Old-fashioned playing by Cardinals trumps brash posturing by Dodgers
Columnists and reporters from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have shared their views with Times readers during the National League Championship Series.
Reality-TV America might not have liked it much, but the St. Louis Cardinals sent Mickey Mouse, the Goofy in right field and the whole Disneyland gaggle of characters back to Southern California to begin their off-season grooming.
Main Street America is headed back to the World Series.
The Cardinals made surprisingly swift work of ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in a 9-0 thumping in Game 6, putting an end to the National League Championship Series and the baseball culture war between the two franchises.
The Cardinals prevailed in a fascinating conflict. The Dodgers were said to bring the tired old game a freshness and a brashness that make other sports more popular than baseball.
The Cardinals and their fans were depicted as a curious colony of baseball Amish because they prefer solid fundamental play, gentleman superstars such as Stan Musial and success with dignity.
Well, score one for the snobs.
We were told that the Dodgers of Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig were just trying to have fun and celebrate the game by hot-dogging, taunting opponents with mouse impersonations, striking a home-run pose in the batter’s box (while hitting a triple), showing up umpires, throwing the ball to the wrong base or sailing it to the backstop.
You see, this is how the Dodgers show their passion. Where’s your sense of humor, you hopelessly uptight and dour Midwesterners! Didn’t you receive the telegram from Western Union? America was trying to tell you that the 1950s were over. Why didn’t you answer your rotary phone?
Well, St. Louis fans like to have fun too.
And so on Friday night — with a light drizzle spritzing the ballpark as a prelude to the champagne — Busch Stadium was the happiest place on Earth.
This was a big deal, for many reasons.
After the Cardinals failed to put the Dodgers away by beating themselves in Game 5, there was a darkness on the edge of town before Game 6 with the creeping shadows approaching St. Louis, an ominous reminder of the unimaginable collapse to the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 NLCS.
Were the Cardinals really going to cough up another 3-1 lead in the NLCS? Multiple Dodgers players, including poseur reliever Brian Wilson, suggested that the Cardinals’ head-wires would be tangled by the pressure.
As it turned out, the Cardinals handled the showdown like champions.
They worked Kershaw over with patient at-bats, watched Puig lose his composure in right field, pelted the field with base hits and had fun during another amazing night in Wacha World. And they followed the lead of Carlos Beltran, who drove in the Cardinals’ first run. Nearing the end of a wonderful career, Beltran finally has made it to the World Series. And no one at Busch Stadium spent a second missing Albert Pujols.
By winning their fourth pennant in 10 seasons, the Cardinals continued their rule over the NL. Since 2004, they’ve won 48 postseason games; no other MLB team has come close to that.
So much was at stake in this series. There was the NL pennant, the fallout from the Cardinals vs. Dodgers bad blood, the emotional health of a baseball-mad city and the reputation of a proud St. Louis team that was desperate to avoid the emptiness of another painful off-season of deep regret.
And by taking Game 6, the Cardinals registered a symbolic victory for old-time baseball values by defeating hedge-fun baseball. They struck a blow against an increasingly vapid sports culture and turned the Dodgers’ glitter into dust.
Now the Cardinals are in the World Series. The Cardinal Way, the winning way, rolls on. Four NL pennants in the last 10 seasons? Deal with it, America.
“I’m just so proud to be on this team,” Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said minutes after the Dodgers walked off, quietly making their way to the dugout where they watched the Cardinals celebrate.
So much for the best-laid plans of mice and men.
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