Of Cardinals, Cubs and championships

Posted by Darren Urban on November 3, 2016 – 8:14 am

First of all, it was cool to see (given that I really didn’t have a rooting interest) that big Cardinals fan Joe Maddon, who happens to be the manager of the Chicago Cubs, led his team to the World Series title. Maddon has been a fan of the franchise since 1963, and stayed with them even from their move to Arizona in 1988. He was rooting for them in their Super Bowl run in 2008, and when the Cardinals were in Chicago last season, he popped over to the Cardinals’ team hotel to talk to Bruce Arians.

Secondly, yes, I saw the graphic.

It was hard to miss, as Fox put it up for the world to see after the Cubs won. (If I would’ve missed it, I had plenty of Twitter followers who wanted to send me a copy.) The fact had already been floating around since the Cubs won Game 6 — if the Cubs won the whole thing, the Cardinals would be the pro sports franchise with the longest title drought. The Cards last won in 1947. The Indians, oh so close Wednesday night, were next at 1948.

The feeling is a little different because the franchise has moved twice since then, although I have talked to plenty of fans who ache even if they became fans in ’88 after the move West. It’s why for many, any part after Larry Fitzgerald’s amazing 64-yard catch-and-run in Super Bowl XLIII is just a blurry memory. It’s why Fitzgerald was so upset in the locker room following last year’s NFC Championship loss. It’s hard to even get a chance to win the whole thing.

But it’s also the great thing about sports, something the Cubs have done for a long time. Each season is a chance renewed. And as Arians said the other night even about this season — which obviously hasn’t gone the way anyone expected — “This is just another good challenge.” This year’s chase isn’t over yet.


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28 Responses to “Of Cardinals, Cubs and championships”

  1. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    From a fan’s point of view, you can wait a really long time, as evidenced by that graphic.

    On the players’ side, though, the reality is that most players will NOT play for a champion, which is why I don’t like it when people would say things (back in the Kolb/Skelton days) like, “The Cards should trade Fitz to the Patriots so he can get a ring,” as if all high-caliber players with long careers automatically deserve a ring. Most NFL players are only around a few years. Even for guys who last a long time, like Palmer and Fitz… well, this is Palmer’s 14th year and Fitz’s 13th. There are 32 NFL teams, 16 in each conference, so on average, a player who played for 16 years should get to one Super Bowl and only half of those players would actually win one.

    But of course we know that Super Bowls are not randomly distributed, so you have guys like Montana and Brady with more than their (random) share and a bunch of other guys who never get there. Still, one way of looking at it is that Fitz has already had a chance to play in the one Super Bowl that, based on his time in the league and random chance, he “should” get to play in.

  2. By Scott H on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    Well, that’s depressing. Kind of a harsh reminder that despite how far this organization has come over the last 10-12 years or so ( in every way possible ), some harsh realities have remained un-changed.

    I am happy for the Cubs. Just wondering when our day will come.

  3. By Amir on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply


  4. By D on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    Any truth to the rumor that Mr. Keim just hired Theo as a Consultant.
    (rumor that I just started)

  5. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    I thought the coolest part of last night was when they showed Rizzo going to David Ross and saying he was an emotional wreck, etc.

    These guys make millions of dollars and I have no doubt that for most of them, if they had a choice between being an All-Star-caliber player (and therefore making big bucks) on a perennial also-ran, or being a benchwarmer on a champion, they’d almost all choose to be the All-Star. But even so, I also believe that the majority of them do want to win, and put their blood, sweat and tears into trying to do so. With each big hit or great play, you could see that both teams really wanted it last night.

  6. By Scott H on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    Man, here is what is SOOOO horrible about this – the Cubs went 108 years without a title…, just think about how many fans came and went during that time and never got to see their team win it all. 108 years!! Un-told HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS lived their entire lives during that span. Born, lived, passed – never seeing it happen for the Cubs.

    Man, that is sad. I’m just wondering how many Cardinals fans may suffer the same fate.

    2016 doesn’t look to be magical right now. The window doesn’t slam shut after this year, but…..ya wonder where it goes from here. It’s hard to come this close ( as close as we were last year ) and think you might be closer to a down-cycle than you are to getting back.

  7. By Tucson Card on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    Damn. That graphic isn’t pretty. I guess there’s still some hope to get off that list this year.

  8. By joe holst on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    Who cares, there are no guarantees with this, the Cards are an upper echelon franchise currently and will be good almost every year for a long time,

  9. By Dr. G. on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve been in Wrigley Field….such a throwback to “”the boys of Summer.”” Get off the train; walk a block to a welcoming tavern for a brew; then across the street to the game. You could see people watching from their rooftops beyond the outfield. Nothing like the giant stadiums today with major parking issues, lots of glass & chrome, and sometimes rude crowds…. If you have not been, get out the plastic and go next Summer…should be on everyone’s bucket list…

    Disclaimer – – The NFL is still the greatest show in sports…I’ve seen ’em all and played in some. Be well Cards Fans…still got games to play…

  10. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 3, 2016 | Reply

    And Thus, why I criticize Keim for not being all in to give us a championship.

    I get it, we are doing better than we were in the Sun Devil Stadium days. We are doing better than the time between Warner and Palmer. As fans, even sports writers and commentators, everyone is happy we aren’t a laughing stock anymore.

    But, when you settle for just being competitive, you become the longest tenure team of no championships.

    We just went 13-3. We were in the championship game. Then the offseason hit. You had a chance to get over the hump and go all the way.

    Keim settled for Shipley , while Alex Mack was signed by the Falcons and counts as 4 million against the cap this year.

    Keim gambled at CB on an inexperienced rookie with one year of CB play ever, a special teams guy who isn’t good at CB and a disappointing #1 pick several years ago. Meanwhile, how could you pass on a guy like Casey Hayward or Prince Amukamara both only costing 5 million this year.

    Keim makes a terrible first round pick in 2015, then, after not having him dress all year, he enters as the starter with no competition. Why?? I would love to have seen Keim bring a real RT like Mitchell Schwartz, who only cost 2.4 million of cap space in 2016.

    So, if you brought in Alex Mack, Casey Hayward, and Mitchell Schwartz, the cap number for 2016 would have been 10.4 million. So where would the cap money come from?

    Michael Floyd is at 7.3 million and would wipe that out if you could have traded him at the beginning of the year. Not needing Shipley would save 835,000 and Jenkins would save 835,000. Then, the Tyvon Branch signing was a mystery, not knowing you had two good safeties, if he isn’t signed, there is another 3.5 million.

    So, really, with the trade of Floyd, you could have addressed you main issues. Easily..

    And we didn’t even address Campbell or the draft.

    As a fan, I have seen this year after year. And thus, the longest streak of not winning a championship.

  11. By Darren Urban on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Settling

    I have no problem with criticizing decisions made. They are fair.

    But the implication — and that’s what this is — that Keim or the organization care about winning a title less than the fanbase, I mean, give me a break.

  12. By dynosoar on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve watched my Reds, A’s, Vols, Redwings and Bulls win championships, but my first favorite team was the Cardinals and I’m still waiting. Hey, I’m saving the best championship for last.

    As much as I want a Super Bowl championship, I feel I’ve been a winner choosing this team. Look at some players we’ve had that no one else did.

    Tillman, Fitz, A-Dub, Jetstream (ok, he may have been in Philly, but he never really belonged) and the list goes on.

    We are the oldest NFL franchise and if it weren’t for a Cardinals owner, the Bears would’ve bankrupted and no longer a team (and we’d still be in Chi Town)

    We have the best helmet and I could go on and on and on (and ya’ll no I can. Haha!) I want that ring, but I’ve enjoyed the ride since ’77 and will continue to do so. (I do wonder, what happened this season. We lost something in the transition from last year to this and it kills me, but that’s because this team is in my blood.)

    Go Cardinals and win out!

  13. By dynosoar on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    Can ya’ll imagine the headlines if the 2016 Cubs AND 2016 Cardinals won their respective championships?

    I’d like to see those headlines.

  14. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    Since our first round draft pics don’t play much, it at all, during their first year, Keim should consider drafting the best QB available in the first round in 2017 and have him learn under Carson in 2017.

    Al Michaels made a good point during the Seattle game that you wonder if Fitz is done when Carson is done and then perhaps Arians chooses to make his exit at the same time.

    All I can say is that we need to seriously invest time in finding a QB to draft in 2017 because there is nobody at all waiting in the wings behind Palmer.

  15. By Andy Kw on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    I have faith in John Wetzel. This guy continues to impress and I have no doubt in my mind that he will succeed.

  16. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    Saw the tweet on the side of the page and decided to check it out.

    Great article of what makes Larry great, along with the other top 5 receivers Sherman deems the toughest he has to cover.

    I found it really interesting.

  17. By clssylssy on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    As depressing as this picture is, we can start off the second half STRONG by shutting out the 9ers, which may be the kind of baby steps we need to win one game at a time. Taking a mini-vaca now doesn’t send a message that anybody but the fans are still serious about this season, and, by the number of comments,even that seems to be a little bit shaky.
    We’re really going to find some inner magic to beat Brees or the Redskins in our house, much less the Rams or the Seahawks in theirs!

  18. By Eric G on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    We’re #1! We’re #1! We’re #1!

  19. By dynosoar on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply


    how often are the Cardinals blitzing this year? 2015? 2014?

    I have a hypothesis, but I need data to test it.

    The hypothesis, we had a dominant defense with almost a 50% blitzing scheme, the most in the NFL for the last few years. Our opponents are outscoring us (however, we also aren’t as productive on offense as in past years, so it’s easier to outscore us.)

    So if we had more blitzes, with our front four being more dominant, we should have more sacks. So I ask, are we blitzing the same, more or less than the last two seasons?


  20. By Darren Urban on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    Dyno —

    RE: Blitzing

    I do not have that data handy right now.

  21. By Dr. G. on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    I always appreciate the analyses that fans post here and enjoy the passion for the Cardinals football team, but fair critique and being an armchair quarterback differ. We are always smarter when we have information after all is said and done. It is fair to critique some of the emotional $$$ deals; those can be costly.

    Some things I don’t like, and some things I do, but I do know that our staff is not trying to build in obsolescence…when they win, they are idolized; when they stumble, they are demonized. One thing for sure is that the staff doesn’t take the field, but they are responsible for the players’ attitude. It’s a mixed bag.

    Go Cards…still games to play..


  22. By CardinalChris on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    Yes it is. Get real. Much Love Darren, but this team is not going to get it done. They are not as good as they think they are nor made us believe…

    Only thing to get excited about is next year’s draft.

  23. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply


    Keim Doesn’t care about winning:

    When did I say that? Come on Darren, That is a completely unfair comment from you. Never said he doesn’t care. Not what I was implying.

    I am saying, he made decisions thinking they were good enough. It was like, well we have Gonzo and Randy Johnson, and never landed Shilling.

    Example of being all in; Denver had a 1st round rookie at CB and a 1st round OLB but went out and signed Talib and Ware. Just a rough example of not settling and thinking you were good enough with the rookie CB or OLB.

    So, Whether that is over estimating the drafts and talent, or reading his press clippings, but we entered this year close and he didn’t get the players we needed to get over the top. He landed Jones and then thought he had it.

    That kind of thinking borders on the edge of either over confidence, poor assessment, or flat out incompetence. Not sure what it is.
    Here is two problems we faced.

    – Problem;
    We all know PP is flat out good. He is a true shut down. Knowing that, it is obvious that if I was a QB, I would throw away from him. Correct? Surely everyone agrees with such an obvious statement. So, Why would you enter your all or nothing year, with such a hole at a spot that is so obviously important?

    A rookie who had one year ever under his belt, a special teamer, who didn’t play well last year at CB, and a former 1st rounder who has now become a journeymen. That’s what he went with.

    So, everyone and their dog knows the ball isn’t going towards PP and IS going towards the other guy, and the other guy is a choice of these three??

    So, the coaches have to change the defense and play something the players are not good at to cover up for their weakness. We watch QBs like Garapalo and Keenum pick apart the zones at home.

    – Problem:
    The cardinals have a 37 year old QB, who has a history of shredding teams when given time. But there is no doubt, that pressure up the middle has made Palmer struggle. He had issues behind a weak line in Oakland and struggled at times in 2013 when he was getting pressure. Am I correct? Also, is that common knowledge to any one who knows football?

    So, why do you enter 2016 with a journeyman center? You signed a guard in Iupati who is known to be a great run blocker but has a history of struggling against the pass. So you pair him with a center who struggles also. Then you bring no RT to challenge a guy who never played a down in the NFL. How can you count on Humphries with zero NFL experience with no veteran there to step in if he faulters?

    Palmer has been battered and knocked out with a concussion.

    Lets just take these two points. I am not saying he doesn’t care. I am saying, how can you make such horrible errors when (1) FAs were available and (2) The cards were a game away from the super bowl ???

    So, he cares but….. Why didn’t he do something for these obvious issues.

  24. By Darren Urban on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: “he cares, but”

    With this one line, aren’t you proving my point?

    Also, I never said you said he didn’t care at all. I said you made it sound like he cares less than the fanbase.

    Look, Keim has said many times he’s on a three-year plan. Decisions are made both for the year coming and down the road. The cap is managed. This team is never going to build for one year and say “This or nothing.” Look at the Patriots and Jones and Collins. You’ll say, “But the Pats have won multiple times” and that is true. But Belichick was operating that way even before.

    Again, the criticism is fair. But I guess my thought is, you imply he is missing obvious decisions. Given how they are looking at things, they are doing what they think is right. Otherwise, the implication is they are not trying as hard as they could or should. That makes no sense to me. No one – and I mean no one – hates losing as much as Keim.

  25. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    Dr G,

    Addressing your armchain hindsight comments.

    By John The Draft Guy on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply
    Holes that need to be filled;
    OLine – Keim has addressed the left side of the line, but the right side has issues. He drafted Cooper, who has been a bust. He drafted Humphries, who never dressed out. Sendlein is on his last days, there are questions. If Humphries can make a comeback and start and play like a first round pick, that would help. But we must address center and right guard.
    QB – As the article says, Palmer is an older QB who will retire in the next few years. Maybe he gets another injury and retires sooner than later? We need to find the QB of the future.
    OLB – We must find someone (draft or FA) who can win his one on one battles and put pressure on QBs.
    CB- opposite of PP, there needs to be another player. But more than that, how much trouble would we be in, if PP was injured? Powers is a FA. Bethel gives depth, but I just don’t know that after 4 years, he is a starting CB.
    ILB – I would like to upgrade Minter. I also would like to either see a bigger version of Buccannon or move him to an in the box safety and add a second LB.
    Safety – I like Jefferson. I think he does a good job with coverage, blitzes, and the run. Who our other safety is depends on what you do with Johnson and Buccannon.

    As for an answer;
    Really early
    By John The Draft Guy on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply
    So, my way too early off season plan;
    Oline – I sign Alex Boone and trade up in round two and land Ryan Kelly, center
    QB – I would look in round 4 at drafting Kevin Hogan or Coker. I would not resign Stanton, Barkley moves to #2 and our rookie sits for two years. Lets face it, If Palmer goes down, it kills us with or without Stanton.
    OLB – I resign Freeney. In round 1, If spence is nowhere near to trade up for, I am leaning towards Floyd with the 29th pick.
    ILB – I would sign Zack Brown. a fast ILB who can cover and can blitz the QB. 10 sacks and 5 ints in 3 years. I also like Danny Trevathon, A fast LB who can cover.
    CB – Janoris Jenkins would be signed.

    OK, at the time,
    – I didn’t know Ryan Kelly would go that high in round 1.
    – I didn’t know about the trade for Jones and therefore OLB was a priority
    -I thought Bucannon was moving back to Safety and I am not a Minter fan. By the way, Zack Brown is leading the league in tackles.
    – Jenkins is a top 10 CB in 2016.
    – Might of been right about Barkley over Stanton, but missed on late round QBs, although Hogan played last week and rushed for over 100 yards and is a back up in Buffalo.

    Also, the only one I saw say this.

    By mitchaz on Feb 14, 2016 | Reply
    3A. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi St. Has good athletic ability, mental toughness, accuracy and strong leadership skills.

  26. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 4, 2016 | Reply

    OK Darren,

    Maybe I am not as clear as I need to be. Trying isn’t what I am talking about. I know Keim studies film and is watching every player in the NFL and college to make his team better.

    But, he didn’t. So how do we want to label that?

    As for a 3 year plan, Campbell falls off next year. Floyd falls off next year. The cards have 37 million. One trade of Floyd would have made it possible to land a guy like Mack and at 4 million this year, would go up to 8 million next year and still be manageable.

    He still needs a CB next year right? Cooper is a FA. So, is it back to Williams and Bethel? Does anyone really think those two are capable of handling the job of opposite PP? So, do you have to pay someone next year? Tell me the logic in this 3 year plan at CB? Meanwhile, a guy like Hayward cost only 3 yr 15 mil and could be a number 2 or slot CB if Williams turned out to be good. That is more logical isn’t it ?

    I just don’t get his 3 year plan. By the way, What is his plan if Palmer gets injured playing behind this line? What is the plan if Palmer retires and so does Fitz? Stanton to an overpaid Floyd??

    I don’t get it.

  27. By mitchaz on Nov 5, 2016 | Reply


    I think you are over-reacting to John’s critique of Steve Keim—

    From where I am sitting, John makes a number of very valid and well-supported examples of some very questionable decisions on Keim’s part.

    The thing is—the “All or Nothing” mantra has fans believing that the Cardinals are “all in” on trying to win a championship. BA&SK have set their goals on the highest bar—which is why this year, the decision making almost at times seems absurd.

    Cases in Point—

    * Carson Palmer—everyone knows that he is injury prone and a statue in the pocket—yet, BA continues to throw caution to the wind n the way in which he so often minimizes (rather than maximizes) Palmer’s pass protection.

    Personnel-wise—John is perfectly on the money when he questions pairing Mike Iupati with A.Q. Shipley. Look at how the Panthers, Rams, etc. have exploited that weakness up the middle…which is one of the major reasons why the Cardinals can’t sustain drives and put up their customary points this season.

    Then—it make zero sense whatsoever to go “all in” with a RT who last year couldn’t even beat out Bradley Sowell as the swing tackle on game days.

    Which then leads to the question about Keim’s draft decisions—in 4 years he has gotten zero out of his 1st round draft picks as rookies, save for Deone Bucannon contributing as a nickel LB his 1st year.

    When 1st round draft picks get public nicknames such as “knee deep”—it becomes readily apparent that there is a disconnect between the GM and HC as to what kind of players can come in and make immediate contributions—which virtually every team expects (in the salary cap age) from 1st rounders.

    Clearly Keim isn’t picking the kinds of players who can deal with BA’s coaching style—as Cooper, Humphries and Nkemdiche have all struggled mightily to assimilate into the program.

    One has to wonder too why Keim went into this season believing Justin Bethel was the answer at RCB, when he so clearly manifested a lack of instincts, a softness and at times a lack of hustle in his CB play down the stretch last year.

    BA covering for Bethel on the Jeff Janis Hail Mary fiasco is such a crock—Bethel absolutely quit on that play—it was an embarrassment.

    The fans aren’t stupid.

    * Chandler Jones—great trade by Keim, no question. But, Jones, as we have seen and as the Patriots knew, is not a 34 OLB and he’s not a full-time 34DE. If the Cardinals are going to pay him $17M a year—they had better switch to a 4-3. Chandler Jones is a 43DE.

    * As a drafter, Steve Keim has not shown an understanding of how to draft 34 personnel. And neither did his predecessor.

    * Then the question becomes—does James Bettcher know enough about the 4-3 to make the switch? Bettcher was making strides recently until the defense laid an egg in Carolina. But—inconsistency is typical of what one would expect from a young 2nd year DC.

    * Amos Jones—has been the weak link on the staff for 4 years. Yet, he gets a mulligan every year? And BA preaches accountability?

    * The small school UCFA long snapper—for a team “all in”? With no veteran challenger in camp?

    * Chandler Catanzaro missed 5 extra points last year—yet Keim doesn’t even bring in a kicker in training camp to challenge Catanzaro?

    I love Steve Keim’s passion and dedication—and I think he cares as much as any person on the planet about the welfare of the Arizona Cardinals. And for every questionable decision he’s made, he’s made handfuls of great decisions. But, when the context is “All or Nothing” and “Nothing” is looking more likely than “All” every bit of scrutiny, like you say Darren, is fair.

  28. By clssylssy on Nov 5, 2016 | Reply

    Sorta a different kind of “caring” with Keim.
    He, like yourself, has a vested interest, and is paid to care for the success of the team…not necessarily this year. He “cares” about his job security, but would he care just as much about the Cardinals winning games were he the GM of the 49ers or Rams, Chargers, etc.?Would he still care if he were not associated with the organization in an official capacity? He can “care” from the comfort of his cushy box every week and still get paid more than most fans without giving up anything.
    Whereas, we fans have had to make choices about buying season tickets, or giving our children a better lifestyle, taking them to Disneyland, etc., going to away games vs. taking a vacation to see family, or even cutting back in areas of our daily living to buy memorabilia and cheer from the “cheap seats”. Many fans have stood by this team for years and before it was considered “cool”.
    Keim is hardly John Elway or BB., has never played to game at the professional level as an elite player, has never been on a SB team, so his fund of knowledge/experience is different and he is going to miss decisions based on his training and experience. Elway/BB have been there and know the way, can walk the walk; as a former QB Elway knows the importance of protecting the position and keeping your money man upright and functioning. Keim has done some amazing things in finding replacement players and selling them on coming here to be part of something exciting (in the present). He has helped us succeed mostly on a shoestring.
    As fans, we were sold on this being our year to win a SB, it was ALL OR NOTHING! If an Organization makes such a big (and very public) commitment, then the expectation is that everyone is behind that mission 100% and on the same page. Credibility is on the line. Perhaps the fact that he’s on his own three year plan is part of the disconnect between what was promised and what is being delivered, but, it’s the coaches and players the fans get upset with.
    I’m not as disappointed with the team as much asI am in the front office because, I’ve been down this road before and I am really proud of our men…I HATE this for Fitz, and at times find myself wishing he had gone to the Patriots or Minnesota or Seattle.
    And, hating to lose is not the same things as caring…just check out the politics in this country if you are unclear about that!!

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