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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: Skipper's Gamble

Skipper's Gamble

For the Cardinals' fans, the finale of this years' regular season was a surreal cliff-hanger, involving lots of swearing, nail-biting, praying and head-shaking. Two weeks ago the Cards were cruising on an auto-pilot with a comfortable 7 game cushion (and 13 to play), yet they nearly squandered it away.

In a week which almost made the MLB history, the Astros won 7 straight, while the Birds frittered away just as many, narrowing the gap between the two leading teams to half a game. Since baseball is a game of rigorous statistics, you can actually calculate the odds of that happening by chance. They are daunting: 1 in 16,000.

So like in a good suspense thriller it all came down to the last day, when the Cards hosted Milwaukee and the Astros were camping in Atlanta. With the whole season at stake, the Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa made a risky gamble, letting the ace pitcher Chris Carpenter rest for the postseason-to-be and leaving the fate of the whole team in the hands of inexperienced Anthony Reyes.

Well, the Cards lost, but so did the spent Astros. Neither team was able to withstand the crushing weight of responsibility. All's well that ends well, however, and thanks to LaRussa's ruse, we will be able to start the division series with our best man on the mound and with songs of gratitude for pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio, whose unlikely triple yesterday made it all possible.

I think that this excruciating snag was actually a blessing in disguise. Unlike the previous two seasons, when the Cards played under the psychological umbrage of 100+ wins, this year they are joining the fray as underdogs. Everyone is raving about the Twins and the Tigers and the Subway Series and that gives the Cards a room to breathe and the coveted "nothing to lose" attitude.

Baseball is all about psychology. No expectations to fulfill can really liberate your wings - so dear Cardinals: here is to your chance to fly far and away!


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