10/29/11 2:45 AM ET
Whirlwind title run is credit to Cards' brass
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
La Russa opted to use Adam Wainwright as the closer in place of the injured Jason Isringhausen, and from there, the Cards took off, beating the Padres in four games, upsetting the highly favored Mets on the road in seven games, and then tossing aside the Tigers in the World Series.This year, the momentum carried them past the Phillies in five games, the Brewers in six and the Rangers in seven. "To be a part of all this history is special," said Mozeliak, assistant general manager under current Reds GM Walt Jocketty when the Cards won in 2006. "When I think about how important the Cardinals are in the game of baseball, to have been a part of it is just going to make for a wonderful memory." The Cardinals are to the NL as the Yankees are to the American League. They are not close to New York's 40 pennants and 27 World Series titles, but they are NL royalty just the same, having won 18 and 11. The two teams have played each other five times in the World Series, with the Cards having won three of them. Ten of St. Louis' 18 World Series have gone to the limit, with the Cardinals having won seven. They defeated the Yankees in seven games in 1926 and 1964, the last time the two clubs met in the postseason. The Cards also won in seven against the Philadelphia A's in 1931, the Tigers in '34, the Red Sox in '46 and '67, and the Brewers in '82. With the win, La Russa became the second manager in club history to guide the team to two World Series titles. Billy Southworth, a recent Hall of Famer, is the other, having taken the Cardinals to the promised land in 1942 and '44 as his club won three pennants in a row. La Russa ends the World Series second on the all-time postseason list with 70 wins, 14 behind Joe Torre. If La Russa, who has 2,728 regular-season victories, chooses to come back next season, his 36th win will shoot him past John McGraw (2,763 wins) into second place on the all-time regular-season list. "Tony was a Hall of Famer before, and this just solidifies it," Mozeliak said about a manager who also took his A's teams to three consecutive AL pennants from 1988-90 and a World Series sweep of the Giants in '89. "If there was any doubt, this just puts it to rest. People in this town sometimes wondered how he was welcomed and appreciated. But now I think they realize his greatness." Pujols, of course, is still an open question. He becomes a free agent at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday. The Cardinals then have an exclusive five-day period to try to sign the slugger who tied World Series records in Game 3 by hitting three homers and knocking in six runs, and set two more by collecting 14 total bases and banging out hits in four consecutive innings. He made $16 million this season in the final year of a multiyear contract. St. Louis had a $105 million payroll, one that Mozeliak said earlier in the Series that he doesn't foresee significantly increasing. "I'm going to take 72 hours to enjoy this, and then it's back to work," Mozeliak said when asked about Pujols. DeWitt also was trying to bask in the immediate glow of victory before facing the tough decisions ahead. "We'll deal with that in the offseason," DeWitt added about Pujols. Then as the rain slowed to a trickle, he stopped dead in his tracks. "I guess the offseason just started," he said.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.