The general consensus among fans and media following the Pittsburgh Pirates is that there’s a large gap between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pirates. The Cardinals are seen as one of the best teams in the National League. They’re a team that does everything right, has very few weaknesses, and a team that will coast to winning the NL Central, along with a majority of the games against the Pirates.
Meanwhile, the view on the Pirates is that they will be lucky to win a Wild Card spot, that they’ve got no chance of competing against the Cardinals, and that there’s a huge disparity between the two teams. But do fans and media on the St. Louis side feel the same way?
Over the weekend, I was sent a message from a Cardinals fan on Twitter. The message simply said “how most of Cardinal Nation feels about Pirates“, along with a link to a column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That column, which can be read here, talks about the Pirates emerging as a worthy rival for the Cardinals.
The column included quotes from both Mike Matheny and Clint Hurdle talking about the respect they had for the other organization. While the view in Pittsburgh seems to be that the Pirates hope to one day be on the same level as the Cardinals, the view in this column says that the Pirates are already there as legit rivals. I think both sides would agree that the Cardinals have the edge right now, but the perception of the gap between the two teams seems smaller from the view of Cardinals fans and writers.
The column was written before Sunday’s series-deciding game, which the Pirates won to take the opening series 2-1. Last year the Pirates won the season series 10-9, then lost to the Cardinals in five games of a best of five NLDS. So far the results support the idea that these two teams are closer than a lot of people think.