HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 28: Hitting coach Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals is showered with champagne as they celebrate winning the National Leageue wild card at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
I have nothing to say about yesterday's games that thousands of Torty-related comments didn't already clear up—which is good, because I don't have any time in which to say it. But with the peaks and valleys of the season suddenly sanded flat I figure it's time for a 2011 Season-Long Narrative reset. Here goes:
Chris Carpenter had yet another brilliant season in which nobody was ever dumb enough to think he was finished; despite getting dinged up on balls in play and getting killed by his win-loss record he led the league in innings pitched—Chris Carpenter, the guy with all the shoulder injuries—and closed the season with one of the best starts of his career, a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
Kyle Lohse had a great bounceback season after two wasted years—great enough that his weird peripherals inspire the same caution they did back in 2008. Behind the plate, Yadier Molina had a random second-tier Ted Simmons season, hitting .206 and slugging .467, which was nice. Lance Berkman put up the best OPS+ of his career, which is exactly what we all expected.
And Tony La Russa got 90 wins out of a team with no Adam Wainwright, a dysfunctional closer, and Albert Pujols's worst season since 2002. Afterward Viva El Birdos erected a monument in his honor and insisted he accept a lifetime contract.
Okay, the last one is possibly not true. Which means this morning thread, this brief respite between the regular season and the playoffs is your chance to set down for all time the storylines that seemed so vital in July that history's going to forget, oh, tomorrow. Tony La Russa losing control of the team, the team having no fun together, Albert Pujols's double play record, et cetera—speak now or forever try to remind casual fans of them in 2016.
As for me, it's the Tyler Greene Millennium that I want to pass down to my children's children—the shining moment around August 27th when we said to ourselves, "The Cardinals might be way out of the playoff chase, but at least Tony La Russa and John Mozeliak seem to have agreed to give Tyler Greene a shot to play every day."
Times were slower, then. None of these talking machines, or overflow threads, or calculator watches. At that point I imagined this September as being a month when I watched Greene bat ninth (he's like the second leadoff man, Al, he really is) and, I don't know, learned to whittle.