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Goold: Cardinals 2020 season defined by overcoming outbreak, one telling decision, and two legacies on hold

Goold: Cardinals 2020 season defined by overcoming outbreak, one telling decision, and two legacies on hold

The enduring images of the Cardinals’ 2020 season won’t be room-service baseballs delivered to players in quarantine, 41 rental cars in a caravan to Chicago, or one playoff victory in San Diego, but what was missing in every snapshot.

The absence of fans in their seats due to a pandemic, of tickets sold, of two modern-day legends reaching free agency in November, and of runs in their October finale.

The Cardinals’ season ended when nine Padres pitchers shut them out in a winner-take-all game for a playoff series that didn’t exist a year ago. Concerns about the Cardinals’ offense persisted throughout and now beyond 2020. The route taken to a 13th consecutive winning season and a familiar finish will have lasting ramifications. Unsure of when they’ll play or how much they’ll have to spend, the Cardinals reach Christmas in a vise — promising to contend, but requesting patience for how they’ll improve.

Several of their biggest stories from 2020 are already defining 2021:

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