When you think of the quintessential sports franchises that are the models of consistent success and stability, there are several organizations that come to mind. You think of the New England Patriots winning 6 Super Bowls since 2001 in the Brady-Belichick era. You think of the San Antonio Spurs putting up 18 consecutive 50-win seasons and winning 5 Championships since 1999 due to ultimate team play from Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich. They have the capability of adapting to create longevity, no matter the turnover in roster, aging superstars, or potential egos getting in the way. The next man up, and the way that these franchises can unlock potential from even the most overlooked individuals, is what sets them above everyone else. The people are more important than the project.

In baseball, that organization is the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s a city of die-hards, a baseball town that lauds itself for having the classiest fans in the league, and is second only to the Yankees in World Series titles. 

After winning the 2011 World Series, their superstar, the man who led them to two titles and who may go down as the best right-handed hitter of all-time, Albert Pujols, left in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels on a megadeal that now is looked at as a bust. The Cardinals didn’t miss a beat. They continued to make the postseason the next 4 years in a row, winning the National League in 2013, and still haven’t had a losing season since. It’s not just that they’ve continued winning- it’s that they do so in the ways that are modeled around the team as opposed to having that superstar slugger go out and hit 50 homers to carry them to glory. They’ve won due to the leadership of veteran defensive catcher Yadier Molina. They’ve won due to the stable pitching of long-time ace, Adam Wainwright. They’ve gotten on base, stolen bases, and slapped opposite-field hits to drive in runs with utility players like Matt Carpenter, Tommy Edman, David Freese. They find the diamonds in the rough to continue to win the old school way that parallels their classy fans, and they just won’t die. Look at the ending of last season- they had a 2.8% chance to make the postseason on September 7th. They then went on to win 17 in a row and make it in as a Wild Card.

Death. Taxes. A winning St. Louis Cardinals team.

The Cardinals are still winning following that 2021 run. They’re 38-30, tied with the Brewers for the lead in the NL Central. However, the energy around this team is absolutely different from the Cardinals of old that remind you of someone like those San Antonio Spurs.

This time, they DO have those superstars that could slug them over the top; they just play the old school way on top of that, too. Their infield corners of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are both simultaneously playing at an NL MVP candidate pace. Arenado was the Platinum Glove Award-winner that the Rockies handed

Photo: Jeff Curry / USA TODAY Sports

to them on a silver platter last offseason, and while it took him an adjustment period to get warmed up in his first season in a new uniform, he’s back batting .280 with 13 homers, 45 RBI, and an .858 OPS. Meanwhile, the “old man” batting in front of him, Paul Goldschmidt, leads the NL in average at .346, has 16 homers, 58 RBI, and leads the majors in OPS at 1.052. The unassuming, quiet dominance of 34 year-old Paul Goldschmidt is the quintessential Cardinal way.

Make no mistake, though- this isn’t the “Patriot Way” where you’re a consistently-winning team that has no fun while doing so and everyday is a boot camp. They’re having fun while doing it! They brought in Oliver Marmol as the new skipper, Oliver Marmol, the youngest manager in the league in his first season after being a former player the Cardinals drafted in 2007, and he’s had the vibes high in the clubhouse and refreshed even the old faces that could be on their last ride- Pujols, Molina, and Wainwright. They’ve even let Pujols and Molina throw on the mound just for fun in blowout games this year. 

It’s the same Michael Myers that won’t die from Friday the 13th St. Louis Cardinals, but this 2022 team feels like they could have some magic that the team hasn’t felt in a long time.

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