Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament: First Round, Branch Rickey Regional, 5-12 Matchup

It’s the fourth week of the Greatest Cardinal Moments Tournament (#BestCardsMoments on Twitter) and we’ll see the last matchups of the first round kick off.  Before we get to the first of the last for this site, let’s take a look at the current bracket.  (You can also find it here.)

We’ve got some good matchups for the second round, but we need to finish completing that field.  The winner of this matchup, as you can see, moves into the Round of 32 and faces off against Bruce Sutter‘s World Series winner.  Who the Hall of Fame closer has to face is up to you!

#5 Jim Edmonds makes a diving NLCS catch (2004)

vs.

#12 Vince Coleman and Willie McGee steal four bases on the same play (1985)

The 2004 NLCS may have been the greatest League Championship Series that no one ever saw.  With the Yankees and Red Sox sucking up TV oxygen, especially as the Red Sox completed the first and only rally from a 3-0 deficit, the Cardinals and Astros put on their own stellar show.  The series went back and forth and it took an extra-inning home run from Edmonds (a moment coming up in matchups tomorrow at The Intrepid STL) for the Cards to go to a Game 7.

Craig Biggio led off the game with a home run off of Jeff Suppan.  That’s the way the game stood in the top of the second.  Jeff Kent led off with a walk and, after an out by Morgan Ensberg, Jose Vizcaino singled to put two runners on.  With Roger Clemens on the mound for Houston, St. Louis could not afford to get much further behind.  It looked like they were in significant trouble when Brad Ausmus laced one into the gap.  However, center field, that was Jim Edmonds territory.

No matter how many times you watch it, it’s still outstanding.  Edmonds was shaded away from the play and had to make up so much distance.  It was such a lock to drop that, even with just one out, Kent was just past third when Edmonds caught the ball.  Both runners had to hurry back and reclaim their bases.  Buoyed by that (and, in fairness, it was the pitcher coming up), Suppan struck out Clemens, ending the threat.

The Cards did get down 2-0 but rallied and, in large part due to a Scott Rolen home run (that was on a matchup last week at The Intrepid), won the game and the series.  An epic game that might have more dramatic parts than any playoff game this side of Game 6.

Our other contender didn’t happen in the postseason, but it epitomized the entire Whiteyball motif.   There’s no way that I can really sum this up well, given that I didn’t start really watching baseball for another couple of years, but it is one of Cardinal historian Bob Netherton’s favorite plays.  Here’s the entire post he wrote about it, but I want to steal the description of the play from it:

Coleman slides into third base Lou Brock style, meaning a late and very hard slide.  He beats the throw but Cubs third baseman Ron Cey thinks he’s out and takes a couple of steps towards the shortstop, looking at the umpire.  Coleman overslides the base pretty badly.  When Cey realizes that Coleman is safe, but off the base, he starts moving to tag Coleman.  Coleman reacts quickly and breaks for home, getting into a rundown.   The idea here is that since Coleman is out, he can at least delay the play long enough for McGee to get to third base.  That would have worked fine, except the Cubs forgot to cycle in another defender behind catcher Jody Davis.  When Davis throws the ball back to Cey, there is nobody between Coleman and home plate.  Coleman scoots home on the play, scoring the first run of the game.  McGee never stopped running, so when Cey looked down all frustrated by their defensive blunder, McGee slides safely into third base behind him.

Now, perhaps you are having problems visualizing this.  Thankfully and coincidentally Twitter user ooraahh happened to tweet out a Youtube link to this play just this weekend.

So which is the best Cardinal moment? Defense or baserunning? Playoffs or a symbol of an era?  You get to choose!

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