The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves have developed a nice little rivalry in the National League over the last couple seasons. At least it’s become a rivalry if you’re a sports fan in Atlanta.
We can start in 2011, when the Braves blew a big September lead in the wild-card race, the first step to the miracle run the Cardinals put on to eventually win the World Series. Although, as a Boston fan who lived through a similar collapse, I still maintain Atlanta deserves tremendous credit for handling its collapse with more class and far-sightedness than the Red Sox handled theirs.
Then let’s go to 2012, when the two teams faced off in the first-ever National League wild-card game. If Atlanta was embarrassed by ‘11, they had reason to be absolutely infuriated in ’12. The Braves were rallying in the eighth inning and had it cut short by an idiotic interpretation of the infield fly rule, bailing out St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma, who had misplayed a ball well into the outfield into a bloop hit. Atlanta went home, and St. Louis got to within one game of another World Series.
Now the Cards and Braves are both in first place and possibly heading to another October showdown. It would be the next logical step—we’ve gone from regular season race in ’11, to single-game showdown in ’12. Isn’t a drawn-out battle in a best-of-five Division Series or best-of-seven League Championship Series next?
Actually, what’s next is that the teams start a three-game series tonight, and you can catch the action on MLB Network at 7:30 PM ET. Here at TheSportsNotebook, our focus will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as they get set to run in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.