Kamehameha, UH star helps Cards reach NLCS – again

don’t like the Cardinals. Plain and simple. Their consistency flat out annoys me. Their fans, whom are somehow dubbed the best in baseball, annoy me.

The fact that their new players each season look just like their old players and they’ve all somehow developed the clutch play-off gene annoys me. Every postseason they’re involved in conjures images of the 2006 National League Championship Series when they beat the Mets, striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end the series. This annoys me. Beltran later went on to have two great years with St. Louis. Annoying.

After Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Dodgers, St. Louis is into the NLCS and one more series win away from their third World Series appearance in the past four years. Clearly I’m not happy about it. But Kolten Wong is a big part of the reason they made it to the NLCS, so I’m choosing to focus on that fact alone and forgetting the uniform. It’s the best thing for my sanity.

When Wong slammed a two-run home run over the wall in right-center field on Monday, he single-handedly tilted what had been a completely even series to that point. The moment he connected with that Scott Elbert fastball and pulled it into the Cardinals’ bullpen, all momentum shifted to St. Louis.

It was the antithesis of last year’s playoff blunder when Wong was picked off for the final out of Game 4 in the World Series. That was the last playoff game he played at Busch Stadium before Monday. He may have finally exorcised that memory and replaced it with one to cherish.

Wong told MLB.com after Monday’s game that last year’s pick-off mishap made him “stronger as a person and a player.” Much of that resolve showed this year after he struggled in April and was quickly demoted back to the minor leagues. Wong put the work in, came back to the show and turned himself into a solid piece of the Cards’ lineup. Some of the potential he flashed at Kamehameha and UH that made him a first-round draft pick is now playing itself out on the biggest stage imaginable.

I’m sure the video of Wong desperately diving back to first base against the Red Sox – with Beltran (ugh) standing helplessly at home plate – will still be worth a replay or two at some point this postseason. But now that’s just a thing that happened, not the thing that happened. I’m not sure I’ll be rooting for the Cardinals in the NLCS, no matter who they end up playing, but I’m happy Kolten Wong is at least one of the key reasons they continue to annoy me.

UPSETS GALORE AT MEN’S CASCAIS PRO: Is there some really good night life in Portugal? I’ve never been, but given the results during the first round of the Cascais Billabong Pro Prime event on Tuesday, the top seeds had already been putting in some overtime at the clubs or they didn’t mind getting the next few days off.

The men’s World Qualifying Series event started with 96 top competitors and featured a number of World Championship Tour regulars. Sebastian Zietz was one of them, but he was eliminated in his opening heat. That wasn’t out of the ordinary as many of the lesser knowns toppled the household names. In addition to Seabass, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Kai Otton, Ace Buchan, Miguel Pupo, Mitch Crews, Matt Banting, Tanner Gudauskas, Kanoa Igarashi, Mason Ho, Travis Logie, Keanu Asing, Dusty Payne and Patrick Gudauskas all fell in their four-man first-round heats – and there were still six heats to go when action was called for the day.

Survivors include Jordy Smith, Adriano De Souza, Filipe Toledo, Tiago Pires, Bede Durbidge, Marc Lacomare, Freddy Patacchia, Jeremy Flores, Carlos Munoz, CJ Hobgood, Jadson Andre, Mitch Coleborn and more of the world’s best.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@ thegardenisland.com. 

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