Several times on Thursday night, the Texas Rangers were World Series champions. When Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz went back-to-back in the seventh, the Rangers were champs. When Ian Kinsler singled in an insurance run later that inning, it was over. When Allen Craig struck out looking for the second out in the ninth, the Cardinals' season was over.
After Josh Hamilton answered the Cardinals' charge with a two-run bomb in the 10th, it was definitely over.
Or at least you would've sworn it was over. But it wasn't.
David Freese tripled in two tying runs with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. Lance Berkman drove in two more tying runs with two outs and two strikes in the 10th. Both times, the Cardinals' season came down to one strike, and both times, the Cardinals pulled off the impossible.
By the time Freese batted in the 11th, it was over again, only this time it was real, and this time, the Cardinals were the winners.
The amazing drama provided by the unforgettable Game 6 is already being regarded as one of the best Fall Classic games in the history of baseball. It became just the fourth World Series game to end on a home run in Game 6 or later, with Freese joining Bill Mazeroski, Carlton Fisk, Kirby Puckett and Joe Carter. You might not have ever heard of David Freese last week, but you might not ever forget him.
FOX Sports' Mark Kreigel said it "may well go down as The Greatest Game Ever Played," adding that Freese's torn jersey may one day make a nice exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. ESPN's Jayson Stark said "we could easily argue [it] was the greatest World Series game ever played," while colleague Gene Wojciechowski called it "baseball history" and "a fall classic."
The New York Times' David Waldstein said with no hesitation that Thursday night's events will be known solely as "Game 6," just as were the events in 1986 and 1975. Waldstein added that the game was "one of the most iconic in the 107-year history of the World Series."
It's worth noting that not all the loyal St. Louis fans who doled out a big wad of cash to attend the game were rewarded for their dedication.
"I cannot believe how many fans walked out of the ballpark in the seventh inning," tweeted ESPN's Buster Olney. "Hundreds and Hundreds and Hundreds. A big miss for them."
That may just be the understatement of the century.
Of course, it's much too soon to make any such historical statements. And to say it was the greatest game ever would be ignoring the five errors, or the fact that Cruz for some reason didn't feel like making a World Series-clinching catch in the ninth, or that Neftali Feliz looked like the reincarnation of 1986 Calvin Schiraldi. And it doesn't take into account the reality that everyone these days is trigger-happy and wants to claim everything is the best whatever of all time while providing no historical context. And obviously, the sport of baseball, more so than any other sport, lends itself to some exaggerated hyperbole whenever a game like this happens.
The biggest "and" that's yet to be discussed is the possibility that the Cardinals lose on Friday night, thereby making Game 6 a mere footnote in the Texas Rangers' championship story. Remember — Bill Buckner doesn't go down in history if the Red Sox had just won Game 7.
Rather than try to get too historical or make too large a statement, the New York Post's Mike Puma said it best: "Simply incredible."
Was Game 6 between the Rangers and Cardinals the greatest game in World Series history?
"You had to be here to believe it."
–Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, speaking the truth in St. Louis
Maybe the Mighty Mouse nickname will stick.
It's funny that TV networks spend all that money on expensive cameras and fancy production, but it's the shaky cameras in the crowd that always make the best videos.