I'm never going to tell Cardinals fans to not expect championships.
Yadier Molina expects championships.
Mike Shildt has said that's the number one goal.
Fans shouldn't expect anything less.
What I've tried to explain here often is how the team views this discussion -- because that's what people want to understand.
So, I try to explain it.
Then it's turned back as if it's my opinion, when it's not.
And around and around we go.
I've argued the Cardinals need to move their sustained success needle more toward win-now as their time without a championship grows. I thought Bryce Harper made a ton of sense because he would have helped that effort, and would have brought some energy to a team and fan base that needed it. Harper in the outfield would lead to a lot fewer questions about the offsense and the outfield this season, but I digress.
The Cardinals' entire way of doing business prioritizes sustained winning. They take pride in the streak of non-losing seasons. They take pride in winning the division and getting into the postseason, because they believe teams that do that can go on to win it all. They've watched that play out for other teams. They've watched that play out for themselves.
The Cardinals are hesitant to put too much emphasis on one season, because they feel that it could disrupt the balance of sustained success. They set budgets and work hard to stick to them. They keep the long-term in mind more than some teams.
The results have rewarded their thinking.
I mentioned this in today's column:
During DeWitt’s 23 seasons, the Cardinals rank second in the National League in regular-season winning percentage (.548), first in the NL in postseason games (144) and first in postseason wins (74). No other team is even close on those last two. The second-place Braves have 96 postseason games. The second-place Giants have 48 postseason wins.
What is really interesting is how no championship since 2011 affects that thinking over time.
I don't think it's going to affect the thinking as much as fans hope.
The Cardinals, for example, feel that they lost to a "team of destiny" in the NLCS last season, and that it was a good season.
And it was!
But their comments and more importantly their actions do not give the impression of a team that is going to change its thinking because it did not win the World Series last season.
Their comments and actions suggest last season's trip to the NLCS was proof their plan works.
Don't shoot the messenger.