Monday, November 7, 2011

St Louis Cardinals blow Colorado Rockies excuses out of the water

If watching the Colorado Rockies pathetically stumble their way through a 2011 season that had so much promise wasn't bad enough, it only got worse with the words from the front office and the clubhouse.

As the season grew increasingly worse, with the Rockies falling further and further out of contention in a division that was theirs for the taking, the excuses began to mount. Jim Tracy was the leader of the excuse mill. On a nightly basis, the skipper continued to tell the media just how bad the Rockies luck was.

The excuses were hollow, but undeniable. The Rockies certainly dealt with injuries. They certainly dealt with under performing talent. They definitely had reasons to feel like luck wasn't on their side.

However, with all of the reasons to have excuses, the Rockies use of them became even more discouraging than the disgusting play on the field. The reason that it was frustrating for fans was because anyone who followed the club knew that the reason for the Rockies failures had little to do with injuries. It had little to do with one or two players in particular.

The issues came directly out of the clubhouse and the excuses were just fueling the raging inferno that the Rockies 2011 expectations were in the middle of.

The Rockies excuses might have worked. They might have had some legitimacy. The excuses may have been credible, until one team showed that excuses only come from a bunch of losers, not a bunch of winners.

For Rockies fans, the situation that the now-World Champion St. Louis Cardinals dealt with are eerily similar to what they went through in 2011. The results were a completely different story.

In Spring Training, before he ever had a chance to take the mound, Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals ace who had won 19 and 20 games in each of the past two seasons, was lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Before Opening Day, fans had declared the Cards dead to rights in the NL Central.

If losing Wainwright wasn't bad enough, Chris Carpenter, the club's other ace who had been a huge factor for the club in years past, went into July with a 3-7 record.

Could a team be more down and out than the Cardinals were?

If that wasn't bad enough, on June 20th, Albert Pujols, the best player on the Cardinals and perhaps the best hitter in baseball over the past 10 years went down with a broken arm that was injured in a fluke play at first base. He missed three-and-a-half weeks.

Not only did Pujols deal with injuries, but Matt Holliday, the Cardinals other slugger, dealt with a bevy of injuries that included a bad wrist, an emergency appendicitis removal and a number of other injuries that held the former Rockies to just 124 games.

Talk about bad luck where health is concerned. On paper, the Cardinals had no chance. However, they made no excuses.

As Labor Day approached, the Cardinals were well behind the Brewers in the NL Central, and the Braves simply needed to cruise in order to be the NL Wild Card team. However, 8-1/2 games behind the Braves, the Cardinals didn't stop. They battled to the end, got lucky, and found themselves celebrating a playoff berth on the final day of the season.

The Rockies would like to have their fans believe that they dealt with more adversity than any team in baseball. They sold that to their fans the whole second half of the season. They said that losing Jorge De La Rosa was a devastating injury. They said that Ubaldo Jimenez under performing was something they simply couldn't come back from. They said that the multitude of injuries that Carlos Gonzalez dealt with were too much to expect to overcome.

It might have worked. The excuses might have made sense. Fans might have accepted the excuses as winter they became further removed from the season.

It might have made sense, except for one problem. The problem with the Rockies excuses for not winning is that the one team that dealt with injuries, dealt with adversity, dealt with under performance more than the Rockies ended up hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

Good teams don't make excuses. Injuries are something that every team has to deal with. Part of being a contender is having the depth to replace injured players. Instead of finding guys to plug into holes, the Rockies found excuses to give. This led to a team with a losing mentality, a team looking for a reason why it was alright to lose that day.

The excuses were the main reason why the Rockies didn't contend in 2011, not the injuries.

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