A season ago, the St. Louis Cardinals qualified for the playoffs as the wild card with the help of an epic collapse by the Atlanta Braves. Late on Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, the defending World Series champions backed into the postseason tournament, grabbing the final available spot thanks to a loss by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cardinals fell 3-1 to the Reds at Busch Stadium, then waited a few hours for the West Coast results to come in. After Mark Ellis made the final out against Giants closer Sergio Romo, the Dodgers had fallen 4-3 and were eliminated. Ellis also might be remembered infamously for his ill-advised attempt to take third on a double that helped stall a rally in the seventh. Regardless, the Giants surely welcome any opportunity to end Dodgers hopes. And, with nobody else contending, the Cardinals advance to the wild-card game Friday at Atlanta.
Hats off, Redbirds! (Especially you in the photo, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.) But they weren't going to be partying down at Busch Tuesday night. Manager Mike Matheny said the Cards needed their beauty sleep:
"I'm sending them home," Matheny said. "They need to get some rest.
"We've got a game to win tomorrow and we have a trip to make one way or another, so we're sending them out."
He's kind of a drip. But hey, all that matters now is getting in, as the 2011 club showed in winning the franchise's 11th championship. Style points and aesthetics don't count for much. Still, it's always better to have a clinching party with booze and non-alcoholic brews for the kids and vulnerable. It's kind of anticlimactic otherwise, which is why we're going to replay the Cardinals wild-card clinch party from a season ago, Sept. 29, 2011:
The situation was similar in 2011, only the Cardinals won their game and didn't have to wait too long for the Braves results. And they got to wear goggles and drink and Gerald Laird was there. This just isn't quite the same. And neither is the postseason format. They only get one game to prove, again, they belong. So maybe a muted, scattered celebration is best. Hopefully they all have a phone tree so the players can call each other in bed to relay the good news, because they're not out at bars or anything I'm sure.
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