With only ten games left in the 2014 regular season, our Cards have a 99.1% of making the playoffs, presumably as the winner of the NL Central. Barring the unthinkable, this will be the fourth consecutive year that Cardinal red will grace the October air, and the eleventh such occurrence in the last fifteen years. The Cardinals’ ability to continue playing into October has become such a known quantity that even Grantland writer Michael Baumann published a piece on September 12 lamenting “the St. Louis Cardinals in October” as one of the “annoying inevitabilities that come with a calendar.”
So why should we as Cards’ fans treat this postseason different than any of the others over the past decade? I mean we already have the second most World Series titles in all of the MLB, two of which have come since the turn of the century. It’s not like we’re the Royals or the Mariners who are fighting for a playoff berth to end ludicrous October droughts. So what makes this team different? Why should we care this year?
Well for starters, the fact that this Cards’ team is anywhere near the postseason is a miracle in itself. The combination of increased parity around the league and just plain luck is the only reason this team is anywhere near October baseball. Between a rash of injuries, an anemic offense, and a spotty back of the rotation, the Cards should have been left for dead back in July.
Also, to further the point that we don’t deserve to be playing in October this year, over the past three playoff runs (2011-2013), the Cards’ scored an average of 770 runs per season. As for 2014? Only 582 runs through 152 games. The team’s current pace of 620 runs in 2014 will be the lowest total by any Cardinals’ playoff team since 1968.
This year’s team just isn’t as good as in years past. It’s not a condemnation of Mike Matheny or the organization, rather a statement of fact. So when you ask yourself, “Why should I get excited about just another playoff berth for the Cardinals?” keep in mind that for once, we’re lucky to be here. For once in a long time, our Redbirds are the underdog and honestly it feels good. We had to fight to be here and with that comes a sense of pride.
So get up Cardinal’s fans because October baseball is back, and we have a fight to win.