Passing Judgment – The Epitome of Fall Classic

The 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals has generated some of the lowest TV rating of any World Series in history.  That in itself isn’t all that surprising since neither team has much national appeal.  The Cardinals are one of MLB’s storied franchises with a great history and a passionate fanbase.  But they don’t have the same kind of appeal as the Yankees or Dodgers.  The Rangers mostly have a following in Texas and some other surrounding areas, but they hardly have a national appeal.  That being said, these two teams have played one of the greatest World Series of all time…so far.  It is hard to believe that there is still one more game to cap off this incredible showcase of dramatic and unbelievable baseball.

There have been many famous moments from the sixth game of a World Series.  From Carlton Fisk to Bill Buckner to Don Denkinger, the penultimate game of the series has provided some memorable moments.  But yesterday’s sixth game between the Rangers and Cardinals will go down as one of the greatest ever overall games…period. 

St. Louis, who was 10 and 1/2 games behind the National League Wild Card-leading Braves back in August, somehow staged a miraculous comeback and overtook the collapsing Braves on the final day of the season.  Then, somehow, they got through the Phillies, the odds-on favorite to win it all, after Chris Carpenter out-dueled the great Roy Halladay.  Then, the Cardinals out-muscled the heavy hitting Milwaukee Brewers and found themselves with another National League pennant. 

After returning home to St. Louis down 3-2 and on the brink of elimination, the Cardinals showed their true grit by coming back from five separate deficits in Game 6.  Down by two in the 9th inning against Neftali Feliz, St. Louis stormed back to tie the game down to their last strike as NLCS MVP David Freese smashed a two-run triple to tie the game.  Then, in the 10th inning, Josh Hamilton, giving 100% effort for the 40% of his body that worked, crushed his first World Series homerun giving the Rangers another two run lead.  In the dugout, Hamilton and Ian Kinsler proceeded to celebrate my massaging each other’s face and hips.  Really, that happened.  The raucous crowd in St. Louis was silent feeling like destiny was not on their side, and also despondent because this could be the last time they see the great Albert Pujols in a redbirds uniform.  But in the bottom of the 10th, the Cardinals again staged a rally.  After two singles, a sacrifice bunt, and a ground out, the Rangers led 9-8 with the almighty Pujols coming up to bat.  Not surprisingly, Ron Washington elected to intentionally walk him and put the potential game-winning run on base.  Now taking his chance with Lance Berkman, Scott Feldman surrendered the second game-tying hit to the NL Comeback Player of the Year.  This was unbelievable.  You could see how dejected the Rangers were to let up another two-run lead. 

Texas went down easily in the top of the 11th setting the stage for Freese to lead off the bottom of the inning.  Freese, who earlier had dropped an infield popup that was shades of Roger Dorn, had already made up for the miscue with his heroics in the 9th inning.  But he would go even further as he crushed a fastball over the fence in dead centerfield to win the game and send the World Series to a Game 7.  This was the culmination of one of the most exciting, dramatic, and tense baseball games I have ever seen in my life.

I have no rooting interest either way.  I don’t have any love or hate for either team, so I really don’t care who wins.  But as a baseball fan, I just simply enjoyed watching this instant classic and being mesmorized by the epic nature of this game.  You can’t ask for more as a fan than to get a championship series to a Game 7.  But it is awfully hard to imagine how the Cardinals and Rangers can top the dramatics and heroics of Game 6.  Regardless, it is great for baseball and baseball fans.  It just sucks knowing that after Game 7 is over we will have to wait another four months for spring training.

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