The St. Louis Cardinals are a nice ballclub. Pujols is Pujols, Carpenter is Carpenter and they play before 40,000 every game. Between Rolen and Edmonds theres still one All-Star level player usually 85% healthy at any given time and that little skamp David Eckstein is a poor announcer's Derek Jeter as a love-object.
They're also not a very good baseball team.
Going 83-78 in the 2006 National League is essentially the same as being named one of the 20 Best Royals Bloggers, utter damnnation via faint praise.
And here we are. To no one's surprise, the Padres left about 237 men on base over four games, Pujols hit well and the Cards put LaRussa in a few spots which allowed him to draw attention to himself with a well-timed suicide squeeze (is this really a good play with the bases loaded??? seems too clever by half to me).
In the American League the Tigers took care of the Yankees in shockingly easy fashion, while the A's won two close games in Minnesota en route to a sweep. We could play each series 10 more times and we likely wouldn't see similar results again.
To be quite honest, this is my largest difficulty with sports. When the postseason hits, objectivity and perspective go out the window and everyone starts acting like someone three chapters deep in the Book of Revelation: everything and anything is a sign of those who are visible saints and those who aren't. Bad character judgement and bad attempts at explanations rule the day. From October to February, the male population of the United States of America enters into the Dark Ages (at best) and starts playing at alchemist.
For the next few days we'll be innundated with retro-fitted explanations for these outcomes. Per the formula, some single event will be chosen and riding a horse of sports pyschobabble the case will be made that something the Manager/Crusty Vet/Brash Rookie said at some random point in time let everyone know, "hey, we can do this" etc. I can't wait to read about what Jimmy Leyland/Sean Casey/Zumaya did on Thursday night that just changed everything.
Has Mitch Albom already chimed in? Come on now, you know he has. Complete with a running line of "Here is what money cannot buy" and this:
Ohh my God. They like, predicted the future or something. They knew they were gonna win! Here's the reality:
We play seasons and at the end, we have to name a champion. For whatever reason, some levels and sports play a short series, others play a one-off game. Its never really been explained to me why one's better than the other.
There has to be a result, so a mechanism is employed, and then much celebrating and honoring is done.
Its really pretty sad how much mental and emotional stock we can put into this stuff, and yes, I say that as someone who runs a sports blog. Thats why I've been increasingly drawn to the sabermetric side of the aisle: I'd rather read 5,000 words about what the percentages say than 5,000 about how Arod doesn't know how to win and Jeter does.
The answer is that there is no answer. Whats the one taunt on the field that theres no comeback for: "scoreboard". Thats it. It happened this time, it doesn't mean the past was always building to this result, it doesn't mean the future's unalterably changed.
So tonight, the Cardinals are a team coming together at the right time or an underdog rediscovering how to win or an elite team regaining its swagger or just maybe, a thoroughly mediocre team that had a nice weekend against a deeply OK Padres team.
Of course, the Padres are a team that doesn't know how to win. Can't forget that.
Somebody's gotta win.
-As "daveyork" pointed out, there's actually a fair number of ex-Royals still bumping around (or were), not just our fave Michael Tucker:
Endy Chavez - turned out to be a serviceable 4th OF
Mark Ellis - part of Damon deal, another mistake
Kiko Calero - never good enough to pitch in KC but looks good with StL. and A's
Jamie Walker how good would he look in KC bullpen?
Neifi Perez - Just shows how good Tigers are that they can carry him and still win.
-(At some nightclub for fast guys who can't hit in the near-future.)"Endy, Joey. Joey, Endy."
-2006 payrolls for the remaining 4 teams:
-Mets: $100.9 million (5th) -Cardinals: $86.9 million(13th)
-Tigers: $82.3 million (14th)
-A's: $62.3 million (21st)
These numbers should be taken with multiple grains of salt: accountants at all ends of the transaction are involved, with multiple agendas.
Wow, Billy Beane is just a horrible General Manager who doesn't understand that baseball's a game thats gotta be played/coached/thought about a certain way, isn't he?
-Lastly, this isn't baseball related, but I happened across this epic post on the San Antonio Spurs tonight. This might be the longest thing I've ever read that legitimately has no reason for existing (and I say that with praise). Its like a modernist novel in a way.