Like many St. Louis Cardinals fans, I went to bed hurting last night not just for myself but for the players, fans, and management. A team that was one win away from winning the 19th National League pennant in organization history. One win away from a 4th trip to the World Series in the past decade.
It isn’t October without the Cardinals making a deep run in the playoffs. It just isn’t.
I’m not saying this one hurt more or less than what happened in 2005. In 2005, the Cardinals game back to Busch Stadium for one final game but they were down 3-2 in the series against the Houston Astros. In 2012, the Cardinals left Busch Stadium with a 3-2 record in the NLCS only to not be able to finish the job in San Francisco.
Most of the things that went wrong, aside from the offense practically being shut down by the Giants pitching, were mental mistakes on defense. It’s the mistakes that we saw while watching the 2006 World Series, only those mistakes were the ones being made by the Detroit Tigers.
I look forward to another deep run in 2013 but there are questions. Mainly, what do the St. Louis Cardinals do about the middle infield? Who is the regular at first base? How will Matt Carpenter find his way into the lineup? What happens to Jon Jay if Oscar Taveras becomes the regular center fielder? Does Trevor Rosenthal stick to the bullpen or does he make the starting rotation? Does Lance Lynn stay in the bullpen or go back to the rotation? Questions like these are important, especially as we make our way closer to the Winter Meetings.
An interesting stat was brought up by KMOX last night. In Tony La Russa’s first season, the Cardinals had 88 wins and finished with a Game 7 loss in the NLCS. The Cardinals had the same results in Mike Matheny‘s first year as manager. Both Game 7′s resulted in blowouts as well.
Matheny addressed the experience from his first season last night in the postgame press conference.
“Well, I learn something every time I walk out there,” the rookie Cardinal manager said. “But really, what I’ve learned is we’ve got a special group of players over on our side who have overcome a lot of obstacles and who did a lot of things that people didn’t think they could do. And there’s quite a bit to be excited about if you’re a St. Louis Cardinal fan and I just want to make sure that these guys don’t forget how we got here and the character and the heart that it took to be where we are right now.
“It wasn’t how we scripted it to finish, but it was certainly a great run that these guys need to be very proud of.”
The team, fans, and management have a lot to be proud of. We didn’t get the end result we wanted but with the addition of that second wild card, we got a lot more baseball in October than we would have.