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Column: Cardinals keep adding magical moments (complete with Harry Potter reference!)

Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2012, at 5:37 AM

There are moments that stick out in my life as a Cardinals fan.

My earliest memory is actually of Andruw Jones and the Atlanta Braves crushing my dreams during the 1996 National Leauge championship series.

I remember watching the games on this tiny black and white TV that my mom had in the kitchen because I thought that brought the team more luck than when I watched in the living room. Not sure how that game plan failed.

I don't know why Jones' performance sticks out. I looked it up, and he had a mediocre series. He played in just five of the seven games and had just two hits.

When I went in search of that information, I assumed he had a monster series because all I could remember was people going crazy about a 19-year-old hitting a homer in the playoffs.

My guess now is just that my pride was hurt by the Cards surrendering a homer to a teenager in the middle of a 15-0 loss in Game 7. I didn't remember that final score. Ouch.

The next few years were littered with what now are bittersweet memories of Mark McGwire's pursuit of the home run record.

I never was McGwire's biggest fan. I didn't care much for home runs when the team wasn't winning or making the playoffs, but if someone was going to break the record, I preferred it be McGwire over the Cubs' Sammy Sosa.

Of course, now we know both were being aided by performance enhancers the whole time.

The next string of memories are much more pleasant. I remember Jim Edmonds' fist pump in the batter's box when he won Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS. I could never forget Albert Pujols' monster shot off Brad Lidge a year later.

Of course I remember the Cardinals winning the 2006 World Series. I was in college at the time, and it sounded like everyone in my huge apartment complex screamed at once when the last out was recorded.

That's more good memories and signature moments than the fans of some MLB teams will get in a lifetime, but that hasn't stopped the Cardinals from somehow outdoing all of them in the last few years.

Last year's World Series Game 6 heroics, courtesy of David Freese, Lance Berkman and David Freese, again reached remember-where-you-were-when-it-happened status.

There was no reason to expect something like that to happen all over again, and yet I caught myself expecting it all the same as the Cardinals entered the ninth inning down two runs in Game 5 of this year's National League division series against the Nationals.

The Cardinals rallied, I jumped up and down and fist pumped like a fool, and then I sat down and starting thinking and writing about how lucky I was -- how lucky all Cardinals fans are right now.

Maybe the Cardinals will find a way to win the World Series again this year. Maybe there is more Hermione Granger-level magic in store for us.

Then again maybe there's not.

Either way, we're all getting to witness what may prove to be the greatest generation of Cardinals baseball.

St. Louis has been to the playoffs nine times since 2000 and has advanced to a least the NLCS seven times in that span. You'd need to go back to the 1940's or maybe even the 1920's -- when the World Series was the only playoff round -- to find a comparable stretch.

I hope and, yes, I even find myself expecting that there will maybe more moments to remember in my next quarter century as a Cardinal fan, but just in case there isn't, I'm going to be thankful for all the ones we've had and do my best to always remember how I felt when I watched them happen.

Rachel Crader is editor of semoball.com. Contact her at rcrader@semissourian.com.

Thanks for reading! Please share your favorite Cardinal memory in the comments.

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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.

Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.