World Series 2011: What we learned

world series logoWhat good would any sporting event, even one as important as the World Series, be if you couldn’t learn something from it? Why, then it would only be something to watch – something to relish or to curse, something to lift your spirits or crush your soul. Good thing for us, then, that there are some take-aways from this year’s series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Here are my top 4.

1. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to put together a winning team. Well…relatively, anyway. After all, 100 million dollars is a lot of money. But when you consider that ten teams paid their players more and didn’t get to the World Series (the Yankees leading the money charge at over $200 million), that’s something to think about. Kudos to the Tampa Bay Rays who won the AL Wild Card with the second lowest payroll – at roughly 1/4th the payroll of the Boston Red Sox, who collapsed in epic fashion down the stretch to miss the playoffs entirely.

2. Football may be the sports king these days, but you still shouldn’t put it up against the World Series. The NFL scheduled a Sunday night game against the World Series this year. It hasn’t done that very much in the past because who wants to lose a ratings war. But they’ve been feeling pretty good about themselves lately, so they did. Bad move. The World Series beat Sunday night football and Monday night football.

3. You don’t need the big East coast teams to have a compelling series. The phrase is “East Coast Bias.” You see it in a lot of things, especially if your team is not one of the East coast teams that gets the bias. The media loves those teams. And there’s a reason for it. First, they are among the oldest franchises. Baseball started in the Northeast and only crept west of the Mississippi when the Dodgers and Giants both moved to California from New York in the ‘50s (on the other hand, St. Louis is also among the oldest franchises). Secondly, those East coast cities are big. It just makes sense that teams from New York, Boston and Philadelphia are going to have large followings and pull in big TV ratings (or at least bigger than say the Kansas City Royals or Milwaukee Brewers). And thirdly, some of the East coast teams are the big powerhouses. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Phillies, the Nat…well…okay, some of those teams are powerhouses. But when the Phillies and Yankees both lost in the first round of the playoffs this year, many East coasters decided that there was no point watching the rest of the playoffs. And because of that, some of them stupidly missed one of the most exciting and entertaining World Series in MLB history.

4. Baseball can be exciting. Those of us who know baseball and like baseball have known this for years. But there are still many uninitiated out there who think that baseball is too slow, does not have any action, is uninteresting. To them I say, get yourself ESPN Classic and watch Game 6. If it’s not on ESPN Classic yet, it soon will be. Go ahead and get it now. You don’t want to miss it when they do show it again. Apparently the television ratings climbed from mediocre to excellent incrementally from the 8th inning on in Game 6, each inning more and more people tuning in to watch the edge-of-your-seat drama that ended that game.

Bonus: The St. Louis Cardinals deserved to be in the playoffs. There has been much consternation that a “mediocre” team like the Cardinals can get hot at the right time and make it into the playoffs. And if it hadn’t been for the Braves near-epic collapse (“epic collapse” is taken by the Red Sox), the Cardinals would not have made the playoffs. And look at that pitching squad. They are the epitome of mediocre. Kyle Lohse? Edwin Jackson – who couldn’t even crack the top 5 for the Chicago White Sox? Carpenter is good, sure, but he’s also 36 and threw a ton of innings and that Garcia kid…he’s up and down. And the defense. Skip Schumaker at 2nd? David Freese “playing” 3rd? Berkman’s 60 year old knees in right field and Matt Holliday lumbering around over in left? And then there’s LaRussa and all his crazy moves. Never mind that the bullpen is shaky and they don’t even have enough trust in their closer to call him the closer.

So. Those are the arguments against the Cardinals deserving to be in the playoffs (let alone World Series). The argument for them? They beat the Phillies 3 games to 2, the last on a complete game shut-out by the supposedly tired out and overworked Carpenter. Then they beat the Brewers 4 games to 2, two of them (including the clincher) in Milwaukee, where the Brewers had led the league in home wins. To cap it off, they beat the best team in the American League with their pitching, their hitting, their defense, their bullpen, and their manager. And finally, the seven games that the Rangers and Cardinals played should stand on their own as the best argument for these two teams deserving to be in the World Series.

October 29, 2011  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Sports, St. Louis Cardinals, Top 4

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