Thursday, October 12, 2006
This year the St. Louis Cardinals didn't win the National League Central Division championship the way they're used to -- going away. This year they barely won the championship, surviving a tremendous surge by the Houston Astros in the last week of the regular season.
This has been a Cardinal season of long losing streaks followed by rebounds. The team lost most of its last games during the last week of the season but bounced back to beat the San Diego Padres 3 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs.
This week they are taking on the formidable New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.
The Cardinals and manager Tony La Russa succeeded this year with the proverbial smoke and mirrors, losing pitchers Mark Mulder and Jason Isringhausen and everyday players Jim Edmonds and David Eckstein for parts of the season. Third baseman Scott Rolen has been playing hurt of late. Most teams wouldn't take the Cardinals bullpen if you gave it to them.
Fortunately, any team with Albert Pujols has a chance. Making the most of what you have is one test of success. No matter how the Cards fare against the Mets, they've done that.