In praise of the St. Louis Cardinals
They do things right. That’s not just winning baseball game, either. Obviously, that’s where it starts. In the last four seasons, the Cardinals have won 396 of those, postseason included. That’s 13 more than any other team in baseball, 29 more than any other National League team.
In the last 15 seasons, the Cardinals have been to the postseason 11 times. In that time, they’ve won six division championships, four NL pennants and two World Series. When the Cardinals and Giants played in the NLCS for the second time in three years last fall, it was a matchup of two franchises that might be the gold standard for all of baseball.
In terms of the ballpark experience and community involvement and creativity and innovation, the Cardinals take a backseat to no franchise in professional sports. That attitude begins with the owner, Bill DeWitt, Jr., but it permeates an entire organization. That’s why so many players will tell you their years with the Cardinals were the best of their career.
Is there a burden? Yes, there is. Players are held accountable by the media. And the St. Louis media has a high standard. That’s a result of the Cardinals having set the bar so high. If you’re a player or a manager, you have to be able to shut out the noise and do your job.
The Cardinals are again favored to win the NL Central. That would be their third straight and give them five straight seasons in the playoffs. They’re not without questions, especially among young players like Matt Adams and Kolten Wong. Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia are recovering from injuries. Is there enough offense? Is the bullpen stable enough?
On the other hand, the Cardinals have fewer questions than any other NL Central team. The Cubs are a hot pick because of all those kids. The Reds could be very good if they get their main guys back on the field. The Pirates are good enough to make a third straight playoff appearance.
So nothing is guaranteed. But with another Spring Training here, the Cardinals are as usual one of the organizations every other will be measured against.