Cards Force First World Series Game 7 Since 2002

In dramatic fashion, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers Thursday night to force the first game 7 in the World Series since 2002. Michele Norris talks with sportswriter Stefan Fatsis about the game — and how it ranks among other thrilling World Series games of the past.

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(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTBALL GAME)

JOE BUCK: Freese hits it in the air to center. We will see you tomorrow night.

MICHELE NORRIS, HOST:

That's FOX Sports announcer, Joe Buck, with the call of last night's dramatic home run by David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals. It propelled St. Louis to a seventh and deciding game in the World Series tonight against the Texas Rangers.

Stefan Fatsis joins us now, as he does most Fridays, to talk about this incredible series. Stefan, there were echoes of the past in that call by Joe Buck.

STEFAN FATSIS, BYLINE: Yeah, there were. It was an homage to his father, Jack Buck, who made a very similar call in a similar situation in 1991 when Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins ended another classic World Series game six with a home run.

NORRIS: I remember that game. OK. Let's put this series and this game into context. Where does last night's game stand?

FATSIS: Well, it absolutely ranks with other World Series classics, especially sixth games. You have that aforementioned 1991 game between Minnesota and Atlanta; 1975, Boston-Cincinnati. That was the one where Carlton Fisk waved that home run fair in the 12th inning. 1977, the Yankees and the Dodgers, Reggie Jackson hits three home runs. Boston-New York Mets in '86, Bill Buckner's error gives the Mets life, extends the Red Sox woes. And then 1993, Joe Carter ends the World Series with a walk off home run for Toronto over Philadelphia.

NORRIS: Now, the final score last night, which by the way, we have not mentioned yet, was 10 to 9 in 11 innings. That gives you a clue that this was a very special game. But it really doesn't tell the whole story.

FATSIS: No. And, you know, it's the details that move this into the pantheon of those other six games. Texas was one out, one pitch away from winning its first World Series, not once, but twice. It was the first time that's ever happened. The Cardinals trailed five times in this game and came back to win. First time that's ever happened. St. Louis was the first team to come back from two runs down in the ninth inning or later twice. And also, they were the first team in the history of post-season baseball, 1,330 games, to score in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings.

NORRIS: That is a lot of firsts for a World Series game, but this game had more than that. A lot of mistakes, too.

FATSIS: Oh, yeah. And that's what I think will help cement its status in the years to come. The teams committed five errors, pitchers walked 12 batters, a Cardinal was picked off third base with the bases loaded. Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz terribly misplayed the first potential final out of the game. St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa used every player on his bench by the eighth inning and he had to use two pitchers as pinch hitters in the 10th inning. At one point, the Florida Marlins' manager, Ozzie Guillen, tweeted, this is not a good game.

But it was an interesting game and it turned in a remarkable World Series. We've had exciting games, managerial blunders. Albert Pujols hit three home runs to join Jackson and Babe Ruth and you had that infamous bullpen telephone malfunction involving LaRussa the other night.

NORRIS: So the series obviously resonates with fans in St. Louis and Dallas, but what about the rest of the country?

FATSIS: Well, entering last night, it was on pace to have the lowest television ratings of any World Series, about 14 million viewers per game. We've come a long way down since the World Series average, their record, 44 million in 1978 when the Yankees played Los Angeles. But you do need to consider Dallas and St. Louis, fifth and 21st largest media markets, the cost of 30-second commercials not taking a hit, record high, $500,000.

The longer this series goes, the more people are going to watch. FOX said that it drew almost 20 million viewers last night. Tonight is the first game seven since 2002. They're going to draw a big number.

NORRIS: And I bet I know who's going to be watching.

FATSIS: You bet.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: Have a good weekend, Stefan.

FATSIS: Thanks, Michele.

NORRIS: That's Stefan Fatsis. He joins us most Fridays to talk about sports and the business of sports. You can hear more of him on Slate.com sports podcast called "Hang Up and Listen."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NORRIS: We knew this day would come. Today is my last official day hosting this show until after the 2012 elections. I'm taking a temporary leave from hosting now that my husband has taken a job with the Obama re-election campaign. But I'm not leaving NPR. I'll still be doing special segments and features. I'll have more time for reporting and on more occasions my kids just might hear me cheering in the stands instead of listening to mom's voice in the car on the way to and from those games.

I have loved having a daily two-hour conversation with you, our listeners. You are a special lot. And to NPR and the staff here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED who, by the way, are the most talented and creative group of people I have ever worked with, I have two more words: thank you.

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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