Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: postseason

The October Baseball Bubble

Baseball people just get it.  We feel the electricity.  We grasp the magnitude of every play, and we hang on every pitch. We live for October, the Fall Classic, the World Series.   In other words, we live in a big “baseball bubble” during the postseason.  Don’t mind us… we’re baseball fans.

All around us, life moves on.

Five years ago, during the postseason, I fell in love with baseball and my St. Louis Cardinals.  It was a game-changer for me, and I can’t help but wonder how many new eyes are seeing the magic of baseball this week.  I hope there are many, because this series promises to be something special.

Here we are, one game into the World Series of 2011.  The St. Louis Cardinals versus the Texas Rangers: two teams with amazing and unbelievable journeys that have brought them both to this moment in history.   If I could have hand-picked two teams to showcase baseball in October, these were the two.  The 2011 World Series is pure baseball, Midwest baseball, void of Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies.  If that means less television audience, so be it.  Two hot teams of momentum, evenly matched with brilliant management, deep benches, impressive bullpens, solid slugging lineups who play hard & yet challenge the running game and most importantly, two teams of class, teams with players you can’t help but love… THIS is a must-see Fall Classic, guaranteed to convert the non-believer.

So, think of the family, friends and colleagues around you, the ones who don’t yet breathe baseball.  Maybe all they need is a little nudge, someone to answer the questions, explain the nuances and share the inspiring back-stories of the players and the season that have brought these two ballclubs to this final stage.  Those non-baseball people? You could be their guide, their sponsor.  You could change a life.

The October Baseball Bubble is big enough for everyone.  So, let’s spread the joy.

Save someone’s life, share the postseason!

….. and Go Cardinals!  #11in11  😉

Daydream Believer

Pinch me.

It’s the postseason and my St. Louis Cardinals have conquered the unconquerable, done the unthinkable.

This team, who was 10 ½ games out of first place in the NL Central during the last week in August put on the turbo-boosters and raced into October, beating the odds-favorite pitching monsters of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series and then moving on to snuff the mighty Brewers in the National League Championship Series.

Pinch me.

This is the team who lost their “Ace” Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, whose veteran closer fought a prolonged and painful struggle to “get it right” through a good part of the season before finally hanging up his cleats, whose bullpen woes and injury bugs peaked early and haunted faithful fans.  This is the team who failed to reach a contract extension agreement with their legendary (pending free agent) first baseman before the start of the season, leaving a cloud of doubt over the future of the club. This is the team whose manager battled SHINGLES for what seemed like an eternity.  This was the team nobody expected to be here.

And yet, here we are.

The Cardinals are heading back to the World Series, five years after another of their unexpected (and victorious) runs through the postseason.

The Texas Rangers are the bulldogs waiting for us in the final showdown.  The Cardinals are (again) the underdogs, facing a powerhouse lineup that should strike fear in the hearts of any opposing pitching staff.

Except this team is the 2011 Cardinals, something unexpected, something… special.  This is the team with the power trio of Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday.  This is the team with Golden (glove) Boy, Yadier Molina anchoring the battery.  This is the team of David Freese, whose superhero powers apparently magnify in the postseason.  This is the team of churlish veteran Ace Chris Carpenter, the wise-beyond-his-years lefty, Jaime Garcia, and the resurgence of Kyle Lohse. This is the team with an MVP bullpen (Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Lance Lynn…), a work in progress throughout the entire season, rich in talent and tuned to perfection under the mad genius of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan.

This team exemplifies the saying:  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  The midseason trade for shortstop Rafael Furcal added a potent combo of game-changing glove and switch-hitting hot bat.  The Colby Rasmus trade, initially flunking all seemingly rational baseball criteria, now shines with the luster of La Russa brilliance (isn’t hindsight incredible?) as pitchers Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski have all contributed handily to the magic of these rally Cardinals with Jon Jay in centerfield, making Rasmus’ absence (dare I say?) forgettable.

As I sit here composing this ode to what looks more and more like a team of destiny, I am finding it difficult to know where to stop.  So many players up and down the bench, the bullpen and the rotation have contributed to get this hot surging team to the magical summit: Allen “Do It For Torty” Craig, Nick Punto, Adron Chambers, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Ryan Theriot… the list goes on and on.  When you stop to think, it is beyond belief:  the timely talent really does run that deep, this team has surpassed every expectation.  But don’t tell them that.  They have momentum and their eyes on the ultimate prize.  They are aiming for the top.

This is not a team of superstars, this is a TEAM.  The light-hearted frivolities: Puma suits, rookie hazing costumes, the “shredder”, tortoises, rally squirrels, “Happy Flights” and sprinkles have combined with an underlying burst of what can only be described as a perfect storm of “Do It or Go Home” mentality.

Game 1 of the World Series starts tomorrow…. and it starts at Busch Stadium.

Pinch me.

Go Cards!  😉

Delayed Reaction: LOL Reds

I know, two days later and I’m talking about the Reds losing. Welcome to my busy and random world. Anyway, I was thinking about this time last year, and how awful and pathetic I felt to be a Cardinals fan, having just watched my team flush away the season with some rather lackluster play and a quick three game sweep by the Dodgers. I even made the seven hour trek to St. Louis for game three after lucking into some tickets last minute. I was fairly convinced that I could turn things around and help the team climb back into the NLDS. That didn’t happen, obviously…

I really enjoyed that Braves/Giants series. It felt like watching the Braves games I used to catch all the time on TBS as a kid (yes, I was a kid in the 90’s… sorry). Turner Field was electrified last night, and despite the loss, the atmosphere of that game was a fitting send-off for Bobby Cox. I never had a problem with Bobby (Leo Mazzone was another story… watching him rock away in the dugout made me crazy) and actually enjoyed seeing him get tossed all the time. While I was fairly surprised to see it happen in the playoffs, it almost seemed fitting for it to happen to him.

I did a pretty horrible job picking teams so far, didn’t I? Last week I went for the Phils, Twins, Braves and Rays.
Let’s face it, the Phillies should have won that series, plain and simple.
Picking the Twins was a hopeful thing, not a ‘I actually think this could happen’ pick. Beating the Yankees in a short series is no simple task, so losing that one didn’t really surprise me.
I assumed that the Braves/Giants would be a crapshoot, and I think that was the series I wavered on the most. At times I forgot who I was rooting for and cheered for both teams.
I did not expect the Rangers to make it out alive. They have impressed me. Unfortunately, I pretty much assume that no matter which team comes out on top, they will probably lose to the Yankees in the ALCS. Part of me wants to remember that it’s a funny game (“… eh Monty?”), but the rest of me knows that they are the d*** Yankees for a reason.

Anyway, I did actually do some writing about the Cardinals for today (crazy, right?), but you have to head over to Baseball Digest to read it. I like to-do lists, so I started one for Mo and the front office to hold on to as the offseason really starts to set in. Head over there and give it a read, okay?

One last thing about last year. I might not have been able to turn the team around in the NLDS, but at least I didn’t cry like Brandon Phillips. Just sayin.

No baseball makes me a sick girl.

Monday evening I started feeling a little stuffy, and stubbornly insisted that I was fine. Tuesday morning I woke up in a fog, and spent the better part of the day wishing I was in bed. It was half-sick… healthy enough to be out and about but sick enough to be completely miserable. I survived an eleven hour work day (I don’t know why more people wouldn’t want to be teachers and coaches with schedules like this) and crashed on the couch, thankful for peace and quiet.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t turn on a baseball game (I watched Monday Night Football the night before… I KNOW), and there wasn’t anything to read or follow or do that had to do with the Cardinals. I think it just hit me that the season really is over. It’s official: I’m sick because I have no Cardinal baseball to watch. I checked my calendars from last year – I was sick the week after the NLDS. Coincidence? No.

I suppose there should be some real baseball chatter today (why else are you here?), but I have to say, the playoffs are not exciting me at the moment. I need to actually have the games on to really get there I think. We toyed with the idea of each one of us here at CDD taking a team to follow through the postseason, but none of us could really choose one.

The only thing we could agree on is that we will cheer for anyone but the Reds. My caveat is to include the Yankees, but I was raised in a home that remembers the Yankee teams of the 1960’s, and I’ve watched them do the same sickening winning in the past 15 years, so I think I’m okay to include the Yankees on the ‘no’ list.

We’re still undecided. I think the choices have narrowed to the Phils, Braves, Rays and Twins. That actually works out nicely considering none of those teams face each other in the first round.

Wait, does that mean we are decided… at least for the division series? Huh. Well, I guess that wasn’t too painful, was it? 🙂

If you need a Cardinal baseball fix (and I know I do), head on over to i70baseball. I’ve started an offseason series on the Cardinals throughout history. Since I thought it would make sense, I started at the beginning. So here it is – Baseball Beginnings in St. Louis. Let me know what you think!

Goooooo Phils/Braves/Rays/Twins! (That’s a mouthful… can we work on a shortened form? Anyone?)

>Did You Look?

>

Did you look yet?
I looked. 
Last year I was watching the NL standings like a Hawksworth.  It was an addiction really.  It was great fun because the Cardinals were winning.  I would check MLB’s website in the morning and again in the evening just to make sure no other team was gaining ground.
The Magic Number thing was a mystery last season, my first experience of both playoff fever and Twitter. Suddenly I was surrounded by great baseball fans who were spouting all these new terms and phrases.  I was soaking it up like a sponge, but starting from nothing, I had a long way to go.  The Magic Number Mystery took a few examples of combination wins and losses, 1st place and 2nd place teams playing each other, and the quirky off-day math for me to figure out the formula.   But when that lightbulb clicked on, I was back in the game!
Last September was exciting, and I was absolutely giddy!  Or at least that is how I remember it.
This season has sputtered to a close and I gotta admit, I definitely have not been curiously fixated on the complete MLB standings.  The Cardinals have been losing, falling behind the Reds, and the ‘games back’ number has been solemnly reported during each and every Cardinals game telecast.  I did not have to hunt it out, it was cruelly forced upon me.  Watching the dropping Magic Numbers of other teams has been like salt in a wound.  

In 2010 my baseball vocabulary has been broadened again.
This time I learned “Tragic Number”- that one sucks.
YESTERDAY was the first time in over a month that I purposely typed in www.MLB.com and clicked on “Standings.” I knew the news would be ugly, but morbid curiosity took over. Plus I was on another mission.
Don’t tell the boys, but I am currently working through the process and accepting the reality of a postseason without the Cardinals. I am also beginning my hunt for an adopted stepteam.  Who would have thought, going into the 2010 season, that a Cardinal fan would need to pick some other team to watch in the postseason?!?  Certainly not I.  Yet here I am, easing into the process and eyeing the multitude of baseball candidates.  (Why do I have this awful, horrible, no-good feeling that I am cheating on my Cardinals by saying that?)

It’s a loaner team, just for the month of October, I promise! 😉
Today on i70baseball.com, my article is called “Expanding My Roster” and is more about how a baseball fan moves into the postseason when their team is going home instead. Check it out?
So, who will be your postseason stepteam?  I am looking for suggestions.  Bonus points for sentimental player background stories and childhood pictures. The sappy stuff gets me every time!  
Play Ball!  =)

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