It seems that the Cardinals were simply better prepared to deal with this series than the Tigers were. I don’t think that’s a slam on Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland. It’s simply a fact that these Tigers were the team from nowhere this season, dominating for most of the year when no one but no one expected them to. The Cardinals, by contrast, have made regular playoff appearances in recent years, and are only two seasons removed from their loss to the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series. That seems to have been the essential difference between the two teams.
A whole lot of people, myself included, sure didn’t see this coming. Heck, I wanted the Cardinals in the World Series! They barely limped into the playoffs and seemed like a team ready to be plucked. But something funny happened along the way – the Cards just kept on winning, series after series. This brings up another important point about post-season baseball, particularly in this era of expanded playoffs – the team that wins the World Series isn’t necessarily the best team. In fact, it seems that lately, the best team usually doesn’t win it. No, the team that wins it is the hot team, and the Cardinals got hot at the right time.
Much has been made of the Tigers’ defensive lapses in the series, but I can’t especially focus on them, because those miscues have to be taken in the larger context of how well St. Louis played, and how they were the better team in every phase of the game.
So next season will be interesting. Were these Tigers a one-season wonder, or will they have a run of respectability for a few years? Don’t believe anyone who claims to know the answer right now, because there are genuine surprises every year, and I’m just going to start hoping for some pleasant surprises next season! I will let Mr. Ernest Lawrence Thayer conclude this entry, as these are the words that came to mind when Brandon Inge struck out with two men on base to end the series:
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.