Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Have No Need to Apologize; This Team Battled to Make It to Postseason; BASEBALL

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Have No Need to Apologize; This Team Battled to Make It to Postseason; BASEBALL

Article excerpt

The Cardinals flew to Atlanta late Wednesday night in preparation for their entry into the 2012 National League playoffs. Well, we're pretty sure it's the playoffs. Or is it the playoff? Will there be a logo, and bunting? (Don't get excited, Mike Matheny. Not THAT kind of bunting.)

Since this isn't an NL Division Series or NL Championship Series, will a true Atlanta baseball dignitary throw out the ceremonial first pitch, or does the honor go to Terry Forster?

After a long regular season that set a franchise record for medical costs, the Cardinals finally made it to the wild-card game, the play-in game, the game that has baseball purists more irritated than Lance Berkman's knees.

Whatever you want to call Friday's bake-off, I believe these three things to be true: (1) the Cardinals are happy to be a part of it; (2) the Cardinals deserve it; (3) the Cardinals have no reason to apologize for accepting the invitation.

If you don't like the advent of the second wild-card team and the expanded playoffs, then buy NHL season tickets or send an angry email to baseball commissioner Bud Selig. There's no logical reason to disparage the Cardinals for taking advantage of MLB's generous open-door policy.

Five teams from each league will get a chance to take their best shot. The Cardinals and Braves get only one shot; the loser goes home. This is the new postseason format. The Cardinals didn't devise the new rules, but they will abide by them.

The playoff-entry visa was available to all the other NL teams, and the Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates, Phillies and Diamondbacks didn't grind out enough wins to claim it.

The Cardinals survived, in large part, because they were tougher and more resilient than the rest, and got in by winning 12 of their final 16 games. It's no coincidence. Making the playoffs isn't a perk for Cardinals; it's an obligation.

"Absolutely," said Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, the ace of the 2006 and 2011 World Series champions. "This organization has had a long run of exciting baseball, good baseball, and teams that always have a chance to play in the postseason. It doesn't always work out, but for the most part we get a chance to play October baseball.

"That's what this game is all about, and you have to uphold that. It's expected by this organization, it's expected by this ballclub, and it's is expected by the fans. And you can't want it any other way."

Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and partners purchased the team before the 1996 season. This is the 17th season of the DeWitt era, and the Cardinals have reached the postseason 10 times. That includes nine postseasons in the last 13 years.

Since 1996, only the New York Yankees have won more postseason games (94) than the Cardinals (50.) The Cardinals have added three NL pennants and two World Series trophies to their esteemed collection of baseball heirlooms. …

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