Tag:2011 playoffs
Posted on: January 30, 2012 3:35 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 4:14 pm

Rally Squirrel upstages Skip Schumaker on card

Skip Schumaker
By C. Trent Rosecrans

As if Skip Schumaker wasn't already better known by the guy at the plate when the "Rally Squirrel" ran across the field in Game 3 of the NLDS between the Cardinals and Phillies, Topps cemented it as the squirrel has even bogarted Schumaker's baseball card.

If you don't remember the Rally Squirrel -- well, you're probably not a baseball fan and I'm not sure what you're doing here -- here's a reminder:

Skip SchumakerAbove you see the real 2012 Topps Skip Schumaker card -- with only a picture of Schumaker's right foot. The only way you can tell it's Schumaker is that his name's on the card. It's the first time in Topps history that a card doesn't feature a player's face (and the first to show part of the face of a squirrel, I'm assuming). Although, according to Beckett, there will be cards with Schumaker's face, with the squirrel version a "short-print" variation.

So, just for Mrs. Schumaker, to the right is Skip's face. We here at Eye On Baseball know what he looks like.

And speaking of picturing something -- Topps went ahead and altered photos to show what two of the biggest free-agent acquisitions, Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes, look like in their new uniforms:

Albert Pujols

The 2012 Topps Series 1 is scheduled to hit stores on Wednesday, so you can try your luck at getting a squirrel in a pack.

Hat tip: Big League Stew.

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:10 pm

Eye on Photos: World Series parade for Cardinals

By Matt Snyder

The 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals had their parade Sunday in the areas surrounding Busch Stadium and then ended up inside for even more celebration with their fans. Here are some pictures from the event.

Also, other than the parade, here's some related news: Anheiser-Busch has named a newly-born clydesdale "La Russa." Click here to see pictures on the AB website.

But anyway, check out the pictures below. Click on any individual picture for a full size.

Owner Bill DeWitt Jr. shows off his new trophy. (AP) Plenty of fans were basking in the glory. (AP)
How early did she have to get there to end up in the front row? (AP) That would be World Series MVP David Freese (black sweatshirt and hat backwards) in the front truck. (AP)
Amazing turnout, remember, the stadium is full, too. (AP) Freese gets a key to the city from St. Louis mayor Francis Slay. (AP)
Fireworks, confetti, a view of the Gateway Arch ... (AP) Tony La Russa, Octavio Dotel and Albert Pujols share a laugh on stage. (AP)

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:03 am

Funny video: Cardinals in animation

By Matt Snyder

NMA World Edition, a Taiwanese animation company, is back with another baseball video. This time it's of the World Series champion Cardinals. The highlights? David Freese freezing the opposition, Albert Pujols batting on a motorcycle for some reason and a parting shot at the Miami Heat ... check it out:

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 5:04 pm

Game 7 dominates in ratings, plus more stats


By Evan Brunell

While Game 7's St. Louis victory over Texas to win the World Series wasn't nearly as exciting as Game 6, baseball capitalized on the amazing Game 6 to soar even higher in ratings. Game 7 improved from Game 6's 21.1 million to over 25 million for Game 7, making it the most watched baseball game since 2004 when the Red Sox ended their 86-season drought. Excluding the 2004 World Series, you have to go all the way back to Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for similar ratings -- the last Series before 2011 to go the maximum number of games.

In total, Fox received a 14.7 household rating, which brings the average of all Series games to 10.0, 19 percent higher than 2010's Series played by Texas and San Francisco... and S.F. has twice the TV households as compared to St. Louis In the coveted ages 18-49 demographic, Fox scored big with a 6.8, besting the other four networks combined and gave the network the best Friday its ever had. It's also the highest-rated Friday since the 2010 Winter Olympics. While ratings were strong from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., it was from 10 to 11 p.m. that dominated the most, with 24.77 million viewers. Those are pretty good numbers given it was a Friday night and the Cardinals/Rangers series was not a TV network's dream matchup.

While we're dealing with numbers, let's take a look at some more, dealing with the World Seres...

There were plenty of parallels to the 2002 World Series, the last Series to go seven games before 2011. In that series, the Angels took down the Giants despite the potent bats of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent carrying the load for San Francisco. In fact, until Albert Pujols and Allen Craig matched the feat, Bonds and Kent were the last set of teammates to have three or more homers in a single World Series. Pujols and Craig are now the sixth to do so.

There's more 2002 World Series-related stuff, don't worry. For one, David Freese broke the postseason record for RBI, driving in 21 across three series. Prior to Game 7, Freese was tied with Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1997), David Ortiz (2004) and Scott Speizio of the Angels, from 2002.

One more 2002-related tidbit... Matt Harrison lasted four or less innings for the second straight time in a World Series during Game 7. That was the first time since Livan Hernandez repeated the same feat for San Francisco in 2002. Here's a better trivia answer for Hernandez. Before Freese won the NLCS and World Series MVP, the last person to win a LCS and World Series MVP was Livan Hernandez, who did it for the 1997 Marlins. The last position player? None other than Darrell Porter, who did it for the Cards in 1982.

Here are some other assorted facts about the postseason...
  • St. Louis won its 11th World Series and twice in the 21st century. It's their third NL pennant of the 21st century, and also Tony La Russa's third title (one other with the Athletics). He is just one of nine managers to accomplish the feat.
  • The home team has now won nine straight Game 7s and St. Louis has participated in four of them (1982, '85, '87 are the other years). They have eight Game 7 wins, tops among any team.
  • The Cardinals grounded into 15 double plays in the postseason. That's the fourth-most ever in a postseason, tied with the aforementioned '97 Marlins. Texas also tied a record for most walks allowed in a World Series with 40, matching those same Marlins.
  • The Rangers blew three saves during Game 6. That's tied for the most they've ever had in one game since moving to Texas.
  • There were 38 postseason games played, tying the all-time high set in 2003. There is only a possible 43 games that can be played. A record 13 were decided by one run.
  • Chris Carpenter threw a total of 273 1/3 innings over the whole year, regular season and postseason combined. He is the second pitcher in the last 20 years to make three starts in a Fall Classic, matching Curt Schilling's Diamondbacks in 2001.
  • Texas was the first team to score in the top of the first inning in a Game 7 since the Athletics in 1972.
  • The Cardinals won the last game of 2011. They are slated to play the first game of 2012 stateside, as there is a series in Japan between the A's and Mariners. The team will to face the Miami (nee Florida) Marlins in their new park on April 4.
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Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:58 am

Fans celebrate Cardinals' World Series victory

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- As one would expect, Cardinals fans were a bit crazy after watching their beloved team win the World Series Friday night. Here are a few quick shots of the scene around Busch Stadium. Above is pretty self-explanatory. Below, you can see some fans thinking it's a good idea to climb all over the Stan Musial statue.

The entire gutter around the perimeter of Busch Stadium was broken beer bottles, some places even more heavily covered than this one.

Here's a video taken one floor above the street, about one hour after the game ended. It's nothing really Earth-shattering, just an idea of the crowd and the noise. I expect that there were plenty of arrests, but this wasn't an L.A. Lakers-level "celebration" by any stretch. Just tens of thousands of fans celebrating their favorite team winning a championship. Nothing wrong with that.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:28 am
Edited on: October 29, 2011 4:02 am

Grading Game 7 of the World Series

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Game 7 of the World Series wasn't nearly as exciting as Game 6, but was that even possible? I'd say no. We still saw a good game for about six innings and Cardinals fans certainly have no issue with how everything went down. Let's grade the game, just as we've done with the other six.

The Cardinals bullpen. Once Chris Carpenter was out of the game, it felt like the Rangers might have a shot at creeping up and at least making this game close. Instead, Arthur Rhodes, Octavio Dotel, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte were dominant and efficient for three innings, leaving no doubt who the champions were. The four pitchers combined to retire all nine of the hitters they saw, needing only 34 pitches to do so. While we're here, all Cardinals players are obviously elated and deserved congratulations, but how about Arthur Rhodes? He's 42, made his major-league debut in 1991, was cut by the Rangers earlier this season and had never even pitched in the World Series until this season. Now he has a ring that he earned (yes, he would have gotten one had the Rangers won, but that's really not the same).

I did name Carpenter the hero and he deserves major kudos for getting the job done on three days' rest, and, even more so, for doing it without his best stuff. But that latter part is what knocks him down to a B. He allowed the first four batters on base and, had Yadier Molina not picked Ian Kinsler off first, the damage could have been far worse. Carpenter himself would admit an outing where he gives up six hits and two walks in six innings is a B for himself, I'm sure. No shame in this B, though. It's like having the flu and not studying for two days leading up to a test and still getting a B. You'd be ecstatic with it. Just as Carpenter surely is with his outing.

The Michael Young Schism has already been noted by my esteemed colleague Gregg Doyel. Friday night, we once again saw the good and the bad. Young doubled in Josh Hamilton in the first inning, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead with no one out. But Young would follow that up with two strikeouts and a pop out. Defensively, Young looked horrible in trying to snare a foul ball pop up, but seconds later made a nice diving stab of a line drive to end the inning.

Poor Ron Washington seemed to have every move he made blow up in his face. On the big stage, Matt Harrison seemed rattled from the get-go, Scott Feldman was brutal, C.J. Wilson hit the first batter he faced -- forcing in a run since the bases were loaded -- a bunt wasted an out in the fifth and Washington just never changed his lineup. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa switched things around in Game 7 as a reaction to how his team had been playing and it worked. Judging manager is mostly second-guessing, but things didn't seem to work out for Washington, so he gets a D.

Why were the Rangers' pitchers trying to help the Cardinals so much? Falling behind in counts to most hitters, walking six guys, hitting two guys, serving up meatballs when they did work within the strike zone. Iit was a veritable clinic on how to not pitch anyone -- much less a good-hitting ballclub like St. Louis. Mike Gonzalez and Alexi Ogando were fine, but the game was over by then. Harrison, Feldman, Wilson and Mike Adams dug a hole while the Cardinals' pitchers buried the Rangers' season.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: October 29, 2011 3:16 am

Part-timer Craig makes most of opportunities

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Allen Craig only played in 75 regular-season games, but Cardinals fans would tell you he made the most of his opportunities then, just as he did again throughout the seven games of the World Series. And Craig firmly believes in taking advantage of any chances he gets.

"It’s all about just making the most of your opportunities," he said on the field minutes after catching the final out of World Series Game 7. "You can’t let opportunities slip, especially in the World Series. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Craig, 27, was most certainly a part of it. He was an integral part in all four Cardinals wins -- and in a loss they probably should have won.

In Game 1, Craig came up to pinch hit with a tie game and runners on first and third. He was facing Alexi Ogando, who was lights-out in the ALCS. Craig delivered a line-drive single to right, which ended up being the game-winning hit.

In Game 2, Craig came up in a nearly identical situation and again put the Cardinals ahead with a single to right off Ogando. The Rangers would rally and win in the ninth, but Craig got to Ogando twice in a row, and it's possible that ruined Ogando for the series -- he ended up allowing seven hits and seven walks in 2 2/3 innings in the World Series.

In Game 3, Craig got the scoring started with a solo home run in the first inning.

In Game 6, Craig woke everyone up in Busch Stadium with an upper-deck homer in the seventh. It felt like a ghost town before that shot, and the Cardinals would eventually come through with the epic comeback victory to avoid elimination.

World Series Coverage
And then, in Game 7, Craig not only homered again, but he also brought one back in the yard. Nelson Cruz hit a shot to deep left field and Craig went back and perfectly timed a jump to rob Cruz of the postseason home-run record. Center fielder Skip Schumaker had a perfect view of the ball's trajectory and knew Craig had a shot.

“Yeah, it was in the air long enough where I thought he had a chance to get to the wall in time," Schumaker said. "He timed it perfectly.”

Then Schumaker volunteered the essential information on Craig.

“Without him in this series we don’t win it.”

Well put. On a team with Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina, two of the most important cogs in the World Series were MVP David Freese and part-timer Allen Craig.

Just like Craig said, you have to make the most of your opportunities. And he definitely did in 2011, especially in the World Series.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: October 29, 2011 3:19 am

Humble, formerly unknown Freese takes MVP

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Did you know who David Freese was back at the start of the season? If so, you are likely a Cardinals fan, die-hard baseball fan or fantasy baseball player. Of the surely 25 million-plus people who watched Game 7 of the World Series, I'm guessing a majority of them hadn't heard of Mr. Freese back in April. But everyone knows him now. He's the World Series MVP just as he was the NLCS MVP.

Even to Freese himself, this improbable run for his team with him becoming a national star doesn't even seem real.

"I'm trying to soak this all in," he said after the game. "I've tried to soak in this whole postseason as much as I can because you never know if it's your last attempt at a title. You know, it's going to take me a little bit, I think, to realize what we've accomplished."

What Freese's team accomplished has been well documented. It's a great story, but Cardinals fans themselves have to be sick of hearing about being 10 1/2 games out in late August. So let's zero in on Freese. He went 25-for-63 (.397) with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 21 RBI in the Cardinals' 18 postseason games. He had an OPS near 1.300. Those are video game stats he was putting up in front of millions. He's a rock star now.

Heading into the postseason, it was the "big three" of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman to avoid. Well, when that happened, the opposing teams were made to pay by a modest 28-year-old third baseman. But he just wants to let you know that he shouldn't be getting too much individual glory.

"I've had plenty of days of my life where I thought I wouldn't be even close to being a Big Leaguer," he said. "I'm here because of everybody around me. They've put so much trust in me to accomplish not only baseball but just stuff in life, and to do this is -- I'm just full of joy, finally."

World Series Coverage
As well he should be. Freese's team is one of the most improbable champions of all-time. Freese was the walk-off hero of a Game 6 that will go down in history as one of the most exciting games of all-time. The entire World Series, meanwhile, was one of the most exciting in recent memory. On top of all that, Freese is also etched in history by winning both an LCS and World Series MVP. He joins Willie Stargell (1979), Darrell Porter (1982), Orel Hershisher (1988), Livan Hernandez (1997) and Cole Hamels (2008) as the only men to ever win both awards in the same postseason.

Just don't tell the humble Freese he earned the award on his own.

"I've got some guys behind me, and obviously a few guys ahead of me in the lineup that I just sit and watch and I learn and I soak up everything they do, from Spring Training on. I'm with Matt Holliday every day in the offseason. He took me under his wing a couple years ago when things weren't too hot, and he's a big brother to me. I owe him everything."

Well, not everything. In fact, it's the other way around. If Freese doesn't come through time and again, the Cardinals don't win the World Series. He most certainly fits the bill of the most valuable player, even if he doesn't want to acknowledge it.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com