It has been another emotionally-draining baseball season for yours truly. Yours truly is me, by the way. I don’t hear the term “yours truly” used as much nowadays. Perhaps it’s out of vogue, I just don’t know.
The St. Louis Cardinals, my team since 1963, have been all over the map. Most baseball teams are all over the map during the grind of a 162-game season, but this seems like it has been a particular harsh all-over-the-map kind of season.
The Cardinals started out hot under first-year manager Mike Matheny. Then they cooled down for a couple of months. Then they started pitching well, then they stopped hitting, then it seems like everybody in the lineup got hurt.
You know this feeling if you’re a baseball fan because it cannot be avoided. Unless your team is a juggernaut and wins 105 games (oh, how I long for those Cardinals teams of 2004 and 2005), every season is fraught with danger.
I’m luckier than most. The Cardinals are in contention, it seems, almost every year. Then again, I sometimes find myself envying fans of teams like, oh, the Royals. Wait, that’s a cheap shot. How about I use the Padres as an example? That’s a team that is rarely contending for the National League West title and constantly changing over and bringing up new players.
The Cardinals try to win every season. And sometimes it just doesn’t work out. This season, players like Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman have struggled. They’re not as young as they used to be and injuries mount.
After a great start, Beltran has been sub-par for a couple of months, since he was in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game in Kansas City. Furcal is out for the season with an injured elbow and knee injuries have halted Berkman, who had such a great season for the Cardinals in 2011.
Pitcher Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals’ best down the stretch and into the playoffs last season, hasn’t thrown an inning this season because of injury. Former ace Adam Wainwright has come back successfully from Tommy John surgery, but is showing signs that a wall has been struck.
It’s hard to win in baseball, hard to keep a team together for six months. The Cardinals, amazingly, are still No. 2 in the National League wild-card race, slightly ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Thank goodness for Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and David Freese, all of whom are having outstanding seasons.
The Cardinals lost today, which is probably why I’m a little gloomy. If they win tomorrow, I’ll be my chipper self again. That’s how it rolls during the baseball season for me. Fortunately, I have a wife who is also invested in the team.
But without a game tonight, I’m going to relax and watch the first NFL game of the season, Dallas at the New York Giants. I don’t care about either team. I don’t have fantasy players on either team. So I can just sit back and kick my feet up and actually enjoy watching a sporting event.
Not that I don’t enjoy the Cardinals. I thoroughly enjoy the Cardinals – when they win. And because they win more than they lose, I guess I come out ahead.
I know I’ll be a baseball fan until the day I die. You know, it’s not easy to type the words “until the day I die,” on a blog. It seems a little morbid to me and I actually had to pause for a few seconds before putting those words down here. I don’t even like acknowledging death and retain some belief that I’m that one person who is indeed invincible. There’s a first time for everything, right?
I would love to still be a Cardinals fan in 2112, still whining about how difficult it is to follow a baseball team day to day. Can you imagine how great the high def big screens will be then?
Anyway, thanks for reading. I like writing about the Cardinals from time to time, even though I’m sure many of you could not care less.