By Keith Antigiovanni
The St. Louis Cardinals location in the middle of the country does not get the endless media hype of a Boston or New York but St. Louis' 2011 World Series title is no surprise to true baseball fans.
If you ask most casual fans about the Cardinals they would not have much to say but when you look at the stats in the past 12 years the consistency of the redbirds under Manager Tony La Russa is very impressive.
What has La Russa accomplished in his 16 years in the Gateway City? Since he arrived in 1996 St Louis has achieved 13 of 16 winning years, won the NL Central 8 times, appeared in 7 NLCS, won 3 NL titles and 2 World Series titles.
Based on that you would think the Cardinals would get more hype but with the success of the Philadelphia Phillies the past 5 years they have become the most overhyped NL team because of the east coast location. Again St. Louis was pushed aside.
The Cardinals ended up facing the Phillies in the NLDS and winning in five games on Chris Carpenter's brilliant 1-0 shutout. 2006 was a similiar situation when they won the NL Central at 83-78, advanced to the NLCS and faced another overhyped east coast club, the New York Mets.
The result was another NLCS title for St. Louis as they went on to the World Series title that year.
The Cardinals success is also impressive when you consider that they have had a payroll of 100 million or under in 11 of 12 years since salaries began to go over 100 million.
Compared to the Yankees who have been over 100 million in 11 of 12 years and over 200 million in at least half of those years. The Yanks have had 12 winning years, 9 division titles, 6 ALCS, 4 AL titles and 2 World Series titles. Almost similiar to St. Louis even though they had twice the payroll.
St. Louis success goes beyond this current decade and goes back to the 1920's when Branch Rickey established the modern farm system. The result was 40 winning years, 12 pennants and 8 World Series titles between 1920 and 1970. They are the National version of the Yankees but with much less hype and payroll.