In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warmer climates to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many college students.
Spring training typically lasts about six weeks, starting in mid February and running until just before the season opening day (and often right at the end of spring training, some teams will play spring training games on the same day other teams have opening day of the season), traditionally the first week of April. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period. A few days later, the position players arrive and team practice begins. Team members normally wear their batting practice uniforms for the duration of spring training and only wear their normal jerseys beginning on Opening Day.
The St. Louis Cardinals, a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri, compete in the National League (NL) Central Division of Major League Baseball (MLB). Busch Stadium has served as their home field since 2006. The Cardinals' roots commence from an earlier local team from whom they took their original name, Brown Stockings. St. Louis established themselves in 1882 as a charter American Association (AA) team, shortened their name to "Browns" the next season, then joined the NL in 1892. They were also known as the "Perfectos" before adopting Cardinals as their official name in 1900.
(1932 is the first year in which the nickname appeared on the uniforms of the Brooklyn Base Ball Club).
In Major League Baseball, the National League Division Series (NLDS) determines which two teams from the National League will advance to the National League Championship Series. The Division Series consists of two best-of-five series, featuring the three division winners and a wild-card team.
The Division Series was implemented in 1981 as a result of a midseason strike with first place teams before the strike taking on the first place teams after. After 1993, it was implemented for good when Major League Baseball restructured each league into three divisions, but their next playing was in 1995 due to the cancellation of the 1994 playoffs. Previously, because of a players' strike in 1981, a split-season format forced a divisional playoff series, in which the Montreal Expos won the Eastern Division series over the Philadelphia Phillies three games to two while the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Houston Astros three games to two in the Western Division. The team with the best overall record in the major leagues, the Cincinnati Reds, failed to win their division in either half of that season and were controversially excluded, as were the St. Louis Cardinals, who finished with the NL's second-best record. The Atlanta Braves have currently played in the most NL division series with eleven appearances. The Pittsburgh Pirates (whose finished with a losing record from 1993-2012) were the last team to make their first appearance in the NL division series, making their debut in 2013 after winning the 2013 National League Wild Card Game.
In Major League Baseball, the National League Championship Series (NLCS) is a round in the postseason that determines who wins the National League pennant and advances to Major League Baseball's championship, the World Series, facing the winner of the American League Championship Series. The reigning National League Champions are the St. Louis Cardinals.
Prior to 1969, the National League champion (the "pennant winner") was determined by the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season. There were four ad hoc three-game playoff series due to ties under this formulation (in 1946, 1951, 1959 and 1962). (The American League had to resolve a tie in 1948, but used a single-game playoff for that.)