Congratulations to the Cardinals, your 2011 World Series champions.
I've enjoyed the privilege of covering 15 World Series now, 1996 and then 1998 through 2011. I'd have to say that the two Cardinals' championships, 2006 and this year, rank as the most stunning "September-to-October stories."
There have been bigger individual upsets, in other words - the Marlins over the Yankees in 2003 comes to mind. And there have been more remarkable comebacks, like the Red Sox erasing a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and proceeding to sweep past the Cardinals for the title.
But the 2006 Cardinals staggered into the playoffs, whereas these Cardinals were left for dead in mid-August. That both wound up on top is a tribute to Tony La Russa. And also, you know, to the randomness of postseason baseball.
For my column, I tributed the Cardinals' resilience, noting they decided when the season would end.
There's no doubt, on the Texas side, than Ron Washington has to take some hits. We discussed his Game 6 gaffes yesterday, and you really wonder why he didn't start Derek Holland in Game 7, given how well Holland pitched in Game 4 and how poorly Matt Harrison pitched in Game 3. Harrison didn't look much better last night.
Now, of course, we move onto the offseason, and here's how the free-agency calendar works:
1) At 12:01 tomorrow morning, every player with six or more years of service time and without a contract for next year will become a free agent. However, free agents can discuss financial details only with their current teams until 12:01 Thursday morning. Until then, teams can contact other clubs' free agents and say something only to the effect, of, "Hey, we love you, let's chat soon."
2) All team options and player options must be resolved by 11:59 p.m. Monday night. That's when the Yankees must act upon their options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher (both certain to be picked up) and when CC Sabathia must opt out of his contract if he wants to do so; you'd have to bet that he will.
Will Swisher be traded? I'd say possible, but not likely. The guy's pretty productive. He'd have to bring back something really good in return.
3) True free agency begins,again, at 12:01 Thursday morning. At that point, free agents can sign with any team.
We probably won't see heavy action, however, until November 23, when teams decide whether to offer arbitration to their Type A and Type B free agents. Those who are offered arbitration must accept or reject by December 7. And on December 12, teams must either offer contracts to players with less than six years of service time or non-tender them, thereby making them free agents.
Got all that?
For my final World Series Insider, I wrote about Bud Selig saying the Mets will be just fine - funny, I feel like I've heard that before - and the potential free agency of Yadier Molina a year from now.
--In other things you've heard before, Brian Cashman will return as the Yankees' general manager. He either has completed a new contract or is about to do so. It's just a matter of semantics.
--John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will return to Yankees radio broadcasts, and those games will remain on WCBS-AM (880), Neil Best writes.
--All right, it's time for me to head home. Fourteen days, thirteen nights, four hotels, four ballparks and today will be flight number seven. I'm ready.
--Have a great day.