The St. Louis Cardinals are built for the wild card game
The St. Louis Cardinals are at their best when the odds are against them.
The St. Louis Cardinals have a tough road ahead. A formidable foe awaits in the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Wild Card game. FanGraphs gave St. Louis just a 1.9 percent chance to win the World Series, which is the lowest of any team in the playoffs.
The Cardinals wouldn’t have it any other way.
This team has repeatedly thrived when things looked bleak. Just look at this year. After they lost on Aug. 5 against the Atlanta Braves, they were eight games out of the second wild card spot and had a 1.5 percent chance to make the playoffs. As you know, September came along and the Cardinals won 17 consecutive games, earning a spot in the postseason.
The Cardinals have done a lot of winning in the past 25 years and gained a reputation among opposing fans as one of the most despised teams in the National League. “Cardinals Devil Magic,” a phrase opponents mutter disdainfully and supporters heartily embrace, has often been the only attempted explanation for their ability during this run to hit on low draft choices and continue its winning ways without a rebuild.
Whether it’s through the famed “Cardinal Way” approach or some of the front office’s shrewd moves, the team’s expectations for itself and from the fans are always high. And more often than not, they rise to the occasion.
But what about the times they aren’t favored? What about those times people think they just can’t match up to the top-tier teams?
Well, in 2006, the Cardinals finished with a record of 83-76. That’s worst record by a World Series champion in history. It’s pretty clear they weren’t considered a force going into the playoffs.
In 2011? They were 90-72 and the National League wild card team. The expectations weren’t high there either.
I’m not saying history will repeat itself, but there’s something in this team where the players find a little extra moxie when people count them out. Cardinals fans are likely biting their lips nervously, but the team should be relaxed and loose. After all, they’ve been in this situation before. They know the pressure and expectations are on the Dodgers. This is what the Cardinals live for.