I can’t believe it’s nearly September. Our reign as the current World Series Champions is nearing an end, and I can’t help but feel an impending sense of loss as the Cardinals enter the last month of the season with slim playoff hopes. I say “impending” because this season is not yet over, but I say “loss” because I feel as if an old friend is reaching the end of his days after a long, fruitful, and celebrated life. The friend I am referring to is the current incarnation of the St. Louis Cardinals.
As a long-term fan, I’ve seen several versions of the Cardinals come and go. I’ve seen Oquendo, Cairo, Vina, Griz, and Kennedy. I’ve watched Ozzie, Clayton, Renteria, and Eckstein. I remember Clark (both of them), Jeffries, McGwire, Tino, and now Pujols. I loved Pena, Pagnozzi, Matheny, and Yadi. Each year the Cardinals subtley change – and each year we say goodbye to old friends and greet new ones. But this year…this year is different…this year I can feel the pains of departure as I prepare for the inevitable loss of a very special team.
Edmonds is nearing the end. He’s only under contract for one more season, and it’s difficult to see a situation where the Cardinals would resign him after that. Eckstein, although a short-term family member, is up for renewal after this season. Rolen – his shoulder problems are making it clear he is just now entering the twilight of his career. Carpentar is a constant worry issue…his recent surgery carries the risk of career-ending damage. And Izzy. Izzy will, hopefully, remain a Cardinal for one more year…just long enough to record his 300th save, and then exit gracefully. In truth, the only stalwart that remains is Pujols…one lone elder to guide the new batch of Cardinals into the next decade of St. Louis baseball. True…Yadi is an integral part of this team…but he belongs to the next generation. The catcher of the current generation was, and always will be, Mike Matheny.
We’ve seen this coming for some time, now. We saw Vina leave with a sour expression. We were forced to endure the tragedy of Matheny’s departure. Matty was a necessary evil. And Edgar was a piercing blow. Supp was just another long-term Cardinal that finally succumbed to the changing of the seasons. And now…the next is surely Edmonds, the first blow to the true heart of the Cardinals…the MV3 generation.
Who will pick up the slack? What will a team without Edmonds look and feel like? And soon…what will a team without an Izzy or a Rolen look and feel like? I fear we will find out all too soon…as the old generation gives way to the new, and the seasons in St. Louis quietly change.
Let me be the first to say…it’s been fun. Thanks for the memories.