Well, guys, it was a magical season. It felt like it would never end. Until it did.
The season was thrilling, nostalgic, and sometimes frustrating, but almost always entertaining. The playoffs, yet again, were simply frustrating. There was a moment of excitement when Juan Yepez looked like he might become a playoff hero, but nothing ever came of it.
I like to be positive, but since I’m writing about the (very short) playoff journey of the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s tough to write a positive piece. Since I do want some positivity, here’s the clip of Yepez’s bomb.
It was majestic. What a great moment for the rookie.
Now, that was basically the only highlight of the series, at least offensively. The pitching was great, but it’s tough to win a game when you can’t score any runs. The Cardinals learned that lesson last night.
I was hoping they would have learned it last year when lost 3-1 to the Dodgers in the Wild Card. That wasn’t the case. The offense was nowhere to be found for pretty much the entire series. Granted, the Phillies threw some good pitchers, but there were hittable pitches that weren’t hit.
The stars went quiet too. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt went a combined 1-for-15 with 6 strikeouts.
The Cardinals had 9 hits in the series. 2 came from Yepez, one came from Corey Dickerson, and one came from Nolan Gorman. Two of those hits were from pinch hitters. The starting lineup simply struggled to hit, and especially struggled to hit with runners on base.
Pretty much everything went wrong for the Cardinals in this series. Two MVP candidates? Couldn’t hit. Amazing defense? Fell apart in the 9th inning. Best reliever in baseball? Hurt his finger.
I guess that’s the good news for the Cardinals. All of their strengths turned to weaknesses. That can happen in a best-of-three series.
I’m sure there are going to be people complaining about how this roster isn’t constructed to win a World Series, just 90 games. We’ve all heard it before. That’s a discussion that can be had, but I’m not having it here.
The problem is that the best parts of this roster didn’t deliver on the biggest stage. That happens, That’s baseball. Small sample sizes aren’t indicative of a team’s talent. It still hurts when the season ends, though.
This is one of my favorite Cardinals teams ever. I watch a ton of baseball every year and I can’t recall ever watching more baseball in my life. Watching Pujols and Yadi take the field for one last season had me hooked.
This is a team that had it all. Two MVP candidates. A nostalgia tour. The chase for 700. One of the best seasons by a Cardinals reliever ever. Talented rookies. What’s not to love?
And yet, here we are, with the Cardinals yet again failing to escape the Wild Card round.
This one hurts more than the others. Maybe it’s recency bias. Maybe it’s because I thought this team had the potential to go further, and potentially much further. Maybe it’s because it’s the last time we’ll ever see Pujols, Molina, and (probably) Waino in a Cardinals uniform.
Regardless, the season is over now. It was fun. It was exciting, It was frustrating. It was baseball. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say later, but as I sit here watching Goldschmidt and Arenado strikeout in the 8th with the tying run on base, I can’t separate logic from emotion.
I think fans tend to overreact over individual games. I don’t want to do that. One game doesn’t matter in a 162 game season, but it couldn’t matter more in a 3-game series. Playoff games were made to be overreacted to and overanalyzed. Yet, I won’t do that.
I will (hopefully) have something more positive to write on Tuesday. But I don’t now.
This will be a season I always remember, I will remember Albert finding the fountain of youth. I will remember 700. I will remember Yadi giving us one last effort. I will remember feeling like Waino could pitch until he’s 50. And I’ll remember feeling that this team should have gone further.
At the very least, it was awesome to see Yadi come up with a single with the team down to it’s last strike. He will forever be clutch. Even in a bad year.
Come to think of it, Albert’s last AB was a clutch hit too. That’s a cool way for them to end their career, even if the team’s performance was disappointing.
That’s all I have to say for now. I have a whole host of offseason articles on tap for all of you but I was hoping to put them off for another month. I guess I’ll have to start digging into them now.
Before we move into the offseason, though, I want to hear from all of you. Feel free to be as positive or as negative as you want.
Give me your thoughts on the final game or on the season as a whole. What were your favorite moments this season? Do you think the team underperformed or only had a first-round-exit talent level? Where does this team rank for you, not in terms of talent, but in terms of pure baseball enjoyment?
Finally, who should be my team now that the Cardinals are eliminated? The early favorites are Cleveland (I am from Ohio after all) and Seattle (I listened to their 7 run comeback on the radio), but I’m open to suggestions.
It was a fun season even if the ending was disappointing. Thank you all for sharing it with me here at VEB! Onward to 2023 and a roster that will look plenty different!