Who Are These Cardinals?

It’s early in the season, and yet things with the Cardinals are not looking particularly good.  It happens.  It’s baseball.  The sample sizes are small so the numbers will tell you very little if anything useful about the future.

Invariably every season, however, if things are bad for any length of time, the amateur general managing begins.  It is as predictable as sunrise and sunset.  Something is wrong and someone or multiple someones are to blame.  Finger pointing begins.  Moves that are made are criticized and alleged to be the cause.  On and on, yada, yada.

Hey, we as fans really become emotional about these things.  We want to believe we know how to do better if the Cardinals would just listen to us.  I can’t say how many fans actually believe this, or just act like they do because it’s fun or their bored or whatever.  Having something to analyze and discuss with other fans is part of the experience, with the internet even more so than it used to be because the avenues for discussion are widespread.  It’s a good time be a sports fan.

I am no different than any other fan.  I have a blog, so that reinforces that I have opinions and I am not hesitant to express them to anyone who is willing to listen.  Maybe not so many people are willing to listen, but I can live with that.  It won’t stop me from expressing said opinions as often and as forcefully as I choose.

Okay, so get to the point you are saying to yourself.  As much as I have strong opinions and am willing to exclaim them to the entire universe, I don’t for one millisecond think I have the answers or know more than those in the Cardinals organization who are paid to make the decisions.   Not that they are always right, they are human just like me and make mistakes.  At the end of the day, however, in the aggregate those folks are going to make better decisions than I would likely make if I were in their shoes.

Nevertheless, here is what I think.  The 2016 Cardinals are a less talented team than the 2012-2015 versions were.  I believed at the start of the season that this was not a division winning team and I continue to stand by that assessment.  The “core” players like Wainwright, Holliday and Molina are aging and will never be the players they once were.  The young players are finding their way, and the jury is still out as to whether any of them will reach their potential.  Players like Carpenter are peaking, still have good years left and I suspect will continue to be the stalwarts for a couple of years.  Wong has room to improve, and Matt Adams is, well, an enigma.  I don’t see much improvement in his future, though I could be wrong.  Maybe call this a transition year if you will.  This team is going to be overshadowed by the Cubs, and perhaps the Pirates if they can get their starting rotation to work.

I am a fan of John Mozeliak. I think he has done great things for this organization.  He is fallible, however, as even he, I imagine, would admit.  I think he whiffed on some things in the offseason, to be frank.  The Heyward situation is somewhat murky, as there is some evidence, if you believe what Heyward says, that he was bound and determined to be a Cub, and nothing Mozeliak did was going to change that.

On the David Price matter, however, I think Mozeliak could have done better.  Yes, it is a lot of money to pay for a pitcher, and maybe the Red Sox were going to  be insane and keep bidding until they got what they wanted.  It wouldn’t surprise me, the Red Sox have done many stupid things with their money.  But I think the Cardinals could have, and should have offered more.  Sometimes I think they are a little too conservative for their own good.

I also think the outfield situation could have been handled better.  Once Heyward was a thing of the past, resorting to the “do nothing further” approach didn’t sit well with me.  I think Piscotty, Grichuk and Pham are fine players, Piscotty I like better than the other two, but all are still fine players.  Grichuk and Pham are injury prone, and Grichuk is a weird player who one cannot really count on to be consistent, in my opinion.  I am not saying that keeping Jay and/or Bourjos was the answer either.  I have never  considered Jay to be more than an average player at best, and Bourjos, though I think he was mishandled and undervalued, as he is a better player than most give him credit for, he was not going to work out, as it was clear that Mike Matheny had no use for him.  In an organization that appears to value offense over defense and speed, Bourjos was not a good fit.

As for Matheny, well, he makes bad decisions.  I think he will keep making bad decisions, because I think he is too stubborn and set in his philosophy to take direction from others and change his approach.  Having said that, I don’t think his bad decisions in the aggregate  have a large effect on the performance of the team.  In individual games the bad decisions can make a difference; over the long haul, not so much.  The organization, however, seems satisfied with him and that is what matters.  It is the overall talent of the team that will make a bigger difference, and as I said, I think this is a less talented team.

I am coming to a conclusion, I promise.  My conclusion is that this is not a talented enough team to win the division, perhaps not talented enough to even make the postseason.  I don’t see this as the end of the world, however.  These things tend to come and go in cycles; no team, not even the Yankees, have been able to keep a run of success forever, it just doesn’t happen.  The down times were coming, and as one who lived through the Cardinals of the 1970s, that is not something that I am going to freak out about.  Others can do as they please.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

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Goodnight, Sweet Friend

It’s over.

It has taken me some days to get past the fact that the Cardinals made a too early exit from the playoffs in 2015.  For me, writing when the pain is new is a recipe for disaster.  Things are said that I will later regret, my thought processes jumbled by emotion.  I am an emotional person on the best of days, so one can only imagine a post-loss next day would be armageddon with a keyboard.  I am mostly blessed with self-awareness, thank goodness.

Now that I have had time to settle down and process, I have accepted all postseason occurrences, one way or the other.  There were some bright spots, not many, but some.  I have moved on in the most important ways from the bad.  That doesn’t mean I won’t talk about it, just that I won’t talk about it like a shrew on steroids.

Why did we lose?  If you want a clever and humorous look at the possible reasons, here is a tool for that.  But seriously, what are the reasons why the Cardinals lost three games in a row for the fourth season in a row?  We all have our ideas and theories, some more valid than others.  For me, it is a combination of things.

First off, it is not a state secret that I am not a fan of Mike Matheny.  This post is not going to be a War Crimes Trial for Matheny.  As a matter of fact, I think this year’s devastating loss is less of an indictment of Matheny than past postseason losses have been.  There were some screw ups, like leaving Wacha in too long in Game 3 and pinch hitting Greg Garcia for Randal Grichuk in Game 4 because of Garcia’s small sample size success against Pedro Strop (Really, Mike?).  Those mistakes were costly, especially the Wacha one, but they had less of an effect on the overall picture than other factors.

Primarily, I think injury and fatigue were the culprits this time.  This team was playing on borrowed time, and I think deep down we all knew it.  The Cardinals won 100 games with a team chock full of the Walking Wounded, and that fact in and of itself was amazing.  However, what goes up must come down, and the laws of physics, probabilities, and just plain common sense tells us the good times weren’t going to last.  Unfortunately, it all came down in the postseason, but who among us didn’t honestly think that was a distinct possibility?  Come on, don’t lie to yourself.

These guys were hurt and tired.  We can certainly admit that the injuries were not Matheny’s responsibility, not in the most direct sense.  Sure, many of us have issues with Matheny’s roster usage, myself for sure, and overwork can lead to injuries.  Players like Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina should have had more rest, but consider the alternatives that were before Matheny.  Pete Kozma and Tony Cruz are replacement level players or worse.  Peralta wasn’t injured and Molina has to take some of the blame for not being more responsible for his own health.  How many times have we heard stories of Molina talking himself back into the lineup after the initial idea was to rest him that day?  Should Matheny have put his foot down?  I would say yes, but I am not the one having to deal with Molina on a daily basis.  All I am saying is that there is blame to share.

I could spend 1000 words talking about each injury and what may or may not have helped to prevent it.  I am not going to do that because it is in my view irrelevant, and speculative at best.  I think we can all agree that we don’t have all the information available from which to draw any conclusions, and let’s just leave it at that.

I will say that roster issues were a concern from the very start.  This is an area that needs to be evaluated and worked on.  Players are going to need more rest from here on out and there needs to be back ups at those positions that are adequate and that Matheny will use.  The latter is a sticky subject, and one that I have, shall we say, bombastically expressed my opinion on in the past?  Mozeliak intervenes but rarely in how Matheny uses his roster (the Allen Craig trade is an example of where I think he did).  He no doubt has reasons that I don’t understand or appreciate, but that doesn’t stop me from expressing frustration about it nonetheless.  If Mozeliak has firm and unwavering views on not getting involved with Matheny’s roster usage, then he needs to be more proactive in putting together a roster that is in line with Matheny’s views and usage patterns, as much as it pains me to say that (I don’t think Matheny is particularly skillful at player evaluation).  For instance, Mozeliak should try very hard not to put a player on the roster that Matheny is just going to waste (Peter Bourjos is a painful example).  Just Matheny-proof the roster as much as possible, please.  No more wasted roster spots.  Mozeliak has to know Matheny’s tendencies by now.

I am not going to expound on what players should or should not be acquired for the 2016 season.  That will be another post.  I will, however, pause here to say, SIGN JASON HEYWARD.

Okay, now that that is off my chest, I will conclude by saying that I look forward to 2016 and another chance at the [World Series] ring.  Until then, may we have a productive Hot Stove season.

And please God, don’t let the Cubs win the World Series, I am begging you.

 

Over and out.

 

 

Carnage Reigned (Rained) at Miller Park

It is still a little less than a month into the new baseball season, and things have already turned sour for the St. Louis Cardinals.  A routine series in Milwaukee this past weekend will not long be forgotten for its incredible run of very bad luck.  By the time the team left Milwaukee to return to St. Louis, many in Cardinal Nation were thinking that Miller Park was possessed by evil spirits.

Injuries, one of them severe, have left Cardinal Nation stunned and shell shocked.  First of all, Yadier Molina has been sidelined for several days by an injury to his knee as a result of a foul tip during Friday’s game.  Unable to play for the remainder of the series, it is hoped Molina won’t be sidelined for long.  Tony Cruz filled in for the injured Molina in the last two games of the series.

Right fielder Jason Heyward suffered a groin strain in Sunday’s game chasing after a ball in the right field corner at Miller Park.  He is listed as day to day, his return to the lineup unknown.  During that same game, Mark Reynolds came face to face, literally, with the left center field wall while making a catch at the warning track.  Reynolds lay on the ground for a short time, but by the time the Cardinals’ trainer, sprinting to the rescue, got to him, Reynolds was at least on his feet.  After an initial evaluation, Reynolds remained in the game (knowing who he was and where he was at the time, we hope).

However, by far the most devastating injury is the loss, probably for the remainder of the season, of staff pitching ace Adam Wainwright, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury in Saturday’s game while taking an at bat in the fifth inning.  Wainwright stumbled out of the batter’s box after hitting a pop up, and was helped off the field by the trainer and the Cardinals’ manager.  Preliminary reports during and since the game have indicated an injury to the Achilles tendon of the left foot.  An MRI is scheduled for today to confirm.  Achilles injuries are very serious, a full rupture of the tendon would require surgery and a long recovery and rehab period.  A partial tear of the tendon would require less, but significant, recovery time, but the hope for that outcome appears to be remote.

Out of all that carnage, the Cardinals managed to win the series, but took a loss in Sunday’s game 6-3.  The Cardinals have returned home to start a four game series against the Phillies, but the pall of the Wainwright disaster still hangs over the team and the fans.  John Mozeliak has expressed that a replacement for Wainwright in the rotation will be an internal one, though with the recent injury of Memphis starter Marco Gonzales, that replacement will likely be either Tyler Lyons, or Tim Cooney.  Perennially injured starter Jaime Garcia is not yet ready for prime time, though a return to the rotation at some point (however long that might last) has not been ruled out.  Gonzales should  be returning as an option at some point as well.

While Cardinal Nation waits for the confirmation of the bad news on Wainwright, the show must go on, as they say in circus parlance.  The return of Molina is imminent, and the fate of Jason Heyward is unknown, though he will likely miss some of the Phillies’ series, probably replaced by Jon Jay, with Peter Bourjos manning center.  Hopefully there will be no trip to the DL for Heyward.

It was both a good and a bad weekend, though the bad is likely to overshadow the good for the foreseeable future.  Continuing to win would be the best medicine for everyone involved, most especially Wainwright.  A return to Miller Park is thankfully not in the team’s immediate future; the next series there isn’t until August.  Maybe the evil will have dissipated by then.  If not, I suggest a truckload of bubble wrap be on hand.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

The Hilarity of Playoff Baseball

The first game of the Cardinals postseason didn’t disappoint.  It also didn’t do much for the long term health of Cardinals’ fans either.  A game that had the promise of a great pitching duel, was anything but.  Who would have thought that a pitching match up of the two best pitchers in the National League would end up to be a slug fest?  Or that the best pitcher in baseball would leave the game looking like he had just fought a major military campaign.  I can’t help thinking that Clayton Kershaw probably never wants to face the Cardinals again for the rest of his life.

I have to be honest, I went into this thing believing that the Cardinals were going to be carved up like a Christmas ham.  For the first 6 innings of the game, they kind of were, sans two solo dingers from Randal Grichuk and Matt Carpenter.  Although those two shots were rather uncharacteristic of Kershaw, they didn’t portend, for me at least, what was to come in the 7th inning.  Adam Wainwright had pitched uncharacteristically as well, uncharacteristically bad, so the feeling of doom was not abated at all.

What happened in the 7th inning will likely be the subject for debate for a while.  The first batter up, Matt Holliday, hit a hard single to center field.  A single from each of Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina, and Matt Adams rapidly followed.  Then it looked like Kershaw was going to escape his fate when he struck out Pete Kozma, but Jon Jay followed with another single.  Two runs had scored, bringing the game lead to within two.  Once again, Kershaw regained form and struck out Oscar Taveras.  Then, Kershaw saw the thing of his playoff nightmares, the thing that makes him break out in a cold sweat, the thing that sealed his fate.  This thing coming to the plate was…….(begin playing that shark music from Jaws)……no, it wasn’t Albert Pujols…….it was…….Matt Carpenter.  Yep, skinny Matt, with the patience of Job and the peskiness of a gnat flying in your face.  Matt Carpenter, who only a year previously had been the catalyst for Kershaw’s last playoff caststrophe, the 12 pitch AB in the 2013 NLCS that sparked the game winning and pennant winning rally for the Cardinals.

There he was, looming, ready to yank the scab off the old wound.  Was this the picture that was in the mind of Clayton Kershaw at that moment?  Did he have PTSD flashbacks?  You have to wonder.  Whether he did or not, the result of that meeting at that moment was like being in a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  After 7 pitches were thrown, Carpenter tattooed the eighth pitch, a fastball, into the right center field gap for a bases clearing double that gave the Cardinals the lead.  That was the last pitch Kershaw would throw in the game.  His manager came and got him.  His relief then promptly walked Randal Grichuk and then served up a 3 run home run to Matt Holliday.  All total, Kershaw was tagged with 8 ER in the game.

Now all this sounds like great drama, but the reality is that despite last night’s results and the NLCS disaster of last year, Clayton Kershaw is still the best pitcher in baseball.  Putting all the narratives aside, these results prove nothing about Kershaw as a playoff pitcher.  He has had very good results against the Cardinals in other games, including playoff games.  Things like last night and Game 6 in 2013 just happen.  It’s the randomness of baseball.

What isn’t random, however, is the bad feelings that exist between these two teams.  Apparently there are some member of this Dodgers squad that believe they are too special to be subjected to the natural order of baseball.  That what happens to other players on other teams shouldn’t happen to their special selves.  I’m referring to the all too common hit by pitch.

Last night Adam Wainwright threw an errant fastball that hit Yasiel Puig in the back.  He took his base, like he was supposed to.  He wasn’t injured, he wasn’t traumatized, he was just a victim of one of the garden variety occurrences that happen from time to time in the game of baseball.  Except in the vaulted minds of some Dodgers.  The same thing happened to another Dodger, Hanley Ramirez, in the NLCS last year, when he was injured by a errant pitch from Joe Kelly.  Now, let’s keep in mind that Hanley Ramirez gets injured a lot, and I mean A LOT.  He should wear a sign that says “Touch me and I’ll break like a piñata”.  Many Dodgers and their fans believed that the hit was intentional. Many Dodgers and their fans are delusional.  Joe Kelly is famous for his lack of control.  If someone didn’t get hit while Joe Kelly was pitching, it would be a cause for a front page headline.

So the hit by pitch on Yasiel Puig last night got the Dodgers going again.  Because, you know, they’re SPECIAL.  Adrian Gonzalez was the next up to bat after Puig, and Gonzalez likes to shoot off his mouth, so he decides to shoot it at Yadier Molina.  BAD IDEA.  A scrum ensues, as they are wont to do when players behave this way.  Adam Wainwright, as he is wont to do, attempted to bring peace.  He took Puig aside and said, “My bad”.   Wainwright did not intend to hit Puig.  He isn’t that stupid.  I can’t say the same for Adrian Gonzalez.

The scrum appeared to spark a rally for the Dodgers.  It didn’t do them any good ultimately because the 7th inning happened.

Narratives, narratives, about this game.  Harold Reynolds says the Cardinals were stealing signs.  Harold Reynolds is a moron. Adrian Gonzalez says Wainwright hit Puig on purpose.  Ditto.

What happened is this.   Baseball.  End of story.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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.

It’s Make or Break Time

The news about Yadier Molina‘s injury was the capper on an already bad day.  Perhaps I should say an already bad season.  The Cardinals offense had kicked it up a notch at the beginning of the Pirates series, but I have learned to be cautious.  Let’s just say I have trust issues with this team.  The Cardinals were headed into the possibility of a four game sweep of one of our NL Central rivals in an important week of baseball and then the bomb was dropped that the glue that held this team together (such as it was) was lost for possibly the remainder of the season.  It was our worst nightmare come true.  Add to that some frustrating personal issues, and my day was about as bad as it could get.

Losing the fourth game of the series in an ugly beat down was just the cream cheese icing on the proverbial nightmare cake.

It’s good to put a positive spin on it all.  The Cardinals won 3 of 4 from the Pirates.  That’s the correct way to look at it.  Somewhere in some hidden alcove of the black comedy that is my life, there still lies the ability to look at the bright side.  It’s just playing hide and seek.

So, Tony Cruz is a pretty good catcher.  Many teams would love to have him.  That is the way I have to think about it.  Perhaps Audry Perez will be a bright spot.  Perhaps John Mozeliak will find a deal he likes for another catcher.  It’s not the end of the world.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The Brewers series this weekend is crucial.  It presents the possibility of going into the All Star break in first place in the division.  It would take a sweep to do it.  A sweep by the Cardinals of course.  The other alternative would be a place where no Cardinal fan wants to go.  Joe Kelly, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez will go against Yovanni Gallardo, some guy named Jimmy Nelson, and Wily Peralta.  A guy the Cardinals usually whip up on, a guy that they have never seen before (not always a good thing), and a guy that they have had some issues with.  Kind of a mixed bag.  The potential is there for a sweep but the execution is iffy.

I am avoiding talking about last night’s game, because, well, what would be the point?  It was a beat down, it was ugly, we have seen it before, I would just be repeating myself.  I have come to see, among many other things, that I am not on the same page with most Cardinals fans where it concerns this team.   I have lived a long life working in a profession, the law, where digging beneath the surface of people is a necessity for success.  Perhaps that has made me jaded, or turned me into some wacko who sees the boogey man everywhere.  I have often wondered those things myself.  However, the truth is I don’t just accept what I see at face value all the time.  I have seen and experienced too much for that.

Regardless, I do want to enjoy what is left of this season.  Whether I will is yet to be determined.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Walk Off Mania And Stuff

Two walk off home runs in a row.  That’s pretty exciting stuff.  I was especially happy to see Kolten Wong hit the one last night.  I think he has been getting a bum rap this season, both from his manager and from fans.  The kid can play, and if folks would stop dogging him and let him grow into his own, he will be a valuable second baseman for the Cardinals for years to come.

Same goes for Oscar Taveras.  This kid has so much promise as a hitter, and if he is allowed to play he will become what everyone expects him to be.  I get that folks like Allen Craig, I like him too, but he is not the player he once was.  He can still contribute to the team, just not as an everyday player, not now at least.  Platooning him at 1B with Matt Adams, who doesn’t hit particularly well against lefties, and giving him an occasional start in the outfield, is the best way to utilize him at this juncture.  If Mozeliak does decide to trade him, so be it, though I hope if he does it is for a better return than Jake Peavy.

Things have looked better offensively these last two games.  I hope that continues.  I worry about Yadier Molina though.  He is another one that doesn’t look like himself.  I wonder if the knee problems have returned.  The most worrisome part is that the Cardinals do not have another good option in that position.  Tony Cruz is quite satisfactory in the backup role, but he can’t replace Molina.  I am hoping against hope that Matheny has the wisdom to not play Yadi for more than a couple of innings in the All Star game.  He has both Lucroy and Mesoraco to use, I would use them both.

This is the heart of trade season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see John Mozeliak make some kind of move for more offense.  If the Cardinals have any hope of overtaking the Brewers, the second half must be better offensively.  The problem is that to get value you have to give up value.  That likely means pitching prospects or someone from the ranks of the outfield logjam.  Mozeliak has shown reluctance in the past to part with pitching.  In the prospect outfield category there is Stephen Piscotty (who I desperately hope doesn’t get traded because I see him as our left fielder of the future), Thomas Pham, Randal Grichuk, and James Ramsey.  Any of these guys would have some trade value, some more than others.  There are some others in the lower levels of the minor leagues, but the aforementioned are MLB ready or darn close to it.  As for MLB level outfielders, Jon Jay would be the only one I see with enough trade value to get a halfway decent bat (Taveras should be off limits).  However, the BFIB wouldn’t like it and Mozeliak would likely have to pry Jay away from Matheny’s cold dead hands.  I won’t deny that losing Jay wouldn’t bother me a bit, because I like Peter Bourjos better, as anyone who has a pulse probably knows by now.

Whatever happens in the trade market the next few weeks, I don’t think the Cardinals can afford to stand pat.  With Allen Craig, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina all struggling at the plate, one cannot count on this offense too much in the second half without some additional help.  I would prefer to see Mozeliak pick up someone with some pop in his bat.  It’s not going to be Troy Tulowitzki or Giancarlo Stanton, those guys are pipe dreams.  There are other lesser but still decent bats to be had for the right price.  We need to get one.  An infielder would be preferable.

In the meantime, let’s take the Pirates and the Brewers to the cleaners.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Jonathan Lucroy Supports This Message

So this whole Jonathon Lucroy All Star Vote video thing.  People are upset about it, huh?  I don’t know why.  I haven’t watched the video, because frankly, anything featuring a Milwaukee Brewer is sure to be boring.  Even if I did watch it I wouldn’t be upset.  Whatever it says about Yadier Molina, I am sure he can handle it.  I mean, the fans at Great American Little League Park have been trying to upset him for years and all he does is hit home runs and give them the virtual middle finger salute.

Things like this video are just representations of common ordinary petty jealousy.  That’s all.

If you think about it, who exactly are we talking about here?  Jonathan Lucroy is a good catcher.  He is having a good year so far offensively, better than Yadi even.  Defensively, he couldn’t hold Yadi’s jock strap if he super glued it to his hand.  The one he broke two years when a…….. ahem…….suitcase fell on it.   Yeah, sure it did.   Anyway, he’s not bad defensively, it’s just that Yadi is so far superior. Yadi is far superior to everyone in baseball.

Jonathan Lucroy thinks he deserves to go the All Star game.  I can buy that.  I hear Evan Gattis of the Braves thinks he should go too.  I imagine San Franciso Giants fans think Buster Posey should go, but then they think their bat boy should go because he is a Giant.  The media thinks Posey walks on water, so no doubt they think he should go too.  There will be more than one catcher at the All Star game.  A couple of years ago there were three.  After the fan vote, the players could vote one in and/or manager Mike Matheny can pick one.

Let’s face it folks, the All Star game is pretty much a farce.  Bud Selig made sure of that.  The ratings for the game get lower and lower every year, and the comparisons to the NFL Pro Bowl get more and more frequent.  If you ask me, players are better off resting for a week and being with their families than wasting time with Bud Selig’s Circus Side Show.  I might not even watch the game myself.  I could probably find some reruns of Law and Order Criminal Intent that I haven’t seen more than 5 or 6 times.  I could watch some movies I have never heard of on Netflix.  Both of these things would probably be more entertaining.

Who cares about some crappy video?  Deadspin?  Deadspin puts pictures of naked people squatting on toilets on their website;  they are the New York Post of sports journalism.  I am sure Brewers fans care.  You know, the folks who gave a standing ovation to the guy who cheated and then lied about it while publicly smearing some poor schlub who carts pee around for a living?  Before I hear, “Jhonny Peralta cheated too”,  remember the schlub who carts pee around for a living and shut up.

I hope you do get to go the All Star game Jonathan Lucroy.  If I voted for the All Star game I would vote for you.  Get a couple of Benjamin Franklin’s to me and I might.  It’s the only way anyone could get me to waste my time voting.

As for Cardinals fans who are upset by the video—-grow up.  Be flattered that the Cardinals are such a good organization and so dominates the NL Central that teams like the Brewers feel the need to make ridiculous videos to try to drum up some interest in them.  Yadier Molina might even hit some dingers in Miller Park the next time the Cardinals are there.

 

Thank you for reading

 

 

On Love and Sorrow Baseball Style

I missed the game last night because I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner.  There was barbecue.  This was a weird wedding rehearsal dinner because all of the wedding guests were invited, not just the wedding party.  It was also weird because I knew no one there other than the friend I was with and the groom’s parents.  I had never even met the groom before.   The wedding is this afternoon, so I may miss the last part of the game, depending on how long it goes.

None of this is really relevant other than as a prelude to my comments on last night’s game.  My comments are that I missed the game and I am not in the least bit sorry.  Not even sorry that I missed the triple play.  I haven’t seen a triple play in years.  My friend who I was with last night was incredibly shocked that I was not in the least bit sorry.  He knows me well and knows that baseball is a passion of mine.

It’s really sad that I wasn’t sorry.  That is how little fun I am having watching the Cardinals play.  I had more fun at a wedding rehearsal dinner where I knew three people.  That is a new low for me.   Even when the Cardinals win, I am always angry about something that happened in the game.  Usually it involves something Mike Matheny did or didn’t do, but sometimes it is just anger that the Cardinals seem to have to fight and claw for every win.  That wins don’t come easy like they use to.  That once good hitters come to the plate and flail around and look lost.  That I can never feel comfortable that Allen Craig will hit with runners in scoring position, or that Yadier Molina will come through with that winning RBI.  That Adam Wainwright will pitch 7 or 8 scoreless innings and still lose.  That the bullpen will give up a tenuous lead in the 8th or 9th inning.

I have never, not once during this entire season so far, have said to myself that I love this team.  I don’t love it at all.  I don’t even recognize it.  I once thought General Manager John Mozeliak could do no wrong, that he was a wizard.  Now all I can think about him is that he doesn’t have the balls to do something about this.  Like, is there some general manager edict that says you can’t do something about an awful team until July?  Perhaps I am being too harsh, maybe there is just not anything that can be done without making a panicky move that will backfire.  At least that is how I console myself these days.

I think this team does not gel because there are too many moving parts.  Too many outfielders in the broth, not the right seasoning on the bench to use a cooking analogy.  A cook who doesn’t know the recipe and is just throwing stuff in the pot.  It all makes for a very bad meal.

So, I am going to a wedding this afternoon, and if I miss some of the game I won’t be sorry.  I never thought I would ever say or think such a thing.

That is the saddest part of all.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

The Rivalry That Isn’t

I guess the Cardinals and the Reds have a rivalry.  The media keeps saying they do, often harking back to the infamous fight of 2010 as evidence of it.  I hate losing to the Reds, but no more so than I hate losing to the Pirates, the Brewers, or the Cubs (maybe even less than).  If it is a rivalry it is one that I personally don’t think much about.

The Reds appear to me to take this so-called rivalry way more seriously than the Cardinals do.  The Reds apparently have a dish that it is served at the ballpark called “Smoked Cardinal”.  I don’t know what it is exactly, but obviously it is not actually a Cardinal bird.  If the Reds have dishes named after any other team in the NL Central I haven’t heard of it.  There are no foods at Busch Stadium named after the Reds that I am aware of.

Reds fans that I know talk of every upcoming series against the Cardinals like it is the playoffs.  They have specific Cardinals players, both past and present that they constantly refer to with sarcastic quips on Twitter.  Yadier Molina seems to be the one they love to hate the most.  His part in the “fight” no doubt is the genesis of those feelings.  They still boo Molina at Great American Ballpark.  Cardinals fans still boo Brandon Phillips as well, but it seems like those boos get less and less every season.  I have never booed Phillips; I frankly don’t see the point, it is only giving him the attention he wants but doesn’t deserve.

The other Cardinal many Reds fans fixate on is Chris Carpenter.  Of course Carpenter is no longer with the team as a player, having retired at the end of 2013.  Reds fans have this saying about Carpenter that I see repeated again and again on Twitter.  It is something to the effect of “What will Chris Carpenter tell his son?”  To this day I haven’t the slightest idea what that means.

Old grudges are constantly dredged up.  The “slick balls” controversy, the smoke from the fireworks that caused Chris Carpenter to leave the mound (told to do so by an umpire, not his choice).  There is the fight of course, and the nickname that Reds fans have for the Cardinals that came from that—“whiny little bitches” (or WLB for short).  I always find that somewhat ironic coming from a fanbase that whines about perceived slights to them and their players on a regular basis (are they still crying about Johnny Cueto not making the All Star team?).

I find all of these things more amusing than annoying.  I just don’t get that worked up about the Reds or Reds fans.  I get more agitated at losing to the Cubs than I ever have losing to the Reds.  To my way of thinking the Cardinals/Cubs is the rivalry.  Most Cardinals fans spend way more time making fun of the Cubs with Twitter hashtags (#cubssuck) and sarcastic jokes about the Cubs not winning a World Series in over 100 years.  They even play a game between innings at Springfield Cardinals games (the Cardinals AA affiliate) called “Are you smarter than a Cubs fan?”.  Now that’s a rivalry.

The only Reds player that I truly have a distaste for is Johnny Cueto.  His cowardly actions of kicking at Chris Carpenter and Jason LaRue with his cleats during the 2010 fight has never been completely avenged by the Karmic Universe.  Jason LaRue’s life and career was forever changed by that act.  Johnny Cueto’s life and career has not been similarly affected.  Alas, an eye for an eye is a nice concept, but it rarely plays out that way in the real world.  I’m still waiting to feel better about all of that but I suspect I will be always disappointed.

No, the Reds just don’t push my buttons the way the Cardinals appear to do to the Reds and their fans.  The Cardinals lost to the Reds on Friday night in the first game of a three game series and like any other loss, I didn’t like it.  It was game number 48 and there are 114 more to get through is the way I look at it.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains.

So the Cardinals and the Reds have a rivalry.  You couldn’t prove it by me.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

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