ST. LOUIS - Suddenly, we have a baseball team to really follow.
The Cardinals have had more lives than a soap opera star. I guess anything can happen from here on out, but I think the Cardinals have a better chance of finishing strong than the Brewers and Rockies. Those two organizations don't exactly have the reputation of closing like Affirmed.
I know the Mike Matheny bashers don't want to hear this, but the facts are Mike has done a lot of winning in September. He begins the night 85-57 during the final month of the season. That is the highest winning percentage of any active manager. And how about this: Since Matheny took over in 2012, he has the highest winning percentage of any active manager who started before him, or at the same time.
Do I think he's Whitey Herzog? No. Do I think he's Tony LaRussa? No. Do I believe he has done a lot of winning? Yes.
It's such a strange season. Think of the start of Spring Training when you thought the four guys out of the bullpen you could trust the most would be Seung-hwan Oh, Trevor Rosenthal, Brett Cecil and Kevin Siegrist. Now the 4 you believe in are likely Ryan Sherriff, John Brebbia, Tyler Lyons and a guy who hasn't even pitched for the Cardinals yet named Juan Nicasio. What has happened?
The Memphis Mafia saved the season. Tommy Pham is your best overall player. Paul DeJong has had a summer like Cal Ripken. Harrison Bader is explosive and dynamic. Luke Weaver looks like a star in the making. Almost every player who has been up from Memphis has done something special.
The best story of 2017 could be Jose Martinez. If he doesn't play every day until the end of the season, the manager should be drug tested. After 890 minor league games and 3,254 minor league at bats, he is loving life. No more Motel 6's, flying coach and eating peanut butter and jelly as your pre-game meal.
It's now 5-star hotels, charter flights and a personal chef in the club house. He deserves it. He is as gracious as he is productive. Martinez has been one of the most lethal hitters in the league down the stretch. As Casey Stengel used to say, "You can look it up."
So here we are in a place so very familiar to Cardinal fans, but one we never thought we would see in 2017. Still much work to be done. But they are the Cardinals. This is what they do: They make Red Octobers!
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