Rather than spraying champagne in every direction, the defending World Series champions talked about holding a subdued party if they squeezed into the postseason.
When it finally happened, the St. Louis Cardinals just couldn't help themselves.
First-year manager Mike Matheny, wearing a uniform top over an undershirt that was soaked and aromatic from the bubbly that flowed, addressed the media outside the clubhouse around 1 a.m. local time after the Cardinals clinched the second NL wild card when Los Angeles lost to San Francisco.
The Dodgers' elimination set up a final hectic day to the regular season in which the AL West and AL East crowns are up for grabs, and Miguel Cabrera can become baseball's first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Just before Matheny emerged, raucous cheering could be heard.
''I think they realized how special this is,'' Matheny said. ''You can't take these for granted. We were talking about it being kind of subdued and it was, but they...