What they’re saying about the Cardinals winning the World Series

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The Cardinals defeated the Rangers 6-2 last night to win Game 7 of the World Series and their 11th World Championship. Here’s some reaction from around the baseball world:

Albert Pujols: “We had a 5 percent chance (to reach the playoffs) with 35 games left in the season. We knew we had to play great. The first five months of the season were pretty bad. But it doesn’t matter. We’re world champions.”

Bill DeWitt, Jr.: “[Losing Adam Wainwright] was a bad hit in Spring Training, and Tony was great. He said it’s not fair, but we’re not going to give up. This is a good club and we’ve got a shot. We’ll just do everything we can to win with what we’ve got.”

Tony La Russa: “It was overwhelming. We were on the edge game after game after game. You might lose one, but as it got closer, elimination games, the character on this club is off the charts. And we are more talented I think than some people realize, especially as we got healthy. But you play with that urgency, it’s a little scary at times and it takes a lot out of you, but it’s really fun to compete that way.”

Jayson Stark: No team had ever won a World Series after finding itself 10½ games out of a playoff spot on Aug. 25 or later. No team had ever won a World Series after finding itself 8½ games out in September. No team had ever won a World Series after being one strike away from extinction in back-to-back innings of the same World Series game. But this team is special.

Matthew Leach: If there’s one trait that defines La Russa teams, year in and year out, it’s a businesslike approach to the game. Win today’s game, don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. He hammered that home prior to Friday’s game, when he stopped reporters from pursuing a line of questioning regarding that already famous Game 6. If he was going to ask his players to focus only at the game at hand, he was going to do the same. And they certainly did, playing crisply while the Rangers stumbled.

Bernie Miklasz: That’s why, of the Cardinals’ 11 World Series champions, this may be the most unusual. A case can be made that these Cardinals pulled off the greatest comeback in MLB history. There are other legitimate candidates, such as the 1914 Boston Braves, or the 1978 New York Yankees. But no team had ever won it all after being 10½ games out of a playoff spot as late as Aug. 24.

Shane Victorino: Congrats to the Cardinals! Play the best baseball in October! Tip my hat! 11 in 11 whoa ironic!

Ron Washington: “Sometimes when opportunity is in your presence, you certainly can’t let it get away because sometimes it takes a while before it comes back. If there’s one thing that happened in this World Series that I’ll look back on is being so close, just having one pitch to be made and one out to be gotten, and it could have been a different story.”

Mike Adams: “We probably needed an extra day to come back from that game. It was so emotionally draining. I was so tired, and I threw three pitches. There’s a lot more to it than just the physical part of it.”

Adrian Beltre: “We all know we lost the Series yesterday. We shouldn’t have let it slip away. We came back today to try to win it, but the momentum just took them and they won it. It’s not a nice feeling.”

Ken Rosenthal: So, don’t compare the Rangers to the Buffalo Bills, the only NFL team to lose four straight Super Bowls. The Rangers, looking very much like newbies, were outclassed by the Giants in their first Series. But with this one, I keep coming back to the ball Cruz should have caught, and how different it all might have been.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉