The 2011 Cardinals: Shame on Us!

By Matt Melton

Now that it has been five days since the St. Louis Cardinals won one for the toe, by defeating the Texas Rangers to win the franchise’s 11th World Series Championship, we need to take a moment to comprehend the events of the last six weeks. Now that it has been about 110 hours since David Murphy’s lazy fly ball surrendered to the glove of Allen Craig in left field. Now that it has been some 6,600 minutes since Cardinals closer Jason Motte ordered catcher Yadier Molina to “come get some” before embracing on the home field grass. Now that the parade of Clydesdales, marching bands, and Cardinal players (each standing in their own Ford pickup) down Market Street has ended, it is time for us baseball fans to own up to our failures.

We blew it. Greatness was in our midst, staring us directly in the face, and we missed it. Shame on us. Shame on us for missing the grandness of this Cardinals team. Before we knew what we had, the season was over, and this team, as constructed, was history. As quickly as the ride began, by catching the Atlanta Braves, and passing them for the Wild Card spot on the last day of the regular season, it was over.

How did we fail to recognize that this 2011 Cardinals team should have been expected to outwit, outlast and outplay their playoff counterparts? Maybe we were distracted by the glamorous Philadelphia Phillies, and their post-flop, quad aces hand of a pitching staff. The Cardinals obviously weren’t. Maybe we bought into the hype and bravado that the Milwaukee Brewers were selling. The Cardinals quieted those overzealous loudmouths very quickly too. Maybe we thought that rallying from your last strike – twice! – in a do-or-die game, was too much to expect against the Rangers. The Cardinals, again, taught us that anything is possible.

Take a look at this year’s Cardinals roster, and tell me where you see a weakness. You want studs? The Cardinals have the kind carrying truckloads of hardware (Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter & Yadier Molina). You want pure hitters; I give you Lance Berkman & Matt Holliday. You desire a few rising stars; look no further than Motte, Jamie Garcia, Allen Craig and “Mr. MVPs”, David Freese. The Cardinals have the front office who knew what fat to shed from the team before (Brendan Ryan) and during (Colby Rasmus) the season. Maybe more importantly, they have the front office who knew what pieces to bring in before the trading deadline (Edwin Jackson, Mark Rzepczynski & Octavio Dotel) and after (Rafael Furcal). And they have a front office willing to go dumpster diving out of the MLB free agent market in August (Arthur Rhodes).

You need your mix of unselfish players, guys who are willing to switch roles midseason (Kyle McCllelan) and switch positions at a moment’s notice (Ryan Theriot & Skip Schumacher) to accommodate the new additions. You have your share of heartache – Adam Wainwright tearing his elbow ligament before the first spring training game, manager Tony LaRussa spending the entire season battling a wretched case of shingles, and pitching coach Dave Duncan taking a late-season sabbatical to attend to his wife’s unexpected brain surgery.

The 2011 Cardinals are everything a championship ball club is supposed to be. The team broke bad, threw history aside, and re-wrote the record books this fall. Shame on us for missing it, we should have known better.

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