Would Cards be kings minus NL All-Star win?

SportsSt. Louis CardinalsWorld SeriesBaseballDavid FreeseMajor League Baseball All-Star GameAtlanta Braves

La Russa had big role

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

Given that neither the Rangers nor Cardinals play in Minnesota's Metrodome, home-field advantage wasn't that crucial in the 2011 World Series.

The Cardinals didn't win because they got to play the last two games at Busch Stadium, although lots of people in Texas think that (and the Rangers' 1-5 record in road games the last two Series would seem to support that). St. Louis got its World Series parade because Tony La Russa outmanaged Ron Washington, and La Russa's players were incredibly clutch.

Would Nelson Cruz have caught David Freese's ninth-inning drive in a Game 6 in Arlington? Maybe, but he would have caught it in St. Louis if his coaches had him playing deeper, as they should. That's human error, not home-field advantage.

progers@tribune.com

Mental edge sure helps

Keith Groller

Morning Call

From the moment the Cardinals qualified for the postseason on the final day of the season — thanks to a big assist from the Phillies — they seemed to be a charmed club on a magical ride.

Even though they won two of three games in both Philly and Milwaukee, the Cardinals had lost two of three in Arlington and you sensed that had the last two games been played in Texas, all of the David Freese magic of Game 6 never happens. More accustomed to the right-field wall in his own ballpark, Nelson Cruz likely hauls in the final out of Game 6.

There's a psychological edge in knowing those final two games are in your home park, and by winning the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, the National League World Series rep again has that mental edge come October.

kgroller@tribune.com

If players believe it, yes

Joseph Schwerdt

Sun Sentinel

It really doesn't matter if fans or the media think the Cardinals would have won the World Series without home-field advantage. The real question is did the Cardinals believe home field made a difference? Or did the NL All-Stars believe it?

In the 1991 Twins-Braves series, the home team won all seven games? Then there is the 1996 Braves-Yankees series, when Atlanta smoked the champion Yankees twice at the Stadium then lost three straight at home.

But if we have more instances of underdog teams winning the Series with home-field advantage, then players really will believe it makes a difference. Then maybe Bud Selig's plan to add meaning to the All-Star Game wasn't such a bad idea.

jwschwerdt@tribune.com

Final piece to puzzle

Lance Pugmire

Los Angeles Times

Absolutely not.

From the time the Cardinals confronted a 101/2-game wild-card race deficit in late August, all the planets aligned in their favor, including the benefit of getting home-field advantage in the World Series.

Remember, St. Louis was down to its final out twice against Texas in both the ninth and 10th innings in Game 6 in St. Louis, and one of those dilemmas had them one strike away from elimination before David Freese, then Lance Berkman came through.

Those situations are nearly impossible to succeed in on the road, and having "the hammer" allowed the Cards and their loud fans to walk off with a 10-9 victory in the 11th inning of Game 6. Pitcher Chris Carpenter sealed the title in Game 7.

Home field amplifies momentum.

lpugmire@tribune.com

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