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We have a classic on our hands

Oct 23, 2011, 11:25 PM EDT

2011 World Series Game 4 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

When do you know that a classic World Series is afoot? We certainly know it when it’s over. But at what point as it’s happening can one safely say that, yes, we’re seeing something special? The kind of series that only comes along once or twice a decade? Something memorable?

I’m prepared to say that we have one now.  With the Rangers’ 4-0 win over the Cardinals we now have played four games, and nothing has been decided.  We’ve had a solid outing from Chris Carpenter in Game 1 paired with a clutch pinch hit. We had a a ninth inning comeback in Game 2. We had one of the best — possibly the best — single offensive performance by a player in a World Series game from Albert Pujols in Game 3. And now, in Game 4, a gem from Derek Holland.

Are you not entertained? What else could you ask for? And we have at least two more games to play.

Holland was masterful tonight, mixing the best velocity he’s shown in three postseason starts with a curve ball that obeyed his every command. Twenty-four hours after the Cardinals bats made mincemeat of everything tossed their way, they had no answers for Holland. He gave up two hits, both to Lance Berkman. There was never a threat until the ninth, and that was aided by Neftali Feliz who came in and walked the first batter he faced after Holland ran out of gas.  Just ask Tony La Russa and Ron Washington how dominant Holland was. First La Russa:

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And then Washington:

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But this World Series is about more than Derek Holland. Or Albert Pujols. Or Jason Motte. Or Chris Carpenter. It’s building in much the same way an individual game builds. Each night, we’ve seen something wonderful yet something totally different than we saw the game before.  At this rate Game 5 is going to turn on a triple play. Or a steal of home. Or the hidden ball trick.

Or maybe something else entirely. All I know is that neither the Rangers nor the Cardinals seem to have mailing-one-in on their agenda. And each time we think we know what may happen — the bullpens dominating, continued pitchers duels, or offensive outbursts — someone comes along the very next game and flips the script.

Predicting what happens next is a sucker’s game at this point. It’s been some time since we’ve had four straight World Series games this much fun for so many different reasons. We’ve all bought the ticket. Time to just sit back and take the ride.

  1. Kyle - Oct 23, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    Hell of a Series. As an impartial observer, here’s hoping for 7.

    • spookyskeptic - Oct 23, 2011 at 11:40 PM

      A hell of a Series, indeed. I was disappointed to not have my Braves go all the way, but I’d have missed some awesome baseball if it hadn’t worked out this way.

      Who says baseball is boring?

    • jtorrey13 - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      As a partial observer rooting for the Cardinals, this series is tearing me apart. That explains why everyone else is enjoying it so much, but argh, is it excruciating.

  2. BrownsTown - Oct 23, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    Didn’t watch, so thanks for keeping me posted.

  3. DJ MC - Oct 23, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    Since there are no big-market teams, it’s a failure no matter what.

    Of course, most of the people who are real baseball fans, beyond simply an allegiance to a team that in too many cases changes based on the national zeitgeist or the whim of fashion, care more about the history of the sport than the variances of details like television ratings. To all of us, including the majority of the people that call this place home, this is exactly the kind of series worth watching.

    • pound30 - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:21 AM

      Funny how many people don’t seem to realize DFW is the fourth largest metro area in the country. It’s a huge market.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:12 AM

        And its the biggest market with only 1 MLB team

    • tashkalucy - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      What’s interesting of course is that Boston is ranked 7th (including all of New England), yet because of ESPN and the self-serving NE national sports media, Boston is considered a large market, while last years 2 WS teams – Dallas and SF – were seen by the national media as being in secondary markets, even though they are bigger. It’s just myth building.

      This is what comes from decades or ESPN and the national sports media pushing the Yankees and Red Sox down America’s throats while ignoring the other MLB teams until they had to – usually around the time the WS started – as entities such as TMZHardballTalk did again this year.

      In Chicago they say that ESPN stands for “The Eastern Seaboard Programming Network”.

      And yes, this is a classic series. A pity that fans around the country weren’t primed for it by seeing equal coverage of MLB teams yet again this year.

      From Digital Syndicate Network::

      DMAs 1- 100

      1. New York, NY
      2. Los Angeles, CA
      3. Chicago, IL
      4. Philadelphia, PA
      5. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
      6. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
      7. Boston, MA (Manchester, NH)
      8. Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD)
      9. Atlanta, GA
      10. Houston, TX
      11. Detroit, MI
      12. Tampa-St. Petersburg , FL (Sarasota, FL)
      13. Phoenix, AZ
      14. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
      15. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
      16. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
      17. Cleveland, OH
      18. Denver, CO
      19. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL
      20. Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA
      21. St. Louis, MO
      22. Pittsburgh, PA
      23. Portland, OR
      24. Baltimore, MD
      25. Indianapolis, IN

  4. miketreedy - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Seeing a young pitcher like Holland come out and pitch the game of his life in such a key game is what baseball & sports is all about. What a great World Series.

  5. cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    This is some series. I do not know what to expect tomorrow. More dueling pitchers? Another episode of “my bat is bigger than yours”? Maybe we get into a good old fashioned knock down drag out managerial “you-switch-I-switch-we all switch” double switch shootout.

    Whatever happens, we know certain things:
    1) you do not necessarily have to walk Phat Al; nothing up, especially nothing up an in, and he’s mortal.
    2)Elvis Andrus is the 1st Elvis in a World Series.
    3)Mike Napoli > Mike Scoscia
    4)Yadier Molina makes sense as the MVP
    5)Ron Washington is loyal. Maybe way too loyal.
    6)Tim & Joe Buck are a cute couple.

    • deep64blue - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:03 AM

      I’m going to predict we don’t get many double switches in an AL ballpark :-)

  6. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Oct 24, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    Cards in 6 like I said before the Series started.

    • texanadeb - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:17 AM

      Sorry, Cards can’t take it in 6 now. Here’s hoping that the Rangers finish it out Wednesday.

  7. Reflex - Oct 24, 2011 at 3:47 AM

    Such a great series. One I will definitely remember. Great plays all around, and even the laugher last night turned out to be something special due to Pujols. I just can’t wait for the next game each day…

  8. ogre2010 - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:01 AM

    I have to admit, this is a entertaining World Series!!

  9. badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    7 games isn’t enough to decide this series. Maybe they can play 9 . . . or 15?! or more?!

  10. aaronzona2011 - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    it feels like this series has already gone 7 games, i’m worn out

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      That makes two us Aaron!

  11. paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    Don’t you have to like Ron Washington? The guy’s enthusiasm and optimism must be contagious.

    I loved Buck’s comment (can’t believe I just wrote that) to open the game. “His (Washington’s) players love playing for him. And, why not? He just lets them go play.” Sounded like a dig at the current manager of his childhood team, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

  12. paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    Holland was infuriatingly fantastic last night. Just about every hitter was off balance. Every time he grooved a FB, he had them looking breaking ball and they just watched it go by. Great job of setting up hitters and knocking them down…dozen of off-balance feeble waves of the bat, he turned just about everyone into a slap hitter. Thankfully, the Cards don’t have to face him again in the series (assuming no rain outs).

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      Absolutely Paper. When a pitcher is dealing like Holland was last night (throwing fastballs in breaking pitch counts and vice versa…breaking balls in fast ball counts)…the hitters end up looking like those old Warner Brother where the character swings the bat and cork-screws himself into the ground. LOL! Just a gem of a game by Holland.

  13. Jonny 5 - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    A dust bunny escaped my wife on Friday while she was sweeping. It rolled under the couch and was not seen since. Well not until last nights game when it showed up on Hollands upper lip. I suspect this dust bunny is where Holland got his luck from. That was my lucky dust bunny…..

  14. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Craig, hopefully this will be a clue to east coast sportswriters that we are still playing baseball. But, most of them, wouldn’t know a good ball game if it bit them on ass unless the Boston or the Yankees are playing. This series maybe the best one in years.

    • rhastaman - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      Whats the deal with all the Boston/New York haters. Im a Red Sox fan and am loving watching this series! Stop complaining about teams that are out of it and enjoy the series….

  15. stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    I hear you Rhastaman. Part of the issue (at least in my opinion) is a great deal of the East Coast “fans”…and I am including Philly in this when I say “east coast”…appear/appeared to think it is their right to make the Postseason (and in some cases be annointed the champion) with out even giving a thought to actually playing the games (much less giving any credit to the smaller market teams). This seems to be based solely on their much larger markets and the grossly inflated team payrolls as a result of their team Owners fat wallets. That is why (as a fan of a small market team)…it makes you feel incredibly good when you beat a major market team. Please know I realize this simply isn’t the case for fans of all large market teams…but it certainly is the perception.

    • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      In defense of my fellow Philly fans, we are fairly recent arrivals to the NY/Boston big payroll party. Having a successful team means that lots of idiots jump on the bandwagon along with the long-time fans.
      This (sad and disappointed) Phillies fan is thrilled to have such a great series to watch.

  16. thumper001 - Oct 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates are shaking their heads at this line; “Predicting what happens next is a sucker’s game at this point.” In effigy, Maz just spit a chaw of baccy on your new Italian shoes. “damn yankee doodle sportswriters. Pa-toooo.” Gil Hodges of the 69 Miracle Mets would like a word, too. Bobby Thompson ring a bell? The 67 Red Sox and Cardinals do both protest such a statement (Jimmy Lonborg threw great over 2 1/2, but Bob Gibson was almost unhittable in the ’67 WS over 3 (he also homered in game 7)). Yaz’s OPS was 1.340 over the 7 games, and it just wasn’t enough. Roger Maris, Julian Javier, and Lou Brock (he was unreal in the 67 WS at the plate) did just enough to sink the Sox over 7. Billy Buckner, from the 86 Sox, has his hands up in the air shouting “STOP”, as sportswriters everywhere round 3rd on this predicting business…

    We just never know the way the ball is gonna bounce over the course of 7. Ask Buckner…or long-time, “real” Red Sox fans, ones raised on heartbreak, but always coming back, standing tall in Ft. Myers in the spring. The St. Pattie’s Day game in “greens” is an American classic in its own right, no matter what happened last year in the series. One wicked bounce can change an entire series just like that (match firing into a flame). And that is what makes baseball special, no matter what Bud Selig does to make it banal and run of the mill. In spite of Bud, there is always a risk baseball will rise up, through unsung heroes or goats, and grasp its former glory.

    NOW, at which point, exactly, was it ever NOT a fool’s game to guarantee a World Series result before they played the games? Bookies (play both sides against the middle), local fans, mad dogs, and englishman, are the only ones fool enough to brave the mid day sun of guaranteeing a World Series result. Everybody else makes popcorn and gets a cold one out of the fridge during commerical breaks (or during Tim McCarver monologues about how the1876 Cardinals “did it”), and settles in for, hopefully, an entertaining back and forth war over 7 (that 67 series between the Sox and Cards was truly special for twists and turns over 7).

    My interpretation of last night? The Cardinals did what they needed to do in Arlington Saturday night (retake homefield advantage), and came to the park last night playing the percentages (and were not hungry enough to put down the kill shot). It’s a shame, Edwin Jackson gave them a great chance of putting this thing away into “the land of long odds”, and is now the forgotten man in last night’s events. And given the 1-1 split in the first 2 games, I also think that’s a risky way to approach this, with Carp on the hill tonight. And that’s also why I’m not a fan of TLR. He knows the percentages, but this IS the World Series.

    And Big Mo tends not to shine favorably on “know it alls” with calculators, playing the percentages instead of the games. And before some let the propellers on their beanies, amp up into overdrive, man, that’s just the way it is. Big Mo can be a cruel mistress. Or a goddess of the highest order. LOL. In the end, all we can do is “blame it on a simple twist of fate” (to quote one of my favorite Dylan songs). Especially when reflecting on the “lost seasons” of the Phils and Yankees. Yup, blame it all, on a simple twist of fate…

    Cards should’ve gone for the kill last night, IMO. Giants didn’t miss the chance last year when they rocked the Rangers out of the gate…But there is still a long way to go, and Carp is on the hill tonight. There’s the real tick of time….he could have been throwing to close this out tonight, instead of going back home needing to split 2 (or take 2) for the win.

    Play on.

  17. tuffnstuff - Oct 24, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Are you kidding? The powers that be (Fox Sports) are trying to make this series into something it never was. I keep forgetting it’s on. I’ve been a baseball fan for over 50 years, and personally remember when Bill Mazeroski’s ball went over the left field ivy in Forbes Field in 1960 and out of Yogi Berra’s reach. That was a series. As a Yankee fan, I was not too happy, but Bobby Richardson won the MVP of the series even though the Yankees lost. Give me a break. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were annointing Albert Pujols the next coming. Let’s see these players shine in a high pressure venue. Not everyone can. Ask Lance Berkman, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and other wanna be’s how tough it is to play under pressure from the media, the fans and the bias that the big market teams face.

  18. stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Stuff: The better question is…are YOU kidding? This World Series is all notted up at 2 games a piece. The Cardinals and Rangers have traded Wins to get to this point. We have seen lights out pitching and Softball scores. Diving plays…a pick off at 1st…runners being gunned down at the plate…stolen bases…and runners caught stealing. We have also witnessed quite possibly the most productive single game in the HISTORY of the World Series. Add to all of this the fact that you even have the audacity/stupidity to question (or insinuate) that Albert Pujols isn’t one of the all time greats…I ask again Are YOU kidding? Rhetorical question (that means I already know the answer so you can save your response). Otherwise, I am left with no choice but to take it that you merely googled the names of a couple of great ballplayers from 50 years ago in your post above. Cause’ I simply do NOT believe that you have any idea about the game of baseball itself with comments like that. But then again…your post reminds (once again) why I was brainwashed as a small child against ALL things Yankee related.

  19. tuffnstuff - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    OK stlouis1baseball. I don’t have to google any baseball facts. I lived through them. What’s more, I am a woman. It was guys like you who could never believe that a girl loved the game and knew so much. I saw Chris Chamblis hit the winning home run against the Kansas City Royals in the bottom of the ninth at about 1:00 AM to send the Yankees to the World Series after many drought years. I also know that the phrase “there is no crying in baseball” from a league of their own, is not true. Freddie Patek from the KC Royals did that when the Royals lost yet another playoff to the Yankees. I suffered when Arizona beat the Yankees in 2001 on the bloop hit of Mo Rivera after he blew the save. Doubleheaders used to be two games separated by an hour or so, and played for the same crowd. World Series games were always in the day. Ballantine Beer and Gillette Razors were major sponsors. I could sing the songs. One from the mound, two from the field. Google that. You certainly have the right to your opinion, but never think that I am not a fan and don’t know and love the game.

    • Reflex - Oct 26, 2011 at 4:05 AM

      You are welcome to your opinion, but I’m loving this series more than any I’ve watched since 2001, and the finish has the potential to push it back to 1991…

    • tuffnstuff - Oct 26, 2011 at 7:28 PM

      Addendum to the above: I have been married to the same man for 44 years, have one daughter and 2 great grandkids. Just in case the name “tuffnstuff’ leads to any other erroneous conclusions. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

  20. tuffnstuff - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Addendum to the above: I have been married to the same man for 44 years, have one daughter and 2 great grandkids. Just in case the name “tuffnstuff’ leads to any other erroneous conclusions. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

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