Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Cinderella turns up in Cardinals red

By Emily Shih  /  STAFF REPORTER

St. Louis Cardinal Scott Spiezio sprays champagne on the crowd at Busch Stadium in St. Louis after the Cardinals won the World Series.

PHOTO: AP

Two years ago, a different World Series ended at Busch Stadium.

That fight for a championship was a fight the Cardinals never quite entered, despite having been billed as the best team in baseball. They had a solid rotation. A towering 105 regular-season wins. All-Stars and Gold Gloves sparkling all over the field.

Four fast games later, it was all over. The St. Louis Cardinals had bowed down in the face of destiny, and destiny's team was the Boston Red Sox. It was a moment 86 years in the making, but that didn't make it any easier to take. Hollywood camera crews recorded it all in the feature film Fever Pitch, which showed the Boston Red Sox celebrating at last on the grass at Busch Stadium, St. Louis' Gateway Arch rising behind them.

Nothing about it was okay. Until last night.

The St. Louis Cardinals just won the World Series, and now they understand a little more about how destiny works.

It works by following two 100-win seasons with a measly 83. It works by losing your number-two pitcher and replacing him with some guy that the LA Angels more or less tossed onto the side of the road. It works by losing your star closer and giving the job to an untested kid.

Destiny pushes you to the edge. Destiny did that to Boston in 2004, with their magnificent comeback against the Yankees in the ALCS, and it did it again this year.

The Cardinals' most definitive regular-season trend this year? The eight-game losing streak.

The teams that swept them? Well, the god-awful Kansas City Royals and the very terrible Chicago Cubs, just to name two of the many.

Then there was the near-epic collapse in the final days of the regular season last month, when the Cardinals almost allowed the Houston Astros to clamber over their backs and into the playoffs.

But Houston stumbled just in time, and the Cardinals limped, crawled, and tripped into the postseason and onto a clean state. October had arrived.

The team that nearly made history last month for losing a very large division lead did make history last night -- for being the team with the worst regular-season record to ever win the World Series.

That record -- along with the other atrocities which occurred throughout the season -- had sports writers and analysts and commentators around the country saying a lot of things.?

They said that the Cardinals, with the worst record of all the post-season teams, would not beat San Diego in the first round. But they did.

And then they said that they would get clobbered by the NL powerhouse Mets. Which they didn't.

And then, of course, there was the infamous prediction of "Tigers in 3" for the World Series.

St. Louis was told, in every possible way, that they didn't stand a chance. That they wouldn't win a game. That they didn't even deserve to be there in the first place.

The US, the country that practically invented the underdog, turned its nose up at Cinderella and let her know that she wasn't welcome at the ball.

The good news for the Cardinals was that destiny loves the underdog, even when the US doesn't. And this time, destiny outdid itself. The stars aligned. All the pieces fell into place. And the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

They won it with a three-game sweep at home, in their brand-new Busch Stadium -- something that hasn't happened since Fenway Park was christened with a World Series clincher in 1928.

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