The Cardinals have been here before. Many times in fact. Their backs against the wall, facing a long winter of disappointment if they can’t pull through and win an October baseball game. This isn’t new.
Where does success in a situation like this come from?
“Overall, you look in that clubhouse now and I think this is probably one of the most important times for veteran leadership,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Some of the young guys probably are walking in there looking around to see if our veterans are going about it the same way. And they are. They’ve been here before and they realize that we just got to go about it the same way if you can expect to have the kind of success we have had up to this.”
Just a year ago the Cardinals shocked the Nationals - who had the best record in the National League - in the decisive Game 5 by plating four runs in the 9th inning capping a dramatic comeback in Washington DC. In 2011 everyone is well aware of the comeback the Cards made not only to get into the postseason (making up 10.5 games in just over a month) but also in defeating the Texas Rangers in back-to-back elimination games to take the World Series.
Matheny is now in his second year at the helm of this franchise. He had no (professional or otherwise) experience managing before taking over. It would be natural to think he’d change his style in the face of elimination. But he says that’s not the case.
“I hope not,” Matheny said. “That’s what we’re talking about all season long, is regardless of the situation, we’re going to do what we think is right. All the time. Obviously there’s some different factors that will play into that, and when we have some pitchers down there who are we’re backed up against the wall, which we are right now, you kind of take out all stops. But as far as what the expectations are and what these guys should expect from me, it should be the same thing. We may use people differently depending on how things unfold.”
They’ve been here before. Now it’s just a matter of showing that actually means something as opposed to being just a cute little narrative.