On July 13, the St. Louis Cardinals had a record of 47-46. As of August 22, they have a record of 70-57. This team has been through it all. Injuries, poor management, and error after error during the month of July. Now, they are the hottest team in the National League winning 16 of their last 20 games in August and winning 8 consecutive series. They are in the running for the Wildcard spot. No one saw this coming.
Being a St. Louis native, die-hard Cardinals fan since birth, I was more than disappointed in July. Seeing the Cardinals being a pretty consistent team, always finishing their season above 500, they were nowhere close to finishing that well. My favorites like Paul DeJong, Carlos Martinez and, of course, Yadier Molina, were hurt and the Cardinals were on the downhill slide. Every notification on my phone was followed by a deep sigh of despair. Cardinals being in the lead and blowing it with simple errors or lack of good players in the bullpen. Either way, it was another loss and another game farther away from first place.
The Central Division is a strong division. You have the Chicago Cubs who have their own comeback story and the Brewers, Reds, and Pirates. They all have a lot to contribute to the division and to the National League. But despite it all, the Cardinals sit at 2.5 games behind Central Division leader, Chicago Cubs. That in itself is a huge accomplishment. Against the Cubs this season, we have won 9 out of the 16 games we played. Average, but here we are so 2.5 games away from 1st place.
After the news of the Cardinals firing general manager Mike Matheny, I was shocked. I knew they weren't playing well. But the Cardinals haven't fired a GM in years. Let's be real, the administration LOVED Mike Matheny. Things must've been pretty bad for them to fire him. After the interim GM, Mike Schildt was put into place, there was more of a pep in the player's step. They started playing better and working harder.
Matt Carpenter has gone from a player who had the worst offensive career this season to hit 34 home runs as of now. During the Cubs series, he hit a home run for six consecutive games. Another game, he hit a 3 run homer and 2 doubles in a game. He is only the second person in the MLB to do that. In the words of his GM, he is "hotter than a firecracker". It may be the salsa, but whatever it is is making the Cardinals record much better. Yadier Molina has hit 16 home runs, Flaherty is a stellar rookie pitcher, Poncedeleon has beaten all odds after getting hit by a pitch and being out. They both have bright futures. Harrison Bader isn't letting one ball drop onto that field even if it means diving into the ground. And Kolten Wong needs to win a Golden Glove right now with the way he has been playing. This is only a little of what this team's roster has to offer.
We have a saying in St. Louis that when the rally caps are on and we pray to Rally Cat or Rally Squirrel, the Cardinals turn into the "Comeback Cards." They pull through at the last minute for the extra base hits in the last few innings of the game. Most of the time, it's a walk-off home run (the Cardinals have had 7 of those by the way). It's always fun to see the players reaction as the ball gets hit out of the park. They prepare the cooler and they throw it on the player at home plate. Although it's nerve-racking, it's fun. But the "Comeback Cards" are always fun to watch.
I know this may be a luck or just a really good stretch of good baseball for men wearing the birds on the bat, but I have faith in them. I always have. That's how they were playing in 2011. All I'm saying is that they are on the way of being the same "Comeback Cards" as they were that year. Keep in mind, this is also the last time they won a World Series title. Am I being too optimistic? Probably. I always have been for the St. Louis Cardinals. But like my dad said, at least they are playing better. So if they end their season not making it into post-season, at least they improved. I hope to see them keep improving throughout the rest of the season.