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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Greatness, regularity connect franchises

Three teams have been the model of consistency in their respective sports for the past decade.

Baseball has the St. Louis Cardinals, basketball has the San Antonio Spurs, and football has the Indianapolis Colts. Although they all have their own identity, each has found a way to succeed consistently every year.

The Colts and Spurs started their runs in 1999, while the Cardinals’ stretch began in 2000. Around that time, each team found their cornerstone players. The Cardinals signed Albert Pujols, the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, and the Colts received Peyton Manning as the No. 1 overall pick. Each player combines a level of intelligence and physical skill that is unrivaled in their sports. When they are at the top of their game, they make other players around them better, and provide the foundation a winning team needs.

These teams have also, for the most part, maintained the same coaching regimes: the Cardinals with Tony La Russa, the Spurs with Gregg Popovich, and the Colts with Tony Dungy, who retired after the 2008 season. Each coach managed to institute a culture of winning and professionalism, and their players love to play for them.

 As we’ve seen, these moves have produced stable, championship-caliber teams year in and year out. They play hard and play the game the right way.

Speaking of championships, they have a few of those too. The Spurs lead the group with four, winning it all in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. The Spurs have won every NBA Finals they’ve competed in.

The Colts earned a Super Bowl title in 2007 by defeating the Chicago Bears. They have a chance to win another Sunday. 

The Cardinals shocked everyone by defeating the Detroit Tigers in five games to claim a wold a World Series title in 2006. They also made an appearance in 2004. but were swept in four games by the Boston Red Sox.

Their consistency gives them a chance to win a championship every year. Even in years where they’ve come up short, they’re always there at the end, whereas most teams would consider themselves lucky to have a single shot at a title. These teams are focused on winning every game in every year, and they have the ability to do it.

They provide a model for Houston’s teams, even as they consistently beat them. While it’s frustrating for Houstonians see their teams fail against the Spurs, Colts and Cardinals, it has become fascinating to watch these organizations over a long period of time. It’s become intriguing to observe how a team can consistently play hard and win.

I used to hate the drubbing Houston teams would inevitably receive from them. However, I’m learning to enjoy it, because I get many chances to watch the best. I’m beginning to enjoy watching Manning nickel-and-dime receivers down the field, Pujols going to right field on virtually every nasty breaking ball, or Duncan as he’s clearing out all five players for a rebound.

Like all dynasties, though, theirs will end. But one thing I’ve learned is to never count out teams that know how to win, teams with players of this caliber, because they always seem to find a way to win. Each big-time player and coach has created winning teams that will be remembered for a long time, and all of them will be in the Hall of Fame someday. It is likely we will never see players, coaches or teams like this again.

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