You all know I'm always out on the look-out for impressive sports superlatives. I found one in a Slate column about the Cards:
"The most improbable World Champions of all time." That's what Larry Borowsky of the Viva El Birdos blog wrote. And he's not wrong.
Am I premature to declare one of my "It's Over!" moments about the 2006 World Series? I don't think so.
The Cards are up 3-1 with a game left to play in
David Eckstein earned the inside track to World Series MVP status with his wild, 4-hit performance last night, including the game-winning RBI. (But I refuse to reduce myself to lazy symbolism that the – ugh – "scrappy" Eckstein is a symbol of this Cards team. Isn't he a lock to win that "Whitest White Player in White Baseball" Award from yesterday?)
Back to "most improbable": Heading into the 2006 playoffs, there wasn't a less impressive team in baseball. Cripes, one month ago, the Cards were on the verge of the worst collapse in baseball history -- MISSING the playoffs, let alone winning them.
As Borowsky points out (as did Will Leitch in his New York Times op-ed piece during the NLCS), these playoffs – more than any other – illustrate the role of chance, momentum and the fleetingly hot hand in baseball – things that a 162-game season is supposed to flatten out.
That's why I've come around on these Cards, as they sit poised to win the World Series. I have disliked them throughout the regular season and playoffs. I was rooting for the Tigers (and even predicted a
But I was wrong. And those critics are wrong, ignorantly superficial at best and unjustifiably provincial at worst. (I should know because I was one of them.)
The Cards ARE delightfully, fascinatingly "improbable."
And this series has become an affirmation that baseball's postseason has been great throughout this decade – no more so than right now – precisely because of the way it continually produces improbability.
If part of baseball's charm is that 162 games creates "statistical significance" to draw huge data-rich conclusions about what we think is reality, the playoffs – and this Cards World Series run in particular – shows the value of "statistical insignificance."-- D.S.