Archive for October 26th, 2012

The Captain Goes 5 on 12

On October 27, 2011 this was the scene across millions of living rooms and bars



Game 6 was easily the best Cardinals game I’ve seen and truly one for the record books. One day shy of a year later and I’m lamenting the loss of 2012 Cardinals season. Despite the dismal ending, there were a lot of genuinely wonderful parts to celebrate. With so much joy and pain, let’s wrap up the season with a bittersweet #Friday5


Top 5 Thoughts On The End To The Cardinals 2012 Season


1. The Cardinals were lucky to make it into the playoffs
Truth be told, the Cardinals had no business making the playoffs in 2012. The team had a wildly uneven year full of feast or famine moments. After 162 games the Cardinals had an unimpressive 88 wins, one less than Albert Pujols and the Angels. St. Louis finished nine games behind the Reds in the Central Division and six games behind Atlanta in the Wild Card. Without the addition of the second Wild Card spot the Cardinals would have fallen well short of the playoff. So in that sense I was happy that the team won a ticket to the show. Everything that came afterwards was gravy.


2. It’s really hard to repeat as champions
Watching the Cardinals struggle all year really made me appreciate how difficult it is for a champion to repeat. St. Louis played more games than any other National League team in 2011, and it showed on the bodies of the 2013 team. Losing the bat of Berkman stung, but the loss of Furcal really wounded the team’s defense. And the small miracle that was Carpenter’s return was short lived. The young players did their best to fill in the gaps, but the loss of the veterans was too much to overcome. Getting to the top is difficult, but staying on top is extremely rare.


3. A tale of three Fridays in October
The Cardinals’ playoffs were decided on three consecutive Fridays, and they were all thrilling to watch. On October 5th I watched the Wild Card game at Felix’s in Dogtown with my sister and D. As I mentioned that nite, I thought the Cardinals would probably lose and was thrilled to be wrong.
One week later and the Cardinals were once again facing elimination, Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals. I made it over to the hippie house in Creve Coeur with D in time for the first pitch Friday nite. This time I felt confident the before the game that Cardinals were going to win. At six runs down in the third inning, I felt a whole lot less confident. But I never gave up hope. I just kept repeating the phrase “It’s still early, it’s early.” Even in the top of the ninth, down to a last strike I stuck with my “It’s early” chant. It turns out I was right and the Cardinals won the most thrilling game since Game 6 last year. Fate, it seemed, was on the Cardinals side.
But on October 19th, fate showed its real plan. The Cardinals were leading the Giants in the NLCS 3-1.



Even though the Cardinals only had to win one of the next three games, something inside told me that Friday’s game was do or die. The Cardinals were facing the Giants’ #4 starter and they had home field advantage; it was a must win game. A loss would send the series back to San Francisco to face the Giants’ #1 & 2 starters, which seemed like a death sentence. The Cardinals batters had already looked terrible against Vogelsong in Game 2, and they got lucky against Cain in Game 3. Friday nite’s game 5 was the Cardinals’ golden opportunity to return to the World Series. They blew it big time.
I watched the Game 5 over at Deputy Tim’s place with a big crowd, and by the end of the nite we were rabid. How the hell did The Cardinals let that one slip away? Barry Zito looked pretty hittable to me. His fastball was only topping out at 89 mph! What is it about soft tossing lefties that give the Cardinals such fits? When the Cardinals didn’t score in the second inning with a runner on second and third with no outs, I had a bad feeling. I was right. From that moment on, the Cardinals would only score one run in the next 24 innings.
Over three Fridays the Cardinals’ Red October went from this



To this



4. Epic collapse vs. destiny
Up until the epic collapse this Postseason felt remarkably similar to last season. The Cardinals seemed to be on a roll that nothing could halt. All that was missing was this guy.



Nothing could stop the Redbirds except all around bad play from the whole team. And then the team lost 20-1 over three games; it was a real team failure. There’s so much blame to go around that it’s hard to make it stick on just one place. But maybe it wasn’t that the Cardinals were so bad, but that the Giants were so good.
On the final Friday of the season it is looking like the Giants are the miracle team of 2012. They managed to win six(!) elimination games in the Playoffs and now sit with a 2-0 lead over the Tigers in the World Series. Those lucky bastards managed to beat the Tigers’ two best pitchers, and now have their two best set to pitch in Detroit this weekend. I’m not quite sure what is making the difference, but it seems like the Giants have luck on their side. Defying the odds was the story of the Giants in 2010, a story which the Cardinals borrowed in 2011 and begrudgingly returned in 2012. I took it pretty bad, but not as tough as some.


5. Another memorable season
But after all is said and done, this year was still rewarding in my book. The Cardinals made it another Red October to remember. I had a blast watching playoff baseball with family and friends. And I can now say that I attended the only game Chris Carpenter pitched in St. Louis in 2012. Even though the Cardinals lost that game, just having the opportunity to watch the return of my favorite athlete from the comfort luxury suite was an amazing experience.
Besides, as fun as it was to say #12in12 there was never really a chance it would top the magic that was #11in11.



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