Finally. The run is finally over.
In the past 14 months, we've seen the Cardinal franchise go from smoking pile of white kindling to raging fire and back and forth again, until the San Francisco Giants finally stomped out the flame last night at AT&T Park. The torrential downpour in the ninth inning put out the Cardinals' fire once and for all.
This sentiment comes directly from a die hard Cincinnati Red fan, who has had to sit idly by and watch the Cardinals seemingly do whatever they damn well pleased for the past decade. And I think I speak for all Reds fans—and probably all fans from the NL Central's other franchises—when I say that if the Cardinals would have made it back to the World Series AGAIN this year, I would have lost all faith in humanity and the baseball gods.
In 2010, my Reds finally won the NL Central—it only took 15 years. More importantly, it kept the Cardinals out of the playoffs that season. In 2011, with Albert Pujols seemingly nearing the end of his Demolition Man days, it looked like St. Louis would miss the playoffs again. Seeing as how Pujols was set to become a free agent at season's end, it appeared the Cardinals' streak of ridiculousness was fading away.
Nope. Not even close.
St. Louis took advantage of an Atlanta Braves shipwreck to steal the NL Wild Card spot on the last day of the regular season. Then, naturally, the Cardinals knocked off the 100-win Phillies, predictably ousted the Milwaukee Brewers and then obviously beat Texas in the World Series—repeatedly getting up off the mat in Game 6 before wrestling the trophy from the dejected Rangers in Game 7 at Busch Stadium.
That team shouldn't have even been in the playoffs! If the Braves didn't collectively brown their pants, the Cardinals would not have even been in the postseason. And instead, they DO get in and then they win the whole effin' thing!
(Reds fans yelling expletives and punching couch cushions.)
In the winter, Albert Pujols decides to sign with the Angels. The rest of the NL Central lets out a magnificent sigh of relief.
St. Louis secured a Wild Card spot on the second to last day of the regular season and then, in the easiest money bet in the history of sports, knocked off "untouchable, never going to lose a game ever again" Kris Medlen and the Braves in Atlanta to advance to the NLDS. In that round, naturally, Daniel Descalso and the Cardinals just happened to rally from a 6-0 deficit on the road in Game 5 to steal the series from the Washington Nationals! Of course they did!
(Meanwhile, the Reds blew a 2-0 series lead in their division series, leading to more expletives and more furniture punching when the Cardinals did their deed.)
In the NLCS, St. Louis won Game 1 (shocker!) on the way to grabbing a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 at Busch. "Oh my God," Reds fans said, "this team is going to win the World Series again?? With Pete Kozma, too?!"
Thankfully, for our sanity, the Giants would have none of that. Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito and Matt Cain put the cuffs on the Cardinals as San Francisco won three straight elimination games, just as it did in the NLDS against our Reds, to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.
I can't say we're thrilled that the team the Reds woulda-coulda-shoulda beaten now gets to host the World Series, but the fact that the Cardinals blew three straight closeout games makes us feel 1 percent better about how the Reds collapsed.
And, this insane 14 month run of getting every big hit they needed for the Cardinals mercilessly comes to an end. Finally.
(Exhaling in a major way.)