This little excerpt from a New York Post article offering a (then) five-years-later retrospective on the 2006 NLCS, in the participants’ own words, says it better than the stats. Better, even, than Yadi’s home run in the top of the ninth, which went down as the game winner and one of the clutch at-bats in Cardinal history. This young catcher had the brains and the heart to own Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded. To wit:

WAINWRIGHT: “I was too young and too naive to really understand that loading the bases with Carlos Beltran was probably not a good idea. It never even crossed my mind because I knew I was going to get the job done, whether it was him or Carlos Beltran.”

GLAVINE: “You’ve got your best player at the plate. You can’t ask for anything more than that. Carlos and the year he had – right guy, right place, right time.”

CARLOS BELTRAN, METS CENTER FIELDER: “Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about anything different than I have thought in the past. I know that it was an important at-bat. All I was trying to do was look for a pitch that I could put in play and hopefully get a hit.”

WAINWRIGHT: “Yadier comes out to the mound, just so we know how we’re going to face him. We decided we’re going to start him with a fastball away, sinker away. I liked it – let’s attack him, let’s not be scared of him.”

BELTRAN: “I was looking for maybe a fastball middle-away.”

WAINWRIGHT: “[Molina] goes back to the plate and if you watch baseball a lot, you’ll see sometimes when a catcher points to his chest and says, ‘Trust me here or follow me.’ Yadier has this sign like, ‘I’m on to something here, just throw whatever I put down.’ He puts down a changeup. I hadn’t thrown a changeup in probably a month.”

“I threw it right down Broadway, right down the middle. He took it and he kind of looked out, like, did you just throw me a changeup?”

BELTRAN: “In order for you to swing at a first-pitch changeup, you have to really be looking for a changeup. I wasn’t looking for a changeup.”

Lo DUCA: “He threw him a first-pitch changeup, and a lot of people always say, ‘Why didn’t he swing at that first pitch?’ Well, Wainwright really never threw a changeup. We were all sort of surprised.”

FLORES: “I can remember no greater feeling of relief — this sounds weird — than with the bases loaded and Beltran up, he threw a changeup first pitch. And I know that’s not his best pitch. But when I was sitting there, I thought, did he just throw an 0-0 changeup for a strike to get ahead? Whatever happened after that, I knew he had the count in his favor and some big-time weapons to battle that at-bat.”

WAINWRIGHT: “I felt like I had him after that. The [guts] of Yadier to throw that pitch. Because if I give up a hit on a changeup, Tony La Russa and [pitching coach] Dave Duncan probably call me into the office and spank me with a belt. And probably trade me or release me the next day.”

Lo DUCA: “After that, you knew you were just gonna get hook after hook. Maybe a courtesy fastball just to show you. But he was going to throw you some nasty hooks and he had a nasty one.”

WAINWRIGHT: “[On 0-2] I honestly did, I said, ‘All right, I’m going to throw the very best curveball that I can possibly throw down and away for a strike. And if I miss, it’ll be away.’ But literally, in the back of my head, I knew I was not going to miss. And I reached back, and I threw the best curveball l’ve ever thrown.”

GLAVINE: “I know a lot of people are like, ‘How could he take strike three?’ You know what? The guy made a hell of a pitch.”

BELTRAN: “It was a good pitch. Outside corner.”

WRIGHT: “You can’t [just swing no matter what]. It might look like you can do that. You can’t. If you know the guy’s throwing 94-95 with a curveball that just buckles you, you have to look one or the other. You can’t go up there and hit both.”

WAGNER: “That at-bat was about as deflating to my career and my season as it could have been.”

SUPPAN: “When we won, to hear the silence in the stadium considering how loud it was before in different parts of the game, was incredible.”

GREEN: “It seemed like forever for [Molina] to get out to the mound and for the whole team to get there and start celebrating. You watch something like that on TV and everything looks fast, everyone’s huddling in together and jumping on each other. But this looked like really slow motion. Almost kind of like a Rocky movie where the punch — you know, [like] you hear the voices going, ‘Nuhhhhh!’ All slow.”

FLORES: “The biggest thing afterwards, there’s something special about it happening on the road. You feel like your own little platoon there, as we’re bouncing around like little kids on the infield.”

La RUSSA: “First thing is the coaches on our staff hug each other. We’re all saying, ‘Can you [freaking] believe it?’ And you go out and the first thing you see is Yadi — he’s got this greatest smile.”