Wainwright and Carpenter take adversity head on, and the Cardinals follow suit as they travel to Philly

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To many, sports is a positive way to get youth involved in a controlled atmosphere, while learning the components of unity, communication and trust.

To others, it is simply a way of life.

I was blessed to have a father who took an interest in my athletics and, therefore, pushed me to be the best.

However, there were also times when he rode me like a government mule. I see now that it was to get the most production from my talent.

There were many, many great times. But there were also bad times. It's taken me years to realize that it's the tough times that really mold you into the person you are supposed to be, on and off the field.

There were in fact times when I thought, "OK, enough already."

If it hadn't been for the bad times throughout the 2011 season, then teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and the 10-time world champion St. Louis Cardinals may never have had the opportunity to close out the season on a high note, therefore, taking everything that 2011 threw at them for granted.

Trials and tribulations make us who we are.

During spring training, the Cards' No. 1 hurler and former Atlanta Brave, Adam Wainwright, was shut down.

He underwent the infamous Tommy John surgery, or as it is now referred to as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery,

Tommy John was a pitcher in the 1970s that had the original procedure done. It didn't even have a medical name, therefore, the Tommy John operation was born.

John had the operation performed in 1974 by Dr. Frank Jobe, and went on to pitch for another 12 years.

The procedure is very common in all athletes, not just baseball players.

Even former and current NFL players like ex-Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme, current Steeler defensive end Cameron Heyward (Ironhead Heyward's son), current Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, former Buffalo signal caller Rob Johnson and Deion "Prime Time" Sanders have all had the operation.

However, if Wainwright hadn't been lost for the year, then the club would not have been tested.

Adversity can be humbling if you stick around long enough.

Just ask Tony LaRussa. On Aug. 26 the Redbirds trailed the Atlanta Braves for the last playoff spot by ten-and-a-half games.

It's funny what you can accomplish when people tell you that you can't do something.

The loss of the future hall of famer enabled the club to see how their prospects had matured.

The club has already seen what they have in Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig.


While it can feel that the world is coming down around you, little do you know that there is relief just around the corner.

Adversity has brought the St. Louis Cardinals closer together.

Injuries to Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday couldn't keep the Cardinals on Major League Baseball's back burner.

Instead, it ignited a flame no one, including myself, knew existed in the clubhouse at Busch Stadium.

After finishing the regular season with an 11-9 record and tallying a 3.45 ERA, Chris Carpenter was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after winning the decisive 162nd game of the season, "My stuff was good tonight, no question," he said. "When you work ahead, it's nice."

The Cardinals became the fourth team since realignment to overcome a double-digit deficit to capture the wild card. To get there, they completed their second 90-win season in three years, finishing the 2011 season with a record of 90-72, six games behind the Brewers, who took the NL Central.

Carpenter has been unshakable. He allowed five earned runs in 40 innings covering his last five starts, all of which were team wins. During his three personal victories in that span, Carpenter allowed no runs in 26 innings.

"I don't want to say it's gratifying. I felt good," he said. "Unfortunately, early on there was some bad pitching at times and some bad luck at times. I wasn't going to give up. I continued to go."

If we let it, adversity can open our eyes to the prize that placidly waits around the bend. But do we have the patience?

Adversity is as much an element of professional sports as chemistry and repetition.

Adversity truly can be beneficial.

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