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Cards' feat no longer beyond belief

Manager Tony La Russa (L-R) jokes with Octavio Dotel and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals during a ceremony celebrating the team's 11th World Series championship October 30, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Manager Tony La Russa (L-R) jokes with Octavio Dotel and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals during a ceremony celebrating the team's 11th World Series championship October 30, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

I didn’t really believe. I mean, who did? Not even the most die-hard fan could say they believed on Aug. 25. Could say they thought it wasn’t over before that at-bat by David Freese in the ninth inning of Game 6.

If I’m being honest, I stayed in disbelief most of the weekend. It wasn’t until around the time that Tony La Russa rode in on a team of Clydesdales, leading the likes of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina in championship gear, that it started to sink in.

This band of birds had done it. The St. Louis Cardinals had won the World Series.

The stars like Pujols, Molina and Chris Carpenter, who added to their hardware. The elder statesman Lance Berkman, who got his first ring after all these years. The happy goofballs like Octavio Dotel and Rafael Furcal.

And the sudden superstar from St. Louis, David Freese. One week ago, to the nation, he was just another nearly no-name Redbird. Then again, a few weeks ago, a squirrel was just a squirrel.

Now Freese is charming Jay Leno and Ellen Degeneres. And the squirrel has his own line of Cards gear.

Every once in a while, magic happens because of the right group of people and the right confluence of events. This team, with it’s unique chemistry and scrappy, never-say-die attitude, did something the likes of which baseball has never seen before, and will probably never see again.

As is always the case, the team won’t look the same when it comes back for spring training. People makes decisions. Players leave. Already, a monumental shift has occurred. Manager Tony La Russa announced Monday that he was retiring after 33 years as a skipper.

And of course, there’s the biggest question mark of all: Albert Pujols free agency watch has officially begun.

It’s hard to imagine the heart of the Cardinals walking away from the adoration of an entire city after a season like this. Many are betting he won’t.

But regardless of what happens, no one can take away this moment in time, for the players or the fans. This group of men will be immortalized together in history for crashing the party and stealing the champagne in spectacular fashion.

It’s no coincidence that Game 7 brought Fox its biggest Friday night ratings ever. In 2011, the boys in red taught America how to play all nine … and beyond.

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