Sunday, September 18, 2005

National League class

On Saturday at Wrigley Field we watched as the hated rival from hell clinched their fifth playoff birth in six seasons. I saw:

  • A team that had 7 and 8 hitters who could execute a hit and run.
  • A starting pitcher, who up until this year had spent his entire career in the AL, laydown a perfect squeeze bunt.
  • A team that has been ravaged by injuries all year long, to star players like Scott Rolen and Larry Walker, not make any excuses. They simply plug in players and keep winning.
  • A team that celebrated winning the division with class and respect. They acted like they had been there before. Becuase they have. They expect more celebrations in the coming month. They'll probably have them.

I hate the Cardinals more than anything. Still, I would love to see my team play and act the way the Redbirds do. I have to tip my cap to "The Genius" and Walt Jockety for the style of play they expect and the team they have assembled to play that style. The Redbirds lost Edgar Renteria and Tony Womack off of their NL Pennant winning team from a year ago. They replaced those two with David Eckstein and the second baseman the Cubs chose not to bring back Mark Grudzielanek. The Cardinals went out and added an ace to their staff in Mark Mulder last winter. They did all of this with a payroll below the Cubs. BTW: where the hell was Jim Hendry last year when Mulder and Tim Hudson were available? (and puh-lease don't give me the excuse that he couldn't do anything because of Sammy)

Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux who knows a thing or two about winning teams said this: "It's amazing. You play the game right, you usually win your division. You don't have to be the best team to win, but you have to play the best. They have done it."

You look at the class teams in the NL over the past decade and you see teams that execute. The Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves do not make the number of boneheaded baserunning errors the Cubs have made over the past few years, they don't repeatedly miss signs, they do not have pitchers forget to cover first base three times in one game. The crap that has flown around these parst for years would not fly in St. Louis or Atlanta. Both of those teams have managers that do not enable their players failure by making excuses for them. They have expectations. If the players can't meet them, they're moved. How many years would Bobby Cox or "The Genius" tolerate the antics of one Korey Patterson? (for those of you scoring at home that's the 1060west obligatory K-Pat rip)

Teams like the Braves and Cardinals know they are good and know they are going to find a way to win. As Cub fans it's hard not to look across the diamond and imagine "what if that was the Cubs?" or ask "why not us?". I'm sick of imagining.

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