Column: The Cardinals feed off the underdog label

By Gus Bode

The two teams that had the worst records in the MLB after the All-Star break are now the two teams battling in the World Series – baseball’s most glamorous stage.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers both limped into the playoffs this year but in two different fashions.

The Tigers rode their insanely good first-half record into the playoffs while the Cardinals fended off lengthy losing streaks all season, most notably in late September when it looked like the Astros would dethrone the defending National League Central Champion Redbirds.


But maybe this is exactly what we, as Cardinal Nation, needed to finally win a World Series – something that has eluded me in my lifetime and many of yours.

If the past few seasons the Cardinals have ridden into baseball’s Octoberfest as the targeted team to beat.

We were the team predicted to win the World Series, the team that had everything clicking at the right moment and also the team that blew it late in the postseason.

This year though, the opposite is true.

Our sluggish Redbirds barely survived the regular season and were on the verge of the worst collapse in Major League Baseball history.

Shoot, we even let the Atlanta Braves put us into the playoffs by beating the Astros on the last game of the season while we were pounded by the Milwaukee Brewers.

But then something unexpected happened to us as we almost threw away our playoffs dreams – we made it anyway.


Albert Pujols, the guardian angel for this underachieving team, said, “It doesn’t matter how we got in, but we got in. I just want another chance to win a World Series game.”

Suddenly, the Cardinals were sparked into action and had new life – new hope.

We were getting production from dead bats such as Yadier Molina and Jim Edmonds. Our pitching rotation actually resembled a pitching rotation – and a formidable one at that – and our bullpen looked like a bunch of seasoned vets.

We even got a home run from starting pitcher Jeff Suppan.

It’s strange what October baseball can bring. But that is what is great about the playoffs – anyone can win in any given series.

Were the Cardinals supposed to beat the Padres? No. Were they supposed to beat the Mets? Absolutely not.

But we did, and now we are playing for our lives in the World Series looking for our 10th World Series Championship.

World Series baseball brings a different aroma than the regular season – or even the NLDS or NLCS for that matter.

It is bigger than the game itself.

It brings the Cardinal greats back to St. Louis. Lou Brock, Stan the Man, Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson and the Old Redhead will all be back in town to partake in the festivities.

Keener Plaza will look like a sea of red for the pre-game rally, and Busch Stadium will have electricity about it like no other.

The World Series is back in St. Louis, and all of the nation will be watching to see the Cardinals falter, as they are once again the underdogs to a Tigers team that has been hot all season.

But maybe that was the secret to winning the World Series all along, to be the underdog.

Brian Feldt can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected].