Oh, And Have I Mentioned the Cardinals?

The answer is, "No." I have been remiss in touting the accomplishments of my rooting interest in baseball, but they are knocking on the door of another Central Division title and appearance in the postseason. As I write, the magic number for clinching is 4 after the 'Birds polished off a second consecutive walk-off win against the Team That Shall Not Be Named.

St. Louis' fortunes have turned dramatically this year. Here's what I noted, but didn't print, in an email to myself on June 9:

Cards have been hanging on with no visible reason for having done so-
The hot start is probably why, but reality has set in-
No offense around Pujols-
No shut down bull pen-
Swept by the Rockies and have now fallen behind the Team That Shall Not Be Named in the loss column-
Barring some dramatic change, the Cards ’09 season is listing to port-

Well, as we know, the dramatic changes occurred and it's been Katie-bar-the-door since. The Cards acquired Mark De LaRosa, Julio Lugo, Matt Holliday and John Smoltz within a matter of weeks and haven't looked back. To illustrate, St. Louis is 35-16 since acquiring Holliday and that team in Chicago couldn't keep up. Aside from the roster changes, Ryan Franklin established himself as a closer, the other relievers settled in and the starters have been, overall, very good. When the Cards are humming on all cylinders, they are tough to beat.

Playoffs here we come!


Bob Wingate said...

I saw the very end of today's game, and should have started watching earlier. Didn't think of it in time.

Hat's off to the Cards!

My Royals are finally showing some signs of life these last few games, but far, far, FAR too late in the season to matter a hill of beans.

Whatever that means exactly.

I'm much too casual a fan to have kept up with the details, but your comments are interesting. So rather than ponder why my team's had a lousy year (that's more a project for the Royals coaching staff and management than for a casual fan), I'm more interested in your ideas about how a team gets to "hitting it on all cylinders" and goes from good to great.

In general, is it...

Having people who see early on where the weaknesses are developing, who have the ability to make tough decisions who to trade (especially when it might be unpopular), or

Is it more that the decision makers have a sharp eye for the available talent, and already know exactly what they want, or

Is it mostly a matter of having enough money to offer attractive contracts, or

Does it come down to individuals already on the team who ARE leaders, and instill belief and a winning attitude in the rest of the players; inspiring them to go beyond what they thought they could do?

I'm sure timing and chance play a part. But also it's obvious that some teams rise above circumstances. I'm curious how that works.

Put it this way Mike, if you saw a team start to falter early in the season and it was up to you to turn things around in a month or two, what would you do first? I know that's a loaded hypothetical question (the problem could be in the pitching, the offense, or both). I think I'm more interested in the thought process in general.

Bob Wingate said...

P.S. Or is having a great coaching staff more / less / as important as having or acquiring talented players?

Jacob said...

magic number's 2 pops!