The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals past fast finishes

It is most clear that the St. Louis Cardinals need to win a bunch of games in a hurry and hope the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (Central Division) or the Atlanta Braves (Wild Card) fall off a cliff.

At nine games behind the Brewers, the Cardinals are currently at a season-worst deficit.

I asked researcher Tom Orf to pull the pertinent details of the 22 prior seasons during which the Cardinals finished in first place. In this case, the focus is on the last day the team was NOT in first place – in other words, the next day, the Cards took over first for good.

In the good news department, in eight of the 22 years, the Cardinals did not take the lead for the final time until sometime in September. In a most interesting stat to me, only once did an eventual Cardinals first-place club take its final lead in August.

The other set of data, on the right side of the table, indicates the farthest those nine teams were out of first place in number of games at any time during August and September and at what date(s) they fell to their low-water point.

Three of the 22 clubs made it to the top after August/September deficits of nine games or more. The biggest comeback was from 12 games back on August 8, 1930, followed by 11 games on August 23, 1964 and 10 games on August 5, 1942.

No Cardinals team has even hit its low-water mark in the standings in September only to later reach first place. Manager Tony La Russa’s first Cardinals club in 1996 was closest. They had their season-worst deficit in the standings as late as August 31. However, they only had 2 ½ games to make up.

Cardinals first-place clubs, last day not in first place and furthest back in the standings during August/September

Last day behind Furthest Back In August/September
Year GB Date GB Date
2009 0.5 30-Jul
2006 0.5 10-May
2005 0.5 15-Apr
2004 0.5 10-Jun
2002 1 15-Jun
2000 0.5 5-Jun
1996 0.5 2-Sep 2.5 GB 28-Aug to 31-Aug
1987 1 19-May
1985 0.5 13-Sep 1.5 GB 20-Aug
1982 0.5 13-Sep 3.0 GB 4-Aug
1968 1 31-May
1967 0.5 18-Jun
1964 1 28-Sep 11.0 GB 23-Aug
1946 1.5 21-Aug 2.5 GB 17-Aug
1944 0.5 26-Apr
1943 1.5 30-Jun
1942 1 11-Sep 10.0 GB 4-Aug and 5-Aug
1934 0.5 27-Sep 7.5 GB 12-Aug
1931 0.5 29-May
1930 0.5 13-Sep 12.0 GB 8-Aug (from 53-52 to 92-62)
1928 0.5 14-Jun
1926 0.5 15-Sep 4.5 GB 1-Aug to 6-Aug

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46 Responses to “Cardinals past fast finishes”

  1. friendmouse says:

    I did recollect a big comeback (against the fillies, wasn’t it?) in ’64, and we’re in a very similar position right now. All to say, of course, that it IS possible to still win it this year. I’m going to go back and look at the year 1964. I’m wondering what our record was on Aug. 23 that year compared to this year; and how “on fire” we got to capture the pennant that year.

    • blingboy says:

      Standings on Sunday, August 23, 1964
      NL
      Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
      PHI 76 47 .618 — 541 454 .580
      SFG 69 55 .556 7.5 502 442 .558
      CIN 69 55 .556 7.5 524 450 .569
      STL 65 58 .528 11.0 525 511 .512
      PIT 64 60 .516 12.5 524 481 .539
      MLN 62 60 .508 13.5 579 557 .518
      LAD 60 62 .492 15.5 461 443 .518
      CHC 57 67 .460 19.5 492 559 .442
      HOU 54 71 .432 23.0 399 484 .413
      NYM 42 83 .336 35.0 449 615 .360

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    1964 was famous. David Halberstam wrote a book about the ending of that year’s baseball season, IIRC. The Phillies ran out of gas at the end. Johnny Callison could only do so much.
    This Cards team could rally, but they keep blowing opportunities, like last night. Its disgusting. How many game winning triples did little Miles rack up for the Cards, before we let Jim Hendrie pay him to leave.

  3. blingboy says:

    I’d like to see the whole 40 man roster up here next month. Plus Adams from AA. Would have to dfa somebody, Patterson or Punto maybe.

    Call up Pop Warner too, give Tony some pine time.

  4. blingboy says:

    Kershaw’s stretch reminds me of Nomo.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    I’d like to pump Kyle Lohse full of PEDs. If somebody gives me a needle, I will deliver it to his posterior quarters.
    This is nauseating.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    Here’s a good idea. Release Theriot. Mo can show he is not a door mat and is darn mad and is not going to take it anymore.
    Bring up Greene. At least Tyler has physical abilities. See what he can do with more play. The Theriot fantasy needs to end, just like the Ryan Franklin one finally died.

    • friendmouse says:

      Philosophically, I do mot disagree with you, shrimp. Problem is, T-Greene has ZERO MLB skills. Well, maybe he’s okay as a pinch-runner; but scarce few MLB clubs hold an exclusive roster spot for that specialty.

      • blingboy says:

        Got a chuckle out that friend. Zero MLB skills. Mediocre opponants are ripping us a new one so I doubt Greene would make matters worse. If it would help keep Theriot off the field I’ll drive to Memphis and get him.

        • crdswmn says:

          We have Descalso if TLR would just play him.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            If Descalso played at Memphis for the next decade, he would never reach the OPS of Greene there. Greene can drive the ball further, is much faster, has a better arm, and is actually a SS, unlike Descalso, whose best positional fit is 2B. Descalso can field 3B, but his light bat suits him to 2B.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              This just in: the Cards have signed SS Vance Albitz, who was playing indy ball for a second summer, after 4 years of Division 2 college ball. Now that Vance is on board, we can give Ryan Theriot his freedom to move about the country.

            • crdswmn says:

              Descalso has shown he can play in the big leagues, Greene hasn’t. Minor league numbers are totally worthless.

              • Nutlaw says:

                I’ll grant that major league performance is the most important measure, but minor league numbers are totally worthless?

                • crdswmn says:

                  They are for the purposes that Jumbo was using them. Doesn’t matter diddly what Greene does in Memphis if he can’t do it or anything close to it in St. Louis.

                  • JumboShrimp says:

                    I remember when crdswmn thought Augenstein was a key part of our bullpen. Those spring training stats must be vital.

                    The Giants won the WS last year with a 32 year old rookie in CF. This year, they have unearthed Vogelsong. Success in the majors depends on being ready, having the tools to succeed, and getting opportunity. Greeene has the tools; he has spent nearly 3 years at AAA so is trained; and someday some team will give him a chance. Then he could come out of nowhere like the guys who have helped the Giants and everyone will wonder where he has been.

                    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                      Greene is finished here Jumbo…………….even with a completely new coaching staff, his marketability is limited…………………. all of BD’s ploys have been exposed……….. that is the expense of rental players.
                      He is carrying to much payroll in the rotation for any more “hood winking”……….

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Last time I checked, it wasn’t me that chose Augenstein for a spot in the bullpen Jumbo. He made a couple of good appearances before he got hurt. After that, the only thing I remember ever saying about Augenstein was that I thought he would not make it through waivers. I was wrong about that and I said so.

                      I have no problem with you believing that Greene can make it with the big club. I hope he does. But citing Descalso’s Memphis #s vs Greene’s Memphis #s as to why Greene is better than Descalso does not make it so. Greene has to be better in St. Louis for it to matter and so far he hasn’t shown that he is.

  7. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    There are drawbacks to giving away tickets ……….. besides money …………. see if you can name them……………

  8. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Bernie chortles about his luck in being able to go on vacation……………..now thats a good one………

    With the value of his “property” declining at a remarkable rate………..even the top predator will be forced to defend ……………………. the question is………. on whom does he feed……………….?????

    Lohse’s new arm slot………..Garcia’s hoped for arm slot via phone reinforcement…………. still won’t work…………….. MM……..no matter how you perceive his situation or philosophy…..has proven infective……….. does Tony sacrifice himself to delay attacks on his staff………..

    The reimplementation (realization) of his long term planning is just the cloth that hides the dagger. The only civilized way Tony can continue coaching elsewhere is a walk away…….or a sick out… both better than the blade…………… 5 weeks is too long……..that will cost him as much as he finessed from AP……………

    • blingboy says:

      5 weeks might just be long enough Westie.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      . does Tony sacrifice himself to delay attacks on his staff………..

      The reimplementation (realization) of his long term planning is just the cloth that hides the dagger. The only civilized way Tony can continue coaching elsewhere is a walk away…….or a sick out… both better than the blade…………… 5 weeks is too long……..that will cost him as much as he finessed from AP……………

      Notice the date……………… Dave is already on leave……….shelving 3m in 2012……..Tony agreeing to retired the week before……………
      Its all in the archives.

  9. friendmouse says:

    I totally agree with you, WC, in spite of the fact that I don’t know what the smokes you’re saying! :) .

    Basically, I believe TLR is “toast” in Saint Looey. I don”t know WHAT to think about this “team” as it’s currently constructed (or DE-sructed!). I believe Schumaker, Craig, and maybe Berkman & Laird are the only ones giving MAX effort all the time. And Carp. Quite a curious “team.”

    • friendmouse says:

      Actually, upon further review, I believe I understand what you’re saying, Westie…and I agree with you less as a result. Maybe ignorance really IS bliss. But who’s to say?
      Help a brother out, Brian!

  10. Nutlaw says:

    I have only one thing to say about the Cardinals lately: Boo!

  11. friendmouse says:

    One random comment… If we are not within 5 games of a playoff berth come Sept. 2, then I say “Every man for himself!”. Go for the individual stats. AP needs his 100 rbi’s & .300 ave; Skip needs to retain his .300+ BA; Holly to lead the league in doubles and stay over .300; Lance to match/exceed AP’s #’s; Yadi- .300 BA; all else is fine.

  12. friendmouse says:

    H. Bell to ‘frisco? Really? Enigmas abound. I guess they think they, too, still “have a chance.”…I don’t see it happenin’.

  13. JumboShrimp says:

    Getting swept at home by the pathetic Dodgers is a disgrace. However, it could be useful, if it turns out to be a wake up call for DeWitt and Mo.

    Somebody needs to get fired. I nominate Theriot. He served usefully early in the season. He is useless now and should be dropped.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      Like it or not Jumbo, Theriot……..Rhodes………can’t afford to keep a match up pitcher when wins don’t mean anything………we need another long man…………least we destroy the rotation………. I look for them to try and move Laird………SF needs him……….

  14. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    The problem here………………. if this team stays down, and no finger is pointed………and the fans stay away in protest, regardless of enticements…………. Bd has no leverage with AP, going or staying…………. point being….at that stage, can he afford to then let the fan protest continue into next season under any circumstance?………………………… can’t do it……..thats a loose loose scenario………. when all he has to do is press Tony out…….which enhances his contract ultimatum to AP………a win win………… what do you think he will choose??????????????? He could beat AP over the had with this broken down team, end up paying him…..and not being able to keep any of the better players……..without spending big…….. he will take the kill shot………..or he’s stupid………… doubt that……….this is a style issue……..

    All of these difficulties spring from the same source………you know Tony isn’t going to sit him down, least the team respond in a positive way…….thats not in Tony’s interest………. Tony can just sick out right now and keep his options open……..he has lost the team…….for good reason……. Dave’s already tucked away……….. its his only move…….. Dave’s contract was agreed to under Tony/Dave leverage…..it has opt outs……and don’t forget……Tony agreed to some ground rules with BD…….. Pittsburgh is going to be taking names and passing the BQ sauce…………..party’s over……..

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Contrary to Westie’s beliefs, the only opt out in Duncan’s contract is for 2013. He of course has the retirement opt out as well. I could also see a scenario where they would let Duncan out of his contract but only to coach for an AL team.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      During this trip to Pittsburgh……Tony tells Albert his situations…….

  15. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Duncan’s contract was signed the week after Mason was fired………………. it had a 50,000 $ dollar raise and a number of concession to Dave’s personal umbrage………………. the mutual option is the tell……….all that means is that a price ceiling was fixed, should both sides agree……or, from Mo’s perspective……….no further demands would be recognized…………I have not seen this document………….. I’m sure Dave was in Mo’s office on his knees……………… praying for job security………. or from Dave’s point of view………..you owe me for 2 yrs……..sucker……..I will read my book upside down if I want…………….. the Waino play was still yet to unfold though ……….. Dave and his wife live apart…..as does Tony…….during the year……….. these are certainly times of change……….. what you could see as a scenario………… from Brazil……..with no game feeds……….is a curiosity unto itself.

  16. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    The official press release?????………… to each his own way……………………..and my case is comfortably rested………………. let this be the end of it………..

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Let me make sure I’ve got this right. Referencing team announcements and P/D reporting is only valid when they support your theories and agenda – for anything thing that might cast doubt on those they are bogus. Is that how it works?

      I notice you don’t reference any source. Is that because you have none (other than maybe woman’s intuition)? Come on Westie, lay it out there. I’ll match my source against yours. Let’s see how much better the view is from California than from Brazil.

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