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Kolten Wong comparing playing with the Brewers to the Cardinal Way is going to sting fans.
On a long enough timeline we all end up asking ourselves whether or not the grass is greener on the other side.
Kolten Wong is finding that out for himself in short order. After spending the first seven years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Wong was unceremoniously discarded and has since landed with the Milwaukee Brewers.
A fan-favorite signing with a division rival speaks exactly as loud as it needs to, but Wong isn’t letting the optics of the signing do all the talking. The Brewers infielder spoke recently about the difference between how things are going in Milwaukee to how the went during his time in St. Louis.
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals decided to decline Wong’s option for the 2021 season, and showed almost no interest in bringing him back. If there’s anyone who is justified in taking a shot at the Cardinals, it’s Wong.
The Cardinal Way is not the only way to run a baseball team
But as much as this seems like shade, it’s not.
Most Cardinals fans likely won’t take kindly to hearing Wong speak about the team in anything but a glowingly positive light, but he raises points that need to be heard.
Milwaukee has established in recent years an ability to adapt to an evolving way of looking at the game. Analytics have long been a part of baseball’s DNA, but the interpretation and utilization of data is always changing.
Robert Murray, who covered the Brewers for The Athletic, details exactly what Wong is experiencing:
Having covered the Brewers for two seasons for The Athletic, I have seen how the Brewers shift up close. It is something that manager Craig Counsell and the team’s analytics staff loves to do to maximize matchups and put themselves in the most favorable position.
The Cardinal Way is sacred to fans in St. Louis, the same way that anyone speaking out against The Patriot Way is seen as a blasphemer. And to be fair, the Cardinal Way has worked, with St. Louis making the playoffs in five of the seven years Wong spent with them, making it to a World Series in 2013 and winning the NL Central four times.
But change is nature. The Cardinals moved on from Wong and it sounds like Wong has moved on from the Cardinals, but the nuance of the change in environments will be a fascinating storyline to watch in 2021.