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11 April 2011

Cardinals Win Paints Smiles on Fans Faces

Baseball is a funny thing.  It has a long, gringing season that gives ample opportunity to separate the good teams from the bad, but often comes down to the last day to determine which team is going to the playoffs.  It is also an oddity in the world of sport, defined by failure.  A player who only fails at the plate has had a successful season, a team that has only lost 65 times is very likely to advance to the post season.

But it is the strange emotional make-up of fans that intrigues me.  We live and die all summer with every game our team plays, but we remain fans forever regardless of ultimate success.  A terrible loss can ruin our day.  Likewise a big win can make the world seem brighter, the future looks greater, and the mundanity of our normal lives is a lighter burden to bear. Such is a day like today.

The St. Louis Cardinals may have hit rock-bottom with Saturday Night's horrific loss.  Closer issues, offensive issues and bullpen issues ruled the news and stories of Cardinal Nation.  Pillows were abused, beers were quaffed, faces were long and dark

But Sunday's return of Matt Holliday and a (relatively) huge outburst of offense in Sunday's 6-1 defeat of the San Francisco Giants exposed points of hope and optimism.  Kyle Lohse appeared to be fully recovered from his forearm injury, pitching masterfully and efficiently for 8 innings.  The return of Holliday appeared to be the tonic the offense needed, putting the pieces of the line-up where they belong.  Baserunners appeared in quantity and were advanced in a purposeful fashion.

The victory showed that Cardinals fans had stepped too close to the edge too soon.  The team is off to a slow start, but even with the bats being quiet the team is a handful of breaks away from being 6-3 instead of 3-6.  The starting pitching is very strong, and is a strength that looks to be sustainable.  Albert Pujols is still in a funk that will not last.  And while Holliday cannot carry the team himself, he adds a punch that was so lacking in his absense.

Now the Cardinals move on to my neck of the woods, taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.  The D'backs are a team in transition and very well could be the weakest club the Redbirds have drawn in 2011.  Arizona offers up some dangerous talent in Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson & Ian Kennedy, but have holes in their roster.  If St. Louis is a contending team - as a quick glance at the talent would lead you to believe - this is a series the Cardinals should win and bolster their confidence.

Excitement will greet the late game tonight. Now that Pujols' 60 Minutes piece has finally aired, it's time for all that offensive frustration to explode out of him.    And when it does, us fans will find the world an easier place to live in.  That alone is a reason to watch.

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