posted on September 29, 2013 22:36
The Time Has Come Once Again
What a rush.
The Cardinals couldn’t afford to lose one game on this six-game homestand if they wanted home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, and they didn’t.
Now, it’s one thing to sweep the Cubs, but it’s another to carve through Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman. Every one of those wins was necessary to edge the Braves for the top spot in the National League.
The last time the Cardinals wrapped up a season on a streak of six games or more was 2004.
And the last time the Cardinals won at least 97 games was 2005.
This team won 14 more regular season games than the 2006 World Champions.
At the start of the 2007 season, I wrote a column telling fans---but really, telling myself---to appreciate what we were in the midst of.
I went Carly Simon and wrote, “These are the good old days.”
At that time, the Cardinals had been in the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006…and had just capped off that run with a World Championship.
It was a run that we hadn’t ever seen around here, and yeah, even if you wanted to point out that the playoff field had expanded drastically since 1994, the Cardinals were in the NLCS in every one of those playoff years but 2001.
They were, indeed, “the good old days.”
The only issue with the above sentence is that the past tense need not be used. Seven completed baseball seasons later, they still are the good old days.
Since that column was written in April of 2007, the Cardinals have been competitive every year, won the Central Division twice, been in the playoffs four times, appeared in the NLCS twice, and won the World Series once.
And, as impressive as that resume is, the words can’t begin to do justice to the once-in-a-lifetime comebacks Cardinal fans experienced twice in less than 365 days against the Rangers in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series and against the Nationals in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.
It’s an absolute absurd run of both success and euphoric experiences that not even the New York Yankees and their limitless payroll can match.
The table is set once again for another baseball memory to be imprinted in your mind forever. Even in the two years the Cardinals lost in the NLDS (2001, 2009), they still gave you thrills, highs, and, of course, lows that put you on that playoff rollercoaster.
I can’t imagine there’s much like playoff baseball in St. Louis in the world of sports. That’s not to preach some form of St. Louis Exceptionalism. It’s really just an observation of the way things are here and the way things are in sports. Baseball playoff series are different than an NBA or NHL playoff series, and since we’re talking “series,” it’s obviously different than the NFL. Each night leading into a game…and during each game…and the morning after each game…it’s discussion of strategy, injuries, optimism, pessimism, and eventually…for seven teams…the end…and for one team…the mountaintop.
But, here, the city shuts down.
Best of luck doing business around here on Thursday or Friday.
My guess is that it won’t be the way it is in Atlanta, Los Angeles, or even Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. And that won’t be the way it is in Detroit, Oakland, Texas, or Tampa Bay. Perhaps only Boston has the same October Obsession.
The emotion of the city is tied to the performance of the baseball team.
If we’re fortunate, over the next month, we won’t get much sleep, our blood pressure will rise, and we’ll have some miserable days and nights.
Once again…that’s if we’re fortunate.
At some point, this run will end.
But, courtesy of a ridiculous run to finish the season, the Cardinals are not only back in the playoffs…but they’re back with the best record in the National League and another shot at bringing a World Championship to St. Louis.
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