© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/28/06 1:30 AM ET
Selig celebrates successful '06 season
Commissioner proud of game's progress on and off field
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- It was a remarkable end to a remarkable season and the Commissioner of Baseball was basking in the glory of it all.
With a new five-year labor deal in hand and another season of record attendance behind him, Bud Selig presented the World Series championship trophy to the Cardinals on Friday night in front of 46,638 fans at the new Busch Stadium.
"It's a great day for a great franchise," Selig told MLB.com in the moments after he also presented the MVP trophy to Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein. "The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of our great franchises for years. This is a remarkable story, and frankly, a great day for the game of baseball."
It was a great week. Selig and MLB Players Association executive director Don Fehr announced the new labor deal on Tuesday night, a little short of two months before the old agreement was to expire on Dec. 19.
The Cardinals' five-game victory over the Tigers, which ended with a 4-2 St. Louis win, survived constant gray and rain for the past three days and only the 19th washout in World Series history on Wednesday night. The first two games in Detroit were played in Arctic-like conditions.
Friday night matched the latest a baseball game had ever been played in St. Louis, and next year, with the series shifting four days later to begin on a Tuesday night for the first time since 1984, it may not end until Halloween, if it goes the distance.
A record 76 million people attended regular-season games, and these five Series games all sold out as fans braved the rain and cold.
"These people don't care [about the weather]," Selig said about the delirious crowd. "It's a great story."
It's the first time since 1912 that a team won the deciding game of the World Series at home in a year when it christened its new ballpark. The Red Sox won Game 8 of that series over the New York Giants at newly opened Fenway Park.
The Cardinals were unlikely heroes, a team that struggled to the finish line to win the National League Central, and with 83 wins, had the least regular-season victories of any team to capture the World Series.
"It shows what parity can do," Selig said. "It shows their determination. They got healthy at the right time; they got hot at the right time. I'll tell you, they play the game the way it's supposed to be played. You take a look at David Eckstein, that's the way this game is supposed to be played."
The Cardinals had already won their 17th NL pennant and now own 10 World Series titles, both figures second only to the Yankees, who have 39 American League pennants and 26 championships. It was their first World Series victory since 1982 and just their third since the Bob Gibson-Curt Flood-Lou Brock-led Cardinals defeated the Yankees at the original Busch Stadium in 1964.
The current edition has been to the NL Championship Series five times in the last seven years, and the World Series two of the last three. They were swept by the Red Sox in 2004, losing the final game exactly two years ago on the turf of the previous Busch Stadium.
But this time, the Cardinals prevailed.
"The Cardinals are one of baseball's most storied franchises," said Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer. "To have them win the World Series for the 10th time with the great players they have and keep the championship in the Midwest -- in the heartland -- is a great thing for baseball."