Cardinal virtues

Every American can join the cheers of St. Louis fans after the Cardinals' final 6-to-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series championship. The National League Cardinals, after all, had to fight right down to the wire against an American League team that by all statistical measurements was awesome. The Brewers had one of the strongest batting orders in baseball, yet in the end it was the Cardinals' speed, defense, and derring-do that carried the day.

Milwaukee fans need not despair in losing. This year's World Series was a memorable one, making the game of baseball - still the quintessential American sport - the winner.

Here were two Midwestern teams battling it out in only the second Series since World War II in which no team from the East or West Coast was involved. Attendance for all baseball was up for the year. And traditional roles were reversed as ''big money'' clubs such as the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and California Angels were stopped along the way, while teams often found in or near the cellar - Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle - turned in fine performances.

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Meanwhile, the sports world's best side-show continued, as Billy Martin was fired from the Oakland A's - the fifth team he has been dismissed from. Will the scrappy manager really wind up at the Cleveland Indians or - is it possible - the New York Yankees? Stay tuned until next year.

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