When the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals arrived to their respective spring training facilities back in mid-February, there was nothing you could have said that would have convinced me St. Louis had the better baseball team.
And that was before Adam Wainwright went down for the season.
I would have told you the Cardinals were a solid team with a chance to maybe reach the higher 80s in wins, which would position them to contend in the NL Central. I also would have told you the Rockies looked like a 92-93 win team with Ubaldo Jimenez established, Jorge De La Rosa back, and a lot of really nice pieces in place offensively.
Didn't work out that way. Which is strange, because both teams faced similar challenges with injuries, players not performing up to standard, stretches of poor bullpen work, more injuries, desperate searches for band-aids. Basically, both teams took a step backwards on several levels from where they were to begin the season.
Yet the Cardinals are celebrating their 11th world championship, and the Rockies are coming off their most disappointing season to date.
How the hell did the Cardinals overcome all of that, while the Rockies collapsed underneath it?
Well, to me it boils down to three things.