So, the first thing I have to say is something I didn't want to mention before the Cardinals' opposition had been eliminated--I made a bet on the Cardinals during the early days of the regular season with a friend of mine who is quite the Red Sox fan. Essentially, we bet that if our team won the World Series, then we would be able to pick a team-appropriate hairstyle for the other person.
Around the all-star break, when the Cardinals were experiencing their first lull, and the BoSox looked invincible with their one-two punch in the lineup and their young relief corps, I was resigning myself to growing out Manny-style dreds, or something else equally ridiculous. But instead, the Cardinals won. Almost instantly, I decided that there was only one appropriate hairstyle to demand--the Scott Spezio-style beard, which will be accompanined by a Spezio-style horrible fake tatoo.
As for how I feel about the team, I kind of sense that it is an indication of the insanity of the current playoff format. I don't feel bad about it, since the Cardinals have been repeatedly hurt in the playoffs by the stupidity of the modern playoffs. It feels good to not be taunted by a bunch of my students, all casual Astros fans who couldn't distinguish Morgan Ensberg from Adam Everett. And it felt really good to see something finally not go wrong at the last possible minute, and to see Tony La Russa actually break a smile, and a jubilant Adam Wainwright standing on the mound while he got mobbed.
But it still feels like a stolen moment, even if it is one that we have merely stlen back from other robbers. One oft-cited statistic used to indicate that the current playoff system 'works' is that there have been seven different World Champions since the Yankee dynasty won it's last title in 2000. Ignoring the obvious objection that the exact same playoff structure produced five Yankee championships in six years ([editor's note, by Valatan]:actually, four in five years), I want to ask a semi-rhetorical question: Do you believe that there have there been seven different best teams in baseball over the previous seven seasons? I really don't. Under most other metrics, the Cardinals were the best team in the majors for 2004-2005. I wonder how those two playoffs would have turned out in a world without a wild card, but I guess that that is something we'll never know.
So for now, I am just happy to see Albert, Rolen, Carp and Jimmy get the title that they all deserve in their resumés, and I'm hoping for an exciting and inspiring team for next season.
And I'm gonna really enjoy the friends' haircut that the Cardinals won for me.
Update [2006-11-1 12:15:23 by lboros]: not to intrude on Valatan's post --- it's a good one --- but i'm obliged to announce some news: SB Nation this year has come up with its own version of the postseason awards. all 30 network bloggers, plus 30 other baseball bloggers from outside the network, filled out ballots just like the real BBWWA. the first winners have just been officially released --- the SBN Rookies of the Year are justin verlander and hanley ramirez. here's how the overall voting: