October 16, 2011
Early offensive attacks by the Cardinals (tonight) and the Rangers (last night) all but guaranteed that those two teams would win their respective league pennants. In both games the winning teams scored exactly nine runs over the first three innings, but in the case of the Rangers, all nine of those runs came in the third inning. None of the starting pitchers in those two games lasted more than a few innings, so the "winning pitchers" were rather meaningless.
The Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning tonight, but Milwaukee narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to home runs by Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy. That was a sign of hope for the home fans, but then St. Louis came back with four more runs in the third inning, deflating the Brewers' hopes. Neither Prince Fielder nor Ryan Braun did much for their team in the final two games of the NLCS: in  at-bats between them, there was only one hit, by Braun. Final score: Cardinals 12, Brewers 6. Attendance at tonight's game in Miller Park was 43,926, about 2,000 above the official seating capacity. The roof was closed. The diagrams on that page look fine to me, in terms of accuracy as well as detail, so no updates are necessary.
Oddly, the Rangers didn't even get one home run in their big nine-run third inning last night, though Nelson Cruz did get yet another home run (#6 this postseason) later in the game. The Tigers got four home runs in that game, two of which were hit by Miguel Cabrera, but only one of them was with a runner on base. Final score: Rangers 15, Tigers 5. Attendance at Game 6 in Rangers Barkpark in Arlington was 51,508, likewise about 2,000 above the official seating capacity. Lots of happy fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I may need to make minor touchups on that diagram, and I'll remove the "sideways" version soon.
At the very least, the Brewers and the Tigers refused to give up until the bitter end, in spite of overwhelming odds. I was kind of rooting for those two losing teams, but had no strong feeling about it. Personally, I find that watching games in which I don't have a strong favorite can be more entertaining, in a way. It's less emotionally taxing, for sure. It would have been interesting to see another Cardinals-Tigers matchup. They have faced each other in the World Series three times: in 1934, in 1968, and 2006. The Cardinals won in '34 and '06. Interestingly, the Cardinals also faced the Milwauke Brewers in the 1982 World Series, when Milwaukee was in the American League. So in a way, this year's NLCS was a repeat of the '82 World Series. Both the ALCS and NLCS were exciting and evenly matched, going six games, a sign that Major League Baseball is competitive. Hopefully, this will lay to rest all those insinuations that big-market high-salary teams enjoy all the advantages. Money helps, but in the end, smart strategy and well-focused, determined playing are what make the difference between winning and losing.
And so, it will be the first World Series matchup between the ten-time World Champion Cardinals and the defending AL Champion Rangers. Congratulations to both teams, who clearly deserved the titles. The Cardinals thus become the first wild card team to go to the World Series since 2007. See Postseason scores. But being a wild card team doesn't necessarily mean the team is less worthy than the three division winners. Indeed, the last year the Cardinals won the World Series, in 2006, their regular-season winning percentage was only .516. The NL Central Division wasn't very good that year.
Success on the playing field may help to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis for the next few years. His contract expires at the end of this season, and it's hard to believe that the Cardinals front office won't do what's necessary to retain his services. On the other hand, Prince Fielder's days with Milwaukee may have come to an end. He just didn't perform in clutch situations as much as you would expect from a slugging superstar like him. (Likewise for A-Rod and New York?)