What makes up a winner? Talent? Sure. Good team chemistry? Maybe. A great Manager? Overrated. No, it all comes down to the intangibles that “it” factor. You know turtles, squirrels and what not.
Okay, well maybe not entirely. The players do their part and the rest just seems to sort itself out. But if you look at the post season success of some recent World Series teams they all have one thing in common. They all seem to have a certain flair or element to them that adds to the story and sets them apart from the other contenders.
The 2002 Angels had the Rally Monkey, the 2004 Red Sox were a bunch of drunken idiots (their words not mine…okay I may have added the drunken part) and the Giants, last year’s champs, had Brian Wilson’s beard and whatever is living in there. These teams didn’t just win, they were and are remembered. Quick, without looking it up, who won the 1973 World Series?
My point exactly. I am not saying that what the 1973 Athletics accomplished was not impressive, just that it’s not the kind of story you remember and tell over and over again. Hell, even the 2006 Cardinals team is still talked about. Granted it is usually in conversation as the worst team to ever win a World Series, but they are still talked about. Take that ’73 A’s.
Let’s take a look at this year’s run by the Cardinals. Impressive, yes. But after their September comeback for the ages culminated in Houston whose name was being shouted throughout the clubhouse amidst all the champagne…you guessed it. Torty Craig. For those out of the loop, Torty is Allen Craig’s pet turtle.
Next up, and not to be out done was the Busch Squirrel. Out doing his wild kingdom counterpart by actually making multiple on-field appearances in the NLDS. To follow was twitter accounts for both, credits and mentions on SportsCenter and even a press conference. Not convinced of the impact and relevancy of @tortycraig and @buschsquirrel? Look no further than Philly for game five of the NLDS to see fans hanging fake squirrels from nooses in the stands or the nearly 40,000 followers between the both of them on Twitter.
Long known for the serious approach TLR’s teams take and the perception they don’t have a lighter side or any fun on the field this is a welcome addition. Whether or not it has anything to do with the team the players seem to have embraced it and as evidenced by their chants of “torty” upon clinching the Wild Card even seem to be enjoying the irreverence.
A manager wants and needs his players to be loose and relaxed during the playoff run. The 162 grind of the regular season takes its toll and teams that hold on too tight often seem to fall short. See this year’s Phillies and Yankees.
So here’s to you Cardinals, enjoy the ride, have some fun, go ahead and win the World Series. You’ve already started writing the story so why not finish it. Leave it up to me to explain to my daughter in 15 years my strange affection for a squirrel named Busch and a turtle named Torty much the same way my dad explained to me the importance of “The Heat is On.”
As always these are just my thoughts…keep on reading and you’ll get up to speed.
Derek is on Twitter @SportsbyWeeze and also writes for the Rams at RamsHerd.com
Also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SportsByWeeze