So the Cardinals successfully passed the first postseason test of 2013: defeating the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates. I made the mistake of reading a few Pirate blogs yesterday evening after the game became official, and I found the comments less than satisfactory for the most part. I do understand how much it hurts when your team gets bounced from the playoffs; it hurts. A lot. What I guess I don’t understand is why a fan base that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in over two decades is suddenly so fucking self-righteous and entitled. I saw way too many comments about how the Pirates deserved more. Why? Because you couldn’t knock off an organization that has been here and done this repeatedly over the years of futility your franchise has experienced? Please. Be thankful for what you had and stop taking the loss as something personal. You have no right to hate the Cardinals.
As a Cardinal fan, and an educated baseball fan, I do recognize that the team that won this series is in fact the better one, no matter what a few disillusioned Pirate fans may think. It’s really not even close, to be honest (see run differential and Baseball Reference’s handy SRS score to compare), but Pittsburgh still has nothing to hang their collective eye-patched head over. They played well, demonstrated their strength (pitching) quite clearly, and very nearly advanced to the second round over a team that is much more balanced overall. It’s just that the playoff crapshoot dice roll actually worked out the proper way in this instance.
But enough bile has spewed out of our mouths/fingers here. Bitter Pirate fans, learn a lesson or two from your classy young starting pitching prospect, Gerrit Cole. He and Andrew McCutchen are clearly the foundation of this franchise moving forward, and there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to those two. Cole was simply outstanding in the second half of 2013 (8.9 K/9, 2.85 ERA), and McCutchen is simply outstanding in general. These two young players would make any organization envious, and rightfully so. I’m not particularly impressed with the success of guys like A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Jason Grilli, but I would defend the former two to the death–these are players any team would want to have as building blocks.
So aside from the stats, what it is about Cole that I was so moved to write a post about today after months upon months of inactivity? Well, his comments after the game five loss. Simply put, they were incredibly insightful and classy (see title), and I’m now a bigger Gerrit Cole fan than ever before.
“We put up a helluva fight. The Redbirds are an awesome team. They deserve this. They played great baseball all year. But we finished the season series tied (12-12), right? Come on. You can’t ask for anything more than that. It wouldn’t be any fun if you didn’t fail sometimes. That’s what keeps your fire going and what keeps your drive to get after it in the offseason and come into spring training ready to roll and do it again. All the credit to them. And the best of luck to them in the next series.”
Well said, Mr. Cole, and these words indicate someone who is far wiser than his 23 years would suggest. This is a guy who the Pirates should be proud to call their own, and while we at StanGraphs have never rooted against Pittsburgh at any point, we’d like to remind their suddenly greedy and embittered fan base that there’s nothing wrong with falling a little short at the very early stages of an organizational turnaround. Jesus Christ, stop acting like the Cardinals had no right to come out victorious in this anything-goes best of five series.