“I won’t lie,I am a little disappointed that I have to leave my [Chicago] White Sox jacket in the closet for another year,” Obama said. “This is a special occasion,both because of what they do for the military and their families,but also for what they did on the field last season.”
Obama honored the Cardinals for their 2011 World Series championship at a White House ceremony Tuesday.
It was also first lady Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday. When she walked onto the East Room stage,people in the crowd shouted birthday wishes and some began to sing.
“I want to thank you all for being here as we celebrate another world championship for the St. Louis Cardinals,” she said. “And that is not easy to say as a Cubs fan.”
She praised team members for their volunteer work,especially with military families.
The Cardinals made a remarkable 23-8 run in the last two months of the season to come back from a 10.5 game deficit.
“This is a sport that has seen it all. Every once in a while,something happens that we have never seen before,something unique,” Obama said. “That’s why it is my pleasure to stand here with the greatest comeback team in the history of baseball.”
St. Louis defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in the Division Series,then the Milwaukie Brewers 4-2 in the National League Championship Series and finally the Texas Rangers in seven games,defying the odds to capture the franchise’s 11th title.
“The Cardinals were 10-and-a-half games out of the playoff race. At one point they had less than four percent of a mathematical chance of making the playoffs,” Obama said. “In Las Vegas they were 500 to 1 to win the World Series. … They somehow had the spirit and determination to survive.”
The president talked about game six of the World Series and how it highlighted the Cardinals’ resolve.
“This team essentially played two months of elimination games,both to get in the playoffs and to win it all,” Obama said. “In Tony La Russa’s words,‘Sometimes you cannot be afraid to make a mistake,sometimes you just have to roll the dice and let it go.’”
St. Louis gave the president and first lady autographed baseball bats and jerseys.
Obama joked that when Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III handed the first lady the bat,he was a little worried about his wife having it in case he “messed up.”
Mrs. Obama grabbed at the bat playfully and made a face.
La Russa and Albert Pujols were the notable absences from the ceremony. La Russa retired after the 2011 World Series,and Pujols was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in November. Other absences include Yadier Molina,Adam Wainwright and Ryan Theriot.
Reach reporter Salvador Guerrero at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.