The beginning of the season always offers a lot of promise. Talented prospects, fresh starts and new season of optimism filled the air. For the Palm Beach Cardinals, it was a roster bolstered by the 2011 Midwest League Champions from Quad Cities, so their sights were set on a Florida State League Crown.
The first half of the season did not go as hoped, as the St. Lucie Mets ran away with the first half crown, posting a remarkable 49-19 mark. The Mets’ play in the first half took everyone by storm as they teetered on the .800 winning percentage mark, while bolstering a league-high eight Florida State League All Stars.
Despite the Mets' fast start, it did not deter the Cardinals coaching staff, “We knew they would come down to earth,” said Palm Beach Cardinals Manager Johnny Rodriguez. “The great thing about this league is everyone is pretty equal, so all the little breaks that they were getting would even themselves out.”
After starting the second half of the season on the wrong side of a 1-5 record, the Cardinals went on a run in the month of July, winning a season-high 14 games. Their 20-20 record put them within striking distance of the first-place Bradenton Marauders.
The Cardinals took advantage on August 3rd, as they beat the Marauders to take sole possession of first place in second half standings of the South Division for the first time in the 2012
Their place on top did not last very long, as the Cardinals suffered through a cold stretch, dropping 10 of 12 games and falling out of first and down to fifth in the division.
“It was a difficult stretch,” said Rodriguez. “It was like we forgot how to win games, but the guys continued to play hard and that is all I could ask for. We just couldn’t put it all together”
However, the deck has not been stacked in the Cardinals’ favor since the beginning of the season. All six of the their Opening Day starters are now wearing Double-A Springfield threads, while the FSL leading hitter, Mike O’Neill has also moved on. The roster continues to be picked and plucked by their Double-A counterpart, as they try and capture a Texas League title.
Despite the constant turnover of the roster and injuries, which piled up later in the season, the Cardinals skipper has not made excuses.
“We are still in it,’ added Rodriguez. “We will continue to play hard throughout the rest of the season. We will finish strong.”
The sentiment has been echoed through the Palm Beach clubhouse, as the spirits remain high.
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