After facing tough division series rounds, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are set to square off in the NLCS.
It wasn't easy for either team to get to this point, and the road will only get tougher. Still, this stage is nothing new for these postseason-savvy clubs.
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The fact that these two teams are playing each other in the NLCS is pretty much a small miracle in itself.
The San Francisco Giants rallied back from a 2-0 series deficit to sweep the mighty Cincinnati Reds in the latter's home ballpark and win their NLDS.
Even more amazingly, the St. Louis Cardinals won their wildcard game, let their NLDS go to five games, went down 6-0 in the final game, rallied back to a 7-5 deficit going into the ninth and somehow managed to score four runs with only one out left to take the whole thing, 9-7.
Talk about playoff baseball, folks.
Both of these teams obviously want to win. They'll be attacking each other right from the get-go come the start of Game 1 of the NLDS.
Don't look now, but baseball fans, you have the winners of the 2010 and 2011 World Series playing each other in the NLCS to claim their stake in the 2012 World Series.
Baseball drama at it's finest.
Obviously, both of these teams know how to get the job done. And both teams have a solid balance of veteran players and younger guys who can provide experience and energize their clubs.
Taking this into account, it should prove to be only another factor in what will be a very good seven-game series of MLB baseball.
After having a rough and very un-Lincecum-like year (10-15, 5.18), Tim Lincecum didn't even get to make a start in the NLDS.
It appears as though the former ace of the Giants' rotation may be given a shot at starting during the coming NLCS, however.
With a longer series comes a greater need for another possible starting pitcher. Lincecum has the experience in this department and could easily turn in a stellar performance.
Needless to say, it'll be quite intriguing to watch how this situation will play out.
With their win over the Washington Nationals, the Cardinals improve their consecutive wins-streak in playoff elimination games to six.
I guarantee you the Giants know of that number, saw what happened in Game 5 of the NLDS between the Nats and Cards and will have that memory in the back of their minds throughout the NLCS.
How could they not? It's a pretty scary thought.
Past games don't mean a thing to what's happening in present series, but just the simple fact that the Cardinals are that resilient of a team counts for something—if the Giants are smart (and lucky), they'll grab a multiple-game lead on the Cards in order to give themselves more than one opportunity to close the series out with their guys ticketed for the World Series.
It may not be necessary, but it couldn't hurt.
As mentioned in the second slide, both teams have reached the NLCS in extraordinary ways.
In those playoff journeys thus far, each team has further developed a sense of unity and momentum going forward, undoubtedly different from each other.
This series will come down to whichever team has the better mentality and sense of team unity.
Both of these teams shouldn't be here. They each knocked out teams that were supposed to be better than they are. They're improbable, unrelenting, and they believe. They fear no opponent.
And that, my friends, is playoff baseball.