The 2014 St. Louis Cardinals baseball season has proved to be one of the most frustrating in recent memory with the club performing well below expectations all season long.
The only thing the team has found any consistency in is being disappointing. Time and time again. Poor offense. Shaky bullpen. Losses to lousy teams...
But, at 10 games over .500 following a sloppy win Monday night over the Cincinnati Reds, the Cardinals are actually much better than they were three years ago ... when they eventually rallied to take the National League Central Division title and eventually win the 2011 World Series.
On Aug. 19 that year the Redbirds lost to the lowly Chicago Cubs to fall to 66-59, 7.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the standings. And things were going to get worse before they get better.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
They'd go on two lose four of their next five games -- splitting the next two with the Wee Bears before getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers by a combined score of 22-7. When it was over the Birds were an uninspiring 67-63.
Somehow the Cardinals went on to go 23-8 the rest of the way before storming to the playoffs to the World Series and a date with history.
In St. Louis fans' memories, the team from 2011 was the club that wouldn't quit. It was a team that was never out of games. At least not until the last strike was recorded. But that's not an accurate reflection of the club before Aug. 20. The Cardinals were lethargic and seemingly disinterested just as they often have been this year.
It's difficult to point to one specific moment in 2011 that ignited the Redbirds. There's no formula to follow. But one noticeable difference between this season and the one three years ago is that St Louis doesn't seem to have an arch rival to push it to greatness.
Three years ago Nyjer Morgan nearly brought the Cardinals and Brewers to blows during a confrontation with ace Chris Carpenter. After the game he mocked the Redbirds and their fans, inviting them to enjoy watching Milwaukee on TV during the playoffs.
This year the Brewers have been more businesslike and have stayed away from the bulletin board material. It looks like the Redbirds are going to have to look within to find their inspiration this time.