I think some people are twisting themselves in knots trying to justify their decision to declare the Cardinals dead before the math said so.
It looked grim, no doubt. And the run would not have been possible without the Padres lighting themselves on fire, no doubt. But the Padres did light themselves on fire, and the Cardinals got hot at the right time. And now their destiny is in their own hands.
The Cardinals celebrating their 10th anniversary of their last championship by getting knocked out of a one-game wild-card is not something to throw a parade about.
That doesn't diminish history made with this winning streak. It's a hard thing to do, to make history for the Cardinals. Because most of the big things are already taken up by championship teams and Hall of Fame players.
Both things can be true.
I thought the Cardinals should win this division. I think the front office was late to add pitching help, but it did eventually add some and it has worked really well, so you tip your cap. Winning the division was out of reach but playoff success overshadows all, and this team is going to not only get in, but will get in having played some of the best baseball the organization has ever witnessed. It's OK to say the team was playing bad and it was frustrating but also now admit that the trend changed and things are interesting and even fun. Heck, Adam Wainwright said as much.
When you try to grade a season before it's over, you risk backing yourselves into a corner. Those who gave it an F were premature. Those who are trying to pencil in an A now are just as premature. Let it play out and measure when complete. That's the best approach. But not as fun, I know.