A Little Story About The 2006 Cardinals (And How It Relates To My Feelings About This Season)
The night the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, I was drunk with about 20 friends at Buffalo Wild Wings in south St. Louis. By the time the Cardinals had rallied to take the lead in the fourth, we had moved from beers to shots and I was a cross-eyed mess.
After the final out, I drove to Sports Zone in Affton to meet up with some other friends to celebrate. From there, I abandoned my car and went with them to the heart of downtown St. Louis – Busch Stadium, of course – where I ran through the streets with the jubilant crowds until three in the morning.
Then I blacked out.
Like everyone else that following morning, I was thrilled with the win. As I groggily stumbled the mile back to my car – still in the Cards attire of the previous night – everyone who passed me honked and waved. St. Louis was buzzed over the first World Championship in 24 years. It was no time for rational thought.
But slowly, as the alcohol and elation left my body (and my voice recovered), an aftertaste developed in me about that 2006 team that has never left. Let’s face it – the 2006 Cardinals are one of the worst World Series Champions of all time. Anthony Reyes pitched game one of the World Series! Preston Wilson was on that team, and he played in every game of the World Series! He even started in some of them! Scott Spiezio was the designated hitter! If the Detroit Tigers could’ve figured out how to throw the ball to first base, that sad-sack 2006 Cardinal team might never have won that World Series.
But the Cardinals did win the 2006 World Series, erasing the memories of their inept September tailspin during which they lost 17 of 28 games and nearly handed the division over to the Houston Astros. The win also papered over some bizarre roster management by Tony La Russa during that final month and the postseason run. It’s easy to forget the general awfulness of the 2006 Cardinals when looking back on a World Series trophy, Adam Wainwright‘s playoff-winning curve ball, or Yadier Molina‘s home run.
I guess what I’m saying is that, if the 2012 Cardinals happen to win the World Series this year in some sort of repeat of 2006, it will feel good for a while. But it won’t last. Not with me, at least.
The truth is that the 2012 Cardinals are no longer the best team in the National League. They started out the season that way, but injuries and a curious lack of execution and desire have eroded them into a mediocre team. They play bad baseball. This is now a team that must rely on missed umpiring calls and the misplays of opponents to win games – the Cardinals aren’t winning these games themselves. They don’t have the air and confidence of a champion, and it shows in their awful play.
The 2012 Cardinals are unworthy of being in the postseason. There, I said it.
In computer terms, I want this team and this season to go into restart mode, install upgrades, delete viruses, and start up again fresh and clean. This has been an exhausting season for everyone. The frustration has clearly taken its toll on the players as well as the fans. Everyone is limping to the finish line of this excruciating season.
I don’t want my proud, storied franchise to slip into the playoffs with the second wild card like a coked-out Lindsay Lohan sneaking into a party uninvited. There are many teams reaching the playoffs who deserve to play there this year, teams that fought hard and executed all season long. The 2012 Cardinals are not among them.
I’m rooting for the inspirational Orioles this year. I’m rooting for the Rangers, who have earned a three-peat. I’m rooting for the Nationals, who have managed one of the best turnarounds in the sport with a group of talented youngsters. I’m even rooting for the Brewers and the Phillies, who have staged late-season comebacks that rival the 2011 Cardinals.
Unlike the 2012 Cardinals, those are the teams dusted with magic and guided by the hands of baseball gods. They are teams that have overcome adversity to play good baseball with guts and determination. They didn’t swagger into the season pre-anointed and expect their crown handed to them like the Cardinals did this year – these teams earned it the hard way.
And for that, I want this Cardinal team to get out of the way. I want everyone in the organization to go into the postseason left thinking about the tremendous opportunity they pissed away in this wasted season. Like a tired and temeramental child, I just want this team to go to sleep and prepare for another day.