The curse of the 2011 Cardinals is that it will forever prevent Redbirds rooters from finding peace in admitting that their team is out of the playoff hunt.
At least not until the Birds are mathematically eliminated.
But I'm getting as close as possible to accepting that the Cardinals are toast when it comes to defending their World Series championship. And this is while the club is still staking claim to the second wildcard spot.
Unless the Redbirds are able to totally dominate the Dodgers in Los Angeles -- something that is not only historically unlikely, but also unlikely because St. Louis has meekly lost four of its last five games -- I don't see them holding off all of the teams that are crowding their rearview mirror.
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The Dodgers have been hanging out a game off the Cardinals' collective tail for several days, unable to catch up because they're matching St. Louis loss for loss. But, in the meantime, the Phillies and the Brewers -- whom the Cardinals welcomed into the wildcard race by losing two of three in St. Louis last weekend -- have pulled into striking range.
I don't buy excuses. As I have mentioned many times before, the production of Allen Craig, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Yadier Molina makes up for the loss of Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal to injury. Lance Lynn won more games in the first two-thirds of the 2012 season than the guy he replaced, Chris Carpenter, won in the first two-thirds of 2011. But it seems like the Cardinals can't get past their setbacks. Despite having a huge run differential in their favor, they have a very mediocre winning percentage. And, despite having four starting pitchers with double figures in wins, the rotation has completely crashed.
The Cardinals simply have put themselves in position where they'll have to make a dramatic stand if they're going to make the playoffs. And they've shown no ability so far to hold their ground.
It doesn't make sense because they have the talent and the experience to go all the way. I can only conclude that their desire doesn't match their potential and maybe the Redbirds players are content to gaze lovingly at their 2011 World Series rings on the golf course.