Brothers from different mothers. The Cardinals
and MLB Rays define worst to first.
At 3PM ET today, the Arizona Cardinals (9-7) face the Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) for the NFC Championship in Glendale, AZ, and with it, the NFL can tout continued parity for the league. After all, the Cardinals havenâ€™t won a league title since 1947. Heck, they havenâ€™t even won a division title in 33 years.
Until recently, fans in the Phoenix area certainly seemed aware of the futility factor. The NFL had to grant not one, but two extensions to the Cardinals to reach a sellout for their wild card game against the Falcons on Jan. 3rd or be blacked out on television.
Take heart, Cardinals. You need look no further than your brother from a different mother in the MLB Tampa Bay Rays.
Yes, the Cardinals and Rays are a kindred spirit. Doormats. Written off. Never given a chance. And yet, pulling it all together at the perfect time. Lightning, welcome to bottle.
The relationship has not been lost on the men that are in charge of the players on the field. Rays manager Joe Maddon, who has a framed Cardinals jersey in his clubhouse office, is a fan of Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt.
"The parallel I see is that everybody's been waiting for the other shoe to drop -- for them to get hammered, to lose and get put in their place. They haven't," Maddon said to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times.
"They beat a good Atlanta team, and they beat a good Carolina team, just like we beat the White Sox and the Red Sox in the playoffs."
Maddon has left messages for Whisenhunt wishing him luck before each playoff game, even though the two have never met face-to-face.
As for those fans that needed the two extensions by the NFL to avoid being blacked out, todayâ€™s game sold out in 6 min., even after adding expanding seating capacity. Much like the Rays, who didnâ€™t start seeing Tropicana Field start to fill up until nearly the end of the 2008 MLB season, the bandwagon is now in full bloom for the Cardinals.
So, today is a game between two teams that were given 45-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. The Eagles are favored by 3.5, which should suit the Cardinals just fine. After all, who gave the Rays a ghost of a chance against the Red Sox?
This article originally ran on BizofFootball.com
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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