“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): Will the Cardinals finally miss the playoffs?

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. This is the Cardinals’ entry.

In 2010, the St. Louis Cardinals went 86-76, and missed the playoffs.

They have made it every year since then. They are now the playoff constant that the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees once were. And yet, in the tough NL Central, it’s entirely possible that this season may see them finally miss the postseason for the first time since that 2010 team.

It’s not that the Cardinals will be bad, so much as that they are in the NL Central, with the Cubs and the Pirates. They also are, slowly, getting older. Matt Holliday is 36. Adam Wainwright is 34. Yadier Molina is 33 and those catching legs can’t be in the best shape. The Cubs and Pirates are younger, the Brewers are on their way up (although it’s doubtful they will be a threat this season). The window maybe, just maybe, could be closing.

On the other hand, these are the Cardinals. They excel at beating expectations. The “Devil Magic” may never stop.

Or will it?

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“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2015): So, are the Cardinals the “Best Fans in Baseball”?

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here.Today, we look at the evidence for and against the claim that St. Louis is home of the “Best Fans in Baseball”.

It is often said that St. Louis is the home of the “Best Fans in Baseball”. But how true is that claim? Let’s look at the evidence for and against such a claim:

FOR:

  • A Wall Street Journal article on what cities get the best TV ratings for each sport (and not just for their home teams, but for nationally televised games in general) had St. Louis as the top location for baseball.
  • The Cardinals were the top-rated (as far as percentage) team in baseball locally/regionally last season.
  • Former Commissioner Bud Selig said so, and no matter what you say about Selig, it can’t be argued that he probably had been to every stadium in the league, probably several times.
  • The Cardinals were second in attendance last season, behind only the Dodgers, who have a larger stadium and a much larger fanbase numerically. They have averaged over 40,000 fans every year except once since 2005 and been in the top four in NL attendance every year except once since 1996.
  • Anecdotal evidence online says that the team leads the league in number of fans who keep score, to the point where the old Busch Stadium apparently showed score-keeping marks for batters so that people who had missed something could fill it in (I’m not 100% sure about this, but I remember reading it somewhere).
  • The Cardinals haven’t been last in the league in attendance since 1916.
  • And, yes, they do show an appreciation for good baseball, even, at times, when it’s an opponent doing it.
  • They count Ellie Kemper and Jon Hamm as members, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is awesome. Not really relevant to this discussion, just sort of throwing it out there.

Against:

  • St. Louis, despite it’s passion for the Cardinals, obviously wasn’t baseball-crazy enough to keep the Browns from moving back in the 1950s. Although, to be fair, the Browns almost perpetually were crummy.
  • The racist, homophobic and generally disgusting people showcased on the “BestFansStLouis”, which I refuse to link to for consideration of human dignity. However, it should be noted that every sports team has plenty of fans who are horrible bigoted a-holes, it’s just that they don’t have Twitter accounts devoted to them.
  • It was Tywin Lannister of Game of Thrones fame that said: “Any man who must say ‘I am King’ is no true king.” With that in mind, one must wonder if any Cardinals fan who calls the Cardinal faithful the “Best Fans in Baseball'” is truly worthy of being called the Best Fans In Baseball.
  • Have overlooked the flaws of many of the team’s great players and managers, such as steroid use, drinking, etc. etc. Although, again, this is true for every single team’s fanbase.
  • It is nearly impossible to truly figure out who the best fans in anything are, since there are so many things to consider and ultimately it is a vague intangible title that can change based on definition, a team’s fortunes, and other factors.

So, the verdict is… Cardinals fans are likely, but not definitely, the Best Fans in Baseball. But as the last “against” proves… it really doesn’t matter.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 10): Predictions for the Season, without any further explanations (except one)

It’s time. Who will be the division winners? Who will win the World Series? Time to see my predictions… without further explanation (except for one).

 

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Texas Rangers

AL Wild Cards: Tampa Rays, Oakland Athletics

AL Champion: Detroit Tigers

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: LA Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Reds and Giants

NL Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

 

And finally….
World Series Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

 

So why do I think the Cardinals are going to win it all this year? Well, it’s partly my gut, but there is also plenty of good logic behind it. While they have lost Carlos Beltran, the fact remains that their young players- and they have some good ones- will be one more year experienced. And, what’s more, many of those young players are pitchers (such as 2013’s postseason hero Michael Wacha and fire-balling reliever Trevor Rosenthal), and as always pitching is the way to October success. Mix that with their experienced players like Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday, and you have a team that should be one of the favorites to win the World Series in 2014.

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Ozzie Smith doesn’t need a plot, he just needs GRIT and TONY THE TIGER

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Today in Bizarre Baseball Culture, we are looking at Ozzie Smith and Tony the Tiger in “The Kid That Could”.

Yes, Ozzie Smith and Tony the Tiger. And I don’t mean Tiger as in “Detroit Tigers”. I mean… THIS:

OzzieTonyCoverYes, this is an actual thing. There was an actual comic book published by DC in 1992 in which Ozzie Smith and Tony the Tiger teamed up. Have your attention yet? Go below the jump for more:

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Random Thing: Captain Marvel meets the 1944 Cardinals

Miss Bizarre Baseball Culture? Don’t worry, it’ll be back soon, but to hold you over, here’s a bit from Captain Marvel Adventures #36, from June 1944, in which Billy Batson (who transforms into Captain Marvel with one cry of SHAZAM!) meets some of movers-and-shakers at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, including Dizzy Dean (who was an announcer for the Browns at the time) and HOF Cardinals manager Billy Southworth.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 2.36.21 PMIt’s not quite teaching baseball to Martians, but maybe it’ll hold some of you over.

Humor: The Laws of Game 7s

Tonight is one of the greatest events in any sport: a Game 7. While I messed up and assumed that Adam Wainwright was starting tonight, it does not change the fact that it’s a Game 7. Win or lose, do-or-die, victory means the World Series, defeat means an early tee-time or a day out hunting something other than hanging curveballs.

So, with all of that in mind, it’s time to go over the LAWS OF GAME 7.
(Note: This is humor, and not all of them are meant to be serious.)

Rule One: All Hands on Deck

This is a rule for the managers. During Game 7, all hands are on deck. And I do mean all. Everyone needs to be ready to pitch: starters, relievers, outfielders who were stud pitchers back in High School… remember, there is no tomorrow if you lose. If you have to teach your backup catcher a knuckleball on short notice in the 24th inning, you do it.

Rule Two: Nothing else is on television during a Game 7.

There’s a debate on tonight. The Bears and Lions are playing tonight. Neither will be seen on my television, unless there is a rain delay. Apologies to the President of the United States and the esteemed ex-governor of Massachusetts.

By the way, can you imagine if tonight was an ALCS game between the White Sox and whatever Mitt Romney’s favorite team is (I’m presuming either the Tigers or Red Sox)?

Presumably it would mean stuff like this:

“Mister President, I have a question on China, and, by the way, it’s tied at two in the fifth…”

Rule Three: Everything that has ever happened in a Game 7 is relevant.

Oh, sure, it may seem like past Game 7s are unimportant to this current situation, but they are not. Carlos Beltran, for example, struck out to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, when he was with the Mets. Matt Holliday may end up missing tonight’s game with an injury- he also missed Game 7 of last year’s World Series with an injury. Allen Craig hit a home run in last year’s World Series Game 7. The Giants have never won a best-of-7-series Game 7, falling in seven games to the Angels in 2002’s World Series, the Cardinals in the 1987 NLCS, the Yankees in 1962 and the Senators in 1924! The ghosts of Octobers past will be remembered!

Rule Four: Rain doesn’t matter.

It could rain tonight. But, guess what, the World Series is starting Wednesday, and the Tigers need to know where to fly to. Therefore, as Jayson Stark says:

Rule Five: There are no rules.

And anything can happen. That’s the beauty of Game 7.