WHAT OTHERS SAY: The St. Louis Cardinals have become almost everybody's team

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 | 2:08 p.m. CDT; updated 10:44 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sports is not the routine province of this page, but the Cardinals reaching the World Series is no routine achievement.

And though many words could describe the unlikely assortment of superstars, emerging unknowns, acquired veterans and young players that has coalesced into the genuinely collaborative enterprise that is the post-season Cardinals, "ordinary" is not among them.

The delightful truth is that by winning in scrappy style en route to the World Series, this team has transcended the exclusive domain of sports and its ardent, knowledgeable followers of baseball, as much as it might annoy them.

Instead, it has evolved into the city's team, the region's team — everybody's team, beyond the usual clichés —and we're all sharing the excitement that it's whipping up.

There is no entrance exam to be a Cardinals fan this week — or last week, for that matter.

People who don't know a Bernie from a Humvee or a Vecsey from a Chevy have as valid a claim to the thrills and drama of the Cardinals' story as those who can rattle off a batter's average with men in scoring position, know a pitcher's success against left- and right-handed hitters and decipher a cutter from a slider.

Now, it wouldn't hurt to know that when the season started the Cardinals were nobody's pick to get this far. It would be good to understand that a parade of once-unheralded relief pitchers repeatedly has rescued the team from its shortage of dominant starting pitchers.

St. Louisans, especially, should be aware that David Freese, the Cardinals' 28-year-old third baseman, graduated from Green Pines Elementary and Lafayette High School in the Rockwood school district in St. Louis County.

He was injured for two months during the season yet played like a man possessed in the playoffs, ultimately winning the MVP for the National League Championship Series.

Just for fun, if you really want to needle a local sports maven, you could gush about the Rally Squirrel, which proved that fun doesn't always require a corporate marketing strategy.

And surely everyone hopes that St. Louis City cops have absorbed the overriding lesson of the 2006 World Series: If you confiscate scalpers' tickets, don't give them to your pals.

So let the grouches grumble, the cynics scoff and the purists pontificate. The World Series is in town. How great is that?

Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.

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