As the minutes tick away on the countdown to a New Year, 2010 is slowly fading away into history. For some it was a year to remember, and for others it was a year to forget. It had its ups and downs, as does every year, but 2011 provides a new beginning for all.
As far as sports are concerned, there was certainly no shortage of excitement throughout Major League Baseball this year. In what became known as the year of the pitcher, the San Francisco Giants emerged as baseball’s best, beating the Texas Rangers in the World Series. To put an exclamation point on it all, offseason signings sent Carl Crawford to the Red Sox and Cliff Lee to the Phillies.
For the Cardinals and their fans, 2011 can’t come soon enough. The Cards missed the post-season entirely for the third time in the last four years. The team lost what was once a comfortable division lead in miserable fashion, completely collapsing in the month of August. Despite all of the disappointment that came out of the 2010 season for St. Louis, the year cannot simply be forgotten. Before the page is turned and a new chapter is written in Cardinals history, there are a few things from 2010 that the team should keep in mind moving forward into a New Year and new season.
1. The Hot Start
The Cardinals got off to an impressive start in April, starting the 2010 season with a record of 18-8. Eight of these wins came against NL Central opponents, putting the Cards at the top of the division. A great start always puts you in better position for a favorable finish, something St. Louis fans are expecting in 2011. Given the intense pressure that the team is under, a successful start would go a long way to lighten things up in the clubhouse and satisfy impatient fans.
2. The Brawl
In the first game of an early August showdown with division foe Cincinnati, Yadier Molina set the tone for a series that, at the time, was a turning point in the NL Central race. Molina sent a strong message to Brandon Phillips and the Reds, showing the toughness and passion that every player needs. The Cards went on to back it up by completing the three-game sweep and positioning themselves nicely for the rest of the season. Since the St. Louis clubhouse was often questioned at the end of the year and throughout the offseason, the team can use this tough mentality as a recipe for success in 2011.
3. The Second Place Finish
As painful as it is for many of us to think about, the second place finish and loss of the NL Central Title to the Reds should be plenty of motivation for the Cards in 2011. With a chip on their shoulder, the Cardinals should look to regain their spot in the playoffs by dominating the division. Taking down the Reds is the first step towards winning the World Series for the second time in six years. After all, if we forget about history, we are doomed to repeat it.