I also never could've guessed that the Redbirds would
actually open the vault buried beneath Busch Stadium and spend some
money to attract the likes of John Smoltz, Julio Lugo, Mark DeRosa
and Matt Holliday. Oh, I cried for it. Longtime loyal readers of
this fine publication will tell you that I have been a very loud
proponent of both offseason and midseason acquisitions to enhance
The problem is... there are usually NO deals. I have
to say that when I went home for lunch one day and read that the
Cards had actually traded for Matt Holliday, I literally fell off my
chair. Now, I'm not gonna say that St. Louis would never have made
the playoffs without him, but I will put it this way: They would
never be playing in Los Angeles this week if not for making the
deal. You can read that any way you want to.
Holliday has been absolutely sick! I knew he was good and said so
several times in my columns. That's why I wanted him! However, even
I didn't do him justice. He was killer! It's been a long while since
I've seen a player in a sport just come into a situation and just
dominate it and completely take it over like Matt Holliday has done
for St. Louis. He has been amazing. You want to walk Pujols in front
of him or pitch around Sir Albert? Be our guest... and watch
Holliday crush a ball into the gap. I actually felt sorry for NL
stadium walls when this guy had a bat in his hands.
Whatever... The Cards somehow won the NL Central when virtually
no one had them even being a threat. Our own Greg Taylor, who was
stung by the Cubbies' downward spiral, said that he would vote Cards
skipper Tony La Russa the manager of the year. As much as Greg
dislikes La Russa, that should tell you all you need to know about
the superb job the skipper did this year guiding the Birds into the
Now comes the hard part. I think it will be very difficult to
beat everyone's darlings, the LA Dodgers, since they have the
home-field advantage. The other thing that works against the
Cardinals is that they have enjoyed some success against LA in years
past. In other words, the law of averages should be in LA's favor.
And lastly, I think our hopes are long because now we have to face
one of the best minds in baseball, that of Joe Torre (who of course
has a Cardinal pedigree as well).
[to top of second column]
It may well come down to our Cardinal aces, Mr. Chris Carpenter and
Mr. Adam Wainwright. These two have been fighting for the Cy Young
Award all year with San Francisco Giant stalwart Tim Lincecum. IF
they can continue to throw BBs at the Dodger hitters, then I like
our chances. IF they can't, it could be a short series for the good
guys in red! The Dodgers have a slew of their own good hurlers, and
they will battle the Cards perhaps in a tougher way than we have
seen all year.
It could also come down to our bullpen. Earlier in the year, it
was lights out. Especially with the emergence of closer Ryan
Franklin. However, he got scuffed up a little bit in September, and
I'm not sure he's back to his old self just yet. I sure hope he is
because if he gets back there... I like our chances.
I also like our chances if Manny Ramirez stays in the funk that
he has been in of late. If he is a non-factor, that could go a long
way toward a longer Cardinal postseason. Another guy that scares me
on the Dodger Blue crew is Andre Ethier. He seems to wear us out.
And of course if we don't hit the ball ourselves, it will be an
early exit. Over the last several weeks of the season the Cards were
shut out five times and scored two runs or less 10 times. If they
revert back to that, they will be joining the winter cruise earlier
I have always loved October baseball. I like it a lot more when
the Cardinals are playing for all the marbles. Maybe we'll be
rewarded with another fall to remember. But even if we're not, it's
been a heck of a year!
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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