Here I sit, 48 hours after writing up another one of these, only to see a stay of execution called in by Sir Albert Pujols. Turns out, it was just a temporary stay, as the Cardinals, once again, suffer a postseason of disappointment.

As I said Monday night, I was very angry three days ago. I was pissed at Houston, their fans, and about everything about baseball. Today, I don't begrudge Houston their win. I don't have to be happy about it, but they played better this series. They sucked with runners in scoring position, just not enough as we did. We pitched well overall, but they pitched better. The only thing I am still very upset about was the crappy game called by Cuzzi on Sunday. I'm not saying that Edmonds drawing the walk that he earned, instead of being punched out on a call that rivals the BS we saw in Chicago, would have won the game. But we'll never know. The only other thing that might set me off is if that Astro fan at Soldier Field decides to be a prick on Sunday - there will definitely be some choice words and possibly an arrest if that happens. If he wants ta act with the class that, say, Xavier has shown here overall, I'll have no problems. But bad winners are just as bad as sore losers - and I certainly know we have a few of those around here. As for me, I'll tip my cap to the Astros for winning tonight - something I didn't think possible after the collapse in game 5 - and cheer like hell for the White Sox starting Saturday.

Some will also argue that, given tonights loss, Pujols' home run won't mean much. I doubt that's true - Fisks HR in game 6 of the World Series against Cincinnati is still remembered fondly, even though the Reds won game 7. And although the home run didn't spur the comeback (and the Cardinals bats) the way we all hoped it would, it did do one very big thing. It gave Cardinal fans one, last chance to say goodbye to the current Busch Stadium. When the Cardinals lost game 2, we all assumed that we'd be back for at least a game 6. And we came extremely close to not getting that chance to really say goodbye to Busch and it's memories. Although we didn't get to send Busch off in style like we hoped, we did get to light up the place one, last time. Everyone there tonight - everyone watching tonight - know that this is where it ends. But at least we got that last chance, that last game. For that, I think Pujols HR will still rank - and should rank - as one of the biggest in Cardinal history.

As for the Cardinals and their continued postseason failures, maybe it's about time that Busch is torn down, since I can't think of another more cursed team than the Cards when it comes to the postseason. Rolling tarps taking down the fastest guy in the league. Clark not being able to play in one of the easier parks to hit a home run. Hands sliced open. Dumb-ass ex-Cub destroying a shoulder two years after Rolen was taken out on the basepaths. Sanders suffering a train wreck of an injury when he was the hottest hitter on the team, and he never was the same player after that. If the Cardinals made the playoffs after '82, you could guarantee there'd be some freak injujry to an important player - which makes me wonder what deal with the devil somebody made that year. Still, maybe our luck will be better in the new place. After all, the Gods of Baseball have to give us a break some fucking year, don't they?

As for this team, there's still a core of players that can keep this team competitive for years to come. We found a SS that this team loves in Eckstein - he may not have the strongest arm, but noone will ever accuse him of taking a game - or even a play - off. The dude even runs full speed on a walk. Edmonds is who he is - a great defensive outfielder, but a very streaky hitter. Pujols and Rolen - if he can stay healthy - is a 3-4 punch that will be feared for years to come. Molina is already a great defensive catcher, and is getting better offensively. Carpenter is the Ace that this team has been looking for for years, and the postseason experience will help him. People will get on Mulder for tonights game, but he didn't do any worse then Carpenter did two nights earlier, and is fine as a 2 guy. We seem to have enough guys to fill out a pretty good lineup of five starters, and athough Izzy gives us heart attacks every time he pitches, he finds a way to get the job done. We do need some help in middle relief (or, at least, not have our best guy knock himself out of the playoffs on the last day of the season in a meaningless game), and an infusion of youth in outfield. Walker finished the year on fumes. I'd like to see Sanders back, but we know now he won't play all season. But this is not a team that will need to be rebuilt. A few key pieces here and there - something Jocketty has done time and time again - and we'll be back again next year. And who knows - maybe the third time is the charm.

There's no joy in Cardinal Nation tonight. It'll be at least 24 years between titles. But as Houston - generally a class organization (except for Clemens, who I really wish would be the one to get a batting practice hit off his nogin) - hadn't even made the dance for its entire 42 year existance, I can't bugrudge them their happiness (so long as it's not rubbed in my face - something some people around here could learn when the Cardinals win). These two teams are the class of the National League right now. And while I'll have a hate on for them next year, and hope they lose the Series in four straight (they have nothing on the White Sox streak), Houston and their fans deserve their happiness tonight.

So enjoy tonight, Houston. As Cardinal Nation can tell you, you never know when you'll be able to experience it again.