While the real March Madness of the NCAA college basketball tournament is great, there’s one drawback: it’s not baseball. But now there’s a tournament all of us can certainly enjoy — the All-Time Cardinal Team Tournament.
It’s the brainchild of Nick from Pitchers Hit Eighth and works similar to the NCAA tourney: four regions, 64 Cardinal teams, eventually a Final Four and champion. We are the Bob Gibson Region, which is great — he was an excellent college basketball player and one-time Harlem Globetrotter.
Nick has the Stan Musial Region, while Bill at I-70 Baseball is the Jack Buck Region and Daniel at C70 At the Bat is the Ozzie Smith Region. The four of us drafted our tournament teams (which got interesting after the sixth or so round) and you can see the entire bracket here.
And now it’s up to you.
Your votes will determine the winners in all four regions, starting now with the first round.
So cast your ballot for the Gibson Region below, then the other three regions:
Voting in the Buck and Musial Regions continues through tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Central, while polls for the Gibson and Smith Regions are open through Sunday at 8 p.m. Central. Second-round action opens on Monday and Tuesday.
So, who ya got? Vote now!
2011 vs. 1897
(1) 2011 — 90-72, NL Wild Card, World Series champs
You really don’t need any kind of explanation, do you?
(16) 1897 — 29-102, 12th place in National League
For this one, however, you do. Since 2011 is such an obvious powerhouse with an excellent shot at winning the Gibson Region, opposing it was a tough task. So I purposely drafted the worst Cardinals team in history — it says so right on page 312 of the 2011 media guide: Lowest Percentage Games Won — .221 in 1897. There’s never been a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed yet in the NCAA tournament (although it probably should have happened yesterday) … and there won’t be here either.
2011 or 1897?
- 2011 (100%, 34 Votes)
- 1897 (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 34
1937 vs. 1998
(8) 1937 — 81-73, 4th place in National League
The glory days of the Gashouse Gang were past by this time, but Joe Medwick did win the National League Triple Crown with a .374 batting average, 31 home runs and 154 RBI. And he still remains the most recent NL Triple Crown winner.
(9) 1998 — 83-79, 3rd place in National League Central
The year is notable not for the record, of course, but for Mark McGwire. The home run race between Big Mac and Sammy Sosa thrilled us all at the time (even if you don’t want to remember it that way now), with No. 62 on Sept. 8 checking in as one of our Top 5 Cardinals iconic moments.
1937 or 1998?
- 1998 (55%, 17 Votes)
- 1937 (45%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 31
1930 vs. 1981
(5) 1930 — 92-62, National League pennant
This was the first of back-to-back pennant years for the Cardinals, although they lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Athletics in six games. Here’s one amazing fact about the 1930 team: every player with at least 300 at-bats had a batting average of at least .300 — the only time in history that happened. Catcher George Watkins had a .373 average while Frankie Frisch hit .346. Dizzy Dean made his debut that year. And how are these for great names? Showboat Fischer, Chick Hafey and Homer Peel all were on the team as well.
(12) 1981 — 59-43, 1st place National League East
If the total number of games seems off, 1981 was a strike-shortened year. And, despite the fact the Cards finished with the best record in the NL East, they actually didn’t make the playoffs at all. Because of the strike, the season was divided into two halves. The winner of the first half met the winner of the second half for a divisional playoff — and the Cardinals finished 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the first half and a half-game behind the Expos in the second half. Ouch. Keith Hernandez was a Gold Glove winner and Bruce Sutter had 25 saves.
1930 or 1981?
- 1930 (79%, 27 Votes)
- 1981 (21%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 34
1926 vs. 1966
(4) 1926 — 89-65, National League pennant, World Series champion
Player-manager Rogers Hornsby was one reason the Cardinals won their first pennant, as were NL MVP Bob O’Farrell, Jim Bottomley and mid-season acquisitions Billy Southworth and Grover Cleveland Alexander. They met the Yankees in the World Series, who got there behind Babe Ruth’s .372 average, 47 homers and 146 RBI. Ruth also played a key role in Game 7 — he was thrown out at second base to end the game and give the Cards World Series championship No. 1.
(13) 1966 — 83-79, 6th place in National League
While not necessarily successful on the field, 1966 marked the opening of Busch Stadium in May — the Cardinals beat the Braves 4-3 in 12 innings during that inaugural game. The new ballpark also hosted the All-Star Game that season, where the temperature was a nice 105 degrees at game time. Curt Flood and Bob Gibson won Gold Gloves for the ’66 team.
1926 or 1966?
- 1926 (94%, 31 Votes)
- 1966 (6%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 33
1964 vs. 1923
(3) 1964 — 93-69, National League pennant, World Series champion
Along with 2011, one of the greatest comebacks in Cardinals history. The year was the first without Stan the Man, the Brock-for-Broglio trade, the firing of GM Bing Devine on Aug. 16 and the threat by Gussie Busch to fire manager Johnny Keane, 11 games back on Aug. 23, 6 1/2 games back on Sept. 20 with 12 games left … The Cardinals were in first for six days in 1964, all in the final week of the season. Then they went on to beat the Yankees in seven games to win the World Series, with Bob Gibson winning the Series MVP. Ken Boyer was the National League MVP.
(14) 1923 — 79-74, 5th place in National League
Rogers Hornsby set a major league record of 13 consecutive games with two or more base hits from July 5 to July 18. And … well, there were more interesting names on this team: Hi Meyers, Specs Toporcer, Heinie Mueller, Doc Lavan, Speed Walker, Tige Stone and Epp Sell.
1964 or 1923?
- 1964 (100%, 33 Votes)
- 1923 (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 33
2001 vs. 1979
(6) 2001 — 93-60, tied for 1st in National League Central, National League Wild Card
The Cardinals and Astros tied for the best record in the NL Central, with the Astros being named division champs based on head-to-head record. Thanks to Bobby Bonilla’s unfortunate hamstring injury, some kid named Albert Pujols made his major league debut — and did nothing but hit while playing left field, right field, third base and first base. Matt Morris won 22 games, while rookie Bud Smith threw a no-hitter on Labor Day against the Padres. The division series against the Diamondbacks was a classic, especially the Games 1 and 5 match-ups between Matty Mo and Curt Schilling. Then there was that unfortunate Tony Womack at-bat against Steve Kline that gave the D-Backs the walk-off win.
(11) 1979 — 86-76, 3rd place in National League East
It was 40-year-old Lou Brock’s final season, and he still stole 21 bases and hit .304. Keith Hernandez hit .344 with 11 homers and 105 RBI and was named National League MVP — along with Willie Stargell of the Pirates, the only time there’s ever been a tie for the award. Pete Vuckovich and Silvio Martinez each won 15 games, while Ted Simmons hit 26 home runs.
2001 or 1979?
- 2001 (91%, 31 Votes)
- 1979 (9%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 34
1928 vs. 1971
(7) 1928 — 95-59, National League pennant
Led by National League MVP and future Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley, the 1928 Cardinals finished two games ahead of the N.Y. Giants and four games in front of the Cubs. They weren’t as successful in the World Series, however, when they were swept by Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and the rest of the Yankees.
(10) 1971 — 90-42, 2nd place in National League East
It was a great year for Joe Torre — he was named National League MVP after hitting .363 with 24 homers and 137 RBI. Bob Gibson threw his only career no-hitter on Aug. 14 against Pirates, who won the NL East, plus won a Gold Glove. Steve Carlton went 20-9 in his final season as a Redbird. 1971 also was the first year for the pullover-style uniform tops — thank you, Wikipedia!
1928 or 1971?
- 1928 (67%, 22 Votes)
- 1971 (33%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 33
1982 vs. 1983
(2) 1982 — 92-70, National League pennant, World Series champion
Obviously another top contender, this “Whiteyball” team won the Cardinals 13th pennant and first since 1968. Willie McGee was a rookie, Keith Hernandez and Ozzie Smith won Gold Gloves, Lonnie Smith had 68 stolen bases and Joaquin Andujar had five shutouts during the regular season. The Cards swept the Braves in the NLCS, then topped the “Harvey’s Wallbangers” Brewers in seven games for the team’s 9th World Series championship.
(15) 1983 — 79-83, 4th place National League East
Why this team? Your guess is as good as mine. Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith all won Gold Gloves, and Hernandez was traded to the Mets in mid-season. I went to my first game at Busch Stadium that year, although I was a Cubs fan at the time and thrilled that they won 10-1 (and also enjoyed the fact Steve Trout and Steve Lake were the battery). My mom and brothers, now all die-hard Cub fans, cheered for the Cards that day. And a drunk guy sitting near us would stand up and bow whenever the Cubs scored (which obviously was often). Ah, memories …
1982 or 1983?
- 1982 (97%, 32 Votes)
- 1983 (3%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 33
What teams will move on? It’s up to you. Vote!
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.