I’m glad to hear the Cardinals may not make it to the playoffs this year, because I’m tired of excellence. What this sports town needs is some mediocrity.
After years of post-season play, Cardinals fans feel like an overworked farm field that needs to lay fallow and give the dirt some rest.
Ahhh…. Think of the Cardinals of the 1970s, year after year with no World Series anxiety. Those were relaxing years. Baseball ended in September, and people had time to rake their leaves in October. School children had time to study for their exams on Mesopotamia. A calm fell over the city, as other towns chased the wind of post-season glory.
Then the 1980s hit. The Cardinals were in post-season play most of the decade. My little brother Mike saved so many 1980s Post-Dispatch Cardinals sports pages under his mattress for posterity that his bed sloped to one side, and he rolled off onto the floor one night.
KMOX, of course, is the Cardinals station, so there’s a lot of HOO-rah in the hallways, and the sound of accountants crunching the what-ifs of post-season play. But how can one team always expect to make it to the playoffs?
It’s the fault of the Wildcard system.
This recent trend toward having a so-so season and hoping to get into the playoffs through the Wildcard spot has lathered up the fan base into an endless froth, like a man with no retirement plan lining up in Sauget every Wednesday to buy a Powerball ticket.
If the Cardinals don’t make it to the playoffs, we will all have to go on with real life somehow. We will have to pay down our credit card bills from all those nachos drizzled with cheese and $8 beers we enjoyed during the summer.
We will have to turn to our families, and hope that somehow, they can provide some meaning and entertainment on October nights when we would have been watching the Cardinals in the World Series.
Personally, I’m in a contest with my 16-year-old daughter to see which of us can memorize — and perform in the living room — the “Trouble in River City” monologue from The Music Man. (She made us listen to it six times on a recent road trip.)
We may also give the dog a bath or vacuum under the dining room table.
As for the team, they should feel no shame for having played all summer and not made it to the post-season.
A baseball team can’t have a Lamborghini season every fall. If your team is a Ford Pinto with rust on the wheel well, you have to love it for what it is.
We don’t hate the Cardinals if they don’t make it to the World Series.
They’re only human. Maybe they need some rest, too.
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