We rapidly approach the end of another year. I know this because I am bombarded with reminders on how many shopping days are left until Christmas. What is it, four not including today? This is why Amazon’s free 2-day shipping is the best invention since wax paper. Even a serial procrastinator like myself can get gifts to their intended recipients on time.
The overly materialistic nature of the post-Modern Christmas season continues to push the liturgical reason for the season further and further into the margins. That’s true regardless whether you believe in God or find all religion superstitious nonsense. To divorce the holiday from its origins is to lose, I think, an essential component of what we’re celebrating.
Some years ago I posted this quote from the 1946 version of The Bishop’s Wife. It’s the sermon David Niven (the Bishop) delivers on Christmas Day, in the final scene of the film. I like it because for me it distills what the holiday is. But there’s more. Christmas is also about hope. Hope that, if there are dark days at hand, the sunrise is just around the corner. Hope that there is something better waiting for us.
In a clumsy attempt to extrapolate that hope onto the Cardinals, the winter meetings and the off-season period become the place where hope is renewed. For teams all across MLB, hope springs eternal, or at least until they start playing games for real again. As we move beyond the 2013 season, the Cardinals have already seen significant changes to their roster. David Freese is in Anaheim. Carlos Beltran will play in New York next year. Chris Carpenter is officially retired. Ed Mujica joined the Red Sox, John Axford Cleveland. And so on.
The team has also added Mark Ellis to the infield rotation, Jhonny Peralta to play short, ceded the 2B job to Kolten Wong, and moved Matt Carpenter to third. They will certainly be better defensively. Whether they will match the offensive production of the 2013 version remains to be seen.
The hope within the organization, and from most fans, is that the 2014 version will be better than the 2013 team. There’s that word hope again. We hope they will be. And in that vein, some related hopes:
- I hope Allen Craig’s foot injury is fully healed and he continues to hit .400+ in the clutch.
- I hope Matt Adams figures out how to hit LHP.
- I hope Michael Wacha can put a season together like his 5 post-season starts. I’ll take a gagger every fifth start to get the unhittableness of the preceding 4.
- I hope Shelby Miller is mentally tough enough to shake off the 2013 post-season and continue to pitch as well as he did in the regular season.
- I hope Matt Carpenter’s 2013 wasn’t a career year.
- I hope Oscar Taveras becomes everything I’ve heard he’ll be.
- Mostly I hope the trials of the last 2 years – falling in the NLCS, then the World Series – continue to motivate this team so that nothing stops them. In short, that they win it all in 2014.