Then, after the trade, all of a sudden my team was in first place by double digits. I felt like I was riding a wave the whole time. I'm generally a pretty even-keeled guy -- I don't get too far up or down. But I was really high right through the World Series with the Cardinals last year.
This year I'm much calmer. I've been here the whole year and I've had a chance to experience everybody and everything. It's more of a fit for me this year than last year when I was thrown into the middle of a first-place club.
As far as the Division Series goes, we can't be overconfident against the Padres. But that's not really too much of a concern on this team. We're a confident club and we've been that way all year, but we're also a team that has the ability to take it one game at a time. We don't get too far ahead of ourselves.
Coming in overconfident would be an easy thing to do because our regular season record was so much better than the Padres', so I think as a team, we're wary of that. I know the media would have a field day if the team with the worst record in the playoffs beat the team with the best record.
We know better than that. The Padres have a good ballclub, otherwise they wouldn't be getting ready for a playoff series with us.
I haven't fared too well against Jake Peavy, who will likely be the starter in Game 1. He's the kind of guy who can rely on one pitch. He's got such great movement on his fastball, cutting it and sinking it, and he also has good command of the pitch.
But we'll see how that goes. I'm told that he's also very tough mentally, so I don't think that his lack of playoff experience is going to affect him that much. Let's face it, he led the league in ERA two years ago and he led the league in strikeouts this year, so he's definitely got quite a bit of ability.
But we've got a pretty good club ourselves again this year. There's something special about the Cardinals. I don't know if I can pinpoint it but they have a great tradition and history behind this organization. All you have to do is walk around the stadium and the clubhouse to get that feeling. I think they have like nine World Series banners.
Plus, they have Hall of Famers and other great players walking around the clubhouse. When I first came here, that was part of the high for me --- guys like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Red Schoendienst would come strolling through the clubhouse. You don't take those guys for granted. Those people are part of the foundation of this franchise.
Then you have the fans -- Cardinals Nation. Wherever you go, even out of town, you see people wearing a red shirt with a bird on it.
Five-time All-Star Larry Walker has won three batting titles and seven Gold Glove Awards over his 17 seasons in the Majors. In 1997, he became the first Canadian-born player to win an MVP Award.