The St. Louis Cardinals and their loyal fanbase know how their season often appears to outsiders at the beginning of September: like they won’t be playing at the beginning of October. However, the entire Cardinal Nation knows that looks can be deceiving in the Gateway to the West. They know that fantastic feats can happen every September. And they often do in Ol’ St. Lou.
I have to admit, the idea of writing this scares me. Heck, I haven’t even dared to talk to anyone about it yet. This is because of the historic and notorious superstition of baseball: don’t talk about a good thing that’s happening, or that good thing won’t continue to happen.
You know what I mean, right? You won’t hear a true baseball fan say, “So-and-so with such-and-such a team has a no-hitter going into the blank inning.” Because then so-and-so won’t have that no-hitter going into the next inning. That’s how baseball works. Superstitions, jinxes, curses, and traditions aren’t just things of folklore in the olden days of the grandness of baseball. They are indisputable truths. Just ask the Cubs. Or the Red Sox. Those curses lasted decades. In the case of the Cubs, a century plus eight.
As a true baseball fan, I’m sure that you can understand my trepidation in speaking of this matter. However, seeing that it is my job to write about sports, coupled with the fact that I’m pretty darn excited about what’s going on, I am taking my chances and saying a few words. Just please don’t tell the rest of Cardinal Nation that I’m the one who messed up the streak and their playoff chances, if it should come to that.
St. Louis Cardinals Playoff Chances
It must be understood that the Cardinals are not fighting to win the NL Central; they are currently 8.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Nor are they in the hunt for the first wild card position, as the LA Dodgers have that spot secured.
The St. Louis Cardinals, along with three other teams (Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and San Diego), are in a heated battle for the second wild card spot. Riding an improbable 11-game win-streak, which hasn’t happened in 20 years, the Redbirds have clawed their way to 4 1/2 games up on the next-closest team, the Cincinnati Reds.
Two weeks ago, the Cardinals had a record of merely 69-68, and they were 3.5 games behind the Reds and Padres for the wild-card race. Sarah Langs of @MLB has this visual to share to better demonstrate the amazing transformation of this team.
Listening To The Birds
Harrison Bader, the Cardinals’ centerfielder, had this to say on mlb.com concerning their recent success.
“I think that everybody has a mentality that all that matters at the end of the day is wins. It’s been a long season for everybody — every season is a long season — and you kind of get to a point when you really do see the light, especially when playoffs are being spoken about, where your personal desires to maybe put a little extra on a swing or maybe go for it with two strikes and abandon the two-strike approach — all those things kind of go out the window, especially when all that matters is, after nine innings, getting a ‘W.’”Harrison Bader, Cardinals centerfielder
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is proud of how his team has turned itself around. “Guys are feeling good, and that’s appropriate and nice and they should enjoy it. It’s about keeping the gas down, staying hungry and staying ready to get after it tomorrow.”
Familiar To Cardinals Fans
St. Louis Cardinals fans are experiencing deja vu. We have been through the September heroics before, most notably in 2006 and 2011. In both of those years, it seemed improbable for the team to make it to the playoffs, let alone fight their way through to win the World Series either season. Now, I’m not at all suggesting that the Cardinals will be winning the World Series this year. I am simply drawing a comparison between how dismal seasons had looked at the end of August and how much of a different team they appeared to be by the end of September.
Not that I would say no to a 12th World Series ring.
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