We are always hesitant to say anything about the St. Louis Cardinals in this space, since we're obviously a fan of the team. (We even wrote a book about it.) We never thought this would be much of a problem; we don't write about the Cubs here that often, after all. It's the Mets! We like the Mets! But apparently some Mets fans still have some hard feelings about the Cardinals, what with the whole 2006 NLCS business. Considering just how pivotal a moment in Mets history that series was, we suppose it's difficult to blame them.
The day of that fateful Game 7 in 2006, at our old stomping grounds at Deadspin, we had a long posted conversation with Jason Fry of Faith and Fear in Flushing. (We called it our Diner Scene in Heat moment, the two antagonists having a brief timeout before the final battle.) The gist of that conversation came down to: The Cardinals had better win now, because this is their last chance. The Mets, younger, better situated for the future, would have other opportunities.
It hasn't turned out that way at all, obviously. The Mets have fallen apart since then, and the Cardinals have rebuilt on the fly, missing the playoffs two seasons before rebounding to win the NL Central last year and putting together a team this year that has the potential of the 2004 squad that won 105 games. No one could have guessed that then. Everything looked so rosy for the Mets that day. (Reading that Fry-Leitch discussion today is bizarre; so much So Taguchi fear!) It has all turned sour since then.
The Mets have one more player left from that 2006 team than the Cardinals do. The Mets still have David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, and Oliver Perez, who's pitching against Chris Carpenter as the two teams kick off a three-game series at Busch Stadium tonight. (Lest we forget, Ollie was terrific in that Game 7.) The Cardinals only have Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Skip Schumaker, and the dreaded Adam Wainwright, who of course is now a starter. In fact, Wainwright is pitching Sunday, against John Maine, and it will be the first time the Mets have faced him since that Game 7, all that time ago.
So much different then, on both sides. No one could have anticipated it would pan out this way. We are not complaining. And we understand how infuriating that must be, and empathize. Honest.