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Parity Schmarity, or: The Golden Age II

The Cardinals are moving on to the National League Championship Series. Again. And, yes, everyone else is just as angry about it as we expected them to be.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

First things first: I'm going to be on the radio this morning, on the ESPN affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. WGEM 1440 is the station; you can stream it live here if you would like to hear me stammer and stutter about the baseballing. I'll be on around 8:35.


I could start this morning by talking about the game yesterday afternoon, and how exciting it was. I could talk about how Clayton Kershaw really probably shouldn't have still been on the mound to throw the pitch Matt Adams Big Citified into the bullpen in right, given he was contending not only with the Cardinal hitters, but also a pair of remarkably powerful forces. Namely, the three days' rest penalty (usually placed somewhere in the range of 1.50 runs added to a pitcher's true-talent ERA), and, maybe even more powerfully, the times through the order penalty, which has somewhat oddly jumped into the collective consciousness this year, and states that, essentially, that middling reliever you're afraid to go to? He's probably better than your starter the third time through the lineup, if only because he's fresh and the opposing hitters have yet to see his pitches that day.

But, you know what? I don''t really want to do that. Clayton Kershaw is an historically good pitcher, and the Cardinals just beat him, again, on an evening when he looked for all the world like a guy who was going to strike out the whole damned ballpark before the night was over. I would rather just kind of enjoy that knowledge.


I could also write up the piece I actually had in mind for this morning, which had to do with the NFL vs MLB narrative I think we all kind of feel at times, and some of the issues I have with media coverage and that sort of thing. It's been on my mind for awhile now, and I think it's a post worth pursuing; I also have a really big pace of play thing percolating in my brain that requires some real research, but that quiche just ain't done yet.

I had the NFL/MLB post in mind, but sitting here in the aftermath of seeing the Cardinals advance to the NLCS for a fourth straight season, it definitely isn't the time for that sort of thing. There will time enough in the months ahead, when there is no baseball, and all we have is each other to cling to until such time as the universe sees fit to bring pitchers and catchers to their appointed reporting time and place.


I could, if I wanted to -- and I did think about doing this -- go back to our preseason predictions, and see how VEB collectively, and myself more specifically, did in predicting the then-upcoming, now-completed season. But, again, I just...don't really want to. The Scissor Sisters don't feel like dancing, and I don't feel like analyzing. Although, in the interest of looking smart, I will point out that I did, in fact, have the Kansas City Royals winning the second wild card, which they totally did. and I had the order of finishes in the NL Central STL-PITT-MIL-CIN-CHC, which is exactly what happened. So, you know, I'm kind of big deal in terms of baseball smartness.

Then again, in the interest of proving that I am not, after all, smart in the slightest, I could also point out I had the Red Sox winning the AL East (still can't figure out what the hell went wrong there), David Wright winning the NL MVP, Peter Bourjos breaking out with an OBP north of .330, and the Texas Rangers finishing ahead of the Anaheim Angels out West. Oh, and I thought the Diamondbacks were going to be good this year, too, beating out the Giants for second place in the NL West. Jesus. I'm dumb. Dumb as hell.

But, hey, no looking back today. Or, at least, not looking back over such a recent stretch of time as just this one season. Okay?


Rather than any of those things, I will simply write a few words about this team, and where they are this morning, and where they're going.

Last year -- just about two weeks short of a full year, in fact -- I wrote about the Cardinals since 2000, and whether or not they could be considered a dynastic team. It's a pretty good post, I think; maybe lacking the overt sentimentalityof some of my other work, but I'm fairly pleased with it going back now, which is a fairly rare situation for me. All the remarkable numbers for the Cardinals I cited in that post still apply, with the exception that it's now nine out of fifteen NLCSes for the Redbirds instead of eight of fourteen. So, you know, pretty good.

Which brings me to a point. An actual one, even; no more beating around the bush with random nonsense and post ideas I'm not going to do until the offseason sometime. My point is this: there is a lot of talk currently about the fairly remarkable parity we're experiencing in the game of baseball right now. This season has definitely enforced the notion that there really aren't any teams completely out of it, and seeing an ALCS matchup come to fruition that would make total sense to a man coming out of a coma he'd been in since the mid-70s has only bolstered it. However, as we prepare to watch the Cardinals and Giants rehash all the old wounds of two years ago, I would like to simply point out that the last time the NLCS did not contain either of those two teams was 2009. For five years running now, one of those two clubs has been in every League Championship series on the senior circuit. While one could certainly make the case for truly great parity in baseball over the past several seasons, year after year we see the same names at the very tippy top.

Of course, pointing that out seems like just the sort of thing a smug, terrible fan of the Cardinals would do, so maybe I shouldn't do it. So maybe I won't. Or, at least, I won't point it out again.

This morning, I decided not to write about any of the bigger topics I had in mind, because there was a great game yesterday, and our team won, and they are moving on, and I think, more than anything, that what we really need this morning is not analysis or points, but a moment to just stop and enjoy it. So talk about whatever you feel like today. Bask in the glorious glow of victory, or bask in the equally glorious glow of everyone else's hatred. Take a moment to reflect. It's been six months since the season began; another entire half-year of life has slipped by, with baseball holding its customary place of honour at the side of those people both wise and lucky enough to have allowed it purchase in their souls. We can start breaking down the Giants soon. But, for now, I declare this Wednesday a day to simply enjoy what we just witnessed, and only look forward to the future with a smile, knowing that, whatever it is that will be, will be most satisfactory.

It is once again October in St. Louis, and there is still baseball to be played.