Good afternoon. I was watching the MLB Network this week when a panel of commentators discussed the Cardinals’ remarkable late-season run, an exhilarating mad dash highlighted by the current 16-game winning streak.
I enjoyed the take offered by Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, one of the all-time greats. He name-checked several Cardinals including Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, J.A. Happ and Jon Lester.
Particularly entertaining was Pedro’s use of the term “old goats,” which he used with respect.
Martinez gets it.
Here’s what he said:
“It’s a combination. First of all the Cardinals know how to play baseball. When it comes to crunch time you rely on guys that are gonna play fundamentally sound baseball for you. It’s a tradition on the Cardinals. They pitch, they play defense, they have a good combination of youth and old goats.”
“If you look all around the outfield is clicking really well right now. They’re feeding off Arenado, Goldy, Molina and those guys are a little bit older,” Martinez said. “And it all starts with the pitching rotation. I mean, when you have guys like Waino, Lester and J.A. Happ, they are old goats and they are the ones that are solidifying pretty much what the Cardinals want to do on the field, on top of the mound. These guys are giving you not just a little bit of help. They’re keeping you in the game and giving you the opportunity to win the game, and click.”
All hail the Old Goats.
“All three old goats, Waino, Lester and Happ, have given the Cardinals the experience and the opportunity to stay in those games,” Martinez said. “And they have done it in a very smooth and quiet way. And that’s what’s leading to the Cardinals success, and having everybody else relax and play the game behind the old goats that have been there, that know exactly what to do and what to expect at this time of year.
“What you’re seeing from these old goats is not just help on the way to the postseason. It’s solid performance to get to the postseason. And that’s why they have that winning streak, they are keeping them in the game. And its all around the old goats and the veterans that the St. Louis Cardinals have that allows the young kids and the rookies to click, and click at the right time and play the game at this crunch time.”
Martinez touched on one of the things that I like about this team, and it’s been on display during the 18-1 run that’s contained the 16-game win streak. The Cardinals have an endearing mix of young players, older veterans, mid-career veterans .. and of course, the beloved old goats. Which again, is a term of endearment in this context.
I would move Molina — definitely a G.O.A.T., as in “Greatest Of All-Time” — into the old-goat category. He’s 39 and has been in the bigs since 2004. Same with Goldschmidt, age 34 and a veteran of 11 MLB seasons. Arenado is on the way to becoming an old goat — but he thinks like an old goat. He has the baseball sensibility of an old goat. And I think he fits.
Wainwright is 40. That’s old for a pitcher. And this G.O.A.T. is still going strong — At age 37 and with 200 big-league games next to his name, Lester is a G.O.A.T in the making. Happ, 38, is a likeable old goat who blends in nicely.
This farm has the wild horse with the flowing mane, Harrison Bader. There’s the strong ox — Tyler O’Neill — that could have palled around with Paul Bunyan. Shortstop Edmundo Sosa is a strikingly active rabbit, incredibly quick. Dylan Carlson is a border collie, a breed described by the American Kennel Club as a “remarkably bright workaholic.” Paul DeJong is an owl. A wise owl. Miles Mikolas? Perhaps a peacock. Or maybe an egret, a bird known for its animated dancing and colorful antics. Matt Carpenter is a groundhog, because we don’t see him very often. Giovanny Gallegos: hawk. Alex Reyes is a bull. Jake Woodford: colt. Tommy Edman: jackrabbit.
This farm has every type of creature. There’s energy, playfulness, good humor, intensity, workers, baseball intellect, aggressiveness, talent. The young guys look to the old guys for guidance and are respectful of their place in the hierarchy. The old guys look at the young guys and somehow it makes them feel younger. The team chemistry, by all accounts, is healthy and happy. The best kind of teams combine personalities from all corners and backgrounds, with teammates that are comfortable around each other.
They will fight together and win together and lose together. They will have fun together, they will brood together. But they will not fight each other, or turn on each other. After way too many sleepy-time days and nights on the farm, the Cardinals have made their stunning move, marching forward with talent, charisma and joy on display. This all makes for a beautiful pageant during a special 16-game winning streak that’s animating the characters that make this team go.
Thanks for reading …
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* All stats used here are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.