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Perseverance, focus and a dash of luck

Posted Friday, October 28, 2011, at 8:04 AM

COREY NOLES photo David Freese crosses home plate in the bottom of the 11th inning on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 following a walk-off homerun to end Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
While I can't say I saw Thursday night's amazing and mind-numbing Cardinals game coming, I really had a good feeling about the game.

When Skip Schumaker and Tony LaRussa came into the pre-game press conferences they didn't look at all like people with everything on the line. Instead of the somber, moody interviews I expected, they came in as laid back as on opening day. And it didn't stop there.

When the Cardinals took batting practice, the whole team appeared to be that way. At one point, Albert Pujols even ran over to the warning track and climbed the net where the MLB Network was filming "Intentional Talk." Again, not like a guy who hasn't had a hit in two games.

Truth be told, they seemed to just be soaking it all in.

From the start of the game, things looked ugly. A bumbled ball by Freese that bounced off his head was just one of three surprising errors. In the masterpiece of a game the Cardinals committed the most errors in a Cardinals World Series game since game 3 in 1943.

Then in the bottom of the ninth, with one strike to go, that's when things changed. Major League Baseball officials came off of the stage soon to be wheeled out for the trophy presentation. Ron Washington and the rest of his Texas Rangers descended down the steps as if they had been kicked in the stomach.

Tony admitted in a postgame interview that even he was prepared to call it a night, but apparently one pitch too soon.

"[The team] wanted us to say thanks to the fans if we got beat before the Rangers did the rings, so there was a couple times in the ninth and tenth, I was forced with two outs, I was forced to call down to the bullpen," LaRussa said. "I told some of the guys, we've got to do the fans right. So we went from that to celebrating. That's a big emotional change."

LaRussa spoke extensively about the emotional roller coaster the game became before its end.

"But what you try to do is get something started. You don't try to hit three-run home runs. Our club does a real good job of just trying getting something started, and once they get something started, the other club worries," he said. "Another mistake, this and that, I mean, we've been in the same situation ourselves. Once it got started it's much more fun to think, hey, we can do this, and then think, oh, (expletive), it's not going to work."

Despite everything else, a few things are certain following last night's game.

1. Everyone who decided to hold out for Game 7 may have missed the most exciting Cardinals World Series game in history.

2. The literally droves of Rangers fans who taunted the locals around the ballpark yesterday, didn't sleep well either last night, however, they had a different reason.

3. Whatever happens tonight, no matter who wins, this World Series will always be remembered by not just Cardinals fans, but baseball fans altogether for the true magic it has created.

With all of that said, there is still one more game. Tonight. What was once believed to be over has only just begun.

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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