Right before my eyes, it was over. The end of a season that held so much promise and the end of an era, of a place that I have come to call home, Busch Stadium.
At the end of Game 6 of the NLCS, it was the Houston Astros who celebrated on that sacred, hallowed ground, the field at Busch Stadium.
If you don't believe it's sacred or hallowed ground, I submit, that you have never stood out there and felt what it was like to be walking in the footsteps of Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire and the many others who wore the Birds on the Bat and have graced that manicured field. Or at the very least, I would suggest that you are not a fan.
This time, it was the Cardinals, who were stunned by the loss of a game, that they were suppose to win. Momentum can be so fleeting, what was suppose to carry us to the World Series, sputtered out by the fourth inning.
For the baseball purist, here is another outcome of the playoffs that sticks in your craw. After finishing the regular season, 11 games back of St. Louis, the Astros earned their way to the World Series by soundly beating the Cardinals in the NLCS in six games. It's another Wild Card team en-route to the World Series.
The Cardinals fell behind early and never recovered in Game 6, Matthew Leach of MLB.com may have described the game the best, "It was an anticlimactic defeat, with Houston taking an early lead and St. Louis never mounting a serious threat against Roy Oswalt or the Astros bullpen."
It was a season that was supposed to be our redemption. After being swept by Boston in the 2004 World Series, the Cardinals re-tooled and were determined to avenge that embarrassing four straight losses, at the hands of the Red Sox. When it was all over, after a second consecutive season of 100 wins, the Cardinals were unable to capture a back to back National League pennant.
As the Cardinals entered the clubhouse after Wednesday night's loss, another year has been added to the long wait for a new World Championship banner. Many of the members of 2005 Cardinals team will become a part of Cardinal history and lore, as they played their last game in a Cardinal uniform.
Around the world, the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals will go to sleep tonight, (for those who will be able to sleep), still waiting for their first World Series championship since 1982 and at times it seems like 1882.
After St. Louis Cardinal catcher, Yadier Molina made the final out, St. Louis fans gave the team, the ownership, the stadium, and perhaps, even themselves, a standing ovation. You got to respect that. It is the kind of thing that makes St. Louis the greatest baseball town in the world.
Trust me, as I go out on the limb, there won't be any riots, looting or cars being set on fire, on the streets in St. Louis tonight. As a matter of fact Cardinal fans will be seen congratulating the Houston Astros and their fans on their victory and first trip ever in the history of their franchise to the World Series.
With the fans chanting, "Let's Go Cardinals!" The video board played highlights of great Cardinals players and moments at Busch Stadium, featuring Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire and broadcaster Jack Buck.
Cardinal Nation has much to be proud of and the future of the Cardinals, looks just as bright as our past. We have much to be thankful for.
There will be much said and much blame to go around over the next few days about the Cardinals inability to muster much of an attack against the Houston Astros. The bottom line is, they did their best. This time it just wasn't good enough.
What a world we would live in, if everyone held themselves to the same highest standards to the point of near perfection, in their profession and daily life, that we hold our favorite athletes and teams.
At any given point, a series is just a benchmark of where we are at as a team, it is not the definition of who we are.
The true test of champions is how they rebound from defeat. A champion or a winner, if you will, is what you are and what you do on a daily basis, in victory and defeat. It is something that cannot be given to you or taken away from you.
As far as I'm concerned, the Cardinals are champions and winners. It is just this time, they won't be playing in the World Series, but that doesn't define who and what we are.
It was a great season, and to the 2005 Cardinals and Busch Stadium, thanks for the memories.
Wait until next year; we'll be back.
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