Here we are, Saturday, Oct. 1. The September to remember is over. Now it’s October baseball.
Yes, the Cardinals are one of only eight teams left. No more looking at standings or scoreboard watching. The calendar page flipped, and so does the focus.
The National League Division Series starts late this afternoon, with game one between the Cardinals and Phillies at 4:07 p.m. Central Time. The goal remains the same as what got the Cardinals to this point: keep winning. But let’s start small. Let’s just win one game first.
Oh, sure — we all want them to win more than one. But, as we learned in “Bull Durham” and from countless cliche-spouting baseball players through the years, you’ve got to play them one game at a time. Win one, that’s all I ask.
Besides, an NL Central team winning just one game in the NLDS has been a rare thing since the Cardinals beat the Padres five years ago. The 2007 and 2008 Central champ Cubs? Swept each year. 2009 Cardinals? Same story. 2010 Reds? Uh, yeah. By these Phillies. The only NL Central team to win a game in the past five years was the wild card Brewers in 2008 — beating the Phillies 4-1 in game three.
This is the fifth straight season the Phillies are in the playoffs, and they’ve won the division series for four consecutive years. The last time they even lost a division series game was Oct. 8, 2009, game two against the Rockies. And of course we remember what today’s starter, Roy Halladay, did in his postseason debut last year against the Reds — we loved it. (We laughed at Brandon Phillips being the last out in the no-hitter.)