Cardinals – A Reminder

The Mets play the Cardinals today in a long-overdue makeup game from June 28th. The teams had split the first two games, so this is the “rubber match”. In case you hadn’t heard, Pedro Martinez starts against Joel Pineiro. Not that it matters — because, when, after all, was the last time the starting pitcher of a game had a remote effect on the final score?

On the one hand, the fact the Mets are playing a game today instead of getting a much-needed day off really stinks. The team as a whole is in a tatters — completely exhausted, though more emotionally and mentally than physically. Right now the best thing would probably be a day off to let the pain of the last two weeks fade away. A recharge — like a refreshing nap you take in the late afternoon to get your motor running for a long evening on the town.

But the Mets are not afforded that luxury, so we’ll have to take an optimistic view. Maybe seeing the Cardinals for this one time will remind the Mets of their dominance from the first week in the season. Perhaps in turn it will spark a pang of confidence — truly, the most vital thing this totally demoralized team needs.

Further, perhaps by seeing the Cardinals uniforms, they’ll be reminded of The St. Louis Story of 2006 — and be inspired. If you’ve forgotten, allow me to refresh your memory, and provide some comparisons.

What’s today? September 27th. OK. A little more than one week ago — on September 19th — the Mets had allowed their 7-game lead to drop to 2.5 games. It was a 7-game lead as late as one week before — September 12th.

Now, rewind one year, to September 19th, 2006. On that day, the first-place Cardinals enjoyed a 7-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds, and an 8.5-game lead over the Houston Astros (wow, what a difference a year makes; those two teams are fighting for the cellar right now). This is what the standings looked like on that day:

Cardinals 80-69
Reds 74-77
Astros 72-78

There was somewhere between 10-13 games left to play, depending on the team.

On September 27th, 2006 — a year ago today, the NL Central standings looked like this:

Cardinals 81-76
Astros 80-78
Reds 78-80

Whoa. In a matter of eight games, the Cards went 1-7, and the Astros went 8-0. A day later, after the Cards dropped another one, it looked like this:

Cardinals 81-77
Astros 81-78
Reds 79-80

So, after having a 7-game lead as late as September 19th, the Cardinals had gone 1-8 and allowed the Astros to get within a half-game of first place, with only three games left in the season (the Cards actually had a fourth makeup game that never needed to be made up). This is how it panned out at the end of 162 games:

Cardinals 83-78
Astros 82-80
Reds 80-82

You know the rest of the story — all too well. The Cards limped into the playoffs, everyone wrote them off, they got hot at exactly the right time, and became World Champs.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.