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2011 WS Champions DVD Set Review Part 1: The Official Film

Posted by JE Powell

The A&E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions Official 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals 2 Disc-DVD Set (from here on out, I will just refer to it as the “DVD Set” because it’s just easier that way) is basically set up in three parts: The Official Film, the Bonus Material, and the entirety of NLDS Game 5 (Carpenter vs. Halladay). So, I have decided to review it that way. I now present to you, Part I: The Official Film.

I think that best review of the movie I can give is that my mother-in-law loved it. She is not a sports fan at all (except for her New Orleans Saints and even that is just a “check the team’s record every few weeks” sort of thing) and while I know she watch parts of a few World Series games, she really didn’t care who won or lost. So, I had just started watching the Official Film on Thanksgiving Day when my mother-in-law came into the room, sat down, and asked what I was watching. I said, “It’s about the Cardinals winning the World Series.” She replied with a simple, “Oh.”

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Manager Search

Posted by JE Powell

Days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, their manager, Tony LaRussa, retired from managing and definitely left the Cardinals in a better position than he found them.

However, because La Russa has retired the Cardinals now find them looking for a replacement. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there are six current candidates and the John Mozeliak, GM of the Cardinals, hopes to have chosen a successor for La Russa within 10 days of Thursday, November 3rd, the first day of interviews. The candidates are:

  • Chris Maloney, manager of the Triple A Memphis Redbirds
  • Mike Matheny, former Cardinals catcher
  • Joe McEwing, former Cardinalls’ utility man and current bench coach for the Chicago White Sox
  • Terry Francona, former manager of the Boston Red Sox
  • Ryne Sandberg, Hall of Fame 2nd baseman and current manager of a minor league Phillies affiliate
  • Jose Oquendo, 3rd base coach of the the St. Louis Cardinals

I honestly do not see Maloney, Matheny, or McEwing getting the job. From all the talk, I seems like there are three main candidates: Francona, Oquendo, and Sandberg. I am going to take a look at each candidate and see what each would bring to the table.

Terry Francona         

Francona has experience with winning teams. He has lead the Boston Red Sox to two World Series Championships (and has an 8-0 record in World Series games, I do believe), so he has experience dealing with high pressure situations. Remember, he also lead the Red Sox to beating the Yankees when the Sox were down 3-0.

The downside to Francona is that there is a chance that he could hire his own staff, which would mean losing Dave Duncan, Mark McGwire, Jose Oquendo, and Dave McKay. Duncan is one of the best pitching coaches in all of baseball and Mark McGwire turned the Cards into the best offensive team in the National League. Oquendo and McKay are pretty good 3rd and 1st base coaches, respectively, and have been with the team a long time.

Ryne Sandberg

Sandberg is an intriguing choice. He doesn’t have any Major League experience, but he has a very vast knowledge of the game and I think will be able to increase the small ball part of the Cards offense. Sandberg may also be more likely to try to move runners with steals, something that wasn’t a very big part of La Russa’s tactics. Sandberg is a Hall of Famer and I think would have the respect of the current roster. He may even be a little more receptive to younger players.

The negatives to Sandberg are that he was a former Cub player, so he really doesn’t understand how to win. OK, that was a joke, but kind of true, too. As a rookie manager, I think Sandberg would likely keep the current staff and the experience of the aforementioned Duncan, McGwire, Oquendo, and McKay would greatly aide Sandberg as he tries to learn on the job. However, not having any Major League experience could be an issue for a manager inheriting a team just off of a championship and a team capable of repeating next season.

Jose Oquendo

If David Eckstein is correct, then Oquendo could be the key to keeping Albert Pujols. One thing that Oquendo brings to the table is experience on the field. He has played ever position, so he would be able to identify with all of the players, to some degree. Not to mention that he has been a staple on the team for quite some time and from all accounts has a good relationship with the players. Part of me wants to say, “if Pujols will stay because Oquendo is manager THEN MAKE HIM THE MANAGER!” But, then my logical side kicks in and I realize that John Mozeliak has earned our trust and he will sign the best candidate and I am sure will take the Pujols situation into account.

Oquendo has two negatives as I see it. The first, like Sandberg, is inexperience. He has served under La Russa for some time, but has very little in game management. In Sandberg’s case, however, he has at least managed a Triple A team. Secondly, I feel that some of the 3rd base calls Oquendo has made over the years have not been the best choices. I wonder if that would translate over to calls from the dugout. Maybe I am not being fair, but it’s still a concern for me.

It is certainly possible that another candidate could emerge or that Maloney, Matheny, or McEwing could get the job, but I would be OK with Francona, Sandberg, or Oquendo. I kind of feel like Francona is the leading candidate, though at the time of this writing, I do not think Francona has been interviewed and I have heard that the Cubs are trying to woo him.

Whoever John Mozeliak decides to hire will be coming into one of the best managerial jobs in baseball. The Cards are fresh off a championship, Adam Wainwright will be coming back, the starting rotation should be pretty strong, and the offense was the best in the National League next year. Not to mention there are some young players with a bright future that are or will be coming up in the next year or two. As long as the right guy is hired, I think the Cards will be in good shape next year. But whoever the manager is, he will have a tough, Hall of Fame, act to follow.

Now what?

Posted by Steve Griffith

So, It’s now November 1st, and baseball season is over. Your St. Louis Cardinals are once again the World Champions, and if you are anything like me, you are still dreaming of baseball, and the season that was. In the next couple of days, you are going to start noticing some changes in yourself. You will begin to feel lonely around 7pm, maybe even a little depressed. Although your family may be sitting right next to you at the dinner table, or begging you to read a bed time story, you are going to feel as though something is missing. Like when you lose your car keys, and search the house top to bottom, even looking in the refrigerator just in case. Soon you will realize, what you are missing is the adrenaline rush you get every evening as your Redbirds step out on the field. You miss the way you could almost feel the grass under your feet while chasing down a flyball with Jon Jay, Lance Berkman, or Matt Holliday. You miss the excitement of stealing 2nd base, or turning a double play with Furcal, Schumaker, and Pujols. You miss the thrill of having a perfect game through 7 innings. You miss giving a standing ovation to Carpenter from your living room as he makes way for Salas, Sanchez, or Motte. If you’re lucky enough to go to several games every season, you miss the $8.00 beers, and the chicken nachos from El Birdos cafe. You miss the call of the folks peddling everything from cotton candy, to peanuts, to lemonade and water. You miss how one side of your face is sunburned after sitting in the lower bowl sections during a June day game. But most of all, you miss the thrill of always being in the penant race, and bragging about YOUR team, or playfully cracking  jokes about the Cubs, Brewers, or Reds.

So how do we survive November to February?

There are plenty of baseball related activities that occur during this time. Not the least of which will be the on going Pujols contract talks, and the search for the next Tony La Russa. There will be plenty of this type of news to keep our feable baseball minds churning for the foreseeable months, but there are other things you can do.

1. Re-watch the postseason (if you were awesome enough to DVR the games, or buy the DVD’s that will inevitably be available soon.)

2. Get your fantasy baseball league ready for next seasons draft.

3. The first time the sun melts just a little bit of snow, grab your glove and play catch. Even if it means throwing the ball against the wall.

4. Attend a Cardinals Caravan event. I recommend getting there a few hours early, as our caravans are always well attended. Also, if you want an autograph, bring a small child with you, as they are often the only ones that get the autographs.

5. Read this blog often, as we will be posting the latest Cardinals information, rumors, etc… as often as we can.

6. Go visit your mom. While you are there, say hi to her and ask her how she is, but don’t forget the real reason you are there: To creep down to her basement and look through all of your old baseball cards.

7. Most importantly, take a breath and relax. Spend some time with your other die hard Cardinals friends, and just talk baseball. Talk about the glory that was 2011, and speculate about 2012. We all do it… It’s ok. Pretend you are Mo: What moves are you going to make this offseason? Who stays? Who goes? 

Keep your mind in the game! It’s only 3 and a 1/2 months til pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

 “People ask me what I do in the winter when there is no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby

A Blogger’s Ovation To Tony La Russa

Posted by JE Powell

Some sad news yesterday as Tony La Russa has announced his retirement from baseball. The Cardinals have lost one of the all time great managers and I can tell you honestly, I am going to miss those camera shots of La Russa scowling in the dugout, even when things are going well. For some reason, I always like the idea of La Russa as a surly old man who would yell at neighborhood kids to get off of his grass.

But, I cannot fault him for pulling a John Elway and walking away from the game as a Champion. It’s fitting. What better way to end a very successful career than by ending it with the ultimate exclamation of success? Sure, next season they have a chance to repeat, but what if (gasp!) a couple of late season injuries or some other problems causes the Cardinals to fall out of contention and they miss the playoffs? Sure, they have missed the playoffs before, but if La Russa was only going to manage one more season (and he said in his press conference that he told John Mozeliak and the Bill DeWitts back in August that he was done after this season) anyway, why not just go out now? I think he has earned it.

For me, Cardinals baseball and La Russa go together. La Russa has managed the Cardinals for more than half my life and my 16 year old sister has never known the Cardinals with a different skipper.

The La Russa era in Cardinals lore has been very fertile. He led the Cards to 9 playoff appearances, 7 NLCS championship appearances, 3 World Series stops, and 2 Championships. In 16 years as manager, La Russa and the Cards had only TWO losing seasons (defined as finishing below .500 or have at or more than 82 losses) one in 1997 and again in ’99. Even when the Cards missed the playoffs in  ’98, ’03, ’07, ’08 and ’10 they finished the season with a winning record. That’s a pretty remarkable feat. In 14 of 16 years as manager, La Russa and the Cardinals finished the season with a winning record.

So, Mr. Tony La Russa, my Cardinals hat is off to you, sir. I wish you all the best of luck in whatever path your life may take from this point onward. Thank you for giving Cardinals fans what they want: more championships.

The Wild Cards (The Nickname of the 2011 Cardinals)

Poste by JE Powell

Wow. One, little, simple word, but it sums up what is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest endings to a baseball season ever. woW. There, I wrote the word backwards and it still has the same impact, even if it looks a little weird.

I must confess, back in late August I had wrote the Cardinals off. Now, to be absolutely clear, I did not (nor would I ever, even in the worst of times) stop watching and paying attention to my beloved Cardinals. But conventional wisdom (which I admittedly stole from a M*A*S*H episode) is that a team can pick up a game a week. The Cards were 10 1/2 with about six weeks to play. I even commented to a co-worker in late August that the Cards would have to go 23-8 in September (which only has 30 days in that month, so how the Cards would play one more game than there are days in that calender month, I do not know) and at that time Atlanta was playing pretty well. Stictly from anecdotal evidence, I think most Cardinals fans felt that the Cards were not playing like a playoff team and were more than like NOT going to make the playoffs. I am often wrong, but I cannot remember a time when I have been so happy to have been wrong.

In 2006 I had a mantra all season long that continued down to the last day of the season. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.”

“But the Cardinals have had two eight game losing streaks and a seven game losing streak and even got beat by nearly 20 runs by the Chicgo White Sox,” I had someone say to me.

“The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs,” I replied. Over and over again I said it. Every Cubs fan was rubbing it in, even though the Cubs finsihed 30 games under .500 that season. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.” And in 2006, they did. By 1 1/2 games over the Houston Astros and the Cards ended the sesaon with a nearly pitiful 83-78 record. I think that was the 2nd worst record of a playoff team ever (the 2005 Padres finished 82-80 and won their division). I kept the faith, as it were. But 2011 was different.

This season, it didn’t look like the Cards would make the playoffs. They were not playing very well and they had seemingly too far back to make the playoffs. But then something happened. I don’t know what happened, but something obviously did. They started winning and Atlanta started losing. All through September the Cardinals kept winning and the Braves kept losing. The Cards swept the Braves in a three games series and picked up three games towards the Wild Card. In fact, I think the 2011 Cardinals need a nickname like the 1934 Cardinals “Gas House Gang” and I present to you, my faithful reader, the 2011 Cardinals “The Wild Cards”. It just fits. It’s nearly perfect, if a bit on the nose, I guess. But it sums up everything nicely. On the last day of the regular season, the Cards beat Houston 8-0 and the Braves lost to the Phillies 4-3 in 13 innings. The Cards were in.

But really, what were they going to do? They had to face a Phillies team that won 102 games and had what many predicted would be one of the best starting pitching rotations ever. No way the Cards are going to beat Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, or Roy Oswalt three times. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.” The 2006 and 2011 Cardinals proved that that mantra is one that every Cardinals fan should keep in mind. Because once the playoffs start anything can happen. Case in point, the 2011 Cardinals. In the NLDS (National League Division Series) the Cards were down 2-1 in the series and had to face Roy Oswalt and then Roy Halladay. The Cards won game 4 to tie the series and then Chris Carpenter beat Roy Halladay 1-0 in one of the best pitching duels I have ever seen. NLDS Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals moved on, beating a team that many prediccted would win the World Series, to face the Milwaukee Brewers, a teamt he Cardinals haven’t faced in the playoffs since 1982 (when I was merely a year old). Nyjer Morgan, or Tony Plush, or whatever silly name he wants to give himself, made some silly comments (back in September) towards the Cardinals about them watching the Milwaukee Brewers on TV while Cards players sat at home. I love it when opposing players get cocky against the elder statesmen Cardinals. The Cardianls team, much to their credit, shrugged it off and did not retaliate. At least not with words. They did it with their bats and their bullpen. The Cards split in Milwaukee the first two games and then won on the road in Milwaukee (the toughest home team in all of baseball this year) to clinch a spot in the World Sereis. I certainly hope Nyjer Morgan enjoyed watching the Cardinals play in the world series. I am sure he has a very large, nice TV with high-def and could see everything nice and clear.

The World Series this year wasn’t the best played World Series, but damn was it entertaining. And Historic (with a capital “H”). The Cards won game one, then dropped game two in the top of the ninth inning when Texas scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the game. They headed to Texas for game 3. An Historic game because of one man, the true Prince of Baseball, Mr. Albert Pujols. Game 3 of the world series was a Wild (Cards) game, to say the least, but Albert Pujols put on, quite possibly the greatest offensive show you will ever see in the World Series. Sure, players have hit 3 home runs in a WS game (Ruth, twice, and Reggie Jackson), had 5 hits (Paul Molitor) and 6 RBI (Hideki Matsui) and 4 runs scored. But from what the experts said no one has ever had 3 HR, 4 Runs, 5 Hits, and 6 RBI…IN THE SAME GAME! Historic. When I saw Albert hit his first homerun, as soon as he made contact I said out loud, “It’s gone.” Just matter of factly. The sound of the ball off of a Cardinals bat in the WS is beautiful. Just Beautiful.

The Cards then dropped games 4 and 5 went to the Texas Rangers and the Series headed back to St. Louis with the Cards down 3 games to 2. I felt that whoever won game five would win the series. In game 6, when Texas went up 7-4 I thought, well, the Cards put in a hell of a season and the Rangers were definately a worthy adversary, my hats off to them. I kept watching, hoping for a miracle. I need to pause for just a moment to explain something. When the Cards fall behind or it looks like they are going to lose, I just assume they will. My reason is that if something great happens, it all the more great becasue I didn’t expect it, but if they do lose, at least I am not as dejected as I would have otherwise been. It’s a sort of defense mechanism. I didn’t give up, but I was kind of protecting myself, I guess.

So, the Cards are down 7-4 in game 6 when Allen Craig hit a solo shot to pull the Cardinals within two. Flashforward to the bottom of the ninth. 7-5, Cards sill behind. Pujols on 2nd, Lance Berkman on 1st. David Fresse up to bat. Has there ever been a more appropriate surname for a player in the history of baseball? David Freese had ice running through his veins. He gets ahead in the count 3-2, the Cards have two outs and are down to their last strike and that beautiful sound again, the ball of a Cardinal bat. A two run triple. Game tied.

Top of the 10th, one on and Josh Hamilton is up to bat. He swings at a ball a little low and outside and sends the ball over the fence for a two run home run. I texted my friend and fellow Cardinals fan (he is also the “official” STL: Fear the Red photographer, though I don’t post many pics) and said, “What was the point of the Cardinals tying the game up just to give the lead right back?” The Cardinals go to bat in the bottom of the 10th behind by two. Back to back hits, a bunt, and a ground out make it 9-8 Texas with two outs and the Cardinals have a player in scoring position. Lance Berkman gets up to bat and falls behind 1-2 in the count. Once again, the Cardinals are down to their last strike. If Berkman swings and misses the Rangers are champs. Oh, look at that, a single THE GAME IS FREAKING TIED AGAIN!!!! At this point I am curled up in a fetal position unable to take the drama any longer. OK, not really, but I was in my head, at any rate.

In the top of the 11th the Tony La Russa sends out Jake Westbrook to pitch, who hasn’t pitch in like a month. I’m thinking, oh no. But, oh yes, he holds them and keeps the game tied. Bottom of the 11th and up to bat is David “Absolute Zero” Freese. I say “Absolute Zero” because his veins are so ice cold that all molecular activity has stopped and he is no longer human. With one swing of the bat, a walk off home run, Absolute Zero has transcended baseball and become a Cardinals legend. I know with metaphysical certitude that one day when my baby daughter is older I will relive that moment over and over and over again as a bed time story. It was the greatest moment in my Cardinals lifetime, beating out Wainwrights curve to Carlos Beltran.The Cards made history for the 2nd time in the WS becoming the first team to come back from a two run deficit TWICE in the 9th inning or later. The also became the first WS team to score in the 8th, 9th, 10, and 11th innings of a World Series game. In my opinion, and I am sure the opinion of nearly all Cardinals fans, this was the Greatest World Series Game of Our Generation. Perhaps ever. Only time will tell, I suppose.

There was only one thing that would make this game better. A victory in game 7. A loss would diminish the heroics and the drama of game 6 in my mind. Game 7 was a good game, but couldn’t possibly rival game 6 and it didn’t. What it did do, though was, three fold: 1) Gave David “Absolute Zero” two more RBI (to tie the game again, so less) making him the current record holder for most RBI in the post season with 21,  2) Made Game 6 a perhaps legendary status, and 3) Made the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!

This season was one of the most memorable seasons I have ever seen, not just as a Cardinals fan but in general. All the Cardinals have done since last August is come back. They came back from 10 1/2 down to win the Wild Card; they came back from a 2-1 series deficit to win the NLDS; they came back FIVE times in game 6 of the WS to win; and they came back from a 3-2 series deficit in the WS.

Because when all is said and done, “All they have to do is make the playoffs.”

JE is a life long Cardinals fan and is still pinching himself. He can be seen very infrequently tweeting on Twitter at @stlfear_the_red and has a Facebook Fan page, though he has no idea what the address is. The Cardinals, at this time, have won the world series every year that he has had a blog.

* JE apolgizes for the lenght of the post and any grammatical and spelling errors. He will attempt to correct any mistakes that are pointed out and will eventually re-read through the long, long post to try and correct any he sees. That might not be for awhile, however, because he has alot of other UCB blogs to read through. Please forgitve him any mistakes that he has made.