IF SOMEWHERE in America there really is a wintertime cracker barrel surrounded by baseball buffs recalling great moments in the history of the World Series, little of note will be added from the contest just concluded. Still, somewhere between the raindrops and the beer-city jokes, the Cardinals and the Brewers managed to string out the suspense for a seven-game, roller coaster of runs, hits and oh-so- many errors. In the end, it was the house of Cards that stood long enough to snatch the championship.

As sports writer Thomas Boswell has observed, the concept of Cards manager Whitey Herzog begins with the notion that speed and raw athletic ability count above all else. Home runs? The team was last in the major leagues. But fill the bases through bunts, steals, the hit-and-run and any other permissible mad dash around the bases and pitch right at the opposition -- nothing fancy, just inside the park where the same fleet-footed crew can handle it. Therein lay a recipe for Brewer fizzle, in which errors, the inability to curb the Cards' infield hits and power shortages at bat proved to be Milwaukee's undoing -- not by much, but by enough.

So maybe it wasn't a thrill a minute, but with no pro football to distract us and the wonderful, hometown spirits of the fans in both cities, there was much to watch and admire. Milwaukee can take heart -- not all of it was in the Cards.