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The St. Louis Cardinals are sports' gold standard

COMMENTARY — While they don't have as many titles as the Lakers or Spurs or Heat or Patriots, what the Cardinals have done, and how they've done it, make them the best franchise in sports in the 21st century.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 22, 2013

The St. Louis Cardinals are the best franchise in 21st-century American sport.

Not necessarily the most successful. Not necessarily the most prosperous. Not necessarily the most popular. Just the best.

The Cardinals play the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night, and the Redbirds offer their fans the best deal going.

Constant contention; the Cardinals always play meaningful games. Class organization; the drama is on the field, never in the clubhouse or the front office. Assurance of stamina; the Cardinals' success isn't tied to a player, a coach or an executive.

In St. Louis, the franchise is the star.

Since the 2000s arrived, the Cardinals have won two World Series and reached two others, counting this one.

The Lakers have more titles. But they also have melodrama that trumps the Shakespearean stage.

The Patriots, too, have more titles, but they've all been won by the same quarterback and same coach.

The Spurs have won more titles. All with the same management.

The Heat has won more titles. But Miami has been boom and bust. A mere two years after winning the 2006 NBA title, the Heat went 15-67.

The Cardinals have won with great players, and great managers, and a great front office. But not a particular great player. Not a particular great manager. Not a particular general manager.

Albert Pujols is gone to the Orange County Angels, having taken a 10-year, $240-million contract offer. And the Cardinals keep winning.

Tony La Russa, one of the five best managers in baseball history, is gone, to retirement, after the 2011 World Series title. And the Cardinals keep winning.

Walt Jocketty, who as general manager rebuilt the franchise after a dip in the 1990s, is gone, to run the Cincinnati Reds. And the Cardinals keep winning.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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