Thursday, September 10, 2009
Birds of prey
Contributed by Auggie
When the Tampa Bay Rays went to the World Series last season, you could be forgiven if you had to pause and ask yourself “are they in the American League or National League?” Not much of a baseball tradition in Tampa Bay. In fact, the last decade or so has seen several newbie’s rise to prominence. In 1997 the Florida Marlins won the World Series in only its fifth year of existence (Cubs fans everywhere were seen pouring gasoline on their heads). The Arizona Diamondback topped that by taking the prize in 2001 in only its fourth year (sales of nylon rope spiked in the North side of Chicago). Florida won it again in 03, and more recently the Colorado Rockies and Rays have made it to the series before losing. If you root for underdogs, or typically embrace the latest rage, then those were glory years for you. But, if you have an affinity for baseball tradition like I do, then Booorrring! I suppose all traditions need to begin somewhere, but if we could just slow the pace a little that would be great, thanks.
One team with a rich and illustrious tradition is the St. Louis Cardinals, and they are in the thick of the race again this year - as they so often seem to be. For baseball afficionados, the Cardinal’s tradition rivals any other. All-time greats include the likes of Roger Hornsby, Dizzy Dean, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Stan “the Man” Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith to name just a few. It's current star Albert Pujols will no doubt rank high among the greats when all is said and done. It's storied history includes classic events that define not only to the Cardinal’s tradition, but embellish baseball’s tradition as America’s pastime as well. Notable events include: winning 43 of their last 51 games in 1942 before beating the Yankees for the Championship; the 1946 seven game WS classic against the Red Sox when Enos Slaughter dashed home from first on a hit to left-centerfield in the bottom of the eighth; Bob Gibson’s dominating performance in the 68 series against the Tigers; and the famous Don Denkinger blown call in the 1985 I-70 series against the Royals of Kansas City.
Witnessing the storied history are fans that are devout, knowledgeable and classy. The mid-western fans appreciate the game, and seem to lack (in relative terms) the odious disposition of their kinfolk in the Northeast corridor (I’m looking at you Philly, NY and Boston).
The Cardinals are currently battling the Dodgers for the National League’s best record. They have legitimate Cy Young candidates in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright, an MVP candidate in Pujols, and their key mid-season acquisition, Matt Holiday, has not disappointed. Don’t be surprised to see them in the fall classic yet again. The tradition endures