A baseball season is composed of 162 games. There is a reason for this (mostly money). Baseball isn’t like basketball, where the best team, trying real hard, is gonna win the vast, vast majority of the time over a seven game series. Baseball isn’t like football, where if you play it any more than you already do (or as much as you already do) you’ll prematurely kill the participants. A team of generally agreed upon replacement level players in baseball will win about forty games in the major leagues over a season. So when the Cardinals happen to beat the Dodgers (which is awesome) in a seven game series there is no reason to ascribe moral value to the victors nor to belittle the losers. What happened was some really good baseball players played better than some other really good baseball players over a finite series of games. I am super, irrationally happy that my good baseball players played better than somebody elses’ good baseball players, but I don’t think it happened because the Dodgers are going to hell.
Yet, and of course, the most prominent columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote something (likely not titled by him) with the name “Cardinal Way wins out over Mickey Way,” in which we learn that the Cardinals had all kinds of reasons to succeed, exhibited pluck and grit, and generally were worthy of what befalled them. The Dodgers, they had some flaws. This is all true. And it would have been equally true if the Cardinals had miserably failed and lost the series. They were better the day that this game happened, and over the six games the series was played. This doesn’t prove midwestern values are more viable than those Californian values and their state debt. They would still have that if they’d won in four games.
All the sports clichés can be applied to a baseball game, and I’m sure most people playing them believe them to some extent or another. But the reality is that the best team in baseball wins about 60% of their games, 65% if they are pretty much insanely great. The reason the baseball season should mean so much is over a long enough timeline we actually get information about who the best team is. The baseball playoffs are a foolish (though exciting) endeavor designed for money (money). They didn’t really decide a champion when two teams were entered, it is insane to think they do when ten teams are.
The 2006 Cardinals were a remarkably mediocre team. I distinctly remember thanking God for Scott Spezio as they back doored into the playoffs. They won a World Championship largely based on the pitching of Jeff Weaver and Jeff Suppan. It was great. They were probably like the 9th best team in baseball that year.
I am very, very happy the Cardinals were nice enough to go to another World Series in 2013. They’ve succeeded with a sound plan of player development and an unsound plan of trusting Mike Matheny. I dearly hope they win the following seven game series against whoever, and I have my theories about which team they are most likely to defeat, but these theories are idiotic. Somebody is going to have four good days after having 85-95 of them, and that team will be champion. My neighbor will still not bathe, and his values will not be justified or proved in error. The only thing the baseball playoffs will prove in 2013 is that Pedro Martinez is just delightful, which is more than is proven most years.
The Cardinals best beat those fuckers. Whoever they are.