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To a squirrel: St. Louis faithful hold out hope for a repeat rodent appearance despite lengthy sabbatical

With St. Louis on the verge of taking a 2-1 lead in the NLCS, it's hard not to realize that this Cardinals club is eerily similar to last year's World Series winners.

The starting rotation is deep, the bullpen is bearded, and no opponent's lead is safe until out No. 27 is in the glove.

Of course, there are a few notable exceptions. Tony La Russa now studies best-seller charts instead of platoon splits. Albert Pujols is likely brooding his way through a nine-hour solo batting-cage session at this very moment. And the Rally Squirrel has gone missing.

The sun has risen over the Gateway Arch 378 times since the last public appearance from St. Louis' living lucky charm, a mad dash between Skip Schumaker and Roy Oswalt during Game 5 of the NLDS against the Phillies.

While whispers of the squirrel's whereabouts abound, including a particularly juicy rumor involving Torty Craig, a rogue groundskeeper and an entire bushel of acorns, we're still waiting for a confirmed sighting. Every day without one is 24 more hours of the Loo faithful nervously pushing their toasted ravioli across a plate, wondering whether Freese and Friends alone can manufacture enough magic for a repeat.

-- Ian Kay/MLB.com

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