I’ve been a Cardinals fan all my life.
To borrow from Matt Foley, “I’m thirty-six years old, I’m married with four kids, and I root for a team that plays in a ballpark down by the river.” My wife and children are all Cardinals fans as well, which should come as no surprise. I’m pretty sure it’s genuine, though it’s certainly plausible that they only root for the Redbirds to avoid sleeping on the street. My kids are 12, 9, 8, and 7, and in recent years I’ve struggled with how to convey to them just exactly how special what they’re seeing in today’s Cardinals teams truly is.
I mean, we all know just how rarified the air of the last decade or so of Cardinals baseball is.
Or do we?
World Series appearances in 2004, 2006, 2011, and 2013, falling one win short of a 2012 appearance, and having won two of their last three trips to the fall classic (’06 and ’11) is impressive by any standard. Obviously whether it will become 3 out of 4 remains to be seen. But, what a ridiculous run of performance, strength, and dominance, right? How can I possibly reach inside the minds of my young children and explain to them how such accomplishments are unparalle…then it hit me.
4 World Series appearances – Past decade:
- 2013 (TBD)
- 2012-did not appear, missed by one NLCS win (lost 3-1 series lead to SFG)
- 2011 (won)
- 2006 (won)
- 2004 (lost)
3* World Series appearances – 1980’s:
- 1987 (lost)
- 1985 (lost, we all know why)
- 1982 (won)
- 1981-*did not appear despite finishing in first place, missed by the “1st half/2nd half” rule
3 World Series appearances – 1960’s:
- 1968 (lost)
- 1967 (won)
- 1964 (won)
4 World Series appearances – 1940’s:
- 1946 (won)
- 1944 (won)
- 1943 (lost)
- 1942 (won)
5 World Series appearances mid 1920’s – mid 1930’s:
- 1934 (won)
- 1931 (won)
- 1930 (lost)
- 1928 (lost)
- 1926 (won)
I was going to say “unparallelled”.
But, you know what? Now that I’ve taken a step back to look at the rich history of our beloved franchise, it’s not so rarified air at all. At least not for this organization. I can only hope that my kids won’t have to endure a decade or so of struggles between the current run and the next one. I had to endure the 1990’s, my dad had to endure the 1970’s, and my grandparents, the 1950’s. I wouldn’t mind seeing that little trend dissolve, and any time now would be just fine with me.
I suppose one way to put things into perspective for the kids is to try to explain how there are teams out there who have NEVER won the World Series, and others still who have never even BEEN to the World Series. (My kids well aware of the cubs’ situation, as any good Cardinals fan family would ensure) But their eyes widen when I tell them the Rangers and Astros are among teams that have never won it all, and that there are teams like the Nationals, who, even going back to ’69, when they broke in as the Expos (a somewhat perplexing thought to them), have never even had the opportunity to play for the Commissioner’s trophy.
Make no mistake, what the Cardinals are doing right now is very, very special. We should be sure that we’re enjoying every moment of it, and respecting the game as we continue to benefit from successfully playing it. Despite the great ownership and fan support this team enjoys, there are never any guarantees, and God forbid, it could all start to unravel tomorrow. (See: Tudor, John; Coleman, Vince; Kile, Darryl, and other various freak injuries/accidents/etc) But it’s with a sense of pride that I tell you, my children (and anyone else who will listen, for that matter), that while this is a very special thing that the Cardinals are in the middle of doing, it’s not necessarily an uncommon thing for this organization.