With the Cardinals playing in the world series this coming week, it seems like every status update or conversation in St. Louis is somehow hinging around our beloved redbirds. Having married into a die-hard Cardinals family, I've grown to love spending an evening watching the guys in the white and red jerseys.
During the game last night, I realized just how much the Cardinals represent the very best parts of being a Midwesterner- even more specifically, a St. Louisian.
The Cardinals play a very simple strategy- rely on great pitching, and focus on getting base runs to win games instead of flashy home runs. They've been hugely successful with philosophy, earning the 2nd highest number of world series appearances in history. In the NLCS series against the L.A. Dodgers, the Cardinals were being outspent by almost 500% man for man, yet they managed to win.
Midwesterners come from agrarian roots (no pun intended). Spending a lot of time in rural Illinois growing up, I've always been struck by how common sense and practical farmers are. It's a simple philosophy- if it works and doesn't hurt God or country, do it. If not, don't. No one cares if it looks cool.
This philosophy has brought tremendous stability and prosperity to St. Louis through the years, and while it has its downsides, it's a big part of what makes Midwesterners hard-working, responsible people.
Work With What You've Got
Rarely do the Cardinals go sign highly-paid players from other teams, and they usually don't put huge amounts of money into players for the longterm like other teams do. Instead, the Cardinals spread the money around fairly evenly by MLB standards, and rely heavily on drafting and an amazing minor league system to build a winning franchise. The focus is always on the team, not on signing or retaining big name players.
Midwesterners often have the same philosophy when it comes to business- ability to work as a team usually counts more than raw talent, and we make good use of what we have to make things work. The ability to make do and still accomplish a task with excellence is a testament to Midwesterner's resourcefulness.
I often hear questions from my friends on the coasts whether we have paved roads outside of the interstate, or what we do aside from hang out at Wal-Mart on Saturday evenings. I don't blame them- there's been a stigma against the midwest for hundreds of years, and quite frankly, we haven't done much to dispel the stereotypes.
The same is true with the Cardinals. Statisticians just can't believe that a club that spends as little as the Cardinals could possibly compete with big spenders like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox. The Cardinals often use this underdog mentality to lull opponents into a false sense of security, helping them to be more successful than they would be if they were considered the force they actually are.
While the Cardinals are just a baseball team, I'm proud of the way they symbolize St. Louis and the Midwest in a way few teams do. Here's to modest living, hard work, and underestimations. I heart the Midwest.