big-time, certainly the biggest sporting event I've ever attended. It's interesting that the actual game itself is not as much my focus as it would normally be if I were watching at home. I'm thinking about getting souvenirs, getting good pictures, looking around the stadium, and pinching myself. It's hard to see all the details of the game from this vantage point. We do have TVs to see replays, but they are small screens pretty far away, so it's not like you can tell if the last pitch was at the knees or low.

Plus, there are people walking in front, others asking to get through, and vendors distractingly yelling at key moments. During a regular season game, that's not a big deal. But during the World Series, it's kind of annoying if you're trying to hang on every pitch. So as a result, it's better to embrace the environment and soak up the atmosphere, watching the game as best you can.

Cards Ace Chris Carpenter has really struggled in the first inning all postseason. He has given up 6 runs in just the first innings of his four starts, and only 4 other runs total. But today, he gets Curtis Granderson (who by the way is so far the only UIC alum ever to make it to the majors) to strike out swinging at a ball in the dirt. Then Craig Monroe hits the first pitch to Jimmy in Center, and Polanco grounds out harmlessly. So that is a great start for Carp, and seeing how he pitches much better after the first inning, it's very bad news for the Tigers.

The Tigers' starter Nate Robertson is just as effective as Carpenter, and there is no score through three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Cards offense comes to life. Preston Wilson hits the first pitch for a base hit. So it's Albert Pujols with nobody out and a man on base. Man it's fun to be in the stadium every time he comes to bat, particularly with guys on. The Tigers want nothing to do with him, and we get a little restless when the count goes to 3 and 0. But Robertson slips a strike in to make it 3-1. Albert then drives the next pitch the other way, down the right field line...fair! Wilson rounds third, but the ball goes into the stands for a ground-rule double. Man, the place is going nuts now!

So Rolen comes up with runners on 2nd and 3rd and nobody out. The Tigers walk him on 4 pitches to get to Belliard with the bases loaded. The strategy works, as Ronnie grounds to Inge, who throws home for the force out. Crap! Now with bases loaded one out, they could get out of the inning with a double play. In steps Jimmy, who works the count to 2-2 and then rips one down the right field line, again fair! Two runs score!! Yeah!

After those runs, the Cards really miss an opportunity to blow the game wide open. The Tigers intentionally walk Molina to get to So Taguchi. So has a chance to give himself a homer in every postseason series, but instead pops up to the shortstop. The Carpenter also pops out to end the inning. That could have been a lot more. But the way Carpenter is pitching, you get the feeling that we might not need any more.

Carp cruises along beautifully. The Cards miss more scoring chances in the 5th and 6th. In the seventh, though, the Tigers get themselves into serious trouble. Eckstein and Wilson both walk, bringing Albert to the plate with two on and nobody out. The energy in the park is just awesome—we are all bubbling with anticipation. It reminds me somewhat of the late '90s when McGwire came to bat. This is different though. When Big Mac would single, everyone would exhale, "Awww." With Albert, it's not about watching a guy hit a homer, it's about the vast number of ways that he can put runs on the board. He is so all-around dangerous that we can all sense the pressure put on the pitcher. Here it's Zumaya, who can throw 100mph, but everyone knows Albert can hit that.

Brief video of the flashbulbs popping with Albert at the plate

Zumaya throws a ball. Then another ball. Man, I would like to see them give Albert a chance to hit, but alright, if you're gonna load the bases with nobody out, then Rolen can serve clean-up duty. But on the 2-0, Albert swings...and hits it right back to the pitcher. I think that Zumaya was shocked to have the the most indimidating hitter in baseball put the ball in his glove, giving him the opportunity to get out of the jam. He turns and throws to third...and THROWS IT AWAY!! After all the plays we couldn't see very well down the right field line, this one is on our side! The ball goes in the perfect place—not into the stands, not even towards an outfielder. Instead, it hits the angled wall and ends up in no man's land in foul territory. Everybody has to run after the ball, and meanwhile, Cardinals are circling the bases all over the place.

It reminds me of the old RBI baseball video game: if you threw the ball away, you'd have to figure out which fielder to control to go get it, and they'd run so slow! That's what it seemed like. Eckstein scores from second, and Wilson scores all the way from first! Oh what fun. It is a wonderful combination of laughter and cheering—the hilarity of watching bloopers combined with the importance of your team taking a commanding lead in a pivotal World Series game.

The Cards again fail to add to the lead in the seventh (it could be about fifteen to nothing right now), but it clearly doesn't matter at this point. With the Cards up by a grand slam and Carpenter being so dominant, there is really no doubt that we're going to win this game. This is the perfect situation for me, because it allows me to soak up the World Series atmosphere. Instead of hanging on the edge of my seat and squinting, it's more of a celebration of being here at this game. I look all around at the crowd that I'm a part of, smile every time I look at the scoreboard, and get some photos of my souvenirs here in the stadium.

Every Tiger out is a big cheer, one step closer to victory. In the bottom of the 8th, Carpenter comes up to bat, which is awesome because it means he'll be going for a complete game in the 9th. The Cards add a run in the 8th on a wild pitch, but with all the Tigers pitching changes, Carpenter has to sit around in the dugout for a long time. Too long for the coaches to be comfortable putting him back out there for the 9th, so Looper comes in to pitch. He has a 1-2-3 ninth, culminating in Craig Monroe grounding out to Rolen. Cards win! WOO!! I call Christine to celebrate.

We walk back to the car, celebrating with many other red-clad fans in the streets. On the drive back, I reflect on all the teams that started this baseball season. Thirty teams from coast-to-coast, and here the Cardinals are, still playing, and leading the World Series 2 games to 1. And not only are we up, but the NLCS MVP hasn't even played yet! Suppan pitches tomorrow night. We get back to Ann & John's and share our experiences with Christine and Ann. I turn the dining room table into a display area, combining my existing gear with the brand new World Series merchandise.

Wednesday, October 25th—World Series Game 4: ppd
We stay in Springfield at Ann & John's for an extra day and night. I go running during the day and come back to edit last night's game on the DVD. Nana goes to the game with other people, but it is a nasty evening weather-wise: cold, wind, and rain. We have the TV broadcast on, but FOX is showing mostly reruns of That 70's Show because of the lengthy rain delay. Occasionally Joe Buck's voice pops in over a shot of sheets of rain, telling us again that the game is neither starting nor being postponed. Nana calls from the stadium concourse with an update of her situation. The hallways are crammed with soaking wet fans.

I don't know why they don't just call it. What are they waiting for? I guess they are reluctant to call it because the forecast for tomorrow isn't too great, either. Finally the game is called. Nana comes back and decides that she won't be going tomorrow. She calls Linda to give her the tickets. The Game 5 tickets will be used for its originally scheduled date, which is now going to be Game 4. Nana plans to go Friday, which will require her Game 4 tickets.

Thursday, October 26th—World Series Game 4: Cardinals 5, Tigers 4
I teach tomorrow, so we pack everything up and leave Springfield a little after 4:00. I really would have liked to leave earlier, but...well, you know us. It's a 3-hour drive, so here I am again cutting it close. The only game this series in which I didn't have to rush to see the first pitch was the game I attended! We listen to the pregame show, and I'm reminded of the shoddy fielding by Detroit, particularly the pitchers. Wait a second, that's right: Verlander's pickoff attempt in Game 1, closer Todd Jones' boot in the 9th inning of Game 2, and Zumaya's throwaway—they've made one every game so far! Wow.

Again, we do get home just in time, though we haven't unpacked or eaten when the game starts. This is the first World Series game I've watched at home. The Tigers get on the board first against Suppan. Sean Casey mashes a homer, and when the Tigers go up 3-0, I think that this is going to be a 7-game series. But the Cards get one run right back in the 3rd as David Eckstein drives in Aaron Miles. Then in the 4th, Scott Rolen rips a ball to left for a, he dives into second with a double! What heart and hustle he has showed this postseason! Scott scores on Yadier Molina's double to bring the Cards to within one, 3-2.

Suppan settles down and keeps Detroit in check. It's still 3-2 Tigers in the bottom of the 7th, when David Eckstein leads off and hits a fairly deep fly ball to center. Curtis Granderson goes back for it and...falls down! Eckstein gets to second with a double. It's another great break for the Cards. I do feel a bit bad for "fellow Flame" Grandy, though. It looked bad, but at least it wasn't as bad as Manny Ramirez's gaffe in Game 1 of the '04 Series. Immediately Granderson is compared to Curt Flood in the 1968 World Series. Well, being compared to Curt Flood is not a bad thing. (Good thing Grandy's not a first baseman!)

So with Eckstein on second, LaRussa brings in pinch hitter So Taguchi to bunt him over to third. It is a nice bunt, so when the pitcher Fernando Rodney fields it, his only play is to first base. But he SHOTPUTS IT OVER POLANCO'S HEAD!! Omigosh, you're KIDDING!! Eckstein scores and Taguchi goes to second, so we've still got a man in scoring position, plus the game is now tied, plus there's nobody out! And looky who's coming to the plate: Phat Albert!

As a fan, sometimes you wonder if your team really has a chance to win a championship, especially facing such long odds. But after watching the Tigers embarass themselves again, I realize Hey, we can beat these guys. In the same tone as the little girl on It's a Wonderful Life ("Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings"), I tell Christine, "Remember: every game, a Tigers pitcher makes an error."

With the score tied, the Tigers intentionally walk Albert. Surprise, surprise. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen do a brief encore of their 2004 World Series performances, each striking out. But then Preston Wilson delivers a clutch 2-out hit. It's not clear if Eckstein will score, but Albert—ever the alert baserunner—induces the Tigers to throw to third base instead of home. Pujols is thrown out at third to end the inning, but Eckstein is safe at the plate and the Cards take the lead, 4-3!

In the bottom of the 8th, though, Braden Looper allows a leadoff double to Pudge Rodriguez. Looper gets a groundout, and then Tony decides that it's time for our closer right now. Adam Wainwright comes in with a man on third and one out. Can he close the door right here? No. He gives up a double to Inge which ties the game. Crap. But with the man on second, Wainy strikes out the next two guys to limit the damage. All tied up heading to the bottom of the 8th.

The Tigers bring in the flamethrower Joel Zumaya. Yadier Molina leads off with a walk. All right. Aaron Miles (who—by the way—has the exact same birthdate as Christine: 12/15/76) hits into a force play. Juan Encarnacion strikes out on a wild pitch that gets by the catcher. He runs to first, thinking he's safe. But no, when there's a man on first, you're automatically out if you strike out. The catcher doesn't have to catch it. (Otherwise, the defense could try to get some sort of double play by dropping the third strike.) Juan apparently wasn't aware of this rule (he has not looked too good this whole Series), but is told by an umpire to leave the field. So it's two outs. BUT...Miles did move to second on that wild pitch. So now we've got a man in scoring position for David Eckstein.

Eckstein—ever the patient batter—works the count to 3 and 1, and then hits a line drive to left-center. Monroe is going for it, he dives...OFF HIS GLOVE! Miles scores!! Cards lead again, now 5-4!!

Eckstein is now 4 for 5 today with a run and 2 RBIs. He sure has turned things around since starting off the series 0 for 8. Taguchi pops out to end the 8th, but all we need now are three outs.

In the 9th, Wainwright is simply dominant. He strikes out Craig Monroe and gets Carlos Guillen to ground to Albert. With two outs, Magglio Ordonez (who looks enough like Eddie Vedder to be singing "III Yeaaah, I'm still Alive, yeaaeeah..." at the plate) doesn't live long, grounding the first pitch to Eckstein to end the game! Sweet!!

This time, I don't have to call Christine to exchange "WOOOO"s. The Cardinals have the Tigers on their heels, and we're home tomorrow night up 3 games to 1. This is our series.

I try to prepare for teaching tomorrow, starting around midnight. I throw a lesson together, but I also need to get my job application materials ready, as there are some deadlines coming up. So I do that, and then I need to put the finishing touches on the plans for Saturday's Youth trip to Great America! I print up permission slips and get directions ready. By now it is really late, but I just can't go to bed without seeing the action again. So I stay up editing the disc and watching my highlights. Finally I get to bed around 4:30am.

Friday, October 27th—World Series Game 5: Cardinals 4, Tigers 2
I get up at 11am and make some phone calls, securing our final chaperone for tomorrow's Youth trip. I print up my job materials: cv, etc. I put on my Cards gear that I purchased in the stadium on Tuesday night, and head in to teach. I enter my class with my Cardinals World Series shirt and hat on. Most students smile, but some remind me that the series isn't over yet. I agree with them, because I remember '85, when the Cards blew a 3-1 lead over the Royals. But really, I'm just saying that publicly. While it is too early to outwardly gloat, inside I really believe we've got it. The Cards are finding ways to win and the Tigers keep finding new ways to lose.

My class goes OK despite my sketchy preparation. After teaching, I fax a bunch of transcript requests, then meet with my advisor. He agrees to give me a fellowship for the spring, and signs the form to get the paperwork going. This means that I will get paid just as I am now with no teaching responsibilities. Awesome! I'll basically be getting paid for finishing my degree.

I head home and get my first batch of job applications together, addressing and stamping them. I have a little bit of time for a quick run before the pregame, so I start my run by dropping the envelopes into a mail bin. During this pause, I reflect on where I am in my life at this moment. I have finished the rough draft of my dissertation. I have my job materials ready, and here I am in a position to apply for professor jobs that I want for my career. Plus, I've got a fellowship for the spring! team is about to win the World Series!!

I think about the World Series throughout my run. I start thinking about...yes, I have to admit, I start thinking about who might be named MVP. You can't do this advance thinking as a player or coach. Even as a fan, it's probably not a good idea, because you could be setting yourself up for more heartbreak. But I went there. I thought about Yadi as a candidate. He has been awesome at the plate, and how about the way he's handled our pitching staff, especially the rookie Reyes in Game 1. Although Eckstein has really sparked the team, especially yesterday. He had four hits, including the game-winning RBI. But at this point I'm thinking Rolen might get it. He's been really ripping the ball—batting over .400, plus really hustling and playing great defense. It would be something if he got the MVP this year after going 0 for 15 in '04.

The "Candidates"

Tonight is the first time this entire World Series that I've been able to watch the pregame. Both of my brothers Mark and Paul are in Chicagoland for various reasons, and they ask if they can crash at our place tonight. So they come over, I order Giordano's, and we all watch Game 5. [Word to the wise: don't invite fans of other teams to watch your team win a championship.] I realized fairly early on that this was kind of a bad idea. Paul is an American League fan, and Mark the Cubs fan can't bring himself to root for the Cardinals. Their enthusiasm level is about the same as empty living room furniture. But empty furniture doesn't pull down a celebratory mood, nor does it occasionally make crotchety comments in jealosy or disdain. They are my brothers and I love them—but I'm not doin' that again.

Anyway, I was able to ignore the negativity and enjoy the game. Because of the rainout, Tony LaRussa decides to go with our Game 2 starter Jeff Weaver instead of rookie Anthony Reyes. Reyes was brilliant in Game 1, but his inconsistency all year leads one to believe that he could lay an egg if he pitched tonight. And as I thought, Tigers Manager Jim Leyland does not pitch his game 2 starter Kenny Rogers, despite the fact that Rogers is on full rest and he has pitched 23 scoreless innings this postseason. In fact, if Rogers pitched just 4 1/3 scoreless innings, he would break the record of Christy Mathewson for the all-time longest postseason string of scoreless innings. But instead, the Tigers go with Verlander, who was less than impressive in Game 1.

Weaver looks great, striking out 4 and allowing no baserunners in the first two innings. In the bottom of the second, Yadier Molina gets a base hit to lead off. He is advanced to second, and then to third. With two outs, David Eckstein hits a sharp grounder down the third base line. Brandon Inge makes a great diving play, gets up, and THROWS IT AWAY! Haha!! That throw was nowhere near on target, as the first baseman Sean Casey was running after the ball by the time he was on the TV screen. Yadi scores, and Eckstein ends up on second. It counts as a hit, an RBI, and an error. The result is just like the double it would have been if Inge hadn't gotten to the ball. Wow, the Tigers are such an entertaining team to watch!

In the fourth inning, the Cards return the favor of shoddy defense. With one out, Magglio Ordonez hits a popup to right field. Chris Duncan drops it like a little leaguer. You gotta be kidding me. We can't have this in the World Series, I don't care how good his bat is. Well, Weaver has been pitching well, maybe he can work around it.

Nope. Sean Casey hits the first pitch far over Duncan's head for a 2-run homer. Crap! I'm still seething about Duncan's error. It's not only a missed out, but it is now a run. So the Tigers lead 2-1. The next batter Pudge Rodriguez hits a routine fly ball to Duncan, who does make the catch...congratulations and welcome to Class A baseball, Chris! Weaver wastes no time in getting the defense off the field by retiring Polanco on a groundout.

In the bottom of the 4th, the Cardinals do what they have done all postseason long: rapid response. Yadi with another hit...has he been something or what? Then So Taguchi singles, so it's first and second with one out and the pitcher Weaver coming up. The obvious strategy is for Weave to lay down a bunt to move the runners over. Eckstein is on deck , and he's been hitting quite well lately. Weaver bunts foul, then gets a bunt down. It's bunted too hard to the pitcher, and with slow-footed Molina running from second, Verlander has a play at third base. He turns and THROWS IT AWAY!!! UNBELIEVABLE!! It really is true: every game a Tigers pitcher makes an error!

Even though I was at Tuesday's game, since I recorded it I've now seen the replay of Zumaya's Game 3 error many times, with Brandon Inge helplessly flailing backward. Here Verlander's throw is almost a replay. Inge again looks like Charlie Brown whiffing on the kick. This time, Molina steps over him to get to the bag and turn for home. This is so hilarious...and yet, also so awesome!!

So it's second and third for Eckstein, just like we wanted. But we have a run instead of sacrificing an out. With only one out, Eckstein's grounder to short scores the go-ahead run! It's 4-3 Cards, and Duncan comes up with a man on third and a chance to make up for his error. Nope, he pops up to short (and the Tigers catch it). Oh well, I guess the Tigers made up for his error already!

From here Weaver cruises. The Tigers can't do anything offensively. Every inning it's getting more and more clear that the Cardinals are going to win the World Series. It is still a close game and of course anything can happen, but I just have that sense. This is it. This isn't like '85 or '87.

Chris Duncan again gives me pause in the 6th, absolutely misplaying a maybe-slightly-harder-than-routine fly ball off the bat of Sean Casey. He looks so bad, too, staggering and stumbling around, then lunging at the last second before hurtling himself into the wall. They call it a double, which I think is tremendously generous. In my opinion, that's a little league double, but a Major League error—even an error in the minors! At this point, I am sternly talking to Tony LaRussa through the TV: "This guy is NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME...Get him OUT OF THE GAME!" Christine—always being charitable and feeling bad for such a player—says that he's young and defense isn't his specialty. I respond, "Yes, he is young. We will utilize his abilities next year, but he does NOT BELONG ON THE FIELD IN GAME 5 OF THE WORLD SERIES." Announcer Tim McCarver agrees with me, saying "He should not be in there."

But no matter to Weaver. He strikes out Pudge Rodriguez on three pitches to end the inning. Boy does Duncan owe Weaver a really fancy dinner! Weaver seems to be in total command. He is pitching at a different level in the playoffs than he did all regular season.

In the seventh, Duncan is taken out of the game and So Taguchi moves to right field. Whew! Albert makes a fantastic play on a grounder, throwing the ball between his legs to Weaver covering first! Weaver picks up his foot and stomps on the base a millisecond before Polanco gets there. More importantly, the umpire correctly calls Polanco out. OK, now I know it's not 1985. A bang-bang play with the pitcher unconventionally stepping on first base and beating the runner. In Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, Don Denkinger called the runner safe. This time, the ump got the call right. You can just tell the Cardinals have it going. And with such a fantastic play by Albert, you get the feeling that the baseball world is sensing a Cardinal victory.
Rolen drives in Eckstein for an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. two leading candidates for MVP! With a two-run cushion, Weaver mows down the Tigers in the 8th, striking out two more. He's got 9 strikeouts! And this is the first time in all of 2006 that he has pitched 8 full innings. What a performance.

Weaver is lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 8th, so the ball goes to Adam Wainwright once again for the 9th inning. So here the Cardinals are, needing just three outs to win the World Series. The last time this was true was 1985. So between innings, I call Dad. I remind him that he got me out of bed 21 years ago, saying "Philip, do you want to see the Cardinals win the World Series?" He remembers, and I tell him that he was just 21 years early. The commercial break ends, and I tell him I'll call him after the game.

Wainwright gets Magglio to ground out, but then Sean Casey makes things a bit interesting with a double. I tell you what, I'm glad the rest of the Tigers can't do anything at the plate, because Casey has been torching us! Pudge Rodriguez grounds out, so now there are two outs, and the stage is set for a Cardinals World Series Championship. But first, Wainy makes things interesting by throwing a wild pitch and walking Polanco. So the go-ahead run is at the plate with runners on first and third. (At least he didn't load them up like game 7 of the NLCS.) In steps Brandon Inge, who has been the poster boy for Tigers defensive futility with three errors plus two backward flails this Series. He has the opportunity to enact some redemption, or get himself on another poster. Strike one swinging. Strike two looking. The 0-2 pitch...

...Swing and a miss!! There it is! Cards win!!!

I give Christine a kiss, and my brothers offer insincere congratulations. They immediately proceed to watch The Lord of the Rings DVD special features on our laptop. I start making calls on my cell phone and our home phone rings. I talk to at least six different people—friends and family. After awhile Nana calls from St. Louis. She is in the car, going nowhere in the middle of the euphoria. I can hear cheering and Carol laughing in the background. Nana gives me the play-by-play of people standing on vehicles, climbing trees and buildings, and hanging out of cars. "That woman 'bout to bust outta her britches!" Carol's laughing gets louder. "Yep, she sure is!!" Man, now I wish I were down there.

After midnight, my friend Nikki calls. She recently graduated from UIC and is a pharmacist in Champaign now, and I haven't talked to her for awhile. She tells me she's in St. Louis! By sheer coincidence, she is at a pharmacy conference, as has a hotel room in the heart of downtown. She is not much of a sports fan at all, but she realizes the significance. She too gives me the play-by-play of what's going on outside her window. Her room has two beds, and she will be there until Sunday afternoon, so she suggests that maybe I come down if there's a parade. The thing is, I've got the Great America trip tomorrow and I teach on Monday. (I don't think I could push for a sub for the fourth time, especially just for the parade.) So I could only do it if the parade were on Sunday. "Would they have a Sunday parade in the heart of the Bible belt?" I ask her rhetorically. I tell her I'll look into it and call her back.

My deadbeat brothers go to bed and Christine and I watch the highlights, finally getting a chance to celebrate with our empty living room furniture. I go onto the Cardinals website and see six beautiful words on the sidebar: "Cards to celebrate with Sunday parade." It's just so perfect, it's almost unbelievable. I click on the article and see that the parade will be at 2pm on Sunday. YESSS!!! Now I really let loose like I haven't all day. I jump around like Michael Jordan after "The Shot".

Christine and I stay up to talk until 3am. I tell her about so many of my memories as a kid. I still vividly remember riding my bike from my friend Cy's house to my house with the Cards up 5-2 over the Twins in Game 6 of the '87 Series. I thought I was heading home to watch the Cardinals win the World Series. I was 19 years early. I won't be getting much sleep tonight, but it doesn't matter. I'll be living on adrenaline. The dream has come true.

Series Commentary
Down in Flames
After his 2 for 21 performance and memorable tumble, I feel slightly bad that UIC alum Curtis Granderson didn't have a good series. Then again, what Tiger did? Oh right..."Kenny Rogers" (wink-wink). Hey, I think he was their only pitcher that didn't make an error!

Kenny Rogers Roasting
Of course Kenny Rogers is just one of many (most?) pro athletes that cheats and lies about it when they get caught. But ignoring the cheating, how pathetic is this guy that his own manager won't pitch him on the road in a postseason game? Rogers is the kind of guy who beats up cameramen when he is questioned about why he doesn't pitch in certain games. Talk about insecure. I'm sure Jim Leyland communicates extensively with his pitching staff, so it's probably fair to say that Rogers "ducked" the Game 5 start in St. Louis. This is the major leagues, dude—you sometimes have to work on the road! But we could be generous to Rogers and assume that Leyland acted unilaterally. Even in this case, it shows that Leyland knows Rogers has emotional problems away from his home security blanket. No healthy pitcher in history with anywhere near those kinds of numbers had ever been passed over for pitching on the road on full rest in the postseason. Makes you wonder if Leyland also knew that he wouldn't be effective now that his hand would be inspected. So Kenny Rogers will go down on paper "with" Christy Mathewson as having one of the greatest pitching postseasons ever. But really, we all know better.

Brilliant move
Even though at the time I wanted to see Kenny Rogers publicly pine-tarred and feathered, I think Tony LaRussa made a brilliant move by not pressing the issue. This did three things: it brought the Cardinals to the moral high ground for the media, created a sense to the umpires that the Cards should get the next break, and got in the Tigers' heads. If Tony had succeeded in getting Rogers tossed, then he would have been portrayed as a whiner and some might have suggested that the Cardinals Series win was on a technicality. But a lot of times in the postseason (like the case of Mike Scott in the 1986 NLCS), umpires and baseball officials don't do anything about doctored baseballs despite mounds of evidence. If Tony had tried to get Rogers thrown out and failed, it would have been the worst case scenario—Rogers gets to pitch and now the Tony is the bad guy. Instead, he put it in his pocket. Everyone in America outside of Michigan knows Rogers cheated, so in that sense he got caught even though he didn't get tossed. The Cardinals end up being the good guys, and Jim Leyland ends up in a tough spot, deciding to leave Rogers on the bench in Game 5. It's almost as if Leyland would rather be eliminated than have the smudge issue resurrected in St. Louis. Now that's some powerful psychology by Tony.

Calling all Angels
Jim Edmonds is the dean of the Cardinals. Scott Spiezio helps get the team into the playoffs. The winning pitcher in the World Series clincher is Jeff Weaver. And the MVP is David Eckstein. Spiezio and Eckstein partied on the field after game 5 just like they did 4 years ago in Anaheim. Weaver was dumped by the Angels in July. Edmonds was brought up by the Angels, and they are his only other team. Now here they all are, able to celebrate—and still wear red.

Game 4 made it easy
I just noticed some amazing similarities between the three NLCS games in St. Louis and the three World Series games in St. Louis. Both times, the Cards game home to a 1-1 series. The Cards won Game 3 by a score of 5-0 in both series...and Game 5 by a score of 4-2 in both series! And in both series, we scored 5 runs in Game 4. But while the NLCS was a historic nailbiter, the World Series was a laugher. The only difference is the visiting team's Game 4 offense: the Mets' 12 runs made it a series, while the 4 runs by the Tigers set up the clincher the next day.
The Cardinals finally did it. I've been waiting my whole life for this, now it's time to live it up... Next to

Little Boy's Dream


Past Decade

Pennant Race



World Series