Cardinals flashback and become 2008 Chicago Cubs


By Jake McCormick

They finished the last month of the MLB season with a .500 record, after a torrid August with a single digit loss count. The NL Central runaway champion entered the National League Divisional Series against a balanced Los Angeles Dodger team, only to get embarrassingly, and perhaps predictably, swept on the West Coast.

The fate of the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals is to the 2008 Chicago Cubs as the Monica Lewinski scandal was to Wag the Dog; the latter foreshadowed events in the former. Of course, I don’t mean that Bill Clinton hired a Robert DeNiro and whacked Dustin Hoffman because Bill supposedly stained a dress. Obviously the movie situation led to a conspiracy only Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh would believe. But the 2009 Cardinal team that Vegas picked as the favorite to go to the World Series had their season end ironically similar to Vegas’ National League baby last year, the Chicago Cubs.

homer-simpson-dohShotty defense in the second game of the NLDS also binds these two talented rosters. The Dodgers got help from four errors, one by each Cub infielder in 2008, and now have Matt Holliday to thank for all but guaranteeing a repeat trip to the National League Divisional Series. There’s nothing like watching a real life Homer Simpson “D’oh!”, right? I would be quick to point out the ex-Cub Factor, but Mark DeRosa hit .333 with a two run home run in the postseason as a Cardinal and has a lifetime playoff BA of .353. Plus, Juan Pierre evens out the ratio as a Dodger.

That’s the beauty of playoff baseball and its ability to force all in bets with their regular season successes. The Cardinals easily made the best free agent moves out of any National League team, but like the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis saw no hardware returned for their midseason investments. Instead, they have a banner and a premiere free agent they may not be able to sign.

Much like the 2009 Brewers and Cubs, the Cardinals face some issues from top to bottom in their organization. Joining Holliday in the open waters are the Other Guy (Joel Pineiro), Gandalf the White (John Smoltz), Ivan Drago (Rick Ankiel) and the ex-Cub (DeRosa). Batman and Robin, or the Emperor and Darth Vader if you have a predisposition to Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan, also have free agent contracts. Duncan has already hinted at looking elsewhere, and La Russa is strutting around his Los Angeles hotel room in his stretch pants, muttering something about weighing his options for 2010. But do these issues make them worse off for 2010 like their NL Central counterparts were for 2009?

terminatorThe Cardinals still have the Terminator, who’s movie name had a sequel eclipse the original in quality. After hitting .300 with three walks and one postseason RBI, respectable for any other normal player, Albert Pujols went 89 at-bats without a home run. Rest assured the best player on the planet will be going on a spirit journey adventure this offseason. The team still has a 1-2 lights out punch with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, although Wainwright topped out in the National League in innings pitched. St. Louis also does have a little money to work with, and still has a stable back of the bullpen with Ryan Franklin and Trevor Miller signed for two more years.

Focusing on next season is all Cardinal fans can do at this point, joining the rest of the NL Central Division only a few days late to the lame after party. Good thing they can talk about shouldabeens of playoffs past until free agency and trading blocks open.

(By the way, a sentence in the first paragraph at the top is the difference between the 2008 Cubs and 2009 Cardinals. If you spotted it before getting this far, you must really like baseball, or really hate one of those two teams.)

With the Divisional Series upon us, everyone has a prediction…including me


By Jake McCormick

Most people have a favorite time of year for sports, and it usually revolves around the end of one and the start of another. Being a self-admitted XBox 360 freak, I also judge those things by my desire to play a sports game. For example, I’m in a mood to finish up my MLB 2k9 season the way it ought to be: the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series and Ryan Braun collecting a .403 batting average with 85 home runs and 170 RBIs, and I’m revved up for some Madden. Any gamer knows what I’m talking about. Clearly September and October are the best months out of the year for sports, at least from where I stand.

The NFL is just starting, NCAA football has finished the non-conference season and the Badgers start playing their regular rivals, and perhaps most of all, the 162 game marathon that is the MLB regular season gives way to the unpredictability and sometimes freezing cold temperatures of the postseason.

Baseball’s postseason holds a special place in my heart not because it is my favorite sport, but because every game is seen as the potential end to a team’s season and the MLB doesn’t let half their teams into the competition. It only takes a month, and even casual baseball fans will tune in. So in honor of my favorite playoff structure and favorite sport, I will be gracing you with the 100% (possibly) correct outcome of each matchup. I’m basing my predictions on team health, overall play over the last month of the season, playoff experience, and random X factors. Sounds normal, right?

National League Divisional Series:

saint_louis_cardinals_logoDodgersSt. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Prediction: Cardinals in four

Why: The Cardinals boast the soon to be MVP (Albert Pujols) and two possible Cy Young winners (Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, who was just awarded Comeback Player of the Year honors as well). When was the last time a team had two pitchers competing for the Cy Young? Correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess would be the 2001 Diamondbacks with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

Although this would seem like the marquee matchup in the National League on paper, both teams finished September/October with average records (13-13, 15-12, respectively). But then again, both Tony La Russa and Joe Torre have experience guiding teams that back into the playoffs all the way to the World Series, so that shouldn’t matter too much.

Both teams have extensive playoff experience, but I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to a team that has no injury problems, the best player on the planet, and a better pitching staff.

RockiesphillieslogolrgColorado Rockies at Philadelphia Phillies

Prediction: Phillies in five

Most people would expect to see an average of 15 total runs in each of these games, but when these teams faced each other in the NLDS two years ago, there were only 24 runs scored combined in three games (Rockies swept, by the way). I would argue that both teams have much better pitching staffs than they had in 2007 as well, except the loss of Jorge de la Rosa is a huge blow to Colorado. Both teams have experience in the postseason and ended the season on high notes.

The Rockies may be the hotter overall team at the moment, and it’s hard to bet against them given the run they put together two years ago, but Philadelphia is great at scoring late game runs and has the ring to prove it. I’ll take the defending World Series champions in this matchup, although it will probably be the most entertaining to watch. Who can say no to two teams with great pitching that play in hitter’s ballparks, especially when you have Byung Hyung-Kim, I mean Brad Lidge, pitching in later innings?

American league Divisional Series:

twins-logoyankees_logoMinnesota Twins at New York Yankees

Prediction: Yankees in four

I was at the Twins game Saturday and Michael Cuddyer’s eighth inning go-ahead home run gave me flashbacks to Ryan Braun’s similar eighth inning shot against the Chicago Cubs in the Brewers’ second to last regular season game of 2008. The Twins’ last six games were also very similar to those of the 2008 Brewers, and unfortunately, their playoff run will mirror that of Milwaukee’s as well.

The Twins find ways to win in almost a video game-like fashion, but they went 0-7 against the Yankees in the regular season and Ron Gardenhire is 2-23 as a manager when visiting New York. Overall, the Yankees are the best team from top to bottom in either league, and although I expect Minnesota to play them tough, they just don’t have the pitching to win more than one game.

angels_logoboston-redsox-logo1Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels

Prediction: Angels in five

This match-up is the most even on all fronts. Both teams are entering the ALDS on winning streaks, with the Angels winning three in a row and going 7-3 in their last 10 games and the Red Sox winning four in a row and going 4-6 in their last 10. Los Angeles took the regular season series 5-4, but have not had much success against the Boston in the playoffs under Mike Scioscia. I think this is the year they do it, but it won’t be easy.

Boston has a better bullpen and more experience going deep into the postseason, but Los Angeles led the American League in ERA in September (2.96) and led the entire MLB in regular season batting average. The Angels have triumphed over early season tragedies (Nick Adenhart) and injuries to their pitching staff, but John Lackey, Scott Kazmir, and Jered Weaver hitting their peaks at the right time. With Josh Beckett injured, rookie Clay Buchholz floundering late in the season, and Daisuke Matsuzaka still finding himself after an injury, the balanced Angels lineup has a golden opportunity to steal the series. Besides, would you rather see another boring Red Sox-Yankees postseason matchup, or a Los Angeles vs. Mark Teixiera tilt? I’m probably in the minority, but I’ll take the second option because it’s a storyline that spans both coasts.


Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all MLB postseason, including specific coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals and their failures/triumphs.