If baseball is America's pastime, knowledge of Cardinals baseball -- and preferably a rooting interest -- is almost a requirement in this part of the country.
The Cardinals have a rich history. From Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, to Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee, to Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright and others, St. Louis has seen some remarkable players come through the organization.
Then there's the winning. With 11 World Series titles, the Redbirds lead the National League and are only second in baseball to the New York Yankees.
Last year the Cardinals dazzled us with their dramatic run to winning the World Series. It was a team no one thought would reach the playoffs, let alone be crowned World Champs.
This year's team has taken on a different look. No Tony LaRussa or Dave Duncan. No Albert Pujols. And for a good chunk of the season, Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter, among others, spent time on the disabled list.
The team bordered on missing the playoffs. Thanks to a second Wild Card berth, implemented by Major League Baseball this season for the first time, the Redbirds find themselves playing in October.
Again, drama has not eluded the ballclub.
Friday night the team defeated Atlanta in the Wild Card game. A controversial infield fly rule call and a few errors by Atlanta, uncanny for this Braves team, helped secure the victory.
After a disappointing loss in Game 1 to the Washington Nationals, the Cardinals potent offense returned Monday afternoon. With four home runs, the team shellacked the Nationals 12-4.
This afternoon the series continues in Washington, D.C. It will be the first time postseason baseball has been played in our nation's capital since 1933 when the Washington Senators found themselves on baseball's biggest stage.
Postseason baseball is always special, but it's especially exciting when our St. Louis Cardinals are playing. Each team entering the playoffs believes they have what it takes to win the World Series. The 162-game season is behind them and new opportunities emerge.
Here's hoping manager Mike Matheny and the Cardinals channel last year's winning ways for their 12th World Series Championship.