Ugly Is Not Virtuous, It’s Just Ugly

Yeah, I was pretty angry and frustrated.  This was tweeted early in the game, when the score was 2-1 and the offense was non-existent (as it often is).  After the Cardinals were up 6-2, I was feeling better and a little sheepish about my outburst.

But then the 8th inning happened.

Up until then I figured to own up to my premature acrimony and admit I was wrong.  This entire maddening, frustrating season has turned me into a shrew.  Then everything that kept me in a constant state of exasperation happened again in the 8th inning.  The manager who can’t get out of his team’s and his own way, did it again.  While we all watched in horror as he allowed Pat Neshek to continue to give up hits and runs until the lead was gone.

The game was won eventually, but at what cost?

Mike Matheny always has some eye-roll inducing, quixotic profundity to impart to the Cardinal faithful after one of these types of games.  As if to smugly inform us that there is always a method to his seeming madness, and we just don’t understand his genius.  Bah.  His screw-ups are often saved by sheer luck, or a determination on the part of his players to prevail despite him.

His luck is going to run out soon.  We all have felt it coming on.  It’s just a matter of when.

John Mozeliak says he has an ulcer.  Well get in line, baby.  Perhaps the Cardinals might spring for the antacid for all of Cardinal Nation.  Or better yet, get us a manager with a better functioning cerebral cortex.

Oh, there is all kinds of blame to go around.  This team has looked like it has been on life support for most of the season.  The players don’t get off that easy.  Matt Carpenter played like he didn’t know what a baseball and a glove were for.  Matt Adams has functioned at the plate like that wooden thing in his hand was a poisonous snake.  Our darling Yadier Molina treats the first pitch like it’s the only one he is going to get.  The Cardinals are the worst base-runners in baseball.  They couldn’t bunt properly if their life depended on it.  The Cardinals have coaches for this sort of thing, right?  You could have fooled me.

Yes, I am extremely frustrated.  The relief of last night’s win is not enough for me.  The playoffs are looming, and the ability to comeback against the worst team in baseball is not going to be a virtue worth a plug nickel then.

I envy the composure of the eternal optimists.  I hope they are not disappointed.  I really do.  I do not have the ability to be like them though.  I call them like I see them, and I don’t hold back. That is either a vice or a virtue, depending on how one views the world.  So be it.

I leave you with my parting tweet of last night.

Thank you for reading.

Advertisements

The Remains Of The Season

The magic number has now reached Yadier Molina.  With 5 games left to play, that’s reassuring.  It would be helpful if the Pirates would lose already.  The Bucs have no opponent left to give them fits, seeing as how they are playing the hapless Braves and the washed up Reds.  The Pirates don’t play well on the road, they have a worse road record than the Cardinals do.  So I am hoping they suffer a loss or two along this last road trip. I would like to have a little more breathing room and not have the outcome unknown until the last game of the regular season.

I worry how the Cardinals’ often absent offense will play out in the playoffs.  This was the major issue with the World Series loss to the Red Sox in 2013.  That, and pitching to David Ortiz.  And pitching Seth Maness against Jonny Gomes.  And some bad defense.  Okay, now I’m really worried about all those things except the bad defense.  We won’t be pitching to David Ortiz or Jonny Gomes (well we might with Gomes since he now plays for Oakland), but Mike Matheny‘s decision making will still be there.

Our likely NLDS opponent is the Dodgers.  The Nationals have a pretty strong hold on the best record right now.  The Cardinals would have to go 5-0 in their remaining games and the Nationals would have to go 1-6 in theirs.  Not going to happen (4-1 and 0-7 would get it done too, but even less likely to happen).  Therefore, the Cardinals must do their Clayton Kershaw Playoff Beatdown thing again, and figure out how in the heck to get to Zack Greinke.  The Cardinals must also try to end up with a better record than the Dodgers, to get home field advantage. That is still a tall order.  4-1 from the Cardinals would mean the Dodgers would have to go 2-3 to lose best record.  Not impossible but not probable. 3-2 from the Cardinals would require 1-4 from the Dodgers.  Seeing as how the Dodgers play their last series with the Rockies, I don’t see that happening.

So assuming no home field advantage, the Cardinals record against the Dodgers in LA this season is 1-3.  Not promising.  For 2011-2013 the record is 6-4.  So in essence, it’s probably a toss up.  The record at Busch against the Dodgers is a toss up as well;  From 2011-2014 the Cardinals are 6-6.  I would still rather play them at home.

As for the roster, well that remains to be seen.  The rotation is likely to be Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and one of Michael Wacha/John Lackey.  I would prefer Lackey at this point.  Lackey has a strong postseason record and Wacha’s health is still iffy.  The question will be if Wacha doesn’t start, will he be in the bullpen?  As for the remainder of the bullpen, I think Jason Motte should be left off, and possibly Kevin Siegrist.  Position players are easier; Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Oscar Taveras, Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk for sure, then back up catcher.  The remaining 3 on the bench are up for grabs.  I would rather have Pete Kozma than Daniel Descalso, but Mike Matheny is not going to leave his favorite player off the roster.  Perhaps both will be on, but Xavier Scruggs as a back up to Adams would make more sense.  Of course that means it definitely won’t happen.  The final player could be a third catcher.

All will be known (and likely complained about) by October 3, when the first game of the NLDS is played.  No doubt Wainwright will pitch Game 1.  Wainwright is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Diamondbacks; whether he will or not may be determined by whether the Cardinals have clinched before then.  Even if he does pitch on Sunday, he would still be on normal rest to pitch Game 1 on Friday.  Clayton Kershaw, the likely Game 1 starter for the Dodgers, pitches his last game of the regular season tomorrow (unless there is an improbable scenario that forces him to pitch on short rest on Sunday).  Assuming the probable, Kershaw will pitch Game 1 on a long rest.  Whether this is good or bad is unknown.

The sprint is on, and may the best team (the Cardinals, in our hearts anyway) be the victor.

Thank you for reading.

Mathenaging: Post It Note Edition

It was a beautiful win.  Kudos to Tony Cruz.  The Cardinals needed this win.

 

This is going to be a short post.  The Cardinals won the game and so all is well.  No, it’s not.  That game was the poster child of Mike Matheny‘s bad managing.  It was the poster child for how the Cardinals win games in spite of their manager.

In the bottom of the ninth, Yadier Molina hit a double in the gap.  The winning run was in scoring position.  Molina was pinch run for with Thomas PhamPeter Bourjos came up to bat with a man in scoring position and no outs.  Pham is a fast runner and could have scored on any single out of the infield.  Bourjos is batting .314 in the month of September.  Mike Matheny calls for Bourjos to bunt.

Yes, bunt.

Of all the boneheaded, moronic decisions, this one wins the award.  Give up a precious out, with no outs already, to move a runner from one base to another when he could have scored the winning run from the base he was already on.  Brilliant.  NOT.

After Bourjos squared to bunt, the Brewers were in control.  Knowing what he was going to do, they wisely threw him curve balls, pitches that are extremely hard to bunt.  After Bourjos failed to get the bunt down on two of those curve balls, you would have thought with two strikes the bunt would be called off.  Well you would be wrong.  When the Brewers saw that he was actually going to try to bunt again, time was called to change the sign for the pitch.  Throw another curve ball, of course.  Of course, Bourjos missed it, fouled it off and struck out.  Bourjos failed there, it was badly done.  No argument.  However, it was a play that should never have happened.

Here is what the genius, Matheny, had to say about it after the game.  From the Post Dispatch :

 

Got to do it right there. Got to. Got to get the bunt down. That’s the play.”

 

No, Mike, that wasn’t the play.  It sure as hell wasn’t the play after two strikes.  Good job throwing your player under the bus for your stupidity.

The Cardinals won this game by the skin of their teeth, but they may not be so lucky again.  Dumb decisions like this one could prove costly down the road.

This kind of thing makes me furious.  That is all.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

It’s Not Over In The First Inning

Last night’s loss was brutal.  I confess that I turned the game off after Trevor Rosenthal walked the lead off hitter in the 9th.  I knew what torture was coming.  I followed the game on Gameday after that because it was less painful that way.  Once again, the Cardinal offense failed to score after the 1st inning.  How many times have we seen that this season?  I have no idea why that happens.  Do the players lose focus after the 1st inning?  Does the opposing pitcher pitch better?  Is it a combination of the two?  I only know that it is frustrating to me as a fan.

The Cardinals can not afford any more such losses.  There are only 11 games left and the Pirates are on a mission.  The Pirates are playing the Boston Red Sox right now, a team that is eliminated from playoff contention and is just playing out the season.  They follow with the Brewers, the Braves and the Reds.  Only the Brewers and the Braves have something to play for.  The Cardinals must bear down from here on out and win most of these remaining games.

As for last night’s game, there are too many grimacing moments to count.  Just about every player did something that made me want to throw hard objects at my TV.  Though Mike Matheny wasn’t the villain in this particular baseball episode, he didn’t help the situation much either.  Perhaps if we hadn’t been once again been subjected to Daniel Descalso playing defense, that bloop single by Hector Gomez that drove in the Brewers winning run might have been caught.  Kolten Wong has caught several of those types of balls before, he has better speed than Descalso and might have been able to catch up to it.  Who knows for sure, but I would have liked our chances better.  Even Pete Kozma might have gotten to it; he certainly had a better chance than Descalso.  Both Kozma and Wong are faster and better defenders than Descalso. Once again, Matheny’s obsession with Descalso came back to bite us.

However, the main villain was the offense.  Scoring runs after the 1st inning would have nullified all of the hand-wringing at the end.  Rosenthal would have had a bigger cushion to work with.  Jhonny Peralta swinging on the first pitch and grounding into a double play in the first inning was a huge rally killer, and may have been the turning point in the game.  That doesn’t excuse the inability to score later in the game, but it certainly put an end to more runs in the first inning.

I can’t stress enough that all season it has been pitching and defense that has kept this team’s playoff hopes alive.  Lance Lynn pitched a good game last night and deserved to win. Many, many times this season, defense has been the savior.  The last thing the Cardinals need is for either of those things to falter or be sacrificed.   The offense has been often scarce, so without the pitching and defense, this team would be in a world of hurt.

As for where the offense went, well that is a question for the ages.  The Cardinals have been trying to find that “spark” all season.  They haven’t found it.  Many hoped Oscar Taveras would be that guy, but he has not.  Though he has hit better of late, overall he has not been significantly better than anyone else.  The power that we all heard about (and that I have personally seen in the minor leagues) is not there.  That doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually come, but I doubt this season will be the one where we see it.  I have high hopes for Oscar, but this season he has been a disappointment, posting  -o.9 fWAR so far for the season.  Last night he had a opportunity to shine in a pinch hit role in extra innings; instead he struck out swinging.  His defense has been less than stellar as well, but to be fair, Oscar has never been a good defensive player.  His talent is with the bat, and when that talent comes out in its full glory, watch out.  Next season I think we will see what he can bring.

So, tonight we face the Brewers again with Adam Wainwright on the mound.  The Cardinals will be facing Mike Fiers, a pitcher that the Cardinals have had trouble with, but who is coming off the brutal outing against the Marlins, where he hit Giancarlo Stanton in the face with a pitch, probably ending his season.  Will Fiers still be affected by that outing?  Who knows, but the Cardinals need to take advantage of any weakness they can.

These games will be a turning point for the Cardinals.  Games like last night must not happen again.  I hope I am not forced to turn the game off again.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Getting There Is Not The Hardest Part

The Cardinals train is rolling.  After 3 consecutive disillusioning losses to the Reds in Cincinnati, the Redbirds returned home to sweep the Rockies.  The Rockies are a last place team, so the sweep is not as meaningful as it could be, but at a time when winning games in quantity is more important than winning them in quality, we take what we can get.  Getting that magic number down to 0 as quickly as possible is the goal.  The quality wins must happen when the playoffs start.

I have spent a lot of time of my fandom this season being frustrated and just generally pissed off at the manager, sometimes at the team, and even sometimes at individual players.  It hasn’t been an easy season to be a Cardinal fan.  I have to take some share of the blame in that; I am not one of those fans who can just sit back and watch and not get too wrapped up in the process or the outcome.  I have a brother like that, he doesn’t sweat anything about the Cardinals.  He has the Nuke LaLoosh attitude about Cardinal fandom—“sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes…it rains.”   He makes fun of me when I get emotional about baseball.  That’s okay, because I know how to push his buttons too.

The process matters to me.  I sweat how many times in a row Trevor Rosenthal pitches, or how many pitches Adam Wainwright throws in a game.  I sweat who plays the outfield when Shelby Miller pitches; all those fly balls being chased down by the 3 worst defensive outfielders on the team makes me nervous.  I sweat Daniel Descalso playing anywhere on the field.  I believe process matters.  Better process means more of those good outcomes occur than when bad process is used.  Perhaps the Cardinals would have more wins and be in a better position right now if the process along the way had been better. I can’t just say at the end of a game “who cares what the manager did because we won”.  I care.  Very much.

My brother would just shake his head at me.  My brother is more of a football fan anyway.

I am not a major league baseball manager and I don’t pretend to be.  I do, however, understand how baseball works, and I know enough to know when something could be done better.  I happen to think managing a baseball team by playing hunches and going with “feelings” about things is not the best way to manage.  Feelings are for shrinks.

Sure, being able to lead and motivate these players is important, I am not discounting that.  Those things occur in the clubhouse and the dugout.  What happens on the playing field is tactical, and requires logical thought and good process.  Putting your players in the best position to succeed is not about feelings, it’s about knowing their strengths and weaknesses and utilizing those to the best advantage.  It’s about knowing what the opposing team brings, and playing to their weaknesses with your strengths.  Using all the data available (and there is mountains of it) to logically plan how to utilize strengths and exploit weaknesses is the best way to manage tactically on the field.  Making a pitcher “feel like a King”, or being “fair” does nothing on the field but make it more likely that you will end up with a team of good feeling losers at the end.

I would really like to see Mike Matheny manage more like a scientist and less like a psychologist.  Motivation and leadership only goes so far; it must be accompanied by good, logical thought processes and strategic use of reliable baseball data.  I don’t see that happening with Matheny.  The only data he appears to rely on is straight left/right handedness (unmodified by actual left/right split data) and small sample size batter versus pitcher match ups that have little to no predictive value.

There is so much more than could be utilized in making tactical decisions on the field, as well as in planning lineups.  It is all available at the tips of the fingers to you and me.  No doubt Matheny has access to reams and reams of team internal data he could use as well.  If he is using any of it, it sure doesn’t show on the field.

This has become something of a rant, but it is and has been the source of much of my frustration with the management of this team.  With the playoffs looming, I believe it is more and more important to plan strategy wisely.  The Cardinals won’t be playing last place teams in the playoffs.

Yes, I am happy that the Cardinals are in first place and looking to win the division.  It doesn’t stop there, however.  The road becomes much more difficult from here on, and I would be much happier if I thought the team was being managed in a way that increases the probability of winning in the playoffs.  The way it has been managed all season thus far does not engender much confidence in that happening.

Thank you for reading.

A Perfect Storm in Cincinnati

The Cardinals really screwed the pooch in Cincinnati.  After sweeping the Pirates at home and taking 3 out of 4 against the Brewers in Milwaukee, the Cardinals came into Cincinnati flying high.  They managed to overcome a mystifying start against a soft tossing lefty with nothing special to offer in Monday’s game in the late innings.   The rest of the series was a really big bag of nothing.  Ineffective pitching on Tuesday, little to no offense on Wednesday and Thursday.  Toss that up with some defensive miscues in both the infield and the outfield, and some pretty bad BABIP luck and you get a Suck Salad.

Much was made about Mike Matheny‘s decision to pinch hit Mark Ellis, Peter Bourjos, and Tommy Pham against Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game.  Mark Ellis was used, according to reports, because he was 3-3 against Chapman in his career.  I have often complained about Matheny’s use of these batter v pitcher match ups to put together his lineup and to make decisions about pinch hitters.  There is no evidence that these small sample size match ups (many times they involve ABs years in the past) are in any way predictive.  They don’t provide any more value to predict how a hitter would fair against a particular pitcher than a simple coin toss would provide.  This article at Fangraphs from 2011 discusses their lack of predictive value.  As it happened, Ellis failed in both his attempts, on Wednesday and Thursday’s games against Chapman, to get a hit or get on base.

In addition, Matheny pinch hit Peter Bourjos for Yadier Molina, a move that angered some fans.  The explanation later given was that Matheny felt Bourjos’ “bat speed” would match up well with Chapman’s 100+ mph fastball.  Now I am the biggest Peter Bourjos honk there is, but I didn’t think that was a good match up at all.  Hitting the 100+ mph fastball is less about bat speed, and more about timing.  Timing is achieved and maintained by repetition.  You get proper timing through getting a lot of ABs.  So logically, the last person you would want trying to hit a 100+ mph fastball is a guy like Bourjos, who spends the majority of his time on the bench, pulling splinters out of his backside.  Bourjos had had a whopping 1 AB since Sunday when he came in to pinch hit for Molina on Wednesday night.  I didn’t have an issue with PHing for Molina, who hasn’t hit well since his return from the DL, but Bourjos was simply a bad choice.  The guy who should have PH for Molina was Jhonny Peralta; a right handed batter who was just on the bench that game for a rest.

As for the use of Tommy Pham to hit against Chapman, that was just idiotic.  Seriously, seriously, stupid.  Not to mention completely unfair to Pham.

Nevertheless, as bad as those decisions were, I don’t think any of them made a significant difference in the outcome of the game.  The likelihood of any Cardinal player getting a hit against Chapman was pretty low.  While Matheny certainly made bad decisions in both those games, the ultimate decider of the outcome was lack of offense sooner in the game.

Defensive miscues by Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras and Jon Jay during this series also hurt the team’s chances.  Terrible BABIP luck in the form of aggressive defense by the Reds also took its toll.

The Cardinals begin a weekend series at Busch against the last place Colorado Rockies.  It is imperative for the Cardinals’ chances at the Division for them to get their act together now and win these games.  The Pirates are nipping at the Cardinals’ heels, and more bumbling and stumbling cannot happen.  Offense and defense must come through.

Matheny’s bad decisions are unfortunately here to stay.  I think we know that all too well.

 

Thank you for reading.

Thor And His Mighty Bat Of Thunder: A Game Recap

For the first 6 innings of last night’s game, I thought I had dreamt the last week of baseball.  The Cardinals were back to their old form, not hitting, not scoring runs, and just generally being boring.  The original starting pitcher for the Reds was injured after throwing 7 pitches, and a new pitcher, a lefty, was brought in who, prior to last night, had an ERA of 15.63.  Nevertheless, the Cardinals’ offense was stymied by him for 6 innings, managing only 4 hits and being struck out 5 times.  No one could figure out why the offense was so ineffective, because the pitcher, David Holmberg, wasn’t throwing anything special.  The curse of the soft-tossing lefty was apparently back.

Then the Reds brought in a familiar face, Manny Parra, another lefty, but one who the Cardinals had seen many times before.  The Cardinals promptly scored two runs off Parra, and the ball got rolling.  Shelby Miller had been pitching his heart out, and had kept the Reds at bay for 7 innings.  In the top of the eighth, still having only thrown 81 pitches, Mathenaging happened and Miller was removed after giving up a lead off single to Brandon PhillipsPat Neshek finished the inning with a fly out and a double play and the Cardinals came up to bat in the ninth.

[Begin dramatic musical interlude]  Then, after a walk by Sir Jon Jay of the Ample Booty and a Prince Matt Holliday of the Bulging Forearms single off the body of Reds’ evil pitcher Pedro Villarreal, the mighty Matt Adams (aka, Thor, God of Thunder ) hit a towering, long, 3 run homer to the center field seats, a fitting tribute to the long suffering Cardinal martyr, Sir Jason of LaRue.   The Goodly Knight Sam Freeman came in and finished the Reds off in the 9th.  Once more, victory was ours. [Dramatic music fade]

The first 6 innings can only be explained by the presence of two pitching profiles that strike fear in the hearts of Cardinals fans everywhere.  The Pitcher Never Seen Before and the Soft-Tossing Lefty.  Both were present in David Holmberg.  If you add in the High ERA Cy Young Pitcher, you have a hat trick.  The perfect storm of Cardinal offense suckitude.

Thankfully the perfect storm ended in the 7th inning.

In other NL Central news, the “Better than the Cardinals” Milwaukee Brewers lost again last night to the Marlins.  That’s a dozen, cousin.  Losses, that is, in the Brewers last 13 games.  The new second place team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, unfortunately won, so the Cardinals’ lead remains at 4.5 games.  The Cardinals’ win brought the magic number down to 15.

It’s good to be talking about magic numbers again.  Until a week ago, I was doubtful that would happen.

If you want to laugh, check out this hilarious game recap at the Reds’ SB Nation site, Red Reporter.  I especially loved the picture of the mythical creature, Grichuk:

 

300bp7r_medium

 

Quite a looker, ain’t he?  Looks like a 4 year old girl’s doll nightmare.

I guess if you suck as badly as the Reds do, you have to have something to laugh about.  Kudos to the clever writer at Red Reporter.

The Cardinals take on the Reds again tonight behind Michael Wacha and his pitch limit.  The Reds are offering The Shoplifter, Mike Leake.  I am especially looking forward to the Reds’ reaction to the other Cardinals’ mythical creature, The Tuivailala.  If he makes an appearance, of course.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

Going For The Jugular

The winning streak has ended, but it was going to anyway.  The Brewers beat the Cardinals last night by the score of 6-2 behind a very good pitching performance by Mike Fiers.    Two runs on 9 hits was all the Cardinals offense could manage against Fiers.  Today the Cardinals face their former teammate, Kyle Lohse.  The Cardinals have hit Lohse well since he signed with the Brewers and let’s hope that trend continues today.

Jhonny Peralta hit his 19th home run in last night’s game, while Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos each went 2 for 4, with Bourjos hitting a double and scoring one of the Cardinals’ two runs.   The Bourjos/Jay tandem in the outfield is working out well and should continue.  It’s time to run the best performing lineup out there every day.  NO TINKERING.  While I have high hopes for Oscar Taveras, and believe in his future with the Cardinals, there is a pennant race going on and the best lineup possible needs to take the field.  With Oscar Taveras hitting just .237/.283/.295 since July 1st, and given his limited defensive skills, starting Oscar is not the best use of resources right now.  Jon Jay is a given to start, and Peter Bourjos is hitting a much superior .338/.397/.507 since July 1st and is a top 5 defensive center fielder.  Oscar’s time is coming, but it is not here now.

Tony LaRussa used to change his lineups like he changed clothes, UNTIL September rolled around.  It was at that time that he put his best lineup out there and stuck with it.  While in hot pursuit of a Division championship and a berth in the postseason, LaRussa knew it was not a time for experimentation.  Matheny must do the same.  Only the return of Matt Adams to his regular 1B position should change the lineup.  The rest of the roster can fill in in late innings and as pinch hitters if appropriate.

If the pitching can return to its early season form, and the offense and defense continue to perform, the Cardinals could be unstoppable.  Lance Lynn must maintain his current level of performance while Adam Wainwright must regain his former level.  The return of Michael Wacha bodes well, and Shelby Miller‘s last start was encouraging.  As for John Lackey, he has been inconsistent, but has a strong record of solid postseason performance.  Let’s hope last night’s outing is not going to be the norm for him going forward.

Getting as big a lead as possible over the Brewers is a must.  That’s why the Cardinals have to win the next two games.  Players that need a rest can get one during the following series against the Reds.  Mike Matheny cannot let the Brewers get any kind of an edge by employing “getaway” lineups or resting key players.  Get Adams back in the lineup, and keep Molina, Holliday, Carpenter, Peralta, Wong, Jay and Bourjos playing.  This is not a time for being “fair” or getting lesser players playing time just because.  There are seven games coming against the Reds and the Rockies, both well below .500 teams, where resting players would do less damage.

The pedal needs to be put to the metal in a big way.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers*

It’s been a frustrating season, and my frustration has had its outlet over and over on this blog.  Frustration with this team’s performance for sure, but also frustration with Mike Matheny‘s management, and at times with John Mozeliak’s roster construction.  The issues have been many:  bullpen management, double switches, over use of pitching arms, double standards with regard to use of personnel, the list goes on.

The team has seemingly put it together over the last 5 games, a good sign, but there is still room for skepticism.  Who would not be skeptical considering the roller coaster ride fans of the Cardinals have endured for the past 5 months?  Right now things are very good; the Cardinals are in first place with a 3 game lead and the Brewers in a free fall.  The Cardinals have a knack for getting hot at the right time, and I am hoping that is what is happening now and not a brief surge before the inevitable regression occurs.

I saw another good sign yesterday.  One of the things I have complained about with Mike Matheny is his lack of demonstrable emotion expressed during and after the game, regardless of the outcome.  His robotic approach during post game interviews has always left me cold and lacking in any empathy for him.  I would sometimes see camera shots of him in the dugout and he always looked like he just smelled something nasty. It was off-putting to me, and only served to exacerbate my unfavorable opinion of his managing skills.

However, after yesterday’s 1-0 walk off win against the Pirates, I saw something completely different.  A joyful Matheny, smiling and gesticulating in the manner of victory.  It was…….different and unexpected.  I was feeling a sort of warm fuzzy, something I rarely associated with Mike Matheny.  Don’t get me wrong, this momentary emotional bonding on my part with Matheny changed nothing about my views of his managing skills.  It did serve to give me hope that he might be growing in some small way.

On to the game.  I didn’t get to see it in real time.  I was working and I only was able to listen to the final inning or so on the radio on my way home.  Fortunately that was the best part.  I saw many of the highlights after I got home, including the aforementioned emotional reaction of the manager.  It would be no surprise to anyone that I was extremely happy to see the role Peter Bourjos played in the climactic win.  I have been a fan of Peter’s long before he became a Cardinal, and I am a staunch advocate on his behalf.  I have seen first hand what Peter can bring to the table, and have been frustrated by the lack of opportunities he has been given to demonstrate it.  There is much more that Cardinal fans have not experienced; more glorious plays in the outfield, more blazing speed on the base paths, and yes, an inside the park home run.  He can hit much better too, something Cardinals fans would have experienced had the powers that be in the organization demonstrated some patience.  Alas, that is water under the bridge now.

The series against the Pirates was glorious and I hope to see a continuation of that glory in the series against the Brewers.  The Cardinals have always played well in Miller Park, and that gives me hope.   For the first time all season, I am feeling very good about this team.

Please let it continue.

 

*It’s the opening line in an Emily Dickinson poem

 

Thank you for reading.

MGL on Baseball

The Baseball Analysis "no spin" zone!

A Blog of Their Own

Because chicks dig more than just the long ball

The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

On the Outside Corner

A (mostly) historical blog dedicated to the St. Louis Cardinals

Aaron Miles' Fastball

A blog on the St. Louis Cardinals

The view from here.

My thoughts and views on all things St. Louis Cardinals.

%d bloggers like this: