Ah, yes indeed, our dearest and beloved Skippy! Congratulations should be in order first of all, to you and your Dodgers on making it to the National League Championship Series. Way to go!
You guys definitely have had quite a season, from being in last place in the National League West on June 30 to being the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot when you won your division — and the team definitely knew how to celebrate that accomplishment, right? Then you took care of the Braves in the NLDS rather easily in four games.
Which leads us to where we are today: Dodgers vs. Cardinals in the NLCS for the first time since 1985, first team to four wins moves to the World Series while the other team goes home.
Should be quite the match-up. As you are well aware, it’s the third straight year for the Cards in the NLCS — and your third straight year there too. But, adored as you still are among Cardinals fans, we’re rooting that you’ve had your last celebration in 2013. We have to, unapologetically.
Because you know better than anyone else on your team — except, of course, for Nick Punto and Mark McGwire — that October is for taking care of business, and that business is all about the team in red. The stakes are too high for anything else. Your visit to Busch Stadium in August, and getting your revenge on your old team by driving in four runs in a disaster of a game for the Cardinals on Star Wars Night — it was all just fine for the regular season. It’s fine too that the Dodgers took three of four then, even though the Cards took two of three at Dodger Stadium back in May. That was all then. Now is now — and now is when everything really matters.
Yes, it’s a little intimidating to look at the stats from the Dodgers division series and see your team hit a collective .333 (especially that 8 for 16 from Hanley Ramirez) while the Cards just hit .209 (although Pete Kozma was 4 for 10!) But a glance at the overall pitching stats from the NLDS and the Cards at the top with an ERA of 2.66 compared to your Dodgers ERA of 3.09 and the Braves ERA of 5.82 makes me breathe a little easier — momentarily, anyway.
Nothing is easy in October, as both you and I and every baseball out there knows.
And what happened in one round of the playoffs doesn’t necessarily have bearing on what happens in the next one.
Skip, Cardinal Nation will forever remember — and forever adore — your big-time contributions in October 2011. Yes, of course, there was the Rally Squirrel moment in Game Four of the NLDS, although you were mostly the innocent bystander in that situation. It was NLDS Game Five, of course, where you really came through with the first inning RBI-double that provided the game’s only run. That game is my all-time favorite, and I think of you fondly whenever I watch the first inning of that DVD. (And, trust me, that DVD’s been viewed a lot.)
But that was then, when you were on our side, and now you’re not. It’s awesome you and the Dodgers will be at Busch Stadium tonight, it’s terrific you have the postseason experience you do and it will be nice to see you step up to the plate. Plus the Dodgers are a great franchise with a long history, just like the Cardinals are, and we know there have been some good October battles between the two teams. Even though we — and Matt Holliday — really want to forget the most recent time the Cards and Dodgers met in the playoffs …
All that matters now are the next four, five, six or seven games. The stakes get higher as the teams remaining get fewer — which of course you obviously know too. So enjoy these next games in St. Louis, but not too much.
Because, much as we all love you, we all want the Cardinals to win the 2013 National League pennant. And the journey to that begins tonight.
For any of you going to the game tonight, here’s some info on Games One and Two.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.