Do we really need to see individual miracles like this to believe in 2011?

Cardinals fans generally recall previous postseason runs by the “moment” – that elusive and magical split-second of greatness that often propels momentum and burns memories into a generation. Where were you when Bob Gibson pitched three complete game victories to win the 1967 World Series? Do you remember Ozzie Smith’s left-handed home run to win the fifth game of the playoffs in ’85, or Jack Clark’s towering blast to take game six two days later? Did you see The Catch by Jim Edmonds in the 2004 playoffs? Where were you when Albert Pujols crashed a three-run, two-out homer off of Brad Lidge to take the fifth game of the NLCS from the Houston Astros in 2005? What about Adam Wainwright‘s curveball strikeout of Carlos Beltran in 2006? Yadier Molina‘s home run to win the Series?

These moments and many more are embedded in the lingo of Cardinals fans, a kind of shorthand to remember heroics on another level altogether. But, when you think about the 2011 playoff run thus far, it’s difficult to recall any such magical moments.

Certainly, that Wednesday night wild card clincher against the Houston Astros was amazing, but that was mostly due to the other amazing games being played out that night; the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory that night hardly qualifies as a magical moment by itself. The only postseason event that feels remotely close to a playoff-defining event is Chris Carpenter‘s masterful 1-0 duel with Roy Halladay to advance to the NLCS. Not a very insignificant event, mind you, but it seems awfully lonely amidst all of the things that have transpired for this club.

There hasn’t been one remarkable defensive play, one clutch, breathtaking hit, that can define this postseason for the 2011 Cardinals. You would have trouble coming up with an MVP for either series so far except possibly Carpenter for the NLDS against Philly. And you know what? That’s fine by me. This team has been one of the closest Cardinals clubs ever assembled, and their collective, ragtag spirit defies any attempt at showmanship or individuality.

Lance Berkman said it best last night in regards to the job the bullpen has done so far in the postseason:

We’re not here without the bullpen. They’ve been the MVP, in my opinion, of the playoffs so far. They’ve given us so many good innings.

That is the power of a team thinking and competing as a unit. Each man steps up with his individual strength and weaknesses, each man emboldened and encouraged by the performances of those around them rather than their own achievement. Rather than an individual play to define this postseason, our memory of the 2011 run might be better memorialized by 25 dismissed athletes who bonded together and conquered incredible, miraculous odds to reach baseball’s highest pinnacle. It is probably the highest tribute any fan can give to a miraculous, once-in-a-generation team like this one.

About The Author

Lifelong Cardinal fan and general loudmouth.

  • Joncurfman

    If I were to pick one moment it was Jays sliding catch with one hand up giving the number one sign. That single moment seemed to sum up the cards this year. A good, not great play, but doing what had to be done to win it and finally downing the best team over the season in Philly…

    • Ray DeRousse

      Yeah, that was a cute moment for sure, and makes for a memorable image of the postseason.