The Cardinals are Coming

The most terrifying playoff baseball team showed up right on time

I didn’t want to write this. I’m still too sore about the Cardinals knocking the Dodgers out of the playoffs in 2013 and 2014 and ruining my book’s happy ending. But the Cardinals have now won a dozen games in a row and their devil magic cannot be contained or ignored. San Francisco and Los Angeles: We have a problem.

This is not what the Dodgers or Giants want to be thinking about right now while they focus all their efforts on chasing down the NL West division crown. At press time, the Giants held a wisp of a one game lead with nine left to play. There’s a soul crushing scenario where the Giants and Dodgers finish the regular season with the same record. Because Giants won the season series with LA, they would get to host a one-game tiebreaker for the division, with the loser becoming the first wild card team and having to play….St. Louis in another do-or-die game. If the Dodgers wind up as a wild card team and somehow knock the Cardinals out in that single-game anxiety bonanza, they will move to the very top of my list of World Series favorites. Ditto if the Giants do it.

That’s because right now the Cardinals are the team most likely to win it all. I know you don’t want to hear it. I certainly don’t want to write it down. But I told you when I launched this newsletter that I’d always be honest.

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St. Louis is giving me 2007 Rockies vibes right now, and there’s not a whole lot any other team can do to stop them except make them wait for nine days to play like the Red Sox did to Colorado in that World Series before sweeping them. Sure, six of the Cards’ dozen wins came against the Mets and Padres, two teams their own fans would vote to relegate to the minor leagues right now if given the chance. But the Cardinals just swept a four-game series on the road in Milwaukee, so I am forced to pull the emergency break.

Hold up. The Cardinals? In 2021? Oh yes. As I wrote yesterday, forty-year old Adam Wainwright (aka Jax Scherzer) is an absolutely terrifying matchup in a single-game elimination. He handled the Dodgers with ease two weeks ago and pitched into the ninth inning like was no biggie. (Note: The Giants have a similar mojo to Cardinals devil magic. It’s known as “Even Year Bullshit,” and it propelled San Francisco to unlikely titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Unfortunately for them, 2021 is an odd year.

I also told you guys when I was researching last week’s newsletter on the ten most underpaid players in MLB that Tyler O’Neill was the biggest surprise I found. Don’t look up his numbers unless you’re a St. Louis sports fan. All the first year player has done since September 1st is hit 8 home runs with a .370 on-base percentage and a 1.028 OPS. As for Wainwright, before his weird start in Milwaukee yesterday that the Cardinals still won, the veteran righty had given up seven total runs in his past six starts, stretching 41.2 innings. I don’t like any of this. Not one bit.

It seems cruel that the Dodgers or Giants will probably post the two best records in MLB and finish within a game (or so) of each other—and then the “loser” has to walk into this obvious trap. I believe the Dodgers and Giants are both good enough to take the Cardinals in a five game divisional series. But one of these teams will probably unjustly get bounced by St. Louis in the wild card game. I just want you all to be prepared. I can’t carry the burden of knowing this by myself. It hurts like a Joe Kelly fastball to Hanley Ramirez’s ribs.

It’s unclear if anything can be done to stop the Cardinals. Even Year Bullshit (EYB) is strong enough, but we are in an odd year. I think I remember the Dodgers stayed in the Four Seasons in St. Louis in 2013 when they got their hearts ripped out, then for some reason stayed in the same hotel the following postseason, even though most of them were freaked out by the bad juju. This can’t happen again. I will warn both the Giants and Dodgers traveling secretaries to burn sage outside that hotel if they must stay there this October. Ideally they’d sleep on the team plane to be safe.

Anyone who tells you the Cardinals aren’t the scariest team in MLB right now is either in denial or hasn’t been paying attention. We all must be vigilant. The devil magic is afoot and it might ruin everything.