Fox Sports gives the love to the Cardinals
a interesting part of the article
For us, we have so many players that have come up together. And not only did they come up together, but they experienced success along the way. When they got to the big leagues, they expected that.”
It’s true. When I asked Craig about this phenomenon one day this spring, he suggested Game 6 of the 2011 World Series — one of the best games in any of our lifetimes — had some roots in a postseason event that probably wasn’t on your radar: the 2009 Pacific Coast League finals between the Memphis Redbirds and Sacramento River Cats.
The Redbirds’ lineup in that series included three players — Jay, Craig and Freese, a 2007 trade acquisition — who have become essential everyday players in St. Louis. Descalso and Boggs had significant roles on the team, too. And the Game 1 pitcher against Sacramento was Jaime Garcia, who started twice in the World Series for La Russa two years later. “We were the youngest team in the league — by far,” Jay recalled. “We all started off slow. Then we figured it out.”
Naturally, Memphis swept Sacramento in three.
“We were stacked,” Craig said. “That’s one thing we took pride in, winning that league championship in 2009. Then in the World Series, you look and I was in left, Jay was in center, and Daniel was at third for the final out. Freeser was in the game, too, and obviously did what he did. That’s one of the things that made the World Series extra special.
“We all had a common goal, to get to the big leagues. It wasn’t like we were trying to fight each other to get there. We just came up together as a group. We’d talk about it. We didn’t get presumptuous, but it was always like, ‘When we get to the big leagues, we want to do great things. We want to win.’ We always just fought for that opportunity and talked through things. We’ve gone a long way as a collective group.”
Notice the number of times the word “we” appeared in that quotation. It’s the sort of thing a high school or college coach would love. It also works. Whether the Cardinals’ players have great makeup
(scouting term) or understand the process
(nerdy jargon), the idea is the same: They get it. And the winning ethic of the Cardinals’ homegrown core — with a major assist from Carlos Beltran
— explains how they were able to lose La Russa and Albert Pujols after winning the 2011 World Series and finish with close to the same record last year.
Craig believes the cohesion created in Memphis — and the minor-league stops before — “absolutely” has influenced the way the present-day Cardinals respond to October pressure. Jay sensed the same connectedness in the dugout before the ninth inning of the decisive Game 5 in Washington last year. The Nationals led, 7-5, before the tying and winning singles by Descalso and Kozma, respectively — each with two out.