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Let the games begin!

The weather across 80 percent of the country might not be in agreement. But another important step towards the spring will be taken Friday when the St. Louis Cardinals finally take the field in a real game against another team.

Yeah, the score doesn't really count. But the real internal competition begins when teams take the field against other clubs full of players fighting for major league jobs.

The Cardinals had something of an anti-climactic off season because of their stable of young, MLB-ready players who seem like a sure thing to claim roster spots in 2014. But nothing is a given in baseball, so the spring competition is important to keep guys hungry and to put them in the correct mindset for when the games start to mean something in the standings.

It's the time of year when the old guys try to prove they've still got it and the young guys want to prove they were worth what the team invested on developing them.

There's no lack of talent in the Cardinals clubhouse this season. But a lot of veteran leadership has walked out the door over the past few months. So I am most excited to see who came to play and who is in for a rude awakening when they show up expecting to be handed a job based on what they did last year.