Not feeling better about Game 7 today. Not in the least. Hard to turn on SportsCenter this AM and hear them talk about... well, a shitty Monday Night Football game. But STILL. They COULD have talked about Game 7 and that would have been the PITTS.
Listen, before we become fully entrenched in our talking points over the next couple of days, let's talk about this nasty little habit we're getting into about "next year". I hate to pick on BJ Rains, because so many other people already do, but his Tweets last night were pretty typical of ones I saw that weren't bashing the Cardinals in some way:
To paraphrase: Good year, disappointed now, but the Cardinals will be back and better in 2013.
Ok, I totally get why people would feel that way. The emergence of players like Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica and Joe Kelly... plus the anticipation of Oscar Tavares and Tyrell Jenkins, I think the Cardinals could be set up for an extended run.
I was thinking of the most apropos example of how this type of thinking can be off, and it happened that Mr. Tim McKernan thought of it first:
"I recall standing on the sidelines of the Rams-Panthers’ playoff game in January 2004. The Rams had been in the playoffs in 1999, 2000, 2001, and now here they were again in the 2003 season.
NFL Playoffs were becoming a regular and expected occurrence around here…and a fan base that had either suffered through the Big Red or no NFL at all was starting to expect success.
The Rams were down big to the Carolina Panthers…and they had come back and were driving down the field with a chance to win the game. A field goal would tie.
A touchdown would win.
And then, in a clutch moment…in a high-pressure moment, Mike Martz does something he hadn’t done since becoming offensive coordinator and head coach: he sat on the ball…went conservative…and kicked a field goal to tie and send it to overtime.
About a half-hour later, The Dome was emptying out as Steve Smith celebrated a game-winning touchdown…and Jason Sehorn’s jockstrap was blazed into the turf at The Dome.
At the time, it hurt. No question.
But, also at the time, after all of the success that had come in 1999, 2000, 2001, and the regular season of 2003, I think fans expected the team to bounce back and deliver more of the same in 2004.
Well, Steve Smith’s touchdown was the last postseason NFL play we’ve seen in St. Louis.
Barring a miracle, the soonest we’ll see one is January 2014…10 years later."
The Cardinals were 1 win away from going to the World Series. All they did was have to avoid a three game sweep. But as we stand here this AM, they've now let a 3-1 lead in a best of 7 series get away from them a record 4 times. Will all the players above be able to get them that 8th playoff win and a berth in the World Series?
I hope. But, unlike B.J., I don't have a fucking clue if it WILL.
So let's not sit here and act like any of us know if this will "make them tougher" or "give them something to build on" or "fuel their fire". There have been plenty of choke jobs in sports where the the loser did in fact reach it's pinnacle during the choke and never recovered. Hell, if I wasn't so lazy, I'd look it up (the '86 Cardinals and '97 Cardinals didn't "come back stronger, that's for sure).
But I'd bet the success rate isn't as great as the failure rate. Oh, and it's not as if the Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Giants, Dodgers and Reds are going to quit baseball for good. They're out there trying to get better and have lots of "fuel for their fire" too.
You're going to be positive about the Cardinals in 2012. I respect that.
But use a question mark. Because if you're sure this was a beginning point, then you need to be doing something else with your talents.