The Cardinals take on the San Francisco Giants in game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
The Cardinals send Lance Lynn to the mound tonight to take on the San Francisco Giants anemic, terrible, weak lineup (with the exception of Buster Posey). In turn, the Cardinals super powered, very amazing lineup will face off against, and most likely, destroy a timid and terrified Madison Bumgarner.
Or the exact opposite will happen.
As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals in the last decade, the one thing we should have internalized is how batshit crazy the post season really is. Not only have we seen things like a rookie starting pitcher Adam Wainwright strikeout an amazing post season hitter in Carlos Beltran in the 9th inning of the NLCS, but we've won the World Series twice in the decade while not being the best time while being thrashed in the playoffs in 2004/2005 when they most likely were the best team.
Those qualifiers like "most likely" always have to be applied in these circumstances for several reasons. A teams single season won/loss record is not necessarily indicative of how good they were as a team. A host of other measures (a Pythagorean approach, WAR based approach, etc) will more accurately measure a team's true talent than their won/loss record from that year.
Another thing to keep in mind, and this seems especially true of how the Cardinals approach the playoffs of late, is that the team in the playoffs is not the same roster that played the first 162 games. The Cardinals won't have JC Romero take the mound at any point in this series. Neither will they have Jaime Garcia. Pete Kozma seems firmly entrenched in this dimension of reality as the Cardinals' shortstop. Elsewhere a unicorn with a glove plays shortstop for the team. (Unicorns are excellent fielders, I might add. UZR is always impressed with unicorns.) Likewise, Melky Cabrera and his illegitimate batting title will never take an at bat in the 2012 NLCS for the Giants.
What are we possibly to do with so much uncertainty and so many variables?
Drink heavily. Just enjoy the game.
Maybe that seems overly simplistic and lazy (even for an unpaid blogger) but all the hand wringing and predicting and regular season stats don't count for squat in a short series. The Cardinals just got done proving that twice to make it to the NLCS.
It's not that we can't get a feel for which team is better (I'll personally take the Cardinals for being a marginally better team this series) but rather that the margins are so fine and the sample size we're about to engage in is so small that it really is a coin flip. Absolutely ridiculous things happen in baseball games all the time. We simply recall those from the playoffs better because of the heightened importance we've ascribed to them.
So tonight, grab a beer or a gluten free cider and enjoy. The Cardinals may win. The Giants may win. I don't know. During the playoffs, we're all just along for the ride.
7 game series vs Giants @ AT&T Park
|Mon 10/15||8:07 PM EDT|
|Wed 10/17||4:07 PM EDT|
|Thu 10/18||8:07 PM EDT|
|Fri 10/19||8:07 PM EDT|
|Sun 10/21||4:45 PM EDT|
|Mon 10/22||8:07 PM EDT|