Well 162 games are down the drain and Major League Baseball is down to 10 teams in the playoffs. This season had a different feel for me with my beloved St. Louis Cardinals. There was some interesting high expectation and I think the Cardinals finished about where I thought they would by making it into the Wild Card play in game. Many thought the Cardinals would win the National League Central with ease, but those thought might have been by some of those that bleed Cardinals Red.
The Cardinals came into this season without their manager from a World Championship team that qualified as the Wild Card in 2011 and without arguably the best player in baseball for the past decade. That left them using a former Major League Catcher who never managed at any level higher than 11 year old Select. Mike Matheny is very familiar to Cardinals fans so they trusted Upper Management’s judgment to bring in the rookie. They also brought in aging star Carlos Beltran. Who knew what he would bring to the table?
Well, as we now know, Beltran was a first half star. Matheny did a pretty good job with the team. I think many wish they knew the deeper meaning behind some of his moves. But that’s ok, because they are in that Wild Card play in game against the Atlanta Braves. Funny thing is that if this was the playoff scenario for last year, the same two teams would have met. The Cardinals would have hosted last year and the Braves get to host this year.
Where would the Cardinals have been without Yadier Molina, Lance Lynn, and Allen Craig? In my opinion, Yadi is the National League MVP. Adam Wainwright may be the National League Comeback Player of the Year and Kyle Lohse will get paid in the offseason as the Cardinals will not resign him unless there is something we all don’t know.
I am going to stick with my preseason pick of The Detroit Tigers to win the World Series. As I told a Tigers fan friend just this morning, their bullpen and the ability of Prince Fielder to step up are key. This should be a fun time in lots of cities. Who would have thought that Washington, Baltimore, and Oakland would all have teams in the playoffs six months ago?
St. Louis was expected to fade after slugger Albert Pujols signed with the Angels and longtime manager Tony La Russa retired. And, indeed, the Cardinals wouldn’t have made the playoffs without a change in the format, adding a second wild-card team in the each league. They finished six games behind the Braves during the regular season, only to hand them more misery in the postseason.