For the St. Louis Cardinals to put together an improbable September run and come away as the National League Wild Card champs, several things needed to fall into place. This is the case with almost any historic race to the postseason, but when you really step back and take a look at what the Cardinals accomplished just to earn the right to play in October, you realize that you have been witnessing something extremely special over the last month or so.
So with this in mind, I feel obligated to show my appreciation on behalf of all St. Louis fans. I’m never hesitant to give credit where credit is due, so after the jump, I’ll dish out a few thank you’s to those who contributed to the Cards’ incredible run.
Thank you Philadelphia Phillies. Despite clinching your division title back on September 17th and having absolutely nothing at all to play for from that point on, you refused to roll over and finished the regular season with a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. We weren’t even able to sweep the worst team in baseball, but thanks to you, we were able to capture the NL Wild Card without even needing to play a tiebreak game. I’m sure our players have a lot of respect for how you finished out the season, but now we will have to repay you by shocking the world once again and beating you in the NLDS.
Thank you Yadier Molina. The all-star catcher has arguably been the most valuable player on this team in 2011. Yadi is having by far the best season of his career by almost any measure, and Tony La Russa believes his performance warrants Silver Slugger consideration. He’s been as consistent as they come all season long, and I’m not sure there’s any catcher in MLB that I’d rather have behind the plate for the Cards.
Thank you Rafael Furcal. Since coming to St. Louis at the trade deadline, you have far exceeded my expectations. With game winning RBIs on back-to-back days against the Cubs last weekend and seven home runs as a Cardinal, it’s safe to say that you have been a difference maker down the stretch. While you have made a couple of costly errors as a Redbird, you responded in a big way to make up for them. You have made Cardinals fans forget about Ryan Theriot, which is something that I can’t thank you enough for.
Thank you Chris Carpenter. After a terrible 1-7 start to the season, you have shown us all why it’s about how you finish, not how you start. Your 3-0 record and 2.15 ERA in the month of September have made us comfortable about our starting pitching even without Adam Wainwright. Simply put, you’re a workhorse, posting more innings than anyone in the National League (237.1). You put together your best performance of the season when it mattered most, and know we’ll be relying on you to pitch Sunday night on short rest.
Thank you John Mozeliak. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you’re deadline moves may have saved the season for the Cardinals. The six players you brought in addressed critical needs, filled holes, and re-energized this ball club for a run to the postseason. At the time, I hated the idea of trading away Colby Rasmus, but clearly things have worked out. You may not have gotten any big-name players, but there is no doubt in my mind that this team is better today than it was when it was in first place in the NL Central in July. Now if you could just, ya know, take care of business with that Albert Pujols guy, I might tout you as the best GM in baseball.
There are many more people out there that I could thank, but I think this is a pretty solid list for right now. Tomorrow, it won’t be about thanking those who have helped the Cards get this far, because if they lose in the NLDS it all means nothing.