The Cardinals have had so much success in recent years that the phrase “The Cardinal Way” is now a thing. It’s a thing most people had never heard of until a book by that name was published.
But there is no disputing the truth: the Cardinals really do have a “way.”
This provides important context for Sunday’s MLB season-opener, context that was not lost on whoever makes the schedule.
The Cubs have never had a “way,” unless you count disappointing fans decade after decade—until now. Sure, that may sound premature. The Cubs still haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and last made the playoffs in 2008.
But GM Theo Epstein has given Chicago fans more hope than they have ever had thanks to a heap of golden prospects that seem destined for greatness, much the same way Kerry Wood and Mark Prior did a decade ago. Actually, maybe it’s better not to bring up Prior and Wood, and just say that hopes have never been higher.
The young crew Epstein has assembled is led by third baseman Kris Bryant, and also includes Cuban outfield Jorge Soler, infielder Javier Baez, shortstop Addisson Russell, and catcher Kyle Schwarber.
Here’s the catch: none of those players will be in uniform Sunday for the Cubs. And there’s no guarantee that they’ll fulfill their potential. (Again: Wood and Prior.) So it’s still just dreams and wishes.
Who will be in uniform? Ace Jon Lester, who won rings for Epstein in Boston. Pitcher Jason Hammel is back, too, and both will be throwing to a new catcher: Miguel Montero.
The Cubs also have a new manager, the revolutionary Joe Maddon. We have him to thank for the super-utility man and we can also thank/blame him for all the defensive shifts now employed across every infield in Major League Baseball.
This is a very long way of saying that while the Cardinals have a way with proven success, the Cubs seem to have a new way, too—and it would be more surprising than not if the wins didn’t start piling up during the next few seasons.
As for the Cardinals? They will trot out their ace, Adam Wainwright, to face Lester on Sunday. And as for “The Cardinal Way”? St. Louis is in the midst of a drought of its own: they haven’t won the World Series since 2011—despite going to NL Championship Series four season in a row.
That is, indeed, a “way.”
Sunday, April 5
All times Eastern
St. Louis at Chicago Cubs, 8pm (ESPN2)
Wainwright vs. Lester
Monday, April 6
Toronto at NY Yankees, 1pm (ESPN)
Hutchison vs Tanaka
NY Mets at Washington, 4pm (ESPN)
Colon vs Scherzer
Cleveland at Houston, 7pm (ESPN)
Kluber vs Keuchel
San Francisco at Arizona, 10pm (ESPN2)
Bumgarner vs Collmenter