I'm sure my compatriots, co-conspirators and various adjunct writers here at the Birdhouse have their own comments and observations, but I thought I'd add my two cents while I was at it.
A lot of people reference 2004 when
it came to the World Series. At the
end of game three that year I wanted to believe it could happen, but deep down I
was thinking "Well, maybe next year."
The tough one for me was '05 with the Cardinals rallying behind Albert Pujols' shot for the ages on to the train tracks in
The new Busch opened and things didn't seem quite right. The impact outfielder we all wanted to add wasn't added and we got Juan Encarnacion who proceeded to struggle mightily. The A.J. Burnett sweepstakes didn't go our way and we got, well, Sidney Ponson. The left fielder apparent, Larry Bigbie was on his way to appearing in all of 17 games for the Cardinals. The platoon approach in the outfield and at second base didn't sit well with a lot of the Cardinal faithful and the results were mixed.
A lot's been made of the Cardinals late-season swoon, but even when they were winning in the first half, there seemed to be more questions than answers. With questions about Mulder, Ponson, Isringhausen, Bigbie, Encarnacion, Molina and Rolen buzzing around Cardinal Nation early on and few answers in the first few months it seemed to me that this team definitely had its work cut out for it.
It may have seemed like the Cardinals years in '04 and '05, but somehow it seems more fitting that this team with all its questions and all its perceived weaknesses would pull it off. In true Cardinal fashion the World Series MVP was David Eckstein who embodied the mentality and toughness that was necessary to win it all.
So let me just say it: congratulations to the 2006 Cardinals for proving the world wrong and giving a truly magical ending to a roller coaster ride of a season. Personally I'd like to thank all the writers, editors and moderators at the Birdhouse for a great season and all the readers and faithful members of Cardinal Nation who argued, critiqued, dissected, second-guessed and ultimately cheered on the Cards to their first championship since 1982. It's been a blast.