If the St. Louis Cardinals are to erase their deficit to the Cincinnati Reds and capture the National League Central championship, they will have 46 years of history to overcome.
Not since 1964 have the Cardinals come back to win either a divisional championship or a pennant after being out of first place at the All-Star break.
This excludes 2001, when the Cardinals rallied from eight games out at the All-Star break to tie Houston for the best record in the division, but Houston officially was declared champion and the Cardinals officially the wild card because of Houston’s having won the season series. On the 12 other occasions the Cardinals have won a championship since 1964, the club was either in first place in undisputed fashion or tied for the lead at the break.
The Cardinals (47-41) open the second half tonight at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first half ended with the Cards a game behind surprising Cincinnati (49-41), which resumes play Friday at home against Colorado.
The largest lead they’ve had at the All-Star break (the first All-Star Game was in 1933) was 111⁄2 games in 2005, when the Tony La Russa-led Cardinals won the NL Central. They were 10 up at the break in 1968, when they were National League champions under Red Schoendienst, and they were nine up at the break in 1987, when Whitey Herzog’s club won the NL title.
In 1964, the Cardinals seemingly were buried in fifth place, 10 games behind Philadelphia before the Phillies folded down the stretch and the Cardinals picked off the NL title and then the World Series.
While La Russa’s Cardinals haven’t overcome All-Star break deficits to win division titles here, his record with Oakland and the Chicago White Sox shows several instances when his teams rallied. In 1992, the A’s were two games behind Minnnesota at All-Star time but won the American League West. His 1989 World Series champion A’s were 11⁄2 games behind California at the break. And La Russa’s 1983 Chicago White Sox were 41⁄2 games in arrears of Texas at the break but won the West by a stunning 20 games, as they went 59-26 after the break.
Rick Hummel/St. Louis Post-Dispatch