Do the Cardinals Deserve to Be in Post-Season Play?

Cardinals and the play-offs

The 2012 Major League baseball regular season is over with the completion of a full slate of games played on Wednesday, October 3.  When all the smoke cleared from diamonds around the National League and American League, a total of 10 teams of the 30 professional franchises remain in competition for the World Series trophy.

Did I mention 10 teams?  Whatever happened to the days of two clubs, winners of the National League and American League pennants, battling for the top crown of the national pastime?  Here’s what has happened:  Evolution in sports, technology, sociology and you name it.  Bluntly put, this isn’t your grandfather’s game anymore.

When you consider that professional baseball was played in Cincinnati in June 1876, at the same time that General George Armstrong Custer was leading the 7th Cavalry to ignominious defeat and massacre at the Little Big Horn, we’re talking about two centuries that have passed since Abner Doubleday, Alexander Cartwright or whoever first suggested hitting a ball with a bat.

Gone are the days when 16 teams comprised the entire major leagues.  When Babe Ruth was dominating the game, the National Football League was in its infancy, the National Hockey League was just getting started and the National Basketball Association didn’t even exist.  There were no 24-hour sports networks, or TV at all.  France Laux announced Cardinals games on that newfangled media outlet, radio.

As America grew in the 20th century, so did professional sports.  Major League baseball expanded from those initial 16 teams, and expanded again and again until today there are 30 franchises.  The leagues were divided into divisions, with the winners playing each other before one from each league reached the World Series.  Wild cards were added in 1995, increasing the post-season list to eight teams.

Commissioner Bud Selig successfully lobbied earlier this year for the addition of another wild-card entrant from each league.  The two wild cards from both leagues will have a one-game ‘play-in’ to the division series.  The Cardinals are one of those four teams.

But do they deserve to be there?  Absolutely.  You can make arguments that the Cardinals had only the fifth-best record in the National League this year.  So what?  The commissioner established this new procedure for post-season play, and the Cardinals qualified.

Since there are now five teams in each league in post-season play, who would detractors insist be the fifth team in the National League?  The final record shows that the Redbirds won more games than several teams who contested for that last shot at the World Series sweepstakes.  Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Arizona and San Diego all had opportunities in the last two months to wrest away the second wild card from the Cardinals.  When the Dodgers lost to the San Francisco Giants Wednesday night, only the Cardinals remained.

Let’s not forget that the Birds did win 88 games this year and finished 14 games over .500.  That’s as good as Detroit did in winning the American League Central, thanks to Tiger star power including Triple Crown winner Melky Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander.

The Cardinals made it into post-season by finishing with a flurry in September, just as they did in 2011 en route to their 11th World Series championship.  They did it with a rookie manager (Mike Matheny) replacing a future Hall of Fame manager (Tony La Russa), with a pitching coach (Derek Lilliquist) replacing a legendary pitching coach (Dave Duncan), and with the teams’ 21st century icon, Albert Pujols, defecting to the Los Angeles Angels.  Incidentally, those Angels will be watching the playoffs on TV.

So, yeah, the Redbirds deserve to be in the 2012 post-season, given its new parameters.  Anyone with a complaint, kindly send a letter, e-mail or Facebook posting to Commissioner Selig.

Evan Makovsky
Weekdays 6AM-9AM Central
KXFN 1380 AM St. Louis, MO


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RegalT62 October 06, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Thank you, Cafeinated! They kept saying the infield fly rule is good for the offense which makes it seem like the braves would have been glad to have had just one out. So they really just didn't think the rule should have been applied in this case, we didn't catch the ball and all their players would have been safe on all bases? Right? How can this be so complicated? LOL
Rich Pope October 06, 2012 at 07:53 PM
When we were kids, and on base, when a pop-fly was hit our coach told us to stay on the base until we knew if the guy was going to drop the ball or not (unless there were already two outs and it was "run on anything").
Evan Makovsky October 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Hi Rich - Sorry it took so long to respond. I thought it was a bad call. The infield fly rule states "ordinary effort". If it was ordinary effort, why did he (Pete Kozma) move out of the way to let Matt Holliday field the ball? With the infield fly, the batter is called out no matter what (catch or not) and the "infield" can extend to the outfield but "ordinary effort" still applies. I refer to my above question. In addition, the umpire's arm signaling "Infield Fly Rule" went up late. Instead of bases loaded 1 out, the Cardinals had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. I thought it was a bad call, and obviously the ball wasn't caught. It's was a lucky break for the Cardinals in the Wild Card 1 Game Playoff. Thanks Rich for your question. Evan Makovsky HOST, THE E-MAK SHOW Weekdays 6AM-9AM Central KXFN 1380 AM "The Fan 2" St. Louis, MO
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