ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Cardinals were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday night at Busch Stadium, falling to the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in eleven innings. A brutal way to be kicked out, but a fit ending for a misguided team that stumbled far too often in order to get a seat at the fall table.
Just know this: there will be plenty of time to analyze the season and figure out what needs to happen next.
Trust me, the four long months of the year without a shred of baseball activity will allow the mind to run rampant with ideas. A big bat! A legit closer! Fire Mike Matheny! Trade Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler! Ride the youth! Get some assured vets!
You name it and the columns will be pumping out like coffee at a diner, so when the Milwaukee Brewers come to town this weekend gunning for the Colorado Rockies, cheer on the Cardinals one last time in 2017. There are only three games left to get mad about before the long wait begins, so save the torment for later.
The Cardinals will miss the playoffs for the second straight year, which will bring on many changes, but leave that for later. Sometimes, baseball fans forget to enjoy the game since it is so fashionable to let it torture you.
This weekend, savor the crack of the bat as it is met with a cool breeze instead of a draining wave of humidity.
One of the saddest things about no playoff action is the lost art of cold baseball that cuts into the crucial postseason play. The big winds and the cold elbows tipping the scale in one team's favor or drawing the contest equal. A pitcher blowing warm breathe into a chilly hand. A batter choking up on his long sleeves to get a faster swing at the plate.
Sit back and relax this weekend. If Matheny makes one logical move, it should be to unleash the kids. Let Harrison Bader, Luke Voit, Carson Kelly, and Luke Weaver go at the Brewers. Let Sandy Alcantara pitch a few innings. Rest Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, Yadier Molina, and Dexter Fowler. See what the kids have in store for next year.
Watch Carlos Martinez throw a backbreaking sinker one more time. See if Lance Lynn gets one last hurrah in front of Cardinals fans. Can Tommy Pham get to 25 home runs and 25 steals? Wait and see.
This final series should feel like a spring training exhibition, and while that's initially saddening, it can be oddly comforting if you allow it.
The end of the season has come, so before the anger arrives, appreciate the game with no strings attached. The finality is there, so just watch. Take the kid down to a game. Catch a ballgame with mom or dad. Let your sister take you to the game and listen to her marvel at the many intricate details of the action.
When the last pitch is thrown on October 1, the time to examine will come. Until then, buy a ticket, head down to the ballpark, grab one last order of nachos and a beer, and saddle up in your seat. For two thirds of the league's fanbases, this is the last weekend.
The Cardinals aren't alone in watching October from home. It happens to many cities every season.
Leave the pout, take the last few gasps of 2017 baseball. Believe me, on December 15th, you'll thank me for it.
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