I don't think anyone would disagree that baseball fans were treated to one of the most exciting, competitive and compelling post seasons in baseball history. The two wild card teams weren't decided until the witching hour on the last day of the regular season. In fact, we almost got one extra day of regular season play. Of the 41 playoff games that could have been played, 38 were. The majority of those games were close and the mostly unlikely and unexpected of post season participants took home the Commissioner's Trophy last night. Wow!
Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals!! Even the most loyal of Cardinal fans had to think that their team didn't have a snowball's chance of making the post season, let alone going the distance. Spring training began with their best pitcher, Adam Wainwright having Tommy John surgery. The team played ok, but not well enough. As we've heard countless times, on August 25th, the team was 10 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race. Forgive me if I can't bear to mention who they surpassed in that race. They were a team not playing like Cardinals teams are suppose to and they knew it. The front office made the right trades at the right time. The team got it together and got hot when it mattered. And they never cooled off.
There are two players I am especially happy for. Arthur Rhodes and Lance Berkman.
Arthur Rhodes is 42 years old and this was his first World Series. He's played for 9 teams in his 20 year career and last year he played in his first All Star Game. Every time Arthur takes the mound, before he throws his first pitch, he scratches the initials 'JR' on the back of the mound. 'JR' stands for Jordan Rhodes, Arthur's son. Jordan passed away in 2008. He was only 5 years old. Arthur is a private and stoic man. He never spoke of his son's illness or death. Arthur Rhodes keeps playing baseball to honor his son's memory.
Lance Berkman has been in the bigs for 13 seasons. I have a love/hate relationship with him. That comes from his 11 seasons with the Astros. He ALWAYS had the Braves number. Lance is a gamer and I love to watch him play. He's a throwback player and he always plays one way, hard. He's played in one World Series, 2005 when the Astros were swept by the White Sox. Lance was traded to the Yankees in the middle of last season as the Astros were trying to free up money and build for the future. (Don't they always seem to be doing that?) He signed with Cardinals as a free agent in the off season and, ironically, was almost traded to the Rangers this year. He told the Cardinals brass that he understood if they needed to trade him but he wanted to come back to St. Louis at some point. Instead of trading him they signed him for 2012 too. That was a good move.
Some baseball players wait a lifetime and never get to play in a World Series. Some players go early in their career and never get to go back. And some players, like Arthur Rhodes and Lance Berkman play their hearts out season after season and get a World Series ring in the twilight of their careers. Even Rangers fans have to be happy for them.