JUPITER, Fla. • In 1942, the upstart St. Louis Cardinals won 106 games, had only two players on the major-league roster from outside the sprawling and rich minor-league system, and, most famously, upset the New York Yankees.
These Cardinals won 43 of their final 51 games to take the National League pennant. In the World Series -- and this may be one of my favorite esoteric stats from Cardinals history -- they won all of the games held at Yankee Stadium in front of crowds that were twice the size of the capacity at Sportsman's Park.
They were young. They were unfazed. They were damn good.
And, they needed a nickname.
The Cardinals' generation that came after the Gas House Gang became known as "The Swifties." Terry Moore was their captain, and Stan Musial was their star. They didn't get the name for their speed. Only two players had more than 10 steals that season. Instead, it came from their buoyant and jubilant style of play.
Each region in this Cardinals All-Time Tournament we're starting this week carries the nickname of a Cardinals team. The Swifites are the first region that we'll reveal for voting, and since Musial is the No. 1 overall seed into the tournament, he of course gets premium placement and a home-region advantage. He'll be in the Swifties Region.
Are the eight games that make up the first round of the tournament in the Swifties region. The polls are attached here, and they will be available throughout the day and next few days at Bird Land@Facebook. If you have trouble voting with the polls -- we're working on the kinks -- just file your votes in the comment section and I promise I'll count them.
Off we go.
No. 1 1B/OF STAN MUSIAL (127.8 WAR, 1941-63)
vs. No. 16 RHP TODD WORRELL (10.1 WAR, 1985-92)
In what is probably our first true upset of the tournament, Worrell ousted Pete Alexander in the play-in game. Worrell received 59 percent of the vote to advance to face Musial. There were more than 650 people who voted, and clearly present-day players have an edge. That's what will make this tourney interesting, as you'll see in some of the pairings below, all of which were sorted simply by their Wins Above Replacement player. There was no massaging, no finagling, no funny-business in the seeding -- just straight numbers. And still there are many great and intriguing matchups, like the Nos. 8/9 clash below and even a No. 12 that could upset a No. 5. Promise. All Old Pete Alexander did was mark a Hall of Fame career with some of the most important outs in Cardinals history -- the outs that won the team's first World Series title. That wasn't enough to knock out Worrell, and it's unlikely that Worrell will pull another upset of a Hall of Famer here.
No. 8 C/3B JOE TORRE (23.1 WAR, 1969-74)
vs. No. 9 LHP STEVE CARLTON (22.6 WAR, 1965-71)
Torre won an MVP as a Cardinal but never a title. Carlton is remembered more for what might have been had he stayed than what happened while he was he here.
No. 5 1B KEITH HERNANDEZ (35.1 WAR, 1974-83)
vs. No. 12 J. D. DREW (19.4 WAR, 1998-03)
It's possible to make the argument that they became stars elsewhere. That is certainly true in Hernandez's case. And by that I mean "Seinfeld" of course.
No. 4 RHP DIZZY DEAN (36.2 WAR, 1930-37)
vs. No. 13 LHP JOHN TUDOR (19.2 WAR, 1985-90)
You can't make these matchups up. So here's Ol' Dizzy, the chatty and braggadocios righty against Tudor, who had one of the most dominant stretches ever by a Cardinals starting pitcher and had very little interest in talking to the media about it all. Not sure Dizzy's a lock to win this one, even though he'd say he is.
No. 6 1B ED KONETCHY (26.1 WAR, 1907-13)
vs. No. 11 LHP AL BRAZLE (20.5 WAR, 1943-54)
Big Ed, who once led the league in doubles and averaged a beefy six homers per season as a Cardinal, against "Cotton," the lefty who received MVP votes back in 1956 for his league-leading 16 saves. That's obviously a retroactive stat, applied once the "save" stat had been invented and not, you know, available to MVP voters at the time.
No. 3 OF JIM EDMONDS (45.3 WAR, 2003-07)
vs. No. 14 SS GARRY TEMPLETON (17.8 WAR, 1976-81)
I can't be sure, but I'd swear that at the press conference to announce this bracket and its seeding Templeton stood up and gestured to the committee that Edmonds should have been a No. 1 seed. I'm pretty sure that's what he was saying.
No. 7 RHP MORT COOPER (26.0 WAR, 1938-45)
vs. No. 10 LHP SLIM SALLEE (20.7 WAR, 1908-16)
It's fitting that Cooper would end up in this bracket by the end of the seeding. Cooper was the ace of the Swifties, and in that 1942 season the righty went 22-7 with a league-leading 1.78 ERA. He was the NL MVP that summer, not any of his higher-watt, higher-profile teammates. Cooper draws "Scatter" Sallee, a lefty with two nicknames. He's a wily opponent -- like a poker player with two first names -- but Cooper is the favorite, and could be a sleeper pick to advance beyond his seeding in this bracket.
No. 2 C TED SIMMONS (45.7 WAR, 1968-80)
vs. No. 15 LHP VINEGAR BEND MIZELL (17.6 WAR, 1952-60)
Simba has a strong case for the Hall of Fame, let alone to advance beyond this first-round matchup. He'll have other hurdles ahead -- chiefly that center fielder with the famous fist-pump and later Mr. Cardinal. Mizell won at least 10 games for the Cardinals six times and twice won 14. He missed a couple peak seasons to serve in the military. All Simmons did was set all sorts of offensive records for Cardinals catcher and apparently suffer in the long run for being the second-best catcher to the best catcher ever during his career.
Vote now. Vote often. Let the Cardinals' caucus commence.
The brackets and seedings for the Whiteyball/Birdos Region, the ARF Region, and the Gas House Region will be out this week in Bird Land.