It has been a while since I last posted a blog, mostly due to the demands of the post season. I hope that many of you followed our team through October, as it was a pretty incredible ride. We fell two games short of our season goal of bringing the 12th World Series Championship back to St Louis, but we made a great run at it.
I was asked many times at the end of the World Series to evaluate our season, but the loss to the Red Sox was just too fresh on my mind. A mix of emotions between, what could have been, and what we actually accomplished. Eight months ago, not many people outside of our clubhouse believed that we could win the Central Division, let alone the National League pennant. We did this, while compiling the best record in the National League through the regular season. An additional challenge came with how many of our regular players were lost to injury through spring training and the season. Fortunately, we had a very talented group of young players that jumped on board and followed the lead of our veterans, on how to compete at the Big League level, and how to do it in a way that is expected of players in our organization.
I can't begin to count the number of times that I have used the word "proud," when talking about the 2013 Cardinal team. The one thing that I am probably most proud of, is how the guys came together as a team. I tell the group in spring training that we are not automatically a team, just because we wear the same "outfit." We begin spring training with almost 70 different individuals, and we have to make a conscious effort to develop into a "team." It is not a given. We have all seen the clubs that on paper should run away from the competition, but on the field are all pulling in different directions. The team that proudly wore the Cardinals logo across their chest for 162 games, plus October, found a way to get outside of themselves and focus on their teammates.
Unfortunately, the professional level of sports supports a more selfish model, because the players are not compensated for what they do as a group. Their individual statistics are the determining factor to their next contract, not the number of team wins the previous year. With this model in place, it is hard to convince guys to think otherwise, but somehow, we did it. Once again, I attribute this to great leadership from our veterans. It is a rare treasure, when some of your best players are also the ones who are your hardest workers, and most "others-centered" people on your team. I have told them individually, and I can't wait to get to spring training to congratulate them as a group, for how they led our team.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you for following this blog throughout the season. I am looking forward to starting back up in spring training, and adding many more stories from players and coaches from around the league. I think it is a great opportunity, and obligation to let aspiring athletes, coaches and parents hear from the people who have actually "been there." The goal, once again, is not to preach at anyone, but give information, and possibly an alternative method of participating in, and supporting youth sports. Be sure to note that none of us believe that we have figured it all out, but we have way too many failures and successes to not share them with people who are wanting to listen. God Bless.