Cardinals at the 3/4 mark of the season

My previous post on the Cardinals delved into my discomfort with the strong, visible culture of conservative evangelical Christianity (and some of the attendant politics) on the Redbirds’ team. Tonight I just want to riff a bit on the Cards, who continue to have the #1 ESPN Power Ranking for the 13th consecutive week, and who continue to have the best record in the MLB by quite a wide margin. As of their victory tonight over the Diamondbacks, they’re 81-45, with a .643 winning percentage. To put that in perspective, if they finished the season with that winning percentage, their record would be 104 – 58.

So, the thing is, they’re a team without a superstar, and in many ways they look like a team that may just be over-performing, which certainly happens some years to every team. All season long, their hitting has been anywhere from anemic to average, and their pitching – both starting and relief – has been incredibly stingy with runs allowed. They’ve allowed 374 runs over 126 games, tops in MLB. The next best team, the Pirates, have allowed 453, and there are several contending teams bunched up in the 450s after the Buccos. That’s an unusually big gap between #1 and #2 on a team stat like that. Looking at Team ERA we see the same separation:

cards 1 Continue reading “Cardinals at the 3/4 mark of the season”

My Trouble with My Cardinals

I grew up in St. Louis and started going to Cardinals games around age 5. Usually I’d go with my father, sometimes with my grandfather. It was the 70s, the Cards had tons of hitting, but no pitching, and they finished 3rd or 4th every year. When I was 13, that mediocrity suddenly transformed into an exciting, speed and defense driven, small-ball-oriented team that won the World Series in 1982. While I was in high school, this team, managed by Whitey Herzog, was even further built for speed, and they won the NL pennant two more times, in ’85 and ’87, though they lost the WS each of those years.

My baseball heroes were Ozzie Smith, Terry Pendleton, Tommy Herr, Jack Clark, Bob Forsch, John Tudor, and Willie McGee, to name a few. OzzieBy the time I started college, the Cards were as deeply embedded in my sense of identity as anything else that had been a consistent force throughout my childhood. Whether I liked it or not, I was a die-hard fan, and I followed the team daily. I still do.

When the Cards won the NL pennant in 2004 (only to be swept in the WS by the miracle Red Sox of that year), my interest in the team was re-ignited. And since then it’s been a fun ride for Redbirds fans, no doubt. Between 2004 and 2014, St. Louis has won 4 NL pennants, 2 World Series, and has made the post-season almost every year. The Cards currently have the best record in all of baseball, by quite a margin, and they’re locks to be in the post-season once again.

Pretty much the one thing that could sour my child-like devotion to the Redbirds would be if, say, the star player of the team and the manager went to a huge Glenn Beck rally and gave speeches and received awards from him. Which is exactly what happened in August 2010.

Continue reading “My Trouble with My Cardinals”