October 28, 2006
As Gomer Pyle, USMC used to say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" No one gave the banged-up Cardinals much chance to go far in the postseason, but all of their players got healthy just in time for the decisive month of October. Albert Pujols is almost certainly the best all-around player in the major leagues today, and after six years, it's about time he got to enjoy a world championship. Likewise for Jim Edmonds, Scott Spiezio, Juan Encarnacion, and David Eckstein. The full story is at MLB.com. It seems like the Cardinals are almost always in the playoffs, so it's a bit surprising that this is their first World Series win since 1982. Congratulations to the Gateway City!
I had no strong feelings about this series, but wished the Tigers had at least brought the series back to Detroit for Game 6. You could almost say the Tigers threw this series away, or more specifically the Tigers' pitchers threw it away. One fan was holding up a sign with a devastating putdown: "Hit it to the pitcher!" Ouch. Kenny Rogers could have pitched last night, but the manager Jim Leyland felt that Rogers on the mound may have provoked an uproar among the St. Louis fans for the sticky substance seen on his hand in Game 2. The Tigers' youthful enthusiasm was refreshing, but their inexperience showed. Maybe next year, or the year after that. They've got time to mature.
I was glad they picked David Eckstein as the World Series MVP. His combination of fielding hustle and clutch hitting probably tipped the balance in the Cardinals' favor. Plus, it's nice to see short-statured athletes get recognition.
I didn't realize that Preston Wilson is the adopted son of former Met Mookie Wilson, who hit the infamous ground ball that went under Bill Buckner's glove in the 1986 World Series.
Attendance at the three games in Busch Stadium III averaged close to 47,000, which means there were well over 3,000 standing-room-only fans, as Jonathan Karberg pointed out to me. The official seating capacity which I list on that page is 43,975. He says the Cardinals plan to add even more seats during the offseason.
City officials in St. Louis are moving ahead with plans to build a "ballpark village" in the vacant lot north of Busch Stadium III, where Busch Stadium II used to stand. It will consist of a "mix of shops, restaurants, businesses, retail stores, office space and a condo tower." No doubt they will go overboard straining for nostalgic authenticity, while catering to upscale patrons with $5 cups of coffee and the like. Will anyone grasp the irony? How about a one-dollar hot dog, just for old times' sake? At least they made sure not to spend any of the city's general funds, but you would think there would be enough incentive for private investors to be able to dispense with public funding altogether. Construction will begin next spring, with completion scheduled for Opening Day 2009. It is expected to cost $387 million. See MLB.com. (via Mike Zurawski)
As the above-cited MLB.com summary observed, Busch Stadium III is "the first first-year ballpark since Fenway Park in 1912 to see its home team close out the title on home turf." For you trivia buffs (see Oct. 21), in five of the seven stadiums in which the World Series was played during their first year of existence, the home team in residence there won: Forbes Field (Pirates, 1909), Fenway Park (Red Sox, 1912), Braves Field (Red Sox, 1915), Yankee Stadium (Yankees, 1923), and Busch Stadium III (Cardinals, 2006). The Giants lost in the Polo Grounds (1911) and the Reds lost in Riverfront Stadium (1970). The Red Sox won the World Series playing in two different ballparks within the span of three years!
Many thanks to John Pastier (author of the superb new book Historic Ballparks) for sponsoring the Shibe Park, Tiger Stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and Comiskey Park pages, and to Sam Berry for sponsoring the AT&T Park page. You too can do your part to keep this Web site going by availing yourself of one of the options on the Sponsor page.