When I think of the Cardinals winning yet another pennant, I think of the episode of The Simpsons in which Grandpa Abe tells Bart the story of the Flying Hellfish from World War II, which leads to the two of them tracking down valuable stolen paintings that could make them very rich. Ultimately, however, they must be returned to the descendant of the original owner, a young German baron who accepts the U.S. State Department’s apologies with casual Eurotrash disdain, barking at an American official to be careful “mit der art things” as they’re placed in the trunk of his Mercedes. As Baron von Wortzenberger drives off to “Dancecentrum in Stuttgart to see Kraftwerk,” Grandpa considers the fortune he has lost and rationalizes, “I guess he deserves it more than I do.”
I’m not necessarily as gracious as Abe Simpson, and since I don’t believe any of the St. Louis Cardinals read Faith and Fear in Flushing, I’ll dispense with perfunctory congratulations in their direction. They don’t need my congratulations anyway. They seem to do very well without my support. The Cardinals started the National League Championship Series as inevitable and they ended it, inevitably, as National League champions. I’m sure capturing another flag was difficult, but they sure make it look simple.
Carlos Beltran enters his first World Series as a result of his team’s six-game victory over the Dodgers, and that’s nice, I suppose. I thought I was rooting for him above all Cardinals to make it, but the longer he wears a uniform that isn’t the Mets’, the less I see him as any cause personal to me. Great player whose time in New York I’ll always appreciate, but very much a Cardinal these days. That’s by no means an insult, even if it’s not a term of endearment. I was planning to add that at least we finally have a Met from October 2006 going to the Fall Classic, but that bit of business was actually taken care of by fan favorite Guillermo Mota when he was a 2010 Giant.
Just as true Mets fans will recognize October 18 as the date of the final wholly worthwhile game of the 1973 World Series, we are burdened to notice that in the hours since the Cardinals clinched their third pennant in eight seasons, it has turned to the seventh anniversary of October 19, 2006, a.k.a. the last time the Mets played a playoff game (they didn’t win). It was pointed out to me by my friend Garry Spector that of the 28 players who saw action in Notorious Game Seven, few are still active in the big leagues…though it turns out three of them — the currently champagne-soaked trio of Beltran, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina — will be active Wednesday night, too. The others include two Mariners (Oliver Perez and Endy Chavez), one Angel (Albert Pujols), one Blue Jay (Jose Reyes) and one Met (David Wright).
Time flies, hitting a person over the head in the process.
I framed this NLCS as a team I don’t like taking on a team I can’t stand. The Can’t Stands won, but I came to not completely dislike the Dodgers along the way. Maybe it was the exposure to Vin Scully or overexposure to the Right Way To Do Things. However I came across it, I probably found as much simpatico for L.A. as I have in a big-time situation since their predecessors were snatching the 1981 World Series from the jaws of intolerable. The 2013 postseason — akin to the wave of misreported teen suicides in Heathers — seems to have given Hanley Ramirez depth, Adrian Gonzalez a soul and Carl Crawford a brain. I don’t know if Don Mattingly is much of a manager but I actually felt kind of bad at how he can never, ever get to a World Series in any uniform. I’d mention the Dodgers’ debilitating injuries here, but the Cardinals soldier on like crazy through debilitating injuries (anybody seen Carpenter, Craig, Garcia or Motte lately?), so maybe I won’t. Plus Mattingly got within two games of a World Series, while Terry Collins is home getting eight hours of sleep every night and three square meals every day; consider my sympathy limited and contextual.
Next up for the Cardinals: Some team we’ve seen them play in a World Series in the last ten years and yet another team that will be in its third World Series in a decade. Familiarity breeds impatience here on the sidelines, but this time Beltran will be involved, so that’s different at least.