ST. LOUIS — The Cards and Giants are no strangers to the postseason, with one of the two clubs having represented the National League in World Series four years running. They last met in October in 2012, when San Francisco came back from a 3-1 deficit to top the Birds and go on to win the Fall Classic.
“It’s one of those you never forget, especially when we were in such a good position early in that series to look like we might have a chance to put it away,” Mike Matheny said. “It wasn’t from lack of effort, concentration or intensity, we just got outplayed.”
Such a relationship engenders mutual admiration in the clubs, and the respect was clear when Matheny talked about the Bay Area during media availability.
“It’s a passionate fan base, it creates a great atmosphere. I loved playing in San Francisco as a player at home and also going in there as a visitor,” he said. “The postseason experience there is great. It’s a great city and a fun place to play.”
The Cardinal manager finished his career with the Giants, playing 177 games there from 2005 to 2006. Right as Matheny left San Fran, current manager Bruce Bochy arrived. The Giants manager has led the club to two World Series championships and posted a 667-629 record over eight years. He’s also been a reference point for the now-Cardinal skipper.
“I’ve never been shy in saying he’s a manager I have a lot of respect for. I respect how consistently he’s gone about his business. I respect the fact that when I talk to players and staff over there, how he goes about it, how he leads, his understanding of the game,” Matheny said. “People that get to see him day in and day out- you don’t really get the pleasure of hiding anything from them- and they see somebody that’s a constant course of leadership on the club.”
On the Cardinals roster, no player may have more familiarity with the site for Games 3,4 and 5 than Daniel Descalso. The 27-year-old was born and raised in the Bay Area, and perhaps knows what to expect better than any Redbird.
“They have great fans, they’re really loud and it’s a fun place to play,” he said earnestly. “I’m trying to keep the ticket requests to a minimum and it should be an exciting series.”
With a stable of friends and family based around San Francisco, Descalso has the interesting dilemma of vetting his ticket recipients. One thing was clear as he talked to reporters, however. If you’re using his seats, there’s no fence-straddling allowed.
“I don’t buy that anymore. Either you’re with me or against me, I tell them. I even told my friends, ‘you have to pick sides now,’” he said.
One friend in particular broke the rule, cheering for the Giants while using tickets Descalso got him for the game. Retribution was swift.
“I didn’t talk to him for a year after that,” the utility man said flatly. “I’m serious.”
The California native now has a short list of ticket candidates, and says heading in, everyone is well-aware of how it should work.
“People have figured out that this is a serious thing. We’re not going there for vacation, we’re going there to work and win a series,” he said. “It’s the second time we’ve been there in the postseason, we’ve been there a bunch during the year and they kind of know now that if I want to give you a ticket I’ll let you know. Otherwise, leave me alone.”
The Birds will play two games in St. Louis before heading west, with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn each making a start at Busch Stadium.