Best and Worst Cardinals' World Series Memories

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Cardinals win their eleventh World Series in 2011. - VIA PASA 47 ON FLICKR
  • Via pasa 47 on Flickr
  • Cardinals win their eleventh World Series in 2011.

Nineteen. It's the number of times the St. Louis Cardinals have made it to the World Series, and a tally that's second only to the New York Yankees' 40 trips to baseball's big dance. The Redbirds also lay claim to the most championships, again after the Yankees. And while October baseball has mostly been kind to the Cardinals (the club's eleven World Series titles good for a .578 winning percentage), the Fall Classic hasn't always gone the Redbirds' way.

Will 2013 be another embarrassment like the '04 series (more on that below) or end in jubilation à la 2011? Whatever the case, if the past six World Series are any indication, Cardinal Nation is in for its share of ecstasy and heartache this week.

1982: The Suds Series

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    The beer capitals of America square off with the Milwaukee Brewers vs. the St. Louis Cardinals (then owned by Anheuser-Busch).

  • The plucky Cardinals, energized by their back-flipping shortstop Ozzie Smith and split-finger-fastball closer Bruce Sutter, win the series in seven games.
  • Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" becomes the Redbirds' unofficial theme song.
  • Catcher Darrell Porter is named the MVP of the series and later stars in Wonder Bread commercials, shilling the product's minerals, vitamins and protein. Sadly it turns out Porter was a bigger fan of another white substance; he dies two decades later of a cocaine overdose.
1985: Just the Worst Ever

Denkinger makes "The Call."
  • Denkinger makes "The Call."

  • The Cardinals enter the I-70 World Series without their leadoff hitter, Vince Coleman: The speedy outfielder leads the league in stolen bases but can't outrun Busch Stadium's tarp machine. The device runs over his left leg in the NLCS, ending Coleman's postseason.
  • The Redbirds' luck goes from from bad to worse during Game 6 of the World Series. The team is just three outs away from winning its eleventh championship when umpire Don Denkinger infamously makes "the call" declaring Kansas City Royals batter Jorge Orta safe at first even though replays show he is clearly out. The Royals go on to rally and win by a score of 2 to 1.
  • Cardinals pitching completely breaks down the next game, culminating in relief pitcher Joaquín Andújar taking a bat to a toilet in the visitors' locker room. KC wins the decisive game by a score of 11-0.
  • The 1985 playoffs weren't a total loss, though, with Jack Buck making his famous "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!" call after Ozzie Smith hits a ninth-inning walkoff homerun against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.
1987: D'ohme!
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    The '87 matchup against the Minnesota Twins marks the first World Series ever played indoors. And damn that Metrodome. Its deafening roar and white ceiling (the better to camouflage pop flies) wreaks havoc on the Cardinals, who drop all four games in Minneapolis.

  • The 1987 World Series would be the last postseason for "Whiteyball," as manager Whitey Herzog leaves midway through the 1990 season.
  • 2004: Face Palm

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    • The Cardinals graciously (or ignominiously?) fail to show up for the World Series, allowing the Red Sox to sweep the series and capture Boston's first championship since 1918, thus breaking the "Curse of the Bambino."
    • Insult to injury: At the conclusion of Game 4, Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore make out in the stands of Busch Stadium while filming the paean Red Sox film Fever Pitch. Bleech!
    Up next: Redemption (of sorts) in 2006, and a dramatic come-from-behind victory in 2011. 2006: We Are in the Series? We Are in the Series!!!!
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      The Redbirds back into the playoffs, making the postseason only because the second-place Houston Astros fail to win their final game of the season. The Cardinals will go on to win the championship despite having the lowest winning percentage (.518) of any World Series winner in history. But, hey, a ring is a ring, right?

    • Game 2 of the World Series brings with it more intrigue than the JFK assassination as armchair conspiracy theorists swear that TV cameras catch the Detroit Tigers' pitcher Kenny Rogers wiping the baseball with a foreign substance. Was it pine tar? Petroleum jelly? A boogie? The world will never know. It is, however, the only game the Tigers win in the series.
    • A photo of Chris Duncan emerges from the Cardinals clubhouse showing him fondling the championship trophy. Riverfront Times will repurpose and manipulate the image countless times for a column titled What's Chris Duncan Dry-Humping this Week?
    2011: Squirrely Times

    Rally Squirrel crosses of Skip Schumaker's foot in the NLDS.
    • Rally Squirrel crosses of Skip Schumaker's foot in the NLDS.

    • Rally Squirrel becomes the unofficial mascot of the 2011 postseason after a rodent runs across the Busch Stadium turf during the NLDS and the Cardinals go on to advance to the NLCS and the World Series.
    • Albert Pujols hits three home runs in Game 3 of the championship, a conquest hailed as the "greatest individual hitting performance of World Series history."
    • The series, though, belongs to David Freese. In Game 6 in St. Louis the Texas Rangers are one out away from winning the championship when the Cardinals third baseman hits a triple to tie the game. Freese returns two innings later to hit a walkoff home run. Announcer Joe Buck ends with the same call his father, Jack, made when Kirby Puckett ended Game 6 of the 1991 World Series with a walkoff home run. "We will see you tomorrow night." Warning: The following video may induce goosebumps.

    • That next night the Cardinals beat the (still) shell-shocked Rangers by a score of 6 to 2.

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