today's main post, about clutch hitting, is directly below. today we commence with another 2 series from the round of 16; the last 2 start tomorrow.
i've been negligent in posting links to Cardinal70's tourney tracker page; will try to link regularly from now on. summaries are after the jump.
It’s a matchup any WWI veteran would cherish: the 1926 Cards against the 1943 squad. Anyone old enough to remember both these teams probably looks at the internet the same way Wolf Blitzer looks at that massive delegate screen on CNN --- with total bewilderment. So I offer the following history. It’s a little incomplete, but probably wildly inaccurate anyway. . . . .
The 1926 Cardinals were led by player/manager Rogers Hornsby who, along with GM Branch Rickey, gave the St. Louis Cardinals their first pennant and World Series championship. Before Ricky came along in the late 1910s, St. Louis was referred to as "first in booze and shoes, but last in the league." Rickey brought his innovative thinking to the front office after being a mediocre player for the American League version of the St. Louis Browns.
Rickey’s greatest career innovation was breaking the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson for the Dodgers. But nearly 30 years before that, he showed his ability to think outside the box by inventing the modern farm system. He built the first one in St. Louis (yet despite the Birds’ head start, we apparently can’t muster enough talent to trade for Erik Bedard or Johan Santana . . . . . grrrrrrrrr). There’s a great summary of the pennant push by the 1926 Cards in Branch Rickey’s biography, entitled "Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman." Click here for a Google excerpt.
The ’26 team was led by Hornsby, who, unlike a lot of player/managers, was still near his prime. The Hall of Famer had a down year in 1926, but seven of his eight starters hit .293 or better and posted OBPs better than .364. They led the league in scoring. Their pitching staff was led by blue-blood Flint Rhem, who hailed from Rhems, SC. Yes, the town was named after his family, which meant they had some cash. The key to the pennant drive, however, was the midseason acquisition of Grover Cleveland Alexander. It was a watershed moment in Cardinal history. The Cards and Cubs were among four teams in contention for the pennant in late June. The Cubs became disenchanted with the 39-year-old Alexander and his heavy drinking and waived the veteran. Drinking wasn’t the same sin in St. Louis, and Hornsby brought Ol’ Pete into the fold. In his Cardinal debut Alexander pitched a complete game victory against --- who else? --- the Cubs. The Cards never looked back, and the rivalry with Chicago intensified. Since Alexander became a Cardinal, the Birds have won 10 World Series titles. I can’t seem to find a record of the Cubs winning one since. It is hard to prove a negative, but try as I might, there seems to be absolutely no record of any Cub championship since 1926. Not just in baseball, either --- the Cubs haven’t won in a lot of sports. Again, I’m still checking. Maybe that curse about the goat should be associated with Ol’ Pete instead.
Alexander played a huge role in the Cards’ victory over the vaunted Yankees in the Series. With New York ahead 3 games to 2 and the Series shifting back to Yankee Stadium, Alexander coolly won Game 6 to force the 7th game. In the seventh inning of that game, with the Cards leading 3-2, St. Louis starter Jesse Haines loaded the bases. When Hornsby went to the mound, he noticed Haines bleeding from his fingertips, having burst several blisters. Haines was through. In the pen, Rhem and Bill Sherdel were warming. Ol’ Pete was sitting on the ground, leaning against the bench. Most agree Alexander was at least hungover; some say he was flat-out drunk. It is a confirmed fact that he wasn’t warmed up. Hornsby brought Ol’ Pete in.
At the mound, one of the classic exchanges in baseball history occurred. I simply don’t have room for it here, but you should read it. After throwing just three warm-up tosses, Alexander struck out Tony Lazerri with the bases loaded and closed out Game 7 to clinch the Cardinals’ first World Series title. It was a defining moment not only for the franchise but for the city, which spent the entire winter celebrating the championship.
The 1943 Cards were managed by Billy Southworth, a starting outfielder on the 1926 team and one of the team’s best hitters. He won three pennants and two World Series championships in his tenure as Cardinal skipper (1940-45). His 1943 team lost in the World Series but dominated the NL with 105 wins. The offense was led by a young Stan Musial, who won the first of his three MVP’s in ’43. He was surrounded by Walker Cooper, the perennial All-Star catcher; Whitey Kurowski, the soon to be slugger; and Marty Marion, who was the first, and only, Cardinal SS to win an MVP with his glove. The pitching was led by Mort Cooper and Max Lanier, who led the team in starts and tied for second in saves. Seven pitchers started at least ten games, and another three started at least seven. The Birds led the league in ERA and allowed the fewest runs in the league. In short, this was a powerhouse team in the middle of a great multiyear run, comparable to the 2004 team in many ways.
With only 89 wins, the 1926 Cardinals are seeded 13th, making them heavy underdogs against the 4th-seeded ’43 Cards. However, the ’26 team beat the ’26 Yankees, who were a mere year away from fielding what most consider the best team in the history of the game. I wouldn’t bet against them. Further, much of the Cardinals success in the ‘40’s occurred when many big-league players were absent, off fighting World War II. Hard to know if, or how, the sim will take that into account.
Game 1 features Mort Cooper against Flint Rhem. All of Rhems, SC, will be breathless. Here are the lineups:
|Taylor Douthit, cf||Lou Klein, 2b|
|Billy Southworth, rf||Harry Walker, cf|
|Rogers Hornsby, 2b||Stan Musial, rf|
|Jim Bottomley, 1b||Walker Cooper, c|
|Les Bell, 3b||Whitey Kurowski, 3b|
|Chick Hafey, lf||Ray Sanders, 1b|
|Bob O’Farrell, c||Danny Litwhiler, lf|
|Tommy Thevenow, ss||Marty Marion, ss|
|Flint Rhem, p||Mort Cooper, p|
|Pepper Martin, 3b||Arlie Latham, 3b|
|Jack Rothrock, rf||Bill Gleason, ss|
|Frankie Frisch, 2b||Tip O’Neill, lf|
|Joe Medwick, lf||Charlie Comiskey, 1b|
|Ripper Collins, 1b||Curt Welch, cf|
|Bill Delancey, c||Yank Robinson, 2b|
|Ernie Orsatti, cf||Doc Bushong, c|
|Leo Durocher, ss||Hugh Nicol, rf|
|Dizzy Dean, p||Dave Foutz, p|