Sports Outside the Beltway

St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Series Champions

St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Series Champions

The St. Louis Cardinals have won the 2006 World Series, four games to one over the Detroit Tigers.

No Fall Classic, for sure.

Flatter than the Midwestern heartland and a flop in the TV ratings, this World Series crowned a champion that barely made it to the postseason and then had to survive rain and cold as much as the bumbling Detroit Tigers. The St. Louis Cardinals will take it, though.

They beat the Tigers 4-2 in Game 5 on Friday night behind castoffs Jeff Weaver and David Eckstein and sore-shouldered Scott Rolen to wrap up their first Series title in nearly a quarter-century and 10th overall.

“I think we shocked the world,” Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds said.

Manager Tony La Russa’s team had just 83 regular-season wins, the fewest by a World Series champion, and nearly missed the playoffs after a late-season slump. But St. Louis beat San Diego and the New York Mets in the first two rounds, then won its first title since 1982 by taming a heavily favored Tigers team that entered the Series with six days’ rest and still looked stale.


St. Louis (83-78) almost didn’t even make it to the postseason. The Cardinals had a seven-game NL Central lead with 12 to go but lost eight of nine before recovering to finish 1½ games ahead of Houston, the defending NL champion.

Minnesota, in 1987, had set the previous low for wins by a Series winner, going 85-77.

“The team that wins a world championship is the team that played the best,” La Russa said.


La Russa, who led the Oakland Athletics to a sweep in the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Bay Bridge Series, joined Sparky Anderson (Cincinnati and Detroit) as the only managers to win Series titles in each league.

“I have such a respect and affection for Sparky,” La Russa said. “It’s such a great honor. He should really have this alone.”

Only seven managers have taken a team from each league to the World Series. If Jim Leyland (’97 Marlins) had won this year, he would have been in La Russa’ shoes.

Winning in the baseball playoffs is a matter of streaky hitting and hot pitching. Many a team with a spectacular regular season record falls off in the playoffs.

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