Saturday, September 26, 2009


Yikes. I'll write more later, but for now suffice it say that after much too much waiting and worrying and wondering, we have finally clinched the National League Central.


Fate = Yadi coming out and LaRue breaking up the 3-3 tie.

If we end up playing the Rox in the playoffs, it will most likely be a bloodbath.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"We're saving all the runs for the Cubs"

So said a Busch Stadium usher as we were leaving yesterday. I can only assume he has some inside information to which the rest of us are not privy. I guess we'll find out this weekend.

The game yesterday was the first I'd been to since Chris Duncan was traded. I gotta say, I caught myself (more than once) glancing down at the dugout, looking for number 16. It was kind of haunting, because I could still see him there stretching before the game. Running in from left field. Taking swings in the on-deck circle. But he wasn't there. And it was sad.

Actually, the whole game was sad. There wasn't much to cheer about, and it didn't end the way every other game I've ever been to (and yes, I may be exaggerating) has ended. Even my lucky jersey couldn't get it done.

Josh Johnson would be great in the Cards rotation. Just saying.

If you'd told me at the beginning of the season that on September 17, with 15 games left to play, that we'd have an 8.5 game lead in the division and a magic number of 9, I'd have been a happy camper. Ecstatic. So why am I frustrated? Because the Cards have lost 5 of their last 6 and have let a 12.5 game lead get whittled down. This series with the Cubs, while not make-or-break, is certainly important. Too important to let Kyle Lohse pitch, as a matter of fact.

The UCB is finalizing its latest project, so head over and check out The Top 7 Prospects and find out whom the participating bloggers are predicting to be big parts of the organization's future. One more thing. I've decided that since my pledge of canned goods for Cardinals wins hasn't really gone very well so far, I'll change things up. (I was going to abandon the plan entirely, but I'm not sure that would be the most charitable thing to do.) So from now on, I'll donate canned goods, but it won't be based on anything the Cardinals do. So win. Lose. Whatever. I'm on my way to the food pantry.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

back to your regularly scheduled programming

Sorry about the earlier craziness. My PTBD (Post-Traumatic Bullpen Disorder) got the better of me.

Looking for a silver lining in today's loss, I guess you could focus on the fact that it wasn't the bullpen, as Carp was touched for a whole basket-full before the 'pen ever had a chance to lose it. Oh, and Thompson didn't look half bad. If you can call that a silver lining.

So the magic number remains at 11. The lead over Chicago drops to 9.5 (with the Cubs win over Cincinnati). The losing streak climbs to 3. It's going to be okay, though. It's hard to say that I'm not nervous, but contrary to what my earlier posts may have suggested, I'm not really panicking. Just thinking. Hard. About what this team needs. And there's only one thing I can come up with.

We need a closer.

If Franklin can get his stuff figured out and be effective once again, fine. If we need to put Smoltzie in that role for the remainder of the regular season, fine. If one of the other relievers can step up and take over, fine. And if we need to look outside the organization for back-end help, and I'm looking right at you, John Mozeliak, F I N E. After all, you can't do all the "remodeling" we've done this year, just to have it all fall apart at the end of the season because you can't close out games.

Anyway, I'm taking my daughter to the game on Wednesday. It's a day game, so no late-night navigating through downtown. Seats in my favorite section. 4 tickets for 2 bodies, so plenty of room to maneuver and hold the copious amounts of stuff necessary to keep her entertained so I can concentrate on the game. Scheduled to see Joel take on Josh Johnson, so it promises to be a good game. As long as the weather holds out, I'm looking forward to a fun afternoon. Plus, shopping afterwards. See you there!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Thoughts I had while watching the travesty of a game we were subjected to this afternoon:
  • I blame big Fox. Mark Grace may be the biggest suck-up in the history of announcing, and Chris Rose makes me want to chew on glass just to drown him out.
  • So the Braves temporarily forgot how to play baseball, and it all began with Chipper Jones doing his best third base coach impression while running from third to home on a play that should have easily scored him. No one, including Chipper, knew exactly what he was doing.
  • Ahead by one in the eighth, three "errors" in a row for the Braves led to two runs and the (temporary) lead for the Cardinals. Is this real? Did they really just boot three easy grounders? Wow.
  • Ryan Franklin obviously cut his beard, a move that sapped all his power and left him impotent and unreliable. Yeah, I said it. What?
  • Maybe it wouldn't hurt the team to lose a few. Bring them back down to earth. Give them just enough of a scare to kick their butts back into gear.
  • I hate playing the bottom of the ninth at home, but I love walk-offs. This game, unfortunately, did not end with one.
  • This team, the one that lost today even with the gift that was the eighth inning, will not make it far in the playoffs. After today, I wouldn't even hold my breath for them to make it to the playoffs. I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but PANIC PANIC PANIC....

ahh, disappointment

How long had it been since the Cards had dropped a series opener? 11 series? 12? Well, no matter. We can still win the set, right? All is not lost.

The Cubs did manage to gain a game on St Louis, a feat they haven't accomplished for well over a month, but at still 10.5 games back, we probably don't need to worry yet.

Magic number remains at 12. Unfortunately this means at least one more day until I can put up my "11" (or better yet "10") picture in the sidebar.

The worst part of last night's game? Not the quiet bats or the ridiculously bad umpiring or even the TWO errors by The Best Player in Baseball. No, the worst part was that after a seven-inning, one-run outing by PiƱeiro, he gets the L. Talk about a tough loss.

My first instinct? Chalk this game up to a malalignment of the planets and move on. Everyone has a bad day now and again.

My second instinct? How can we get Jair Jurrjens? Seriously. Like, now. I mean, Atlanta isn't really using him for anything. Sheesh.

And finally (might I add), this team, with the way they're playing this year, has given me reason to stay up. Until the final out of the ninth inning last night, I was just sure they would pull one out. I knew that they would come back and win it, just like they've done for so many other games this season. That, in itself, is probably the biggest victory they could get. They've turned into the team you don't give up on. And how awesome is that?

Friday, September 11, 2009

more important things

I was teaching. High school Spanish in my basement classroom. Although I don't remember the particulars of the subject matter for that day, I remember exactly where I was standing, as well as the looks on the faces of my mostly freshmen students. The principal's voice came through the loudspeaker: "Teachers, please turn on your televisions." The tv was mounted to the wall behind me, and I clicked the power button. Everyone was silent as we waited for the picture to warm up, then tried to comprehend the images we were seeing. Buildings. Smoke. It didn't seem to make sense. Had there been a fire? A bombing? Slowly, bit by bit, it sank in. A plane collided with another building, and we all gasped. We were too shocked to cry. Too stunned to look away.

Later--maybe minutes, maybe hours, maybe days--I read an essay written by one of my favorite authors to my class. I still have a copy of that essay stored away somewhere.

Rest in peace, all the lives lost that tragic day.

In less depressing news, I hereby plegde to be a better person (and possibly help the team's chances) by donating canned goods to my local food pantry for every win by the Cardinals for the rest of the season--regular and post. A fellow baseball blogger (k-bro), has challenged Twins fans and bloggers to follow her lead and provide a little charitable motivation to the club. Obviously, my loyalties lie elsewhere than Minnesota, but I think the idea is great, and I encourage everyone to jump on board.

Also, in keeping with her plan, I'll also donate an item for every Dodgers loss (seeing how involving the Cubs in this would only be insulting, and we're in a much stiffer competition with LA over the best NL record).

Whadaya say, sports fans?




Tuesday, September 8, 2009

of fans and faith

I was thinking about winning today. Not winning a game or a series or even the World Series, but just winning in general. Having a team you can be proud of. A team you can have fun with. A team you can have faith in, even in the midst of a losing streak.

Cardinals fans like to call ourselves "the best fans in baseball". Sure, I've said it. I mostly even believe it. Of course, a blanket description like that leaves a lot of room for contradiction and argument, and for the most part, I've never really dissected the statement.

Well, today I was reading a blog post from a Reds fan, and suddenly I realized who the "best fans in baseball" really are. 

It's not us, even as much as I'd like to say it is. It's not Yankees' fans or Angels' fans or Royals' fans or Rockies' fans. It's not Reds' fans. In fact, it's not any one team's fans at all. 

It's the fans who don't give up, and they come from every corner of the baseball universe. 

It's the fans like the blogger whose story I was reading today, whose team is flagging and flailing, and who still get up in the morning excited about watching or listening to or attending the game just because it's their team

It's the fans whose teams haven't won anything for longer than anyone hasn't won anything, and yet they wear their team colors with pride. 

It's the fans who watch every game, not because their team is in first place, or because they came so close last year, or because the GM just signed a big-name player to save the day. 

They watch for pure love of the game and unconditional love of their teams. 

They watch to see their favorite hitters steal second. 

They watch to see their favorite pitchers drop a nasty curve. 

They watch to see their favorite managers get ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

Obviously this can apply to Cards fans, and often does. It applies to fans of every club, from the reigning World Series champions to the last place team. Sure it's hard to believe anyone living in Florida is a "best fan" (at least if you've ever seen the attendance at their stadiums), but they're out there. They're watching while they work in the garage or wash dishes, and they're listening in the car on their way to the store. They check box scores when the boss isn't looking, and they catch the replays on Sportscenter while they're getting ready for work.

I was really moved by the post written by this fan, and it made me take a good look at how good a fan I really am. Cardinals fans haven't always had it easy, but with more World Series rings than any franchise other than the Yankees, we haven't exactly been the worst off, either. In the last decade, we've been to the playoffs 6 times and had only one losing season. 

The Pirates have 5 World Championships in their history, but only two of them have come since the 1925 season, while the Cardinals have won all ten of theirs in that time span, with four coming since the 60s. Therefore, watching every game, buying all the merchandise, and supporting all the players isn't exactly a challenge. Sure, we face our rough patches. We've had losing seasons and losing streaks and bad games, but think about the Pirates for a second. 

Yesterday marked a milestone for that club, and although the team was quick to point out that it is most definitely not the same group of guys throughout that streak, it is the same group of fans (more or less). The same fans have seen this club lose again and again, and yet when you watch the broadcasts, you see them there at the park, dressed up like pirates or in their best home jerseys, cheering for their team as though the last 17 years hadn't even happened.

I've sometimes wondered how Pirates' fans and Nats' fans and Royals' fans and Reds' fans (et al) can keep going in the face of so much disappointment, and reading this article gave me a slightly better idea. Being a fan is not always easy. Sometimes you just have to turn the game off and take a little break. Heck, even players get discouraged. 

The really inspiring thing, though, is that I know at the end of the day, true fans will still peek to see how it turned out. 

They'll come back to the game and to their team. 

True fans will still care.


It feels pretty good to be in the position we're in. Magic number down to 14, 11.5 game lead in the division, even with the Dodgers for the best record in the NL.

Other things making me very happy include the Phillies getting swept for 4 by the Astros, Buster Olney calling the Cardinals "the team to beat", and this.

Of course, no matter what's going on in your life, a performance like last night's by Chris Carpenter has to make you smile. No laboring on labor day for this ace. 99 pitches were all he needed to finish a complete game with 10K, 1 hit, and 0 runs. Round about the end of the sixth inning, Dan and Al were discussing whether Carp should try and finish out the game, or if Tony should take it easy on him since this is as much as he's pitched in a season for a while. In the end, the right decision was made--Carp went the distance, saved the 'pen, and brought his ERA down even further.

That's 11 straight wins for the woodsmith, if you're counting.

I've only made it one game this year, and I keep thinking I need to get back to Busch before too much longer. When does Carp go again?

I wonder if Izzy's watching, wherever he is...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

dum, da da dum!

Speaking of the otherworldly amazingness of the indispensible Chris Carpenter ("Carp" to his admirers), guess who is the NL Pitcher of the Month for August!

Drumroll, please!....

The pitcher of the mo--

No, it's not Dave Bush.

The p--

No, I don't mean Barry Zito, either.

It's Chr--

No, not Ted Lilly--okay, just stop guessing, because I didn't really mean for you to guess anyway. I'll just tell you. It's Car--

Not Joe Blanton.


Well, now I'm not sure I want to tell you after all.


No, not Wandy Rodriguez.


Bronson Arroyo? Really? No! It's Chri--


Are you done?



It's Chris Carpenter.

Leave me alone.

bring it on

September 2. We're comfortably in first place in the Central, 10.5 games ahead of the Cubs, and tied for the best NL record with the Dodgers. Magic number: 20. And yes, it is now officially acceptable to start talking about the magic number. Magic number = the number of Cardinals wins plus Cubs losses that will guarantee us a spot in the playoffs. It is also the number that will eliminate the Cubs from the NL Central race. (Isn't it fun how that works out?) Twenty. Veinte. Venti. Vingt. A score. An icosahedron. Calcium. An actual magic number. Here's what I'm thinking about today:
  • Our mid-season acquisitions have all lived up to/exceeded expectations, and everyone on the team is contributing (and by everyone, I of course mean everyone except Joe Thurston who is nearly worthless).
  • TLR will will let you know when it's finally safe to talk about the post-season, probably about 10 minutes before the first pitch of the NLDS. Until then, you will live in the moment and YOU WILL LIKE IT.
  • No comment on the Duncan situation. Do you suppose it would be too weird for the Cards to pick the Dunc-inator back up?
  • September call-ups? Um.... Can I get back to you on that?
  • Chris Carpenter has a place deep inside where he goes when he doesn't have his best stuff. A place, apparently, where he can find the strength to muscle out a quality start and give his team a chance to win even when his command isn't there and his best pitches aren't quite right. That's what makes him one of the best in the business. Where would we be without him?
  • Brad Penny is a jerk. I know he was on my wish list, and I know he pitched magnificently for the Giants in his first start back in the NL, but you have to draw the line somewhere, and sometimes that line is right around "he is a jerk". I know talent is important, but you don't want to sacrifice clubhouse chemistry. And no, this is not sour grapes.
  • Jason Motte pitches much better with no pressure (can you believe 5 K?), while John Smoltz likes a little fire under his butt. Mm-hm. San Fran can have Penny.
  • Troy Glaus is back, sort of. He's as tall as ever, and the uniform still fits, it seems. Therefore, I hereby predict that he will be one of the highest paid pinch hitters in the majors this post-season*, but he won't really do much. I love Troy and I wish him the best (and yes, I was giving him a mini standing ovation of my own in the living room last night), but Mr DeRosa has won my heart and I'm desperately hoping we can bring him back in 2010.
There's probably more, but I'll save that for later. Later. *Knock on wood.