St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the oldest and most successful franchises in Major League baseball history. Originally the St. Louis Browns in the old American Association, they joined the National League in 1892 and were renamed the Cardinals in 1900. They currently play in the National League Central Division.
Some consider the Cardinals a model franchise, as they are responsibly owned and never seem to be too far removed from on-field success. In fact, only the New York Yankees have won more World Series titles than St. Louis. They have 11 World Series titles, the most recent of which came in 2011.
In addition to their on-field success, the Cardinals have contributed to the development of Major League Baseball through the execution of the modern farm system under baseball visionary Branch Rickey. The approach of developing their own players and not getting too caught up in big-money free agency has been a staple of their success over the years.
With both teams’ longevity and geographic proximity, the Cardinals have a major rivalry with the Chicago Cubs, probably the second greatest rivalry in the game after Yankees vs. Red Sox. For most of that time, the Cubs have been the more recognizable, but lovable losers from the larger city up north, while St. Louis has had much more success. Usually playing in the same division, it has been difficult for them to meet in the playoffs, but they did just that in 2015. The Cubs got that one though, winning the series three games to one.
Over the years St. Louis, leading to their great success, the Cardinals have had some of the most fantastic, iconic, and intimidating players in the Majors. The following are players that were inducted into the Hall of Fame as Cardinals: OF Lou Brock, P Dizzy Dean, P Bob Gibson, OF Stan Musial, 2B Red Schoendienst, C Ted Simmons, OF Enos Slaughter, SS Ozzie Smith, OF Billy Southworth and P Bruce Sutter. Manager White Herzog is in the Hall of Fame too and current player Albert Pujols is destined to join them all after he retires. Players that really stand out are Bob Gibson, who still holds the record for single-season ERA at 1.12, Musial, also known as “Stan the Man” and Ozzie Smith called the “Wizard” for his masterful defense.
The current form of the Cardinals is solid but not spectacular, as this is being written in September 2020 the team is just .500 and they will have to finish strong to make the playoffs. The brain trust is President, Baseball Operations John Mozeliak leading General Manager Mike Girsch and Manager Mike Schild. The Cardinals play in Busch Stadium, the third iteration of the venue. The current owners bought the team from Anheiser-Busch hence in 1996, hence the stadium name, which they have maintained as the company still has a strong presence in the area.
The best player on the team right now is 1B Paul Goldschmidt but he is 34 and the Cardinals are hoping their next title will come with the maturity of guys like SS Paul deJong and OF Tyler O’Neill. On the mound, they have already found their ace of the present and future in Jack Flaherty. He is already one of the best pitchers in the game. St. Louis would probably be among the top teams in the league but they have had a hard time keeping other promising pitchers healthy. If they can get that group back on track they will be a favorite in the division and the National League for years to come. They are never really out of it.
Those who discount the Cardinals usually wind up on the losing side.