UCB December Project: Top 5 St. Louis Cardinals Stories of 2011


No, your eyes do not deceive you. With multiple writers on a site, UCB projects are not just limited to one writer.
As you are already quite aware, this month’s United Cardinals Bloggers project is the top 5 St. Louis Cardinals’ stories of the year. When it comes to picking only 5, it can be very hard to choose. Some of them, though, are no brainers.

5. Matt Holliday’s weird season
Saying Matt Holliday had anything but a weird season is an understatement. Yes, he made his contributions to the team. With his contract, that’s all you have to ask. But those injuries were not something that you expected to happen. Having your appendix burst and requiring an appendectomy right after opening day? When fans thought he would be out for 4-6 weeks, it surprised us when he came back after 9 nine days! That’s not a pleasant feeling at all! Then there was that moth that flew into his ear!
During the season, Holliday suffered from tendinitis in his right hand and strained his back when he was lifting weights.
It didn’t get easy for the left fielder during the World Series when he sprained his right wrist on a slide during Game 6—earlier in the game, he brought back memories of a dropped ball in 2009!
If you were interested in seeing a complete list of injuries in 2011, check this listing over at FOX Sports.

4. Lance Berkman’s Comeback
The 2010 edition of Lance Berkman was nowhere to be found this season as the career of Berkman was completely revitalized as he changed jerseys. He put up numbers that were similar to his best days in Houston. Was it what the Cardinals expected when they signed him to a one-year deal? I don’t know. The Cardinals sure got more than what was asked for when Berkman started to hit in April.

3. Albert Pujols’ Slow Start
When the season started at the end of March, Albert Pujols did not show up. I don’t know if the frustrating contract talks are the reason nor will I bother to speculate why he hit rather poorly. Pujols just was not being Pujols as usual during the first month. When all was said and done in September, Pujols only reached 30-plus home runs. He did not get a batting average of .300 or higher in 2011 nor did he reach 100 RBIs. Some of that can be accounted for with his missing a few weeks following a broken wrist.
When Pujols started heating up in September, there were some thoughts that maybe, just maybe, he would reach .300/30/100 but nope, that was not the case.
Pujols did have one of the best games of his life when he hit 3 home runs during Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. That goes without saying.
Some players put up career numbers in walk years with the hopes of attaining a better salary while others struggle with their numbers because they place so much pressure on getting such numbers during a walk year.

2. David Freese joins World Series History
Down to the last strike and final out twice during Game 6 of the World Series, David Freese hits a triple in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Then in the bottom of the 11th inning, and again down to the last strike of them game, Freese joined Kirby Puckett and Carlton Fisk in hitting a walk-off home run to force a game 7. As he was rounding the bases, I thought how appropriate it was for him to hit such a home run in the postseason because the last guy to do so was Jim Edmonds in 2004—they were traded for each other a few seasons prior. You can read my original blog posting over at Redbirds Fun from that crazy, crazy night! Of course, twitter was far crazier that evening!

1. 2011 World Series Champions
This speaks for itself. The Cardinals were not supposed to make it to the World Series. They were without starting pitcher Adam Wainwright for the entire season. They were not expected to be a contender. But they contended. Oh, yes, they contended. Sensing a need to get a short stop, Mo made a deal to get Rafael Furcal to shore up the defense. Similarly, Colby Rasmus was sent packing to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for some bullpen relief and Edwin Jackson. Down the stretch, it worked in the Cardinals’ favor.
What also worked in the Cardinals’ favor was the complete collapse of the Atlanta Braves. Down 10.5 games in late August, the Cardinals made one hell of a comeback to take the Wild Card from Atlanta. We know what happens next. The Cardinals would go on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies (including a classic winner-take-all game starring former Toronto Blue Jays pitchers and teammates Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay), the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Texas Rangers in a thrilling seven-game series.
Nobody will likely remember the anticlimactic game 7 but Game 6 is one that will go down for the ages!
Here’s my post at Redbirds Fun from that weekend.

You can ‘Like’ Redbird Rants on Facebook here. You can follow Redbird Rants on Twitter at @FSRedbirdRants and Daniel Solzman on twitter at @DSolzman.