Around 10:30 last Halloween, we were probably doing the same thing – wiping crocodile tears off our plastic pumpkin candy buckets we’d been cradling like a baby wondering if the boss was going to call off work, because, let’s be honest, who can work tomorrow?
The Boston Red Sox had just beaten the Cardinals in the World Series for the 2nd time in 9 years. And while we couldn’t get angry about all the ‘Boston Strong’ stories (I’m sure they were lovely and provided inspiration and happiness to people that deserved it)… we couldn’t watch either. Sights were set on March 31st 2014.
It’s time to run it back, people. It’s Opening Day!
The Cardinals enter the season as the Las Vegas betting odds (along with the Dodgers) to win the World Series (6/1) and are coming off three successive trips to the NLCS. They made it through Spring Training very healthy, losing only Jamie Garcia to injury. They added a former All-Star at shortstop.
Expectations? Expectations are high.
In fact, as a Cardinal fan, I can’t remember a season where expectations were this high. Even in 2004, you looked at the rotation of Carpenter, Suppan, Williams, Marquis and Morris and said ‘solid’ but hoped for some health. The Cards got that wish and all 5 made over 27 starts that season.
In 2014, they’re taking a guy like Carlos Martinez that would be in any other rotation in MLB and moving him to the bullpen because of a lack of room. Seriously – ZERO other teams wouldn’t have Martinez in their rotation today. If Jamie Garcia comes back, 2 injuries would have to take place for him to get a shot.
In fact, it’s time to stop playing footsie with the idea. We are IN the golden age of St. Louis Cardinal baseball. The 40’s were big. The 60’s were great. The 80’s are remembered fondly. But THIS is the time we’ll remember.
1 – The NFL is the most dominant sports league in America. And other leagues see how parity is good for everyone trying to make a buck in sports. The MLB currently is and will continue to make success punitive to encourage the bottom to continue to churn to the top. That’s exclusive to this era and it makes what the Cardinals are doing more impressive.
2 – This is the era of free agency and big TV deals. The Cardinals lost a Hall of Famer to the former and don’t have the latter. So instead of buying their way to the top, they’ve had to outwit everyone else. They’ve been shrewd, calculating and methodical. In the Twitter world we live in where every single move brings in a torrent of feedback, they’ve stayed their course and reaped the rewards.
3 – The Cardinals never went through a fallow period to get to this point. The Cubs, for instance, are claiming they need to bottom out to get back to the top. Meanwhile, the Cardinals weakest team in a decade could be the 2006 squad. You know, the one that won a World Series. No rest for the best.
Past performance isn’t a indicator of future success.
Got it. Save your shade for later on in the season. Today, the Birds are 0-0 en route to 162-0. The impossible is still impossible. But only on Opening Day, it actually isn’t.