They say baseball can be a game of inches and boy – has that ever shown in the past 48 hours. Another six inches to the right of Brandon Crawford‘s glove and who knows what happens during that would-be Cincinnati rally. Another foot or so and that strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play potentially doesn’t happen as Jay Bruce beats out Buster Posey‘s throw. Hell – look at last night’s tilt between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals. Twice the Cardinals were down to their final strikes, both pitches just missing by the length of a finger. The game tying hit tickles the webbing of Ian Desmond‘s glove – an inch to either side and Desmond either catches it or at least keeps it in the infield, preventing the game tying run from scoring. From that point on, who knows what happens.
Baseball is a cruel mistress. One that will snatch your heart, only to keep you burning for more. She’ll taunt you. She’ll tease you. She’ll bring you to your knees, begging for mercy – only to get a taste of the glory before ripping your heart out.
The Giants and Cardinals know this far too well – not only in their respective franchise histories, but in their playoff history together as well. It started in 1987 as the Giants lead by The Thrill put the Cardinals through the rigors in a dramatic seven game series. The Cards, coming off two World Series appearances in the previous five seasons were the small ball favorites to the Giants powerful, underdog ways. But despite the Giants’ franchise record of 205 home runs, their pop wouldn’t be enough as the Cardinals prevailed in a seventh game rout – a crushing blow for the Giants who two years earlier had lost 100 games.
Fifteen years later, the two squads were back at it, each with their own Hall of Fame talent ready to prove their worth. For the Giants, it was Barry Bonds, trying to shake the ghosts of playoff past. For the Cardinals, it was a young, evnetual MVP talent by the name of Albert Pujols mixed with a cast of hungry veterans trying to replicate their 1987 success. Fortunately for the Giants, it wasn’t to be as a walk-off Kenny Lofton single in Game 5 plated David Bell, sending the Giants to the World Series.
Now, the two squads will meet in the National League Championship Series yet again. The players are different. The fan bases have grown. But the end results? They’re still going to be the heart pumping, nail biting, torturous ways each fan base is accustom to. A Giants/Cardinals NLCS wouldn’t be a Giants/Cardinals NLCS without broken hearts.
Splitting the season series at three a piece, the Giants and Cardinals should have no problem continuing the dramatics of years past – greatness for fans of the game, but gut wrenching for the two fan bases.
The Cardinals and Giants weren’t supposed to be in this position. They weren’t supposed to renew this storied rivalry, but now that they have – and well, I couldn’t be happier. I’d say something, but I think I’ll let Will Clark do the talking as he did in ’87 -