Why We Need To Forget About 2011
As the Cardinals have stumbled through the last 2.5 months of mind-numbing and mediocre baseball, Cardinal fans have been repeating a hopeful mantra: “Don’t worry … we were 10 games out last year and we won the World Series!” Even some of the players have expressed such a sentiment; Allen Craig and Lance Berkman both recently mentioned how this team can handle adversity “like we did last year.”
After experiencing one of the greatest playoff runs in the history of the sport, it’s easy to take it for granted. “Oh, we’ll just do it again like last time,” is simple, shoulder-shrug wish-making. As if the 2011 Cardinals fatefully deserved to win it all and can conjure another season like that at will.
Cardinal Nation needs to wake up. The 2011 Championship – amazing as it was – happened partly by LUCK.
Long before Craig caught the final out of Game Seven in left field, luck was required to even have a chance. The 2011 team bumbled through the summer of 2011, burying themselves deep within a terrible division. Even after John Mozeliak made his spectacular three-team trade at the deadline, the Cardinals spent most of August stumbling through the schedule like zombies.
While the Cardinals had to go on a spectacular, late-season tear to qualify for the postseason, their entry required the Atlanta Braves to utterly collapse as well. One additional win by Atlanta in that final month would’ve eliminated the Cardinals from everything. That’s pure luck, folks.
The Cardinals also had luck on their side in the first round of the playoffs, when Chris Carpenter narrowly avoided the metal cleats of Elvis Andrus during his aggressive slide for the out. If Carpenter’s right hand had been extended just another inch, those cleats would’ve finished Carpenter for the rest of the playoffs. Again, luck.
Let’s not even get into the Game Six theatrics in the ninth. Suffice it to say that the David Freese triple, as incredible as it was, should’ve been caught in right field by Nelson Cruz, who happened to be injured just enough to miss the ball.
The Miracle of 2011 was just that – a MIRACLE. It will not ever happen again in our lifetimes. Cardinal fans and the franchise should always cherish that gift we received from the Baseball Gods, memories that will pass into legend. We were there together at an incredible and indelible moment in Cardinal history, a unique convergence of talent and good fortune.
Cardinal fans need to stop looking at the 2012 Cardinals through the prism of last year’s miraculous run. There is no guarantee that the same luck that propelled last year’s surprise will descend on this team again this year. Pixie dust may not fall from the sky and cover over this team’s horrid baseball as it did so gloriously last year.
And while I’m at it, I think the TEAM needs to stop thinking about last year. I believe Mozeliak and Matheny have been so reluctant to make significant alterations to the roster because they remember that this team made an amazing run to a Championship last year. They might just do it again, right??
Many of last year’s heroes remain in that very same clubhouse, but what they did last year means nothing right now. Freese’s heroics in October of last year have no effect on his lack of extra-base power since May 1 of this year, does it? Lance Berkman’s timely hits during the postseason last year have little to do with his ineffectiveness and injuries this year.
Like most sports, baseball is a game of “what have you done for me lately?” Heroes can fall as easily as they can rise. Yesterday’s triumphs are today’s disappointments. That is why athletes must always strive to perfect their game, so that they do not rest self-satisfied on their haunches and bask in their previous glories.
Fans need to forget the past and focus on the present. Yes, we won the World Series. LAST YEAR. And we did so at least partially by LUCK.
The 2012 Cardinals have some serious problems, and they are still playing below expectations. Mozeliak, Matheny, and the fans need to realize that luck may not save them this time.