More than a handful of Cardinals came to Busch Stadium on Friday afternoon for the final rite of any season – the inglorious packing of their stuff. Bags were lined up dutifully in front of the lockers in the clubhouse, and a plastic tub of sanitary white socks was available in the middle of the room (perfect for protecting autographed bats), and trashcans were waiting for the overflow.

Some packed swiftly with a kid’s soccer game to attend. Others did so meticulously, organizing their things based on what went home and what was collected for charity auctions. They packed different things, and they packed with different intent.

Some will be back.

Some have that choice.

A few cannot be sure.

“We’ll see what happens,” said utility infielder Daniel Descalso, who will be arbitration eligible for the second time this winter. “Obviously I didn’t get a chance to play a lot this year. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity. I don’t know if there is going to be any more opportunity going forward here. I would like that chance to play. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

The Cardinals returned to St. Louis late Thursday night after losing 6-3 in Game 5 of the National League championship series. The overnight, unhappy flight got the players back to the ballpark and eventually home shortly after sunrise Friday morning. A third consecutive season ends short of a World Series title, but at least as far as the NLCS. The Giants eliminated the Cardinals, four games to one, in the best-of-seven series, and it’s the second time in three years San Francisco has taken the NL pennant from the defending champs.