Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox. In 6 games they proved with little remaining doubt why they deserved the 2013 World Series Title. The beards may be gross, the methods may be abnormal, but the way they played the game this year won them the title. A franchise that suffered for so long is now in the conversation of ‘dynasty’ and I couldn’t be happier for one of America’s most storied teams.
As far as another one of the those storied teams, a team that STILL can hold it’s own in that dynasty conversation, The Cardinals fell flat. No excuses, no pointing fingers. The St. Louis Cardinals got to the World Series playing the kind of ball that it takes to get a team there, but didn’t go much beyond that point. It happens…I mean, can you imagine if the Detroit Tigers played in the 2006 Series like they had all season long? Wouldn’t have ended like that I can promise. That’s all just part of the game.
It’s also what makes the game worth playing. As a lifelong Cardinals fan it’s never easy to see your team get to the Fall Classic and lose…but that’s the way the game goes. It’s why you watch, why you cheer, why you throw things when it doesn’t go your way. It’s why you swear off the sport all together, only the be calling work ‘sick’ for the 2014 Opening Day.
The 2013 Cardinals may not have any hardware to add to the prestigious St. Louis trophy case, but you’re kidding yourself even as a fair weather fan if you think they’re done. By all accounts this team shouldn’t be half as far as they are. They lost their leader, their skipper…only to gain a guy that hasn’t managed anyone over the age of 12 in his life and a postseason legend that had never made it as far as the postseason goes. The average Redbirds pitcher should be graduating college this spring and nearly the entire infield was taking grounders at AA Hammon’s Field 12 months ago.
In so many ways this Series was eerily similar to the 2004 one. We didn’t get swept, but try not to get hung up on that for a moment. That Series featured a bunch of guys that had barely experienced a postseason, let alone a World Series. A young Pujols, an injury-prone Edmonds, a postseason novice Rolen. All trying to take on a Red Sox team with nothing but momentum and raw destiny. We ate their lunch.
It didn’t feel good, still burns a little to be honest. But it made coming back in 2006 with guys that had now been there and tasted defeat, only to appreciate the victory and play for more. It took that experience to move from ‘happy to be here’ to ‘unfinished business’. This 2013 crew is only just beginning to scratch the surface and is in many ways lightyears ahead of that ’04 crew.
I guess the most disheartening thing from this whole situation has been the sudden animosity from the STL fan base. Since when do we boo our players and blast them on Twitter? Demanding their head, or at least a trade…I understand the Internet is the great equalizer, giving everyone a voice. But we shouldn’t abuse that on petty issues like sports. These guys have a job to do and there’s a reason they get paid to do it. Wong will steal a LOT of bases, trust me. Adams will hit a LOT of home runs, believe it. Martinez will strike out a LOT of guys…shoot, even Kozma has a shred of upside (this is a big step for me). They make mistakes, they’re young. None of us start out at the top, we have to learn our way up. They’re in the process, bear with them, and yes, despite the errors, they’re still better than you and your hashtags.
That actually goes for the entire team. I’ve had the agonizing, thrilling, joyous and always rewarding pleasure of following the Cardinals since as early as I could understand it, even working for the organization in AA Springfield, watching a lot of these guys come up and flash that talent I know they’re capable of. Jay, Freese, Adams, Rosenthal…studs, all of them. They wear the Birds on the Bat and have earned every stitch. I realize given the recent success the Cardinals have experienced we inherit a lot of new fans.
To you, I say welcome. We’re a very proud fan base that I hope you can passionately love and follow. I hope you learn the Cardinal Way; we do not boo our players, we do not blast them on social networks. We praise performance, we believe because we have seen. We know that a game is 9 innings and the other team better play every out of them. We’ve been around a while and we’re very good at what we do.
In Cardinal Nation, we win a lot. We lose some, but we’re always…I repeat, ALWAYS, right there in it.
See you next year.