On one hand, it’s nerve-wracking for St. Louis Cardinals fans to ponder the prospect of the club trying to defend a razor-thin lead for the second National League Wild Card spot during the last nine games of the season.
But, on the bright side, isn’t this the best thing we all could have hoped for a couple of months ago? St. Louis fans have nothing to lose and everything to gain at this point. So, I’m not going to worry about things. I’m just going to let it play out and enjoy the ride.
The Redbirds were dead in the water at the all-star break and it seemed that St. Louis was firmly in “wait ‘til next year” mode. It was a pleasant surprise that the team was able to mount a run to get back in the post season picture at all. The Cardinals don’t just have a chance. They have a little bit of a lead. The second wild card spot is theirs to lose.
Basically, Mike Shildt’s club is playing with house money at this point. If it can hold off the Colorado Rockies, the Birds will have a one-game shot against the Milwaukee Brewers to get into a National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs.
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The naysayers can point out that the Rockies are playing three teams that have nothing to play for. The Arizona Diamondbacks would basically have to sweep Colorado and win out to have any chance to make the playoffs. and the Cardinals would have to go into a dive at the same time. If they lose the first game against the Rockies, they’re probably done. On Monday, Colorado plays the Philadelphia Phillies who will probably be mathematically out of the playoff picture by then — but they’re realistically out now. Then Colorado plays the Washington Nationals who recently held a garage sale and ran up the white flag of surrender.
The Cardinals, meanwhile will play the San Francisco Giants before having to battle the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs to end their season. Is the competition St. Louis faces better? Sure. But let’s not forget that the teams the Birds will have to beat to get to the playoffs are the teams they’ll have to beat to get anywhere in the playoffs. So, we can’t really be afraid to take them on now or later.
I say bring ‘em on.
Besides, depending on what happens between now and the time the Cardinals play the Cubs, Chicago might not have anything left to play for. If I’m Joe Maddon and my team has the top playoff seed locked up, I’m not showing my best pitchers to a team I am going to have to potentially face in the NLDS. During the past few years, it seems like there has been a lot of bitterness from the Cubs toward the Cardinals. So, we’ll see if it’s worth it try to win otherwise meaningless games for the sake of trying to prevent a rival from making the playoffs or to save powder for the potential playoff fight itself.
The bottom line is that there are a million reasons to believe the Redbirds won’t make the playoffs and another million reasons to believe they will. But all that matters is that St. Louis is in the fight.