By In Stuff

The Cardinals Will Win The World Series

Rejected Game Story

Wednesday, August 24

ST. LOUIS — Well, this one was easy. Every Los Angeles regular got a hit in a 13-hit attack, and Juan Rivera drove in three as the Dodgers beat the Cardinals 9-4 Wednesday to complete a three game sweep. It was the Dodgers first three-game sweep in St. Louis in 18 years.

The loss dropped the Cardinals to 69-64 and 10 games behind Milwaukee in the National League Central race. They are also 10 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the chase for the wildcard.

Despite this, the Cardinals will win the World Series.

This may seem unlikely considering that Jamie Garcia is coming off his worst outing of the season, having allowed seven earned runs in five innings, and that the Cardinals have lost eight of their last 11 games, and that the Cardinals have given up 21 runs in two games to a Dodgers team that, except for Matt Kemp, hasn’t hit all year.

But I’m telling you. They’re going to win the World Series.

What you have to understand is that baseball has changed. For a long time, this was a game that was driven by excellence over a long season. April mattered as much as September. June fed into October. The best team in each league, as determined over 154 or 162 games, went to the World Series. The Yankees were almost always the best team, and so the Yankees almost always went to the World Series. These were the cold facts of baseball, the sort of facts that inspired a Broadway Show called “Damn Yankees,” because only in a fantasy world — and with the help of the Devil — could a Washington Senators fan hope to reach the World Series.

In 1969, the game was split into quadrants. This opened up some things. Now two teams in each league — and not necessarily the BEST two teams in each league, at least by record — played for that World Series shot. In 1973, three teams in the National League West had a better record than the New York Mets. But the Mets, with their disconcerting 82-79 record, played in the East, and they won the East, and they took out the Reds in a nasty five-game series and found themselves in the World Series. “Ya Gotta Believe,” was their slogan.

But in 1995, when EIGHT teams went to the playoffs — including one wildcard team in each league that did not even win its own division — baseball changed dramatically. The point is now, you don’t have to be a great team to win the World Series. You only have to have to be one of the best 25% or so to get into the playoffs. You only need a break or two, you only need to get hot for a little while, you only need to have things come together at the right time …

See, once you’re in the playoffs, some crazy things can happen. Some crazy things DO happen.

Oh yes, the Cardinals are going to win the World Series.

* * *

The Dodgers scored six runs in the third inning to put the game away Wednesday. In that inning, the first eight Dodgers hitters reached — the first two by walk. Matt Kemp continued his torrid hitting with a two-run single and blah blah blah blah blah … doesn’t matter, the Cardinals are going to win the World Series.

So, you’re getting irritated by this crazy talk. You are wondering how they’re even going to make the playoffs, much less win the World Series? Well, for one thing, they’re going to get hot. They’re going to win 23 of their next 32 games. How are they going to do that? Well, hey, look, this is a good offensive team. They’re going to average five runs a game from here on out. Albert Pujols will hit his typical .336/.403/.549 for the rest of the year. Lance Berkman’s going to get on base like crazy. That Rafael Furcal pickup will start looking a lot better — he’s going to hit pretty well the rest of the season. And keep an eye on that Allen Craig guy, he’s going to hit a couple of big home runs before it’s all done.

Oh, and by the way: Don’t worry about that Colby Rasmus trade. The Cardinals won’t miss him. Not this year anyway. You will be happy with some of the pitchers they got in the deal.

So, yeah, they’re going to win a bunch of games in late August and September. And a team is going to fall apart. Which team? Ah, you would think the Brewers, right? Young team. Has a history of collapse. All that. But, yeah, you can’t figure out baseball. The Brewers will play well enough. The Braves are the team that will collapse. I know, that seems unlikely, they’ve looked so solid all year. But it’s about to go very bad down there in Georgia. The Braves are going to lose, like, 17 of their last 25 games. They’re going to get shut out three times in September. No it’s true, it will be a semi-historic collapse. But it’s OK, nobody is going to notice because everybody will be mesmerized by the Boston Red Sox collapse.

Oh yeah, it’s true. The Red Sox are going to collapse too. Terry Francona will leave under fire. Theo Epstein will go run the Cubs. This will happen. Too much beer and fried chicken up there.

You’ll get that joke in about six weeks.

* * *

Sure, because this is a late August game story for what appears to be a going-nowhere team, you will want me to tell you that Garcia struggled against the Dodgers, and he has not pitched particularly well in a month. The Dodgers have now three straight Garcia starts. That’s OK. He will pitch a lot better for the next month. The Cardinals will win his next four starts, and he will have a 1.89 ERA for those. It will be OK.

This is baseball in 2011. If there was no wildcard, the Cardinals would not make the playoffs. Their record will not be good enough to win any division in baseball — not even close, really. But there is a wildcard, and the team leading it will play lousy for three weeks, and anyway it isn’t really about the record. It is about positioning. It is about getting into the postseason. It is about playing well in the right moments, at the right time. And something is happening to this Cardinals team, something that you can’t see because they don’t even know it themselves yet. The Cardinals are a special team. And they are about to start believing it.

What does that cliche even mean — that whole “Team of Destiny” nonsense? It’s hard to say. It’s hard to know. But the Cardinals, at this moment, probably don’t believe that they even have a chance to make the playoffs, much less the World Series. Soon, though, they will see it happening. They will see the Braves collapsing. They will see just how good the middle of their lineup can be — it’s easy to believe in big things when Albert Pujols is hitting. See that third baseman over there, David Freese, the 28-year-old local kid who doesn’t even play every day. Watch that kid. He’s going to start hitting. And then he’s going to keep hitting. And before it’s all done, they will intentionally walk him in Game 7 of the World Series rather than face him.

See that catcher? Yadi Molina? You know how good he is defensively already, he’s shown it for years. Well, that defense will intimidate the heck out of teams in the playoffs. They will fear him.

See Carp? Chris Carpenter? You already know he’s been great. He’s won a Cy Young. He came close twice more. He’s one of the very best pitchers in the game … or he had been. Now, he’s kind of mediocre, at least by the basic numbers. He’s 8-8 with a 3.57 ERA. But he’s still got greatness in him. He’s going to dominate the rest of the season. He’s going to throw a game for the ages against his friend Roy Halladay in the playoffs.

Yes, this is baseball in 2011. Every good team has the opportunity for a magical run. Every good team has good players who, for a few weeks, can play brilliant and wonderful baseball. Baseball is set up for this Cardinals team, a team that doesn’t yet realize what it is capable of doing.

Yes, this time around it’s going to be the Cardinals.

* * *

Tony La Russa is frustrated with his team. How can help but be frustrated? They’re losing. And La Russa cannot abide losing, any time, any place. La Russa has always been more football coach than baseball manager — every game is war, every loss is death, all those overwrought and inappropriate cliches that baseball people are usually well-adjusted enough to avoid. Baseball is supposed to be about the long season — “Turn the page,” managers tend to say — but it doesn’t seem that way for La Russa. He DOES get too high. He DOES get too low. He’s just wired that way.

He does not know that he’s about to go on the most magical run of his career. There has been a lot of baseball pain in La Russa’s career. He watched Kirk Gibson limp around the bases. He watched the Braves come back. He watched the Red Sox celebrate their first World Series title in a billion years. And the last couple of years — really ever since his LAST surprising and absurd run in 2006 — it has felt like the game has finally kicked his butt. In 2010, for instance, he had the best player in baseball, a strong cleanup hitter, three outstanding starting pitchers, and the team just kind of flailed around. There was talk of La Russa leaving after that — it has felt stale for a while.

But he stayed, and before this season even began the Cardinals lost their best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, for the season. That seemed to seal things. The Cardinals were just a bland team that would win more than it lost but no more. That was clear from Day 1. The Cardinals did get into first place for a while in May, into June, but that was because of a middling National League Central division where no team had kicked in. Heck, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in first place as late as late as July 25. Then, the Brewers — who were widely viewed as the most talented team in the Central — DID kick in, and the Cardinals kept playing their bland baseball, and now the Cardinals are 10 1/2 games back and again there is talk that it is time for Tony La Russa to retire.

But the Cardinals are going to win the World Series. And La Russa is going to be in all his glory. He’s going to tinker and toy and switch and swap and nudge and drive people crazy and all the other things he does. The Cardinals, as you might imagine, will be huge underdogs once they get into the playoffs, huge underdogs against the Phillies. They will lose 11-6 in the first game and trail 4-0 against Cliff Lee in the second game.

But then La Russa will go to go to work. The Cardinals will use six pitchers and come back to beat Lee and the Phillies 5-4. He will use six pitchers, and David Freese will announce his presence as the Cardinals win Game 4. And then, yes, Chris Carpenter face his friend Roy Halladay in Game 5. The announcers will talk at length about the planned fishing trip Carpenter and Halladay will share in Brazil. Whatever. Carpenter will find his groove, throw a shutout, outduel his friend and the Phillies will go home with 102 regular season wins in their pocket, all of them worth less than a bus ticket.

Then the Cardinals will play the Brewers in a not especially interesting series. Those happen too in the playoffs. Only one of the games will be especially close, and the Cardinals will win that one 4-3 — St. Louis will score four runs in the first inning and then La Russa will use five pitchers to hold on. The Cardinals will win the thing in six games and go to the World Series.

Tony La Russa can’t even imagine that now. Or maybe he can. That’s one thing about La Russa — he understands that baseball takes strange twists. “You don’t know,” he says, again and again, and it’s true. You don’t know.

* * *

The Cardinals will win a wild, quirky, sloppy, dramatic, imperfect and wonderful World Series against the Texas Rangers. No, you can’t see it now, not after a 9-4 loss, not after a bad stretch of baseball, you can never see such things in the low moments. That’s true of all sports, but especially true of baseball. When a team gets crushed, it feels like that team will never win again. Then again, when a team does the crushing you can’t help but wonder if that winning will go on forever.

The Cardinals will win Game 1 of the World Series in a taut and tense game, a La Russa Special with lots of pitchers and sacrifices and intentional walks. But the Cardinals will lose Game 2 in large part because of a botched cut-off attempt by Pujols.

And then, the teams will go to Texas and it will stop being about teams, start being about individuals. Pujols will hit three home runs in Game 3. Derek Holland will throw 8 1/3 shutout innings in Game 4. And Game 5 will be just plain weird, one of the weirdest in World Series history, a game with six intentional walks, 10 pitchers, three errors, and one crazy bullpen phone. That joke, too, will make a lot more sense in a couple of months.

Game 6, back in St. Louis, will be the crescendo. The Cardinals will be down two runs going into the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals will be down two runs AGAIN going into the bottom of the tenth — those two runs created by Josh Hamilton, who would say that God told him he would hit a home run. Game 6 will be one of those games that feel unreal even while it was happening, like when you’re having a strange dream and you KNOW you’re having a strange dream. The Cardinals will win that game, of course. David Freese — keep remembering that name.

And then, the Cardinals will win a less interesting Game 7, and St. Louis will celebrate like mad.

None of this seems possible now, but it will happen because the Cardinals are a better team than they have shown, because a team can do the remarkable when things start going right, because baseball caters to the unlikely these days. This Cardinals team doesn’t seem great to you now, not even close, but baseball more than ever is like the weather. Just wait.

The Cardinals start a four-game series with the Pirates on Thursday. Edwin Jackson is the scheduled starter.

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34 Responses to The Cardinals Will Win The World Series

  1. Mark Daniel says:

    Funny stuff. What struck me the most about the Cardinals is that Rangers pitchers seemed afraid to throw them strikes in the later innings of game 6 and game 7. Didn’t matter who was batting. The pitchers were throwing the first pitch at the ankles for ball 1, then 4 inches outside for ball 2. Seemed like it happened every batter. It was like the Cards suddenly morphed into the 1998 Yankees.

  2. tarhoosier says:

    Texas really was the better team. But, you never know, Right Tony?

  3. Broken Yogi says:

    Philadelphia was the better team.

  4. Sandy says:

    Back in the good old days, you had to have the best record in your league to even play in the World Series. And that record was attained through a schedule well in excess of 100 games. There would be no doubt as to the deserving teams. Sure, the winner of the World Series only had to win 4 more games, but it was an honor to be there as the winner of a pennant. Now, a team that wins the World Series has accomplished what? It seems a little ridiculous to even celebrate the achievement given the circumstance.

  5. Rob says:

    The team that just won the World Series had to win not 4, but 11 games against not 1, but 3 teams that each won 96 games or more. It’s more difficult to raise a championship banner now than it ever was. THESE are the good old days.

  6. Brian says:

    Not convinced Texas was the better team. The better team since April – sure. But with the reconfigured Cardinals roster, the one they had from August on – that’s a close call. Rangers definitely had a better defense, better baserunning, more rotation depth. I prefer the Cards’ lineup by a hair, their bench, their pen (again, by a hair), and even their manager.

  7. Michael says:

    Tell it to the 1954 Cleveland Indians. 111 wins, one of the greatest starting staffs ever, and swept by the New York Giants–the team that, three years before, was finished with 44 games left and went 37-7. Maybe they did it by stealing signs, not that anybody else in baseball EVER did that.

  8. JG in MO says:

    Agree with Rob and Brian, Sandy’s comment is almost not worth a response. What I love about the expanded system is that both the best team for the full season (Phillies, Yanks) and the best team in the last part of the season (Brewers, Rangers, Cards) get to play head to head for ultimate supremacy. It’s not only more exciting, it makes the whole trade deadline/mid-year corrections that much more meaningful.

    What’s really surprising is – I don’t remember this much angst in 2006 when an 83 win Cardinal team went all the way. As a Cards fan then and now, I felt sheepish in 06 (“well, we deserved it in 04, so here’s payback”). I feel only pride and exhilaration in ’11!

  9. This is great, and the last italicized paragraph really made me chuckle.

  10. Ed says:

    As they keep expanding the playoffs, there’s really no point in playing a 162 game season. Playing a long season is good for determining who the best team is, but if you’re going to put 10 teams in the playoffs, it’s a little silly to have such a long season.

    I’m no longer a big baseball fan, so I really don’t care about the expanded playoff system — I’m neither for nor against it. I just don’t see the point in a 162 game season if you’re going to allow 1/3 of the league into the playoffs….better off having a shorter season and try to drum up more interest.

  11. Too much beer and fried chicken up there.
    You’ll get that joke in about six weeks.
    . . . nice

    Ed – how do you be no longer a fan, and a purist?
    Probably have something dismissive to say about the DH, the Yankees and steroids as well. . .

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. JG, I don’t know why you are so dismissive of Sandy’s comment. I think he overstates his case – and of course it’s difficult to beat three good teams – but the current playoff system does make the entire six month 162 game marathon largely meaningless. And yet given the nature of baseball’s variables, only a long season will come close to identifying the best teams, which means that one of the best two teams will not necessarily win the World Series, and often will not. This may not bother you, and to be honest it doesn’t bother me all that much either, at least not enough to detract much from my enjoyment of the playoffs, but that’s only because I am very good at suppressing inconvenient truths!

  14. You must have forgotten about Jaime Garcia’s trip to Denver, eh?

  15. Pat Dunn says:

    You’re the best Joe. Thanks.

  16. Gary says:

    The Cardinals played great the past two months, but has there ever been a championship team that has had to rely so much on the failure of other teams for their success?

    No matter how well they played at the end of the season, they wouldn’t have made the post-season if not for an epic collapse by the Braves. Once in the playoffs, it took uncharacteristic poor play from the Phillies and Brewers to advance to the World Series. And once in the Series, it took a complete collapse of the Texas bullpen to keep them alive in Game 6. Even in Game 7, they scored several runs on the Rangers’ sudden inability to throw strikes.

    I don’t say this to take anything away from the Cardinals because they capitalized on every opportunity given to them. But I don’t remember very many times in the past where one team received so many opportunities from uncharacteristic poor play from their opponents.

  17. Joe says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Joe says:

    The core of that Cardinals team in ’06 had won 288 games from ’04-’06, an average of 96 wins per season. No one ever talks about that, only about how an 83 win team won the World Series. I think it’s more accurate to view them as a 96 win team that finally got healthy and then played like the team we knew them to be.

    As far as the Phillies being the better team this year, they had the DS and the regular season to prove that and they could not. In either case. When it mattered, the Cardinals proved themselves to be the best team in baseball in 2011.

  19. Brian says:

    I completely disagree, Gary. I think the Cardinals (unlike 2006) just flat-out outplayed each of their 3 postseason opponents. And yes, the Phillies, Brewers, and Rangers probably played worse than they did throughout the regular season, but most of their mistakes were in line with their regular-season weaknesses (i.e., the Phillies’ lack of lineup depth, the Brewers’ poor defense and lack of rotation depth, the Rangers’ lack of selectiveness at the plate, etc.). In fact, had the Cardinals lost the WS in 6 games, I think you could make an excellent case that they lost due to THEIR uncharacteristicly poor play.

  20. nettles9 says:

    I remember when Joe asked me to proof-read this article after he just finished it. We were at Spago’s and I told him he was crazy and should really, really think about, perhaps, retiring from writing and go set up a tent with some traveling circus, reading fortunes and staring at people’s palms, if he was going to come up with the crazy stuff he wrote. “So, let me get this straight”, I said to Joe while I eating a zero-calorie Big Mac, “the Cardinals, 10 1/2 games back right now, they’re going to win the World Series??? Dang, Geronimo (my nickname for Joe), we all know it’s going to be the Phillies and Yankees, the teams with the best regular-season records– how could it be any other match-up???”

    Thank heavens Joe stopped writing, including ending that blog of his. Minds like that shouldn’t be unleashed on the public. Don’t even get me started on how Joe predicted snow for the East Coast…. in October!! What a character, that Geronimo.

  21. Jared says:

    Yo Brian-

    “most of their mistakes were in line with their regular-season weaknesses… the Rangers’ lack of selectiveness at the plate”

    The Rangers struck out only 930 times all year (a 14.9% strikeout rate); both best in the majors this year. They lost the Series b/c of a shaky bullpen… you watched the Series, right?

  22. Mark says:

    I don’t understand all the hand-wringing over the current baseball playoff system. The 162 game season is there to winnow down the field to the top 20% of teams (save for some outliers who win their division with a substandard record, e.g. ’06 Cardinals). Then, after that marathon season and all the injuries, fatigue, and other issues it brings, they continue playing until, after a 173 game season (at a bare minimum), a winner is crowned.

    Certainly it’s different than in the past. Different teams arrive at the end of the marathon in better health, are playing better baseball, or whatever, but to somehow claim that the previous 162 games are “meaningless” because the team with the best record didn’t win seems laughable to the point of absurdity.

    If we’re just seeking to crown the “best” team, why even have a World Series at all? Just have one league, best record is the champion. Seems fairest to me.

  23. Sandy says:

    If we had true inter league play all year, that’s the way it should be done. The very nature of baseball, where the better teams only win 60%, suggests that it takes many games to prove which team is the best and most deserving of raising the championship banner. This deal of playing best of a short series elimination format suits other sports much better than baseball. My point is that there’s nothing wrong with the current system as it pertains to adding drama and selling detergent, but don’t believe that the most deserving teams play in the World Series. Furthermore, I agree it’s not necessary to play 162 games to support the current format. The long season is a holdover from where the best record meant something.

  24. blovy8 says:

    At this point, the only problem with 162 games is making the schedule work out since interleague series have to continue throughout the year. There are going to be off days on the weekends. Weird.
    And why should we care if the “best” team doesn’t always win? In fact, isn’t baseball the built on such difficulties, since a great team can still only win 2/3 of the time against average competition? A really good team complaining about playing poorly at the wrong time, needs to understand that they probably beat a few teams they shouldn’t have over the regular season when those teams weren’t playing well.

  25. Sandy says:

    My original point is that winning a pennant or World Series means less when it’s the result of winning short playoff series. It’s not that it means nothing at all. Championship used to mean excellence. It doesn’t have to mean that. It can mean that we ignore the first 81 games and give it to the teams that played well after that. Philly won all those games and didn’t get to play for the ultimate prize. That’s fine, but don’t think the ultimate prize represents excellence anymore.

  26. TJMac says:

    Determining the “best” team in a competition is straightforward. You define the rules of victory beforehand — i.e., play the 162-game season well enough to get into the playoffs, then win the playoff tournament, in order to get the WS trophy — and the team that accomplishes this goal is the “best” team.

    Any other definition or use of “best” (or “excellence,” etc.) is inherently subjective, and is usually just a thinly veiled attempt to downgrade the achievement of the team that won and make excuses for the teams that didn’t.

    The wild card system has been around now for years. Everyone knows the score. The goal is to build and manage your team to win enough in the regular season to get to the playoffs, and then win there. While there’s no exact science to accomplish this goal, and luck plays a (large) role, the accomplishment itself is the most objective way to judge the merits of a particular team’s approach.

    In other words, those who say the Cardinals weren’t the best team this season are full of crap.

  27. davidinnyc says:

    Well, then, I am full of crap.

    There is no way in the world you can tell me the Cardinals were “the best team in baseball” in 2011. If the Braves had won one more game against them in the regular season, they wouldn’t have even made the postseason. Even with the extra games they played, did they win as many games as the Phillies?

    The Cardinals took better advantage of their opportunities than their competition, and they are — deservedly — the World Series Champions of 2011.

    But they are not now, nor will the ever be, the best team in MLB in 2011. Anyone who says otherwise is full of something fouler than crap.

  28. Brian says:


    You responded to my notion that the Rangers lack selectivity at the plate by writing, “the Rangers struck out only 930 times all year (a 14.9% strikeout rate); both best in the majors this year. They lost the Series b/c of a shaky bullpen… you watched the Series, right?”

    I’m well aware the Rangers rarely strike out. But selectivity at the plate has very little to do with putting the ball into play. The Rangers walked only 475 times, 8th among 14 teams. It’s clear to me that the Cardinals are far more disciplined at the plate, grinding out much better AB’s. And indeed, in the Series they walked 41 times to the Rangers’ 26.

    And yes, the Rangers’ pen was shaky during the Series, but the Cardinals hitters also POUNDED this bullpen, as you might expect from a team that scored more runs on the road than any team in baseball – more than the Yanks, more than the Rangers. This was not some wild deviation from the regular season, which was Gary’s original point.

  29. TJMac says:

    People either believe they can define “best” in their own special, infallible way, or, like davidinnyc, simply ignore the issue. There’s really only two logically sound options – either admit there’s no one true objective way of defining “best” (just as there’s no way to know with 100% certainty that our universe isn’t simply one of a million specks of dust on the fingernail of some cosmic creature), or under the reality that we presently subscribe to, admit that “best” can only mean “the winner of the competition under the rules that everyone knew from the start that they were playing under.”

  30. Dinky says:

    Here’s the thing: baseball is NOT basketball, is NOT football, is NOT hockey. In those other sports, a superstar who plays in game 1 of a 7 game playoff will, barring injury, play in games 2, 3, 4, and 5-7 if the series lasts that long (round 1 for football). And they will never warm up, play for a fraction of a game, then sit down because of rain and miss the rest of the game, and maybe the next two games as well. Kurt Warner plays every game, and even if the team around him is mediocre, playoff history says he gives his team a shot. Same with Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky. And they are all playing every game, barring injury.

    But in baseball, an Orel Hershiser can start 5 games (and relieve one more), have his team win all 5 starts, average 8 innings and less than one run a start, and practically win two series by himself (back then, it was only two rounds of playoffs). The logical thing to do, shorten the season to (say) 144 games and have 8 teams in each league reduce to one pennant winner, is pretty much what those other sports do. But that just isn’t fair. It makes ace pitchers worth far more. It unbalances the playoffs. It also gives too much advantage to bye weeks. And yet the Phillies had all those advantages, and still were beaten by the Cardinals.

    The one thing I am absolutely, positively sure of, is that the Cardinals were the best team this year. They were a team built around two ace pitchers, and lost one early. They faced the hardest path to reach the playoffs. They had no strategic positioning in the playoffs. They were down to their last strike… twice. They had the most difficult path to victory of any team, and still won the World Series. Any suggestion that they were not the best team founders against that fact: they had it hardest, and still prevailed.

    My hat’s off to the Cardinals.

  31. The argument for the “Best” team in baseball comes down to two basic interpretations: One uses the entire season as a resume that qualifies you as the best, the other views the season as one long preparation for the playoffs, meaning who ever is the strongest at the end is the best. The Cards were the best team at the end of the season and proved it by winning the tournament.

    My interpretation is that it really is just two seasons. two separate accomplishments. The Phils very well might have won a 7 game series against Stl but they only played 5, so we will never know. If there wasnt a rainout on wednesday, Chris Carpenter doesnt start game 7, and maybe Tex is world champions. If Prince Fielder doesnt hit the clutch AS game homer, Tex has home field and the advantage swings back their way.

    Winning the WS is a great accomplishment, but winning a division title is in many ways, equally great and probably doesnt get enough credit. If your team busts its ass for 6 months and comes out on top, it seems silly that it becomes meaningless because of one mediocre week (Phils, Yanks) at the end.

    I run into a similar dilemma every time my Jayhawks get spanked in March after a hard fought and well earned conference championship.

  32. TJMac says:

    McGoldencrown’s Jayhawks reference at the end is telling. People’s subjective interpretation or loose use of the term “best” is typically motivated (whether consciously or not) by how their favorite team fared. If you want to talk about the best regular season team, or the best conference champion, then fine, you can do so.

    But if you want to name a “best” team in a sports league (whether it be MLB, NBA, NFL, Div. 1 NCAA basketball, etc.), then you must mean the team that won that league’s ultimate championship.

    Otherwise, “best” just means whatever a person subjectively (and selectively) wants it to mean.

  33. Gadfly says:

    Back in the “good old days,” just like today, injuries at the wrong time could kill you. The 1970 Reds started out 70-30 and went barely over .500 the rest of the way, before losing to the O’s, for example. 1985 Cards (Vince Coleman) and 1987 Cards (Jack Clark) were both better, pre-injury/on paper, than the Royals and Twinkies. Now, all these were after the LCS but before the wild-card round. But, I’m sure a pre-1969 perusal could find more examples.

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