So much for my hope that Sept. 20 was the final game between the Cardinals and Cubs this year.
And so much for the temporary Pirates fandom for me and many other Cardinals and non-Cubs fans, eagerly rooting for the Bucs to win Wednesday night to give us a more palatable National League Division Series.
Nope. Not to be — just like Jake Arrieta told everyone on Twitter last Sunday.
Which means here we are, on the brink of THE MOST HISTORIC PLAYOFF MATCH-UP IN THE HISTORY OF
THE WORLD!!! BASEBALL!!! Never mind, as many obviously haven’t realized, that such a meeting has only been possible since the addition of a wild card team into the playoffs in 1995. So “historic” might be a bit of a stretch, despite how often that word has been tossed around since Wednesday night.
Details! What do they matter?
Before Wednesday’s game, I purposely wouldn’t think about the Cardinals facing the Cubs in the division series. Neither would any of the Cardinals/non-Cubs fans I know. Because that outcome seemed too dreadful to contemplate.
Now I can admit that, deep down, I figured the baseball gods would find this all too tempting to avoid. Even for the hype alone.
The baseball gods obviously found it all too tempting (poor Gerrit Cole), so now we are dealing with such pre-game storylines as “Feel-good Cubs threatened by playoff staple Cardinals” a noted Cardinals fan writing that the Cubs are “the hottest, most beloved, most exciting team in baseball” and a Chicago writer beginning his NLDS preview by rehashing all the wonderful, media-hyped tough talk of Joe Maddon from the series a couple weekends ago — which, to me, seems like it means nothing now that October is here, the little dust-up between the Cubs and Pirates Wednesday night notwithstanding.
As much as I hate to admit it, this is the Cubs’ world right now.
When the news first broke last Friday afternoon that Joe Maddon opted out of his contract and was no longer manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, I was hopeful.
Hopeful it could mean a change for the Cardinals, as I tweeted at the time. Not that I really believed John Mozeliak would make a change and remove Mike Matheny as manager, but I could dream.
Maddon was indeed who I wanted as Cards manager back when Tony La Russa retired following the 2011 World Series — he was, as Tara wrote at the time, “the overwhelming AMF favorite.” As she wrote in November 2011:
He has personality galore, but he also has an understanding of Cardinal Nation. He did, after all, grow up as a Cardinals fan. He’s done wonders with a bare-bones budget in Tampa Bay. He works well in bringing up young players. But he also has enough “old-school” in his blood to satisfy the traditionalist.
During my lunch on Friday, I was listening to sports radio station the Score in Chicago. It wasn’t a surprise they were predicting Maddon would be coming to the Cubs — not a surprise because what team wouldn’t want Maddon?
Now it appears that Friday prediction of Maddon to the Cubs will be a reality. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had the news yesterday, as did Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune.
I knew the Cubs would be getting their “real” manager sometime in the next year or two, meaning the manager who would be the final piece of their rebuilding process Theo Epstein began when he became Cubs president in 2011. And I figured that real manager would be a big name — but I was thinking, given his history with Theo, it would be Terry Francona. And that would have been fine. After 2004, I don’t really like either one. They’d be perfect together in Chicago. Continue reading
I know what the current National League Central standings say.
I know that with a Cardinals win over the Rays tonight and a Brewers loss to the Reds, those standings will be even better.
I don’t care very much. Honestly, I haven’t cared like I used to for most of the season.
Here’s one reason.
Perfect logic for a team that’s built mostly on young talent, with even more in the minors just waiting for a big-league opportunity. Right?
And here’s another reason.
Ugh. Seriously? Sitting on the bench for up to five games a week has more benefit than playing?
Actually, there is one simple reason why I feel the way I do about the Cardinals this year and it’s the common denominator between those two quotes: Mike Matheny.
All the curious lineup decisions, all the frustration with his game management — now, in Year 3 of Matheny everything is just crazy. Are we now seeing the impact of his lack of managerial experience? Is it just the change in personnel? Were others — Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter — more influential than we realized and able to spark and energize the team so Matheny’s deficiencies weren’t as obvious as they are now? Continue reading