Nobody outside of the state of Missouri wants the Cardinals to be in the World Series. Nobody wants to drive a Hyundai either, but they are some of the most dependable and affordable cars on the road. St. Louis doesn’t have the star attraction and the big market punch that LA has, but, as usual, it has a balanced squad with strong pitching and a classy, corporate way of executing business.
Once the attention that owner Magic Johnson brought the Dodgers and those Hollywood lights that followed dimmed, the Cards' consistent formula produced a commanding 3-1 National League Championship Series lead over the loaded and loopy Dodgers.
It’s the same formula that has them in position to win a second World Series title in three years. If not for their own 3-1 collapse last season against the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, we might be talking a Cardinals dynasty as they go for a three-peat.
With a win on Wednesday, St. Louis can close the Dodgers out. Then they can chill and get those late-season achy arms right, while AL foes – the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers – continue to beat up on each other for the right to challenge the Cardinals in the World Series.
After stumbling to a 2-0 series deficit, in what has been an offensively anemic NLCS, the Dodgers won Game 3 and had the country assuming and hoping they would tie things up, and prepare for a scintillating final three games.
As TSL columnist Scoop Jackson wrote earlier this month, those suits who watch baseball ratings like a hawk, and those baseball fans who seek fancy name recognition and big market swag in their World Series matchups don’t want to see St. Louis for seven games in late October.
“Baseball, more than any other sport right now, could really use two of the biggest cartels in the majors to face off for the last ten days of the season. It could use a World Series with the potential to bring the country together by virtue of creating a bi-coastal buzz, with the ability to galvanize all of the states in-between Massachusetts and California.”
It’s almost like St. Louis doesn’t come without enough “hype” to get the fans excited and interested. They are led by low maintenance, blue collar cats like Matt Holiday, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Beltran, and have a coach who played pro ball. Although second-year skipper Mike Matheny was not a prolific hitter, as a player he was considered one of the best defensive catchers of his era, winning four National League Gold Glove Awards between 2000 and 2005. He was productive, defensive-minded, but unassuming, just like his Cardinals squad, and while he doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb when folks discuss the dopest new jack managers, Matheny’s laid back demeanor fits this Cardinals team like Paula Patton in a cat suit.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, broke the bank to litter their lineup and pitching staff with a bunch of A-list names, and their manager is one of the most beloved baseball players in New York history and former MVP, whose nickname “Donny Baseball” says it all.
To most people, watching St. Louis is like eating Turkey bacon. The Cards look like an elite baseball team, and most of the time they play like one—especially in Tuesday’s crucial Game 4 where homers by unheralded Shane Robinson and workhorse Holiday, broke their combined 0-23 hitless streak and conjured a timely power-rush by slugging St. Louis to a 4-2 win.
Eventually you get used to the Turkey bacon, but if given a choice, most cats still want to chow down on that flashy taste of pig.
The Dodgers have the celebrity names and demonstrative players in polarizing cats like Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Everything they do is executed with a bit more flair and attitude than the reserved Cardinals.
Dodgers fans are always awaiting the drama, like a precocious attempt by Puig to stretch a double into a triple or another two-homer game by Crawford. Watching Ramirez get around gingerly with broken ribs and a warriors heart gets their juices going too.
It would have been classic if he could have hobbled up to the plate and made some bat magic like Kirk Gibson did on the very same day back in 1988 for that WS-champion Dodgers team.
The Dodgers have also been supported by Lakers fans who want to see Magic win another c’hip and turn Dodger Stadium into a new millennium version of LA Coliseum in the 80s.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, not even a recent ESPN 30-for-30 on former ABA team, The Spirit of St Louis, could inspire a line of heads asking for a Cardinals World Series appearance.
Maybe if this team had the same band of colorful characters like Marvin "Bad News" Barnes playing left field and James "Fly" Williams behind the plate, then people would care more. That team also had enforcers like Maurice Lucas, who’d make one heck of a mound charger. Of course, Bill Walton and Moses Malone would be big-boppers with endearing personalities in the heart of the lineup.
All they have, however, is the most well-balanced squad and smoothly-run franchise in the game. It may not be enough for us, but its living just enough for their city.
Regardless of the outcome, the Cards deserve props for shutting down a Dodgers offense that looked colossal in dusting off the Braves in four NLDS games.
Baseball is a game constructed in explosive sleepwalking. The teams are like time bombs, laying low until detonation occurs. Sure, the Dodgers are Gucci expensive and Tracy Chapman fast when they are clicking on all cylinders, but the NLCS shows they have a tendency to break down. The Cards aren’t as pricey, but they come with a 185-game warranty, so with them you are always getting your money’s worth.