- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Albert Pujols tried to give away nothing during the celebration, tried to stay in the moment. But what a moment it was.

Getting another taste of that championship feeling surely will tip the scales in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals at least a little bit when it comes time to talk contract.

“Obviously, right now a lot of things go through my head and thinking about the whole season,” Pujols said at the podium after the Cardinals won their 11th World Series.

“Probably like two or three weeks from now, that’s when I’m really going to be sitting down and saying, ‘Wow, where we were, and now we’re the 2011 World Champions.’ It’s unbelievable.”

What remained of Friday after the Cardinals finished off the Texas Rangers in Game 7 was for savoring one of the most unlikely comebacks in major league history. Hundreds of fans peacefully roamed the downtown streets well into the night.

“Truly a dream come true,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s hard to really imagine it actually happened.”

On Sunday, the team will bask in adulation once again with a victory parade scheduled for late afternoon. In 2006, the team estimated between 300,000 and a half-milllion people lined the streets.

Five players remain from 2006, when the Cardinals backed into the postseason as an 83-win team and then got hot when key players got healthy. Pujols, Yadier Molina, Skip Schumaker and Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright remain from that team, which also was lightly regarded.

Can’t top 2011.

“This team is unbelievable,” Carpenter said after beating the Rangers for the second time. “Most amazing team I’ve ever been a part of.”

General manager John Mozeliak takes special satisfaction in the championship. The moves he made at the trade deadline for shortstop Rafael Furcal, starter Edwin Jackson and three relievers finally paid off in September, and well beyond.

“All you can do is live and die with your club,” Mozeliak said. “To sit here now and be on top, it’s just a wonderful experience.”

Mozeliak can’t celebrate for long, though.

“I would say I have about a 72-hour window to enjoy this,” Mozeliak said. “And then right back it Monday.”

A weighty decision looms: Can the Cardinals persuade Pujols to stay? Would extra millions he might make elsewhere compensate for shedding the role of local icon?

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