Okay, nobody is going to confuse the 2006 World Series with any of the great Series of days past. There were very few lead changes, very few exciting moments, way too many miscues, and miserable weather. On the other hand, none of this should take anything away from the St. Louis Cardinals, who got hot at the right time and played well enough to win.
Here are some tidbits to savor:
Eight teams in the American League won more games this year than the Cardinals. Five teams that didn't even make the playoffs won more games than the Cardinals. Twelve teams altogether won more games than the Cardinals. And no World Series winner could ever make that claim.
Great stat from Jayson Stark - "Twelve times in the Cardinals' final 12 postseason games, they scored at least one run the next half-inning after allowing the other team to score. They did that, in fact, more than 50 percent of the time after the Mets or Tigers scored in the LCS or Series."
The Cardinals opponents went 7-for-62 (a .113 batting average) with two outs and runners in scoring position in the postseason.
Detroit lefty Kenny Rogers, 41, is now the oldest starting pitcher to win a World Series game when he beat St. Louis in Game 2. Early Wynn previously was the oldest (39). Dolf Luque of the Giants is the oldest reliever to do so (43, in 1933).
The Tigers hit .274 in the regular season. In the five World Series games, they hit .199 against the Cards, and San Diego hit .225 against them, and the Mets hit .231 against them.
The Tigers had the lowest batting average in a five-game World Series since the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies.
Albert Pujols hit .200 in the World Series.
And the dumped shall prosper:
. Starter Jeff Weaver, dumped by the Los Angeles Angels in July, won Game 5 after yielding just four hits and two runs (one earned) in eight innings.
. Outfielder Preston Wilson, dumped in August by the Houston Astros, got the game-winning hit in Game 4 and drew a key walk in Game 5.
. Shortstop David Eckstein, dumped by the Angels in 2004, was the MVP of the Series batting .364 with six hits and four RBI the final two games.
The Tigers committed eight errors, resulting in eight unearned runs.
The Tigers leadoff batter of the inning reached base only five times in 44 innings of offense.
In three post-season series, the Cardinals' starters were 8-4, 2.63. In the series, they allowed nine earned runs in 35 innings in five starts with a 28/5 strikeout/walk ratio.
Scott Rolen and Yadier Molina reached base in all five games. Rolen batted .421 with a home run and three doubles. Molina led the Cardinals with a .500 on-base percentage in the Series, after posting a .274 OBP in the regular season.
Counting Game 4 of the ALCS, Detroit played six games in 13 days.
After hitting two home runs in the first two games, Craig Monroe ended up 3-for-20 in the series.
La Russa, whose 4,287 games managed now ranks fourth all-time behind Connie Mack (7,755), John McGraw (4,769) and Bucky Harris (4,408).
Tigers first baseman Sean Casey hit a Series-high .529.
The Cardinals pitchers walked eight batters in the five games. By contrast, Tigers pitchers walked 23 Cardinals batters.
Justin Verlander was the first pitcher to lose twice in a five-game Series since Oakland's Storm Davis in 1988.
The Tigers' $85 million payroll this year was 25 percent more than last year's $68 million and nearly 75 percent more than the $49 million payroll the year they lost 119.
The five E1's in five games are one more than the Reds' pitching staff -- all 29 members of it -- committed during the entire regular season.
Ahh, Jayson Stark, where would we be without you? He points out, that only two other teams in the last 35 postseasons have swept an LCS and then lost the Series in five games or fewer: the 1990 Oakland A's (swept) and the 1988 Oakland A's (lost in five). Both of those teams were managed by (yep) Tony La Russa.
The Cardinals were more games over .500 in the postseason (six) than they were during the season (five). And how many other World Series champs can make that claim? Zero.
Even mediocre Series have good stories.
CARDINALS 2006 POST-SEASON RESULTS
NL DIVISION SERIES
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres
STL wins 3-1
Gm Result Site Pitchers
1 STL 5-1 @ SD WP Carpenter - LP Peavy
2 STL 2-0 @ SD WP Weaver - LP Wells
3 SD 3-1 @ STL WP Young - LP Suppan
4 STL 6-2 @ STL WP Carpenter - LP Williams
NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
St. Louis Cardinals vs. N.Y. Mets
STL wins 4-3
Gm Result Site Pitchers
1 NY, 2-0 @ NYM WP Glavine - LP Weaver
2 STL, 9-6 @ NYM WP Kinney - LP Wagner
3 STL, 5-0 @ STL WP Suppan - LP Trachsel
4 NY, 12-5 @ STL WP Perez - LP Thompson
5 STL, 4-2 @ STL WP Weaver - LP Glavine
6 NY, 4-2 @ NYM WP Maine - LP Carpenter
7 STL, 3-1 @ NYM WP Flores - LP Heilman
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers
Cardinals win the championship, 4-1
Gm Result Site Pitchers
1 STL 7-2 @ Detroit WP Reyes - LP Verlander
2 DET 3-1 @ Detroit WP Rogers - LP Weaver
3 STL 5-0 @ STL WP Carpenter - LP Robertson
4 STL 5-4 @ STL WP Wainwright - LP Zumaya
5 STL 4-2 @ STL WP Weaver - LP Verlander
David Eckstein was the World Series MVP. Eckstein, who played shortstop on the Angels when they won the World Series in 2002, is the third player to start at shortstop for two different championship teams. The others were Dick Groat for the Pirates (1960) and Cardinals (1964), and Everett Scott for the Red Sox (1915, 1916, 1918) and Yankees (1923).
"The Moment" according to Eck that brought the Cards together in the post-season occurred in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Padres in San Diego, "I'll tell you exactly when it happened," said Eckstein. "You have to go back to Game 1 against the Padres. Bases loaded. Seventh inning. Tyler Johnson on the mound. Todd Walker at bat. And he hit a ball through the right side that looked like a sure hit.
"But Ronnie Belliard was playing about 20 feet out on the outfield grass. He made a diving stop and got us out of that inning with an unbelievable play. And when people ask, 'What was the moment it all came together?' -- that was it."
Thousands of fans lined downtown St. Louis for a parade celebrating the franchise's first World Series title since 1982. The new Busch Stadium was also packed for a rally capped by a daylight fireworks display.
Cardinals officials estimated the crowd at between 300,000 and 500,000.
"It's out of control," ace pitcher Chris Carpenter said. "I don't think I'd ever have this feeling. I can't describe it."
La Russa, 62, and his family rode on the Anheuser-Busch beer wagon led by a team of eight Clydesdales.
"For those of you who have been on the streets, I am not responsible for Tyler Johnson and Chris Duncan," the manager said yesterday, joking. "I just hope they quit celebrating the day before spring training starts in '07."
"Awesome," slugger Albert Pujols said. "I've been dreaming of this since I was a little boy."
THE RATINGS AND DOLLARS
The World Series averaged a record-low 10.1 television rating, down nine percent from the previous low of 11.1 for last year's sweep by the Chicago White Sox over Houston. But Fox officials said they were pleased the Series won the prime-time ratings battle for all five nights among viewers from 18 to 49.
But don't worry, everybody is making lots and lots of money, "Sponsorship is up. Licensing is up. International is up. Internet revenues are up," said Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer. "The clubs have been extraordinarily creative in creating new revenue streams."
According to Monday's Wall St. Journal, MLB generated a record $5.2 billion in revenue this year on the strength of another high -- 76 million ticket-buying fans. Ticket sales accounted for the largest portion of the $5.2 billion pie, about 38%. Three-fourths of the overall revenue comes from local streams -- from sources including concessions and regional cable networks -- while national broadcasting accounted for nearly 19%, only slightly more than local TV and radio.
''I'm doing a good job holding it together because I'm just bursting inside,'' Cards manager Tony La Russa said on the field after the winning Game 5. ''This was about total team. I don't think anybody in this uniform didn't do something in the postseason. The team that wins the world championship is the team that plays the best. There ain't no bad win, and there definitely ain't no bad World Series.''
"Bob Gibson congratulated me," La Russa said, "and I said, 'You know, in this organization, until you win a World Series, you're not really part of The Club.' Now this team is part of The Club. And that feels great."
"I just only hope that nobody forgets the job that we did, the players I'm talking about, to go from 71 wins to the World Series," Leyland said. "I just hope that nobody just totally writes us off that we're not a good team, because we are. We played very well in the postseason until this World Series. And we have no excuses. We got beat by a team that played a lot better than we did during the course of the series.
"If you want to continue to get better, you've got to make progress in those areas. And hopefully we can get back, and that's not going to be easy, because the American League has a lot of very good teams and we were very proud. I'm a little embarrassed we didn't represent it a little better, but we were very proud to represent the American League."
Adam Wainwright on "the best feeling of my life" which was after the final out of the Series, "It felt almost like I was on the outside looking in, watching somebody else do that," he said. "My wife even said to me she couldn't believe we'd just won. It felt like we won the game, but somebody else was out there celebrating. I don't think I could describe the feeling any better than that."
"If you go back and examine five years of playoffs, or 10, or 15, a lot of weird stuff happens," La Russa told Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, killing rainy-day time in his office. "How often does the team with the best record not win? That tells me October is the most fascinating and unpredictable time. That's part of its charm."
"The Midwest is all about its sports teams, and you forget that when you go to the bigger cities," St. Louis pitcher Jeff Weaver said.
"Man, what a fun season," said Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. "It's hard to say that now. I really can't feel it right now. But looking back on this, this has been nothing but fun, getting to know these guys and getting to be a part of this team. I couldn't ask for more in my rookie year."
"I'm not disappointed," Kenny Rogers said. "I don't mean to minimize it. We didn't have the greatest Series in the world, but it wasn't for lack of effort."
"I wouldn't trade places right now to be with St. Louis, because I appreciate this team and this organization more than anything," Rogers said.
Or as closer Todd Jones said, "You can't take anything away from the Cardinals. They forced us to make plays, and we didn't make plays. They beat us, and they beat us pretty good. It's disappointing that we're here, but you've got to be in the World Series to lose it. I'm as proud of these guys as anybody would be of their team."
"The future looks great," closer Todd Jones said. "When you look at all of the young talent on this team -- [Craig] Monroe, [Curtis] Granderson, [Fernando] Rodney ... Carlos Guillen is one of the elite players, Pudge [Rodriguez] sealed his Hall of Fame [credentials], Justin Verlander -- the sky's the limit.
"Going through what we had to go through towards the end of the year, I think, definitely pulled us together," said Chris Duncan. "We went through some rough times, and it didn't come easy for us. It was definitely a grind. It came down to the last game of the season just to get into the playoffs.
"In football or college basketball when this happens, people say, 'Isn't that great?' " said commissioner Bud Selig. "But when it happens in baseball, people criticize it. When the Yankees win every year, people hate the predictability. This is the unpredictability. Well, you cannot have it both ways. And quite frankly, I prefer the unpredictability. That's what makes this game the best sport in the world. There are just so many things you can't predict."
"This is the most beautiful feeling in the world," Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols said. "These are the greatest fans in baseball. Hopefully, we don't have to wait another 24 years do to this again.
Tigers closer Todd Jones, "If this series doesn't show that little things win championships, I don't know what else will."
"This just goes to show you why this is the best game in the world," said David Eckstein. "This just proves again that anything's possible."
DID YOU KNOW?
The longest stretches with no franchise winning the World Series twice:
10 years - 1978 to 1987
9 years - 1982 to 1990
7 years - 2000 to 2006
The last six winners have come from the NL West, AL West, NL East, AL East, AL Central and now the NL Central. On the other hand, for 13 years, from 1978 through 1990, 13 different teams won the World Series. Those 13 were half of the major league teams during that time period.
Billy-Ball is a baseball column by Bill Chuck who enjoys the fun of the game and, more important, enjoys making fun of the game. Bill's quirky look at the idiosyncrasies — and the idiots — of the sport is published Monday through Friday during the baseball season. For your free subscription, click here.