Two years ago, in the midst of all of the “Do it for Torty” madness in the run-up to the Cards 11th World Series title, I suggested that instead of “Do it for Torty,” the team “Do it for Berkman.” Lance Berkman was still a fairly new addition to our team at that point, having joined the Cardinals roster at the beginning of that season, but an invaluable one. He quickly made himself at home on the field and in the clubhouse, winning the devotion of the fans and his teammates. Berkman was one of those rare types in any pro sport…extremely talented, with an endearing personality and great sense of humor, but also a really good guy. The kind of guy you wanted to see win, because he was so good at what he did, but also because he was the kind of person you could count on to set a good example for your children. But in spite of an amazing career, Berkman had never added a World Series ring to his collection. So we really wanted to see the Cards go all the way in 2011, because, sometimes, you just want to see the nice guy finish first, and what a moment it was when he did!
That brings us to this year. We have another fairly new addition to our team (but not quite as new as Berkman was in 2011). Like Berkman, he’s also a switch hitter, which makes him a threat at the plate, and he has played in the NLCS before, including in 2004, when he and Berkman both played for the Astros. A player that we’ve come to depend on for offense and defense. Someone rivaling Babe Ruth himself as far as post-season stats go…he’s that good. In case it isn’t obvious by now, that player is Carlos Beltran. Like Berkman in 2011, he somehow hasn’t managed to pick up a World Series ring yet, despite a storied career that includes three Gold Gloves, numerous All-Star appearances, and more post-season home runs than any other player in history. As if all of that wasn’t enough, Beltran is also a really, really good guy. He is a Christian man known for the charity work he does in his native Puerto Rico, for encouraging young baseball players as they strive to make it to the Big Leagues some day.
I say that this year, we don’t even need a rally squirrel to spur us on to victory. The knowledge that we’re playing with and for a man who deserves to win this title should be enough. We need to do this thing for Beltran!