There are always those players, teams, dynasties, coaches, and moments in sports that are just unexplainable. Whether it be luck or talent, or a combination of both, there are rare occasions where, as fans, we can only stare in awe of what we have just witnessed.
Last season, the St. Louis Cardinals were those players, that team, that coach that provided the jaw-dropping, unexplainable moments.
A remarkable September surge into the postseason; come from behind victories against the NL-best Phillies and then their own division champion, rival Milwaukee Brewers; a record breaking World Series performance in Game 3 by their superstar Albert Pujols; David Freese’s 2 out, 2 strike, 2 run, tying triple in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 6 and then Lance Berkman’s 2 out, 2 strike, tying RBI single in the bottom of the 10th moments later; David Freese’s improbable walk off HR in the 11th inning that sent the city into a wild street party; and ultimately, a shiny World Championship trophy.
Watching last year’s St. Louis Cardinals team do what they did was truly a blessing to any sports fan.
But, heading into 2012, things were all of the sudden not looking so bright for the defending champs. They lost their superstar, Mr. Pujols, after he signed a lucrative contract with the Angels. They lost their Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa to retirement and came into the season with Mike Matheny at the helm, despite him never managing a professional baseball game in his life. Their ace and postseason hero Chris Carpenter had “season-ending” surgery.
Yet, someway, somehow, here we are in the end of October talking about none other than the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that has both the luck and talent on their side.
They have the talent: they ranked 1st in the majors in team on base percentage, 5th in runs scored, 4th in team hitting, and 2nd in quality starts throughout the regular season. Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday are both currently candidates for the NL MVP and are both expected to finish as top five vote getters. Jason Motte tied for the league lead in saves with 42.
They have the luck: Firstly, let me just add that Chris Carpenter’s season ending surgery did not happen to be season ending. In fact, Carp’s miraculous recovery found him pitching in the big leagues in late September, just months after having such a large medical procedure.
Secondly, if not for Bud Selig’s new playoff format rule, the St. Louis Cardinals would not have made the postseason. An 88 win season was 5th best in the NL, but, because of the inaugural, added Wild Card game, the Cards had a shot to defend their title in October. And, adding to that special, October magic that this team seems to have, they beat the Braves in the winner take all play in game in… well… lucky fashion to say the least.
And thirdly, after the victory, the Cards then had to play the NL-best Washington Nationals, and again, thanks to some unlikely heroes in the back end of their batting order, won in some dramatic, unexplainable, come from behind fashion.
As fans, as analysts, as journalists, and as critics, although we know that there is absolutely no explanation for what this Cardinals team has done and is doing again, we try so hard to find at least one, somewhat rational, reason behind it all…
It’s the pet animals and their twitters.
Yeah, you heard me correctly. The pet animals. The ones that tweet before, during, and after each and every St. Louis Cardinals playoff game. They are the reason behind the Cardinals success.
Last season, we were introduced to twitter pet number 1, Torty Craig. Torty is Cardinals 1B Allen Craig’s pet tortoise. He was introduced to the media right before the Cardinals started their dramatic come from behind, late September push. Torty is known to tweet pregame stories about what happens in the clubhouse. Using unique dialogue, Torty has created fictional characteristics for each member of the Cardinal roster. For example, Chris Carpenter is a bad mouth, swearing, and angry beast, Adam Wainwright loves to eat BBQ ribs on his start days, and Yadi Molina eats doughnuts to get sprinkle power before games. Call me crazy, but whatever this sprinkle power is, I want some.
Next, we were introduced to the most famous member of the clan, the Busch Squirrel. In a memorable moment in last season’s NLDS, Buschy the Squirrel ran across home plate as Skip Shumaker took a ball from Phillies SP Roy Oswalt. The St. Louis rally squirrel then made an appearance in Game 5 in Philadelphia, where the Cards would complete the comeback once more and eliminate the Phils. Not only was Buschy featured on Skip Shumaker’s 2012 Topps Baseball Card, but he is also inscribed on the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Championship rings. Talk about a true rags to riches tale…
Thirdly, Sir Golvington A Wilson took to twitter. Ok, I know he isn’t an animal, but he is Jason Motte’s pet. Sir Glovington’s role amongst the Cardinals twitter creatures is to assist CP Jason Motte in throwing some “straight heat”. Since his arrival on the twitter market, Jason Motte leads all major leaguers in postseason saves, adding 3 more this year. Sir Glovington helped Motte close out Game 7 of last year’s World Series, and rumor has it that this postseason, he is also helping Trevor Rosenthal throw 100+ MPH heaters.
Photo Credit: Getty Images.