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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Miscast Cardinals All Wrong for the Part

Sunday I watched a team that wasn’t expected to get as far as it did, one that overcame all kinds of skepticism to take the baseball world by storm. It was thrilling seeing them step up and prove their doubters wrong. What a great story!

Yes, I finally got around to seeing Moneyball. How about those slightly idealized 2002 Oakland A’s?

Then I came home and watched the St. Louis Cardinals win the 2011 National League pennant. Not exactly Paul DePodesta’s Peter Brand’s “island of misfit toys,” but who saw them being measured for celebratory t-shirts and caps, either? Who saw their NLCS Hollywood ending when their script was stalled in development as recently as late August?

Who saw them here at all?

It’s hard to think of the St. Louis Cardinals cast as an underdog considering they always seem to be playing ball at this time of year. It’s also hard to think of them as sympathetic given their identity as the historically annoying St. Louis Cardinals, no matter how objectively likable the contours of their current storyline. If MLB wanted me to get behind these Cardinals, they’d do what the filmmakers did when DePodesta requested his name not be used in Moneyball. They would create a composite character the way the movie did with Jonah Hill’s DePodesta stand-in, Peter Brand:

• a team from the heartland that never gives up;

• a roster dotted with players you either never heard of before September or stopped thinking about years ago;

• a logo that doesn’t inspire visceral dismay;

• a color scheme that doesn’t trigger flashbacks that have me practically reaching through my TV screen to strangle every one of their red-clad followers.

Let’s call this creatively licensed National League champion the Missouri Maulers. They play in the fictional town of Musial. Their fans all dress in green (what the hell, the A’s aren’t using it at the moment). Their manager is a kindly former actuary. Their catcher never hit a big home run in his life and isn’t at all irritatingly flamboyant. The people who attend their games like a cult never intentionally spilled beer on Lenny Dykstra.

They can still have Albert Pujols as Albert Pujols. You do need some starpower above the title.

These Maulers I could root for. These Maulers charged back from double-digits behind in late August and overcame a smug, useless collection of Braves to barely make the playoffs on the last day of the season. Then these Maulers shocked a far smugger collection of Phillies — a supposedly unbeatable champion-in-waiting whose stellar starting pitching proved helpless against Mauler magic — in the tensest of 1-0 elimination games. Finally, these Maulers made their way to Milwaukee and stuffed a sock in the mouths of a band of Brewers who couldn’t shut up long enough to actually field a grounder, collect an out or record a clutch hit.

In the next scene, the lovable Mauler joyride continues to Texas, where…well, I don’t know how it turns out, but I’m pretty sure I’d want to see them in another victorious dogpile wearing another edition of celebratory t-shirts and caps. I’d want the Missouri Maulers to keep up whatever they’d been doing. I’d want them to keep surprising me and sort of delighting me with their corps of no-names and their stubbornly indefatigable bullpen and all the cute talismans — Rally Squirrel! Happy Flight! David Freese! — they pick up along the way. If they were to beat Texas, I’d stand and applaud. If they were to lose to Texas, I’d tip my cap in their direction to acknowledge how well they persevered just for the opportunity to land at this spot when Nobody Believed In Them…But Themselves, and to thank them for making the postseason so much more interesting by how they fought.

But they’re not the Missouri Maulers. They’re the St. Louis Cardinals of Tony La Russa and Yadier Molina and The Best Fans In Baseball.

Go Rangers.

7 comments to Miscast Cardinals All Wrong for the Part

  • If only your mother had bought you that Rangers hat in 1975.

  • tim

    I really hope the Rangers win. My wife is from Alvin, TX, so I have a strong Nolan Ryan connection (and no Jim Fregosi connection whatsoever). I despise LaRussa. I can’t wait to see his stupid dejected face walk back into the tunnel when the Rangers finish blowing his doors off. If only FOX could also get a shot of George Will looking sad, I would be ecstatic. The Rangers have earned this one, and I hope they get it.

  • Pat O"Hern

    For some reason I do not dislike these Cardinals as much as other Card’s and LaRussa teams. And I know it’s not because I put 50 on St.Louie to win the WS(Pays 600) 4 weeks ago. I’d admire Josh Hamilton but I think he is hoodwinking us all. I can think of another reason other than blue eyes why he can’t preform in day games. Although I do admire Ron Washington for his “Thats my story and I’m sticking to it” stance on his unrealistic “First time/only time” buying blow.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    GO CARDS!….I really don’t haver very much interest in this world series, but I will root for the cards.

    Only because they are the NL team and I hold my nose saying it!

  • Joe D.

    I tend to think the senior circuit has an advantage in each Fall Classic because not having the designated hitter keeps the manager sharp and forces batters to manufacture runs. It changes the concept of the entire American League entry both at bat and in the field which, for the National League team, is an easier adjustment.

    When in the American League park, the visiting pitcher won’t have any easy outs (8th and 9th hitters) but at the same time, doesn’t have to worry about being removed for a pinch hitter in a tight game in which he is brilliantly pitching.

    For sentimental reasons, would like to see Texas win it for it’s first time maybe to see if they return to Washington to share the trophy with their old fans.

  • mikeski

    Texas has Endy. That’s good enough for me.