By Rich Bauer
How about the Yankees winning six games in a row and jumping form last to second place in the American League East over the last week!
I’m a big fan of interleague play and have loved watching two great organizations like the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees hookup this weekend at Yankee Stadium. Both teams are pillars of baseball and have contributed mightily to America’s Game. Each is rich in tradition and excellence: the Yankees have won 27 World Series titles, more than any team in baseball history, while the Cardinals have won 11 world championships, second to the Yankees and the most in National League history.
Over the years, each team’s star-studded roster has included numerous Hall-of-Famers. For the Cardinals: Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean, Carteret, NJ’s Ducky Medwick, Stan Musial, Marty Marion, Bob Gibson and Enos Slaughter, among others. On the Yankees side: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Red Ruffing, Bill Dickey, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, to name a few.
I can remember my dad, my uncles and their friends sitting on the porch voicing their opinions very loudly over who was better, Mantle or Musial. Those loud discussions were triggered again when it came to Ford vs. Gibson.
I was only a young kid at the time and to me the Yankees walked on water but out of nowhere these Cardinals were challenging. I learned how to play and love the game from those same guys who argued on my porch and if they gave the Cardinals respect and thought they were good, then in my mind they must be pretty darn special.
Each franchise has continued its success more recently.
The Yankees “core four” of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, along with Bernie Williams, went on a run beginning in 1995 that included winning four of the next five World Series. There was a Cardinals connection in those dugouts, too. Beloved manager Joe Torre won the 1971 NL MVP award while playing for St. Louis.
Not to be outdone, the Cardinals rolled into the 21st century, winning four NL Pennants, and capturing the World Series in 2006 and 2011. Along the way, Chris Carpenter won the 2005 NL Cy Young award while Albert Pujols was named NL MVP in the same year. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen were perennial All-Stars for a decade. And as much as I hate to mention him, Tony La Russa was a damn good manager.
This year both teams are in a rebuilding mode and the similarity is that they are doing so from within their own minor league systems, the old fashion way, how ironic. Given the history of these teams, that rebuilding will no doubt pay off. I cannot wait to see the Yanks and the Cards meeting in the 2019 or 2020 Fall Classic.
In the meantime, my 86-year-old Dad, my only remaining uncle and a few of their friends still gather on the porch. Not as frequently as in the past, but when they do they still get fired up and I still cannot get a word in. I am still the little kid who does not know anything.