Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Monthly Archives: September 2010

>It’s All Over But Bud Selig Singing

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Crappy Reds! (AP photo by Al Behrman)

It’s over. Not quite turn out the lights time. But close. The Cards chances of playing in the post season are officially over. The Reds officially clenched the National League Central Division title. We’ve know for a long time this day was coming. And the Reds did it in style. ‘Reds Clinch Central Title with Walk-off Win’ read the headlines. I watched it on Sports Center late Tues. night. I felt strangely blahhhh…nothing. Not extremely sad, not angry, not glad the long nightmare was almost over. Just blahhhh…..nothing. That’s the new word of the day…kids. Blahhhh…nothing. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt every emotion know to womankind this season.

I can’t believe it has come to this. I feel nothing now that my Cards are officially out of it. I guess I already went through most of the stages of “loss”. Not that I’m in any way comparing the bizarre season of our favorite sports team to the loss of a loved one whether through death or a emotional breakup. 

But still we all kinda go through these stages as we sense that things aren’t going so well for our team. These stages were developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. I first learned about them in college. I had to look them back up to make sure I had them in the correct order. Personally, I’ve gone through many of these stages multiple times this season. I’ve been stuck on quite a few of them.

This might have helped.
  1. Denial – I know things look bleak.  We just can’t seem to put a winning series together against sub .500 teams. And we can’t seem to hit, pitch and play defense all at the same time. Just little things like that.  But we’ll still get it together. Victory will be ours. NL Central belongs to the Cards!
  2. Anger – What IS wrong with these guys? Why can’t you hit the damn ball? Is is too much to ask to score some runs? It’s the Pirates for God’s sake. Resentment and jealousy and a whole lot of anger are starting to build against the Reds. And the Cards.
  3. Bargaining – Oh…Gods of Baseball…Just let Albert and Holliday hit in the same game and mums the word on complaining about TLR’s lineup. Just let us actually run the bases better than Bantam League Little Leaguers and I won’t complain about Miles ever again.
  4. Depression – Oh…I guess I’ll watch the game. Who cares. I’m watching Monday Night football. Oh..yeah…the Hoff’s on Dancing With the Stars. And Bristol Palin. Just so ya know, I think I’m stuck in this stage. Not sure how close I am to moving to the next stage. Blahhh.
  5. from-Diary of a Smart Chick
  6. Acceptance – Okay. This season is over. I’m gonna watch the post season and find a team to root for. ABBY-AnyBody But the Yankees. I trust our front office to go out there and re-sign TLR and Pujols. I know they’ll find us some power up the middle. I’ll forget about K. Green and Brad Penny and trading Luddy. We’ll be right back to winning the Central next year.  Now where did I put the rest of that leftover champagne?  ( my apologies to Erika who had a similar post yesterday up at BD. I just had a chance to read it, Erika! Very well put. I guess our minds are on the same wavelength.) ( no copying off others was intended)

>Did You Look?

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Did you look yet?
I looked. 
Last year I was watching the NL standings like a Hawksworth.  It was an addiction really.  It was great fun because the Cardinals were winning.  I would check MLB’s website in the morning and again in the evening just to make sure no other team was gaining ground.
The Magic Number thing was a mystery last season, my first experience of both playoff fever and Twitter. Suddenly I was surrounded by great baseball fans who were spouting all these new terms and phrases.  I was soaking it up like a sponge, but starting from nothing, I had a long way to go.  The Magic Number Mystery took a few examples of combination wins and losses, 1st place and 2nd place teams playing each other, and the quirky off-day math for me to figure out the formula.   But when that lightbulb clicked on, I was back in the game!
Last September was exciting, and I was absolutely giddy!  Or at least that is how I remember it.
This season has sputtered to a close and I gotta admit, I definitely have not been curiously fixated on the complete MLB standings.  The Cardinals have been losing, falling behind the Reds, and the ‘games back’ number has been solemnly reported during each and every Cardinals game telecast.  I did not have to hunt it out, it was cruelly forced upon me.  Watching the dropping Magic Numbers of other teams has been like salt in a wound.  

In 2010 my baseball vocabulary has been broadened again.
This time I learned “Tragic Number”- that one sucks.
YESTERDAY was the first time in over a month that I purposely typed in www.MLB.com and clicked on “Standings.” I knew the news would be ugly, but morbid curiosity took over. Plus I was on another mission.
Don’t tell the boys, but I am currently working through the process and accepting the reality of a postseason without the Cardinals. I am also beginning my hunt for an adopted stepteam.  Who would have thought, going into the 2010 season, that a Cardinal fan would need to pick some other team to watch in the postseason?!?  Certainly not I.  Yet here I am, easing into the process and eyeing the multitude of baseball candidates.  (Why do I have this awful, horrible, no-good feeling that I am cheating on my Cardinals by saying that?)

It’s a loaner team, just for the month of October, I promise! ;)
Today on i70baseball.com, my article is called “Expanding My Roster” and is more about how a baseball fan moves into the postseason when their team is going home instead. Check it out?
So, who will be your postseason stepteam?  I am looking for suggestions.  Bonus points for sentimental player background stories and childhood pictures. The sappy stuff gets me every time!  
Play Ball!  =)

Oooof Course He Did…

 

Maybe he hurt his elbow taking this picture?
Photo by @CardsInsider

Fine: I’ll admit it. When I got home from work yesterday and the first thing I heard was that Adam Wainwright – my boy, my favorite – might be shut down before his last start of the season after sleeping on his elbow wrong of all things, my only reaction was to say ‘Of course he did!’ out loud, alone, standing in the middle of my apartment. At this point, nothing will shock me.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? I think we need to look at when all of our busted up boys were shut down…

May: Brad Penny pulls his oblique while hitting a grand slam. He is never seen from again.

June: David Freese rolls an ankle while running the bases. While rehabbing he drops a weight on his toe and breaks it. When he is finally sent out for a rehab assignment in Springfield during the first days of August he injures the same ankle rounding third bases. He has since had surgeries/procedures performed on *both ankles. Sheesh kid. They’re called ankle braces. My volleyball girls wear them. You make more money than them. Invest.

Good thing you’re cute… still, Erika’s calling you
‘Prince Boo-Boo Foot’… are you going to take that?
Photo from STL Post-Dispatch

August: Jason LaRue takes multiple shots to the face and head from the cleats of one Reds pitcher whose name is no longer mentioned within the confines of this blog. After suffering a severe concussion, the effects of which are still lingering over a month later, LaRue decides to retire from the game of baseball. His farewell posts have almost read like eulogies to me, so I don’t even want to link ‘em up for you (Sorry Erika…).

September: One year removed from Tommy John surgery, Jaime Garcia throws a career high innings total that eventually begins to catch up to him. Despite a very solid year in which he leads all rookie pitchers in pretty much every possible category, he was shut down by the team – not for physical issues, but as a preventative measure. I’m still on the fence about this one I guess, but I definitely will throw a ‘plays like a Cardinal’ tag on his locker for his plea to the powers that be to keep pitching after the premature announcement was made to the media for his abrupt end to the season before telling Jaime himself.

Ooooh the aching knees…
Photo by Scott Rovak

Also in September: Yadier Molina is a workhorse of a catcher. In the past two years he has caught more innings than all but two catchers in all of baseball. Squatting for minutes a day is no fun, so turn those minutes into hours and it’s pretty clear that Yadi’s knees have taken a beating. After being sent back to St. Louis for an MRI the announcement was made that Yadi’s kaput for the year as well.

More in September: On Saturday in Chicago Blake Hawksworth was smashed in the face by a line drive off the bat of a Scrubbie (oops, forgot I’m not supposed to take shots at the Cubs on here. Hi Grandpa!) and was immediately taken to the hospital. I screeched when I saw it happen, and my first thought was ‘broken nose’ because those just suck (Personal experience? Yes). Somehow Blake escaped with no broken bones, but around 30 stitches to his upper lip and face. Yikes! Needless to say, I will not be seeing Blake over the last week of the season.

September isn’t over yet?: Yesterday, as stated above, the announcement was made that Waino might be done for the year as well.

Please make it stop. There are only five of us here at the CDD, and we can only bandage so many boo-boos at a time. We love you boys and we want to take care of you, but we would really prefer that you take care of yourselves as well!

Of course, the announcement of Waino’s possible end of the season came as I was writing a Baseball Digest piece about him. Do me a favor and head over to read it anyway, would you? It’s called “Twenty Wins Is A Serious Number”… apologies, it was just too good a title to pass up! :)

Girl Talk – A Frustrating Year

We’re trying something new here on CDD – a Monday morning roundtable, covering a different question to kick off the beginning of every week. You’ll see answers from us and maybe even some guests from time to time! We are hoping to spark some discussion, so feel free to jump in on the comments and add your two cents!


This week’s question: What is the one thing you would say was the most frustrating thing about this year’s team?

Allen Craig can play baseball too!

Angela: I’m not sure there is any one thing, but for me it had to be all the jettisoned players that found their way on to the roster. Randy Winn, Aaron Miles and Jeff Suppan have all been designated for assignment this year and got picked up by the team for ‘veteran presence.’ Now, I am not of the #hpgf (Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity… and seeing as how I’m not a guy I guess I never will be), and I’ve never been overly excited about any one particular player, however I do remember being so excited at the beginning of the season seeing all of the “Baby Birds” hanging out on the roster. Joe Mather, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene… they were all there!


What frustrated me was seeing all of those boys get sent back down to Memphis to make room for all the old fogeys. I won’t be naive and say that those guys would have made the difference, and I will be enlightened enough to say that Jeff Suppan was serviceable and Aaron Miles wasn’t a total waste of space… but I think the young guys could have done that as well. The overall makeup of the roster never came together. There were the superstars and the everyone elses. You could pin that kind of blame anywhere, from the front office making poor moves to Tony using poor lineups to players just not performing, but for me it had to be watching guys that were tearing the cover off the ball in Memphis get passed by in favor of those ‘veteran presences.’




Jacqueline: First of all I love this idea. Way to go Angela and Erika for coming up with another way for us me to get to give my opinion. I look at it as our own little Cawffee Tawlk. Ya know, that great Mike Myers skit on Saturday Night Live where he played Linda, based on his Jewish mother in law, who loved two things: tawlking-giving her opinion and Barbra Streisand. So from now on just think of me(although I’m a shiksa) as Linda’s sports loving sistah, Brenda. I have the big hair, shoulder padded sweaters, big glasses, the long nails, the jewelry and animal print clothing and accessories to fit right in. First let me say that Albert Pujols is my Barbra Streisand. He’s like buttah. The man can do no wrong. And does he look good in that uniform! His toucas/tuches (bumm for us Gentiles) is a sight to behold! I get verklempt.

Seriously, my biggest frustration is this: The sum is should be greater than it’s parts.That’s what is so frustrating about the 2010 Cardinals. The sum some how adds up to less than it’s parts. On paper we look like a contending post season team. We have the games best player in Albert Pujols. The man was born to play baseball and wear the Birds on the Bat. If you designed the perfect player it would be Albert. We have two Cy Young caliber shut em down pitchers in Chris Carpenter and my favorite Cardinal Adam Wainwright.Oy vey! The toucas on Waino es Bueno! Like buttah! We have All Star catcher Yadi (don’t even think of running on me) Molina. He’s the best defensive and  game calling catcher in baseball. We’ve got Matt Holliday, one of the best hitters in the league. That is our core as Tony would say. We have a good 2nd year center fielder power or at least a doubles hitter in Colby Rasmus, an above average defensive short stop in Brendan Ryan and three very good rookies or newbies in Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay and David Freese. Add these up on paper and we looked like a great team. But…that’s why we play the games.


As Adam Wainwright said yesterday, we came out of spring training with every intention  of playing in the post season and making it to the World Series. What the what happened? We had players who didn’t play up to expectations, others regressed to the mean, were slow to get up to par or were very erratic. We had injuries. Such is life in baseball.


But still something major was missing. Spark, leadership, enthusiasm, killer instinct, will to win, never give upness, chemistry. Our parts added up to a great big pile of bupkes disappointment. “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”


Erika: Since I could easily just say “ditto” to both Angela and Jacqueline on their assessments (the early birds got the worms!), I am changing it up a bit and looking at the question from merely a spectator point of view.
Biggest disappointment – on a purely aesthetic level:  Since June 27th there has been no David Freese in the lineup.  This season could have been so much better (looking) had Mr. Freese hung around at the hotcorner for more than 70 games.
Plus Felipe Lopez then could have toodled around at SS or 2B instead of being assigned to 3B where he is not, shall we say, a “natural.”  And then Angela might have been a happier member of the Less-Is-More Aaron Miles fan club.  All good reasons to support the theory that the absence of rookie stud Freese was the major disappointment of the 2010 Cardinal season.
Prince Boo Boo Feet
The Cardinals can of course make up for this disappointment pretty easily –
David Freese (a.k.a. Prince Boo Boo Feet) gets another shot at the hotcorner next season.  Maybe a pair of good ankle splints, some steel toe workout shoes and a megapack of bubble wrap could help protect those dainty hooves of his?  I’ll help wrap!  ;)


Cadence: It is really hard for me to pinpoint an exact moment where the season went wrong. There are many things that have been frustrating, especially in the last 2 months, and trying to pick one might just be the reason that the season has turned so disappointing. We all know that the lack of wins by a team with a ton of potential and talent has to be the number one most frustrating thing; a team loaded with proven veterans like Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina and a group of young guys full of potential including Brendan Ryan, Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus and David Freese, it is hard to grasp why a team that came into the 2010 season with high expectations might finish just above .500 and second in the NL Central standings behind the Reds. What is even more frustrating is that when the Cardinals swept the Reds in early August and the team was defending itself, it only lead to a downward spiral. Even more frustrating than that, Jason LaRue was put on the 15-day DL, then the 60-day DL, then announced his retirement after a kick in the head by Johnny Cueto ended his season and eventually his career. We lost a great back up catcher and a great asset to our team for no good reason. Disappointing.

Brad Penny after his Grand Slam on May 21, 2010.  The last time
we saw him this season. (I was at this game)
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

So, I guess the conclusion I have come to is that the most frustrating thing about the 2010 season is the injuries and the (as I like to call them) leftovers used to fill the void. David Freese twisted his ankle and then hurt it again during his rehab assignment, Brad Penny strained his oblique muscle in May and we haven’t even seen him since, Ryan Ludwick strained his hamstring and spent several days on the bench before finally getting DL-ed and then eventually getting traded a couple days after coming back, Colby Rasmus was injured off and on for parts of the season, and Kyle Lohse had a surgery that no one even heard of that we thought could end his season if not his career. We all know Lohse came back (disappointingly…sorry, Kyle) and Colby was able to work his way back into the starting lineup even with the TLR drama, but we lost Penny & Freese for the season, and Ludwick forever (sad face again). So, instead of allowing the farm guys come up, for the most part, wholes have been filled with leftovers; Randy Winn, Aaron Miles, Jeff Suppan. Sure, they have done their part and I don’t hate them, but I still can not justify in my head that this was the best decision. A lot of spark was lost when the minor league guys left; in particular when Joe Mather got sent down, I think some of that energy in the clubhouse disappeared and I think a lot of Brendan Ryan’s spunk went away too (we all remember Brendo-vision & the home movies). I could definitely notice a change in him at photo day when he spent less time chatting with fans than he did the year before. And that kind of thing is what I felt made the 2010 Cardinals what they were…fun and exciting, and this was all lost when injuries took over, baby birds didn’t get much of a chance, and leftovers filled their place. The camaraderie wasn’t as strong as I thought it might have been. My hope for next season is that David Freese comes back better than ever and we figure out how to fill positions (bench and other) with legitimate players. Here’s to 2011!

A non-AAA follower’s love for September call ups

Toledo Mud Hens ballpark in Downtown Toledo, Ohio (July 2007)

I have never been to a Memphis Redbirds game. Nor have I ever been to a Springfield Cardinals game. Blasphemy, I know.  In fact, the only minor league game I have ever been to (besides the River City Rascals or Gateway Grizzlies – both members of the Frontier League here in the STL area) was a Toledo Mud Hens game, AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, with some students from The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University when I was in Student Government in undergrad and we did a tour of several different colleges in Ohio. I loved it, as I didn’t expect any less being a huge baseball fan. There is just something about paying less that $15 for seats right down the third base line and getting to see up-and-coming talent and maybe some burn-outs and flops as well (Larry Bigbie was playing for the other team, the Richmond Braves, at the time – just one season after [not] playing for the Cardinals). The atmosphere is great, and I am sure that any of you who have been to a minor league game would be able to describe it a lot better than me! 

One of my favorite movies of all time is Bull Durham, thanks to a friend of mine from college who turned me on to it. He played baseball pretty much his whole life and knows EVERYTHING about sports. He told me that any self-respecting baseball fan who hasn’t seen Bull Durham should be ashamed. Of course, I couldn’t let him make fun of me anymore, so I went out and bought the movie, as well as several other baseball-related movies. I won’t go explaining the movie to you, but I have always wanted to spend my life like Annie Savoy; in the sense that I could go to baseball games every day and spend all my time at a minor league ballpark in the Carolina League (just the baseball part). And, since I can’t do that, and I am too far away from the Memphis Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals, I have to settle for seeing my minor-leaguers when the baby birds get called up to the big club throughout and at the end of the season.
Allen Craig *
Now, since I don’t really understand much of how this team has been operated lately, I am not going to even begin to try. But, I can say that I am excited to see so many minor leaguers getting the opportunity to play some major league ball. Ever since Joe Mather got sent down to Memphis back in May after making the ball club at the beginning of the year and guys like Jon Jay have had pretty great rookie seasons, I get more excited every time a new guy gets called up. Sure, their contributions may not mean much anymore – whether good or bad, but the Memphis Redbirds have gotten farther into the postseason in AAA than the Cardinals have gotten in the postseason last and [I am assuming] this year. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been too much to be excited about in the last couple months, in fact the last thing I got excited about was when Yadier Molina stood up for the team and then the Cards went on to swept the Reds in Cincy. Everyone thought it was a turnaround, but it turned out to be just another pull from the good side in the tug-of-war the Cardinals have played with our hearts this season. So, I have decided to pay a little more attention to the Memphis Redbirds by listening to a couple of their games at the end of the season and waiting for more of the younger guys to get called up. I don’t know much about their stats, but from chatting with Erika and Bob (@throatwarbler), I know that they are an exciting group to watch. And last week after Memphis lost their final game and were eliminated from the postseason, I was anxious to see who would get the call up. 
Mark Hamilton *
We have all seen Joe Mather, P.J. Walters, and Allen Craig play at the major league level already this season. We sort of know what they are capable of, but only Allen Craig really got the opportunity to show his potential. I still feel like P.J. Walters and Joe Mather are good players but haven’t gotten the chance to really have the innings/at-bats necessary to prove that they can be a valuable asset to the team. Besides he and Brendan Ryan’s hilarity and youth/life that they brought to the clubhouse at the beginning of the season with their home videos (which I love), we haven’t seen much from Joe Mather. And I know he has the ability and the desire to play – look at what he did in April against the Mets in the 20-inning game; played though, the incredible slide into 2nd avoiding a tag, and he pitched! I like the kid (ha, kid, he’s older than me) and I want him to do well. To add to those three, Mark Hamilton and Daniel Descalso got called up to. We have yet to really see what either of them can provide except that Descalso had a pretty great day Thursday going 4-5 and making his first major league start on Wednesday with his first hit being a 2-run double. Sure that was after the Cardinals were losing 11-3 in the 8th against the Pirates, but lets look at it for what it is worth; he was able to come through with a big hit and plate two runners when there were runners on base. That is what I like to see from these guys, when they get the chance to get in the game, they play ball. I enjoy that even though it doesn’t matter anymore (as much as that breaks my heart every time I say it) we get to and need to see these young guys get the opportunity to show what they are worth to the club.
Joe Mather *
Sure, it’s weird that Tony is playing the guys out of position, and I don’t know how much that really helps them (Descalso starting at 3rd base in his first major league start? I know Feliz is a terrible at-bat, but what?). But, like I said before, I am far past trying to understand anything that is going on right now with lineups that I just take it for what it’s worth; the young guys get playing time. If we were gonna lose to sub-.500 teams anyway, why not? So, is it really hard to believe that the baby birds are playing? Many people have questioned lineups lately, but I just say I would rather Yadier Molina be out for the season if we have 3 series left and 2 of them are with sub-.500 teams. Why shouldn’t guys like Pagnozzi or Anderson have the chance to start? I will pretty much take anything these days. I just want to see them playing hard and trying to prove themselves so that spring training next year will be even more exciting! Let’s just say, next season, my summer baseball road-trips will include a trip to Memphis. And I can’t wait. :)
With 3 series left, I thought I had gone to my last game of the season last Thursday for Social Media Night, but I have decided to give it a last go with Stand for Stan Day on October 2nd when the Cards play the Rockies. I am not going so much for the game as I am to pay tribute to The Man. Since it isn’t until next Saturday, and after my next post, I will make sure to share with you all the following Friday. Courtney is going with me too, so fitting enough, my last game of the season will be her last game of the season and we hope to have a lot to share with you! Keep your heads up, Cardinal Nation. A terrible, unexplainable season like the 2010 season is really hard to understand, but I can’t help but continuously think to myself (ok, out-loud too) “I still thank God I’m not a Cubs fan. Amen.” Enjoy your weekend, baseball fans! 


(*All pictures in this post are credited to Erika @erika4stlcards – thanks!!   And we kindly ask that they not be used without the permission of CDD)

Card’s…WHY CAN’T I QUIT YOU?

Cards-I Just Can’t Quit You

I’m not sure why but I just can’t quit the Cards. It hurts. It hurts to admit there will be no post season. It hurts. It hurts because I feel some players on the team are playing like they’ve quit on us. It hurts. It hurts, because I, like Erika and so many in Cardinal Nation, have a horrible uneasy feeling that something MAJOR is wrong with this team. It hurts to hear the recriminations and autopsies already starting. Believe me there is plenty of time for those. I’m not ready. My mind just can’t wrap itself around the fact that the regular season is almost over and we aren’t gonna be anywhere near the post season. It just hurts. I’m not ready to do my own anthropological study of why we reached this point. Oh….I will. You’ll not be able to stop me when it starts. It’ll flow like the River Styx. But it hurts.

So for today…for Thursday, September 23rd with 11 games, and one more Thursday left in the season, I thought I’d just give you my Thursday Thoughts. A Vulcan Mind Meld Stream of Conscious thoughts I have rumbling round. With my little twist….of course.

Welcome Back, Kotter. Luddy was loudly welcomed back last weekend with a long standing ovation, including one from the dugout. I knew I missed him. But absence does make the heart grow fonder. I want him back. He wants to come back. He never wanted to leave. Why did he have to go? Sounds like a Diana Ross and The Supreme’s song, yes?


Since we made this dubious trade on July 31st, we have won a grand total of two games pitched by Jake Westbrook. Totally not his fault. He has a respectable 3.77 ERA.  He lost the other four due to LACK OF SCORING. Hmmmm. Can’t figure out why trading away an above average right fielder, hitting an .827 OPS, would affect that. The night before he was traded, Luddy drove in three runs. The Cardinals woke up on Aug 1st with a record of 59-46 and a half-game lead over Cincinnati. Since then we have gone 19-27, and now stand eight games back. 

The Player Never to be Named. Shhhhh….This might still be classified info, be we have a pitcher on our team by the name of Brad Penny. He has not been seen or heard from since he hit a grand slam on May 22nd. He has a record of 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA. He stretched, strained, sprained, tore something, somewhere on his body. He is making $7.5 million per year. That’s $136,364 per inning, $625,000 per game and a nice round $2,500,000 per win to spend some time with his hot WAG, INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY PITCHING A BASEBALL FOR THE TEAM THAT’S PAYING HIM. But I’m not bitter.


I’m In Waste Management. Just like Tony Soprano, I can’t help but feel that’s my lot in life. Standing by and watching the Cards just throw a season away. A season in which Albert Pujols is once again in the race, not only for MVP of the National League, but for the elusive Triple Crown. Adam Wainwright has had a stellar season as usual and will be going for his 20th win. He’s in the hunt for the Cy Young Award he was robbed of last year. Jaime Garcia has had an outstanding rookie season and has a good chance at Rookie of the Year.  All these great performances have gone to waste in the Cardinals year from hell.


Bull Durham will teach you everything you need to know about baseball.

As Crash Davis says “You just got lesson number one. Don’t think. It’ll only hurt the ballclub.” This seems to be a major problem of the Cards. They look tense. When they come up to bat, a lot of them do not look comfortable. Or at least as comfortable as anyone can look with a sphere hurling at them between 90 and 100mph. They look like they are concentrating on everything but keeping their head down, eye on the ball, hands inside the ball and swinging through. It’s like they are trying to over think instead of relaxing and concentrating.

Baseball is a game of timing. It takes focus and concentration. Thinking and remembering takes away from the ability to focus. Just stop thinking so much. Just say NO TO THINKING.

And finally as my heroine, Annie Savoy, says “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”  And that’s our real problem. We can’t seem to put all three aspects of the game together very often in the same nine innings. When we hit well, our pitching fails us. When we pitch well, our hitting is nowhere to be found. When we manage to pitch and hit, we can’t seem to catch and throw the ball in the field.  And don’t get me started on base running.

And then there’s a game like tonight. EXCRUTIATING! INFURIATING! We just lost to the Pittsburg Pirates. A team who has lost 98 games. We are in danger of being swept by a team that will lose 100 games. Thank God for the Baby Birds.

So, Cards, why can’t I just quit you? The reason is simple. Once again, Annie, says it for me. “I believe in the Church of Baseball.I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball.……It’s a long season and you just gotta trust. I’ve tried ‘em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.


At least I keep telling myself that. It’s getting harder and harder.

 


Where There’s Smoke…?

Fact: There is something wrong with the 2010 Cardinals.

This season has gone horribly wrong.  It is more than just bad luck, more than an injury-prone roster. Yet nowhere have I read a good enough explanation for this season’s unbelievable Redbird slump.  My faith in this team is deep, but my concern is taking over.  Call it woman’s intuition or just blame it on an imagination run wild, but even I am beginning to wonder what horrible secret could be at the root of this Cardinal demise.
Yesterday breaking news from the Cardinal clubhouse insinuated bad blood was again boiling as Felipe Lopez was given his ‘unconditional release’ from the Cardinals.
For being late.
I am well aware that the public is not (and should not) be privy to all team dynamics.  However we are the ones left watching as the Cardinals systematically dismantle a team BEFORE the season has ended.  The organization recently attempted (and failed) to sweep escalating troubles between Colby Rasmus and Tony LaRussa under the rug. Then last week management announced it was shutting down pitcher Jaime Garcia early, as a precaution.  (The fact that Twitter found out before Jaime himself knew of the decision looks to be another symptom of a much larger illness plaguing the club.)
David Freese
Brad Penny
Ryan Ludwick
Jason LaRue
Sure, we lost some vital components in the Cardinal machinery through the season.  However the ‘leftovers’ are hardly scrubs.
Albert Pujols
Matt Holliday
Yadier Molina
Adam Wainwright
Chris Carpenter
What is becoming more and more obvious is that this team is no longer having fun.  The spark is gone.  But why? I am certain every player has been through bad baseball seasons before.  Most of these guys are experienced professionals.  They know the ups and downs of a season.  Afterall, baseball is a crazy game.  Sometimes the ball drops in the gap and sometimes the hits just won’t come.  Luck has something to do with it.  Attitude has more.
Unlike some writers and bloggers I have read, I am not blaming the boys for giving up.  I truly believe they care.  The Cardinals are a GOOD group of GREAT guys, and I will defend (most) of them with every breath I have left.  However, it saddens me to see these proud, talented guys struggling (and here is where the supposition starts…) under some invisible weight that seems larger than the sum of its parts.
Back to that intuition (aka:  lack of facts, but saying it anyway).  I get the feeling there is something larger looming in that clubhouse. It could be anything.  Tempers may be flaring and the guys may be fussing.  However I have to say I am worried it is something deeper.  Bad calls and misfortune at the plate may have played a part in some hard luck losses, but I fear something else is eating at this team from the inside.
Have the players lost confidence or respect in their skipper for some yet unrevealed reason?  Do the boys know Albert is on his way out the door?  Are they too assuming that LaRussa will be calling it quits after this season?  Would those rumors be enough to dismantle the dedication of an entire club of professionals?  I would hope not.
I am trying to keep my imagination in check.  But speaking as a fan who loves the players as much as the game, it is heartbreaking to see the joy leave the field.
I know the superstars are getting paid exorbitant amounts of money to do a job, but my baseball-loving heart wants to believe that ballplayers continue to go out there on the field every day, dedicated to a career they enjoy and a game they are still passionate about.
Wins are nice, but happy ballplayers are my ultimate viewing pleasure.  I miss my energetic and fun-loving Cardinals.  Something just isn’t right with the 2010 Cardinals and I hope – whatever it takes- that they cure the problem and get back to the love of the game.

So…
To the Cardinals:
I am willing to help. Homemade cookies? A listening ear?  I’m your gal!  Just let me know!  My heart is breaking here boys.  Tell me how we can fix this!  It isn’t about the playoffs anymore.  I just miss true “play like a Cardinal” baseball and the sight of you having fun on the field.


Say it Ain’t So, Jason!?

I can be really good at holding a grudge. 

This weekend brought news we all knew was coming, but refused to accept.  Cardinal catcher Jason La Rue’s baseball career is done.  Kaput. Over. Finito. The End.
Hearing those words …that finality? Well, it just seemed so….. rude.
I still blame Johnny Cueto. This weekend renewed my anger and frustration that justice was not served in the aftermath of that basebrawl with the Reds.  In fact, I am hereby refusing to give Cueto any more name recognition.  Bad press is good press, right?  From here on out, he gets nothing, nada, zilch!  
Treated to my random rants about baseball injustices?  
Further proof that my husband must be a saint.  ;)
Honestly, I believe I am working through this anger management experiment fairly well.  I have my moments, but the breakables have been brought back into the open and the cat has come out from under the bed.
In fact, I am actually smiling a little, thinking about Jason La Rue today and the memories I will have of him for years to come.
In the beginning,  Jason La Rue was just the grungy backup guy who filled in for Yadi behind the plate whenever I traveled across the country to catch a Cardinals game.  (Yes, I started out loving the Cards because of Yadier Molina, and as it seemed luck always conspired against my watching him in person.)
Nevertheless, Jason La Rue never really let me down. At both a Nationals game in D.C and a Spring Training venue in Florida, LaRue came through with clutch hits.  I remember his long hair flying as he tore past 1st and slid into second.  He has always been surprisingly fun for me to watch.  

And if I were in need of a body guard to accompany me down some dark Cincinnati alley, I would certainly pick Mr. La Rue. He is one. tough. hombre!
 In fact, this season La Rue has been a surprisingly welcome sight.  Move over Biker Dude, welcome to the Cardinal Cuties club!  All of a sudden during the summer, a new clean-cut Mr. LaRue emerged, almost unrecognizable.  We here at the CDD may have even commented approvingly on the new-and-improved Jason a few times.  (Take my word for it, Christine and I most assuredly registered thumbs up.  Angela was a hold out, perhaps too busy watching Wainwright?)
Anyway…..
Today Baseball Digest let me pen a send-off to Jason La Rue and get all my frustrations out one more time about that Will-Not-Be-Named Reds player.
You can read it here:  “A Salute to La Rue
And because the mood hit me, I had to get in a girly post here – a fitting place to give Jason LaRue one last chick-comment tribute, a Cardinal farewell salute from the female fans.
My ultimate memory of Jason is from his pregame appearance on FSMW the day following the now infamous Cincinnai Reds basebrawl.  If you were lucky enough to catch it live (before the censors got hold of it), Jason was flexing his vocabulary muscle (oblivious to the fact that the camera was on and the show was live) to adequately express his impatience over having to sit so long in the hot sun waiting for the interview to start.  All the while, grinning his boyish grin despite the stitches in his upper lip.  That laughing, tough-as-nails, mouth-like-a-sailor-image will forever be my favorite memory of Jason La Rue, my atypical Cardinal.  And I still laugh out loud when I think of it. 
We will miss you, Jason La Rue!!!  ;) 

Small Joys

 

This picture is merely saved on my computer
as ‘Bueno.’ (AP Photo)

That’s all we have left for this year, isn’t it? Small joys like Adam Wainwright winning his 19th and keeping his Cy hopes alive, watching the boys play a little small ball and score runs with smart baserunning and sacrifice flies, and just taking in the last few games of the season, knowing that the harsh winter lies ahead and there will be months on end where we wish we could turn on a game, any game, even if it is the Pirates and the Nats playing (okay… maybe that was too extreme).

Now, despite the fact that the Cards are still technically ‘in the hunt,’ and even though I am still rooting for a comeback, please do not mistake me for one of those delusional people who refuses to admit that the Cardinals will probably not make the playoffs this year. I’m still allowed to enjoy every last moment of this season, and enjoy it I will, thank you very much.

*ahem* Okay, I’m better now.

Something I think is interesting is the fact that the Cardinals are actually kind of playing the spoiler to a few other teams around the league right now. It makes perfect sense really. They can’t figure out how to beat bad teams, but they beat the good ones (this has been well chronicled… I even did so myself a few weeks ago).  That’s bad news bears for the over .500 teams they’ve been playing. Taking 3 of 4 from the Padres have dropped them out of the lead in the West, and while they were already in a tailspin before getting to St. Louis, they’re definitely in trouble now. What will happen when the Rockies make it into town for the last series of the year? I’ve never really played the ‘It’s fun to crush other people’s dreams’ game before, but it is kind of fun now that I’m seeing it play out.

Cards are road tripping down to Florida for the make-up game that was rained out back in August today, then quickly hustling up to Pittsburgh to open up a three game set at PNC and rounding out the last road trip of the year with one last series in Chicago. With any luck at all the team will show some signs of life after recalling some fresh faces from down in Memphis. I’m hoping to see some Joe Mather and Daniel Descalso types running around on the field, and I know I am not the only one!

Speaking of our beloved Baby Birds, head on over to i70 to check out a comparison I did between our AAA kiddos and the big boys in St. Louis… ‘A Tale of Two Teams’

Until next Monday… :)

Social Media Night & Welcome Back Ludwick!

Social Media Night (I was kinda far back, sorry!)  McGraw emceeing.
Social Media Night at Busch Stadium…about what I expected it to be; a great idea, and room for improvement in the years to come. I am very happy I had the opportunity to attend and meet a couple of the people I frequently tweet with on twitter. I had a great time and don’t necessarily have anything bad to say about the event at all, I just wasn’t sure I had the best opportunity to mingle with other social media users as much as I would have liked because by the time the brief presentation was over, the game was set to start within 20 minutes or so. Basically enough time to get to our seats. I do expect that the Cardinals will do their best to make the event on a weekend or in the summer next season in the hopes of having more people attend. And, from talking to several Cardinal employees, that is what they intend to do. I most definitely look forward to being able to meet even more of my twitter friends from Cardinal Nation and an even better event next year!
John Mozeliak answering fan Q’s from twitter.
As far as the event this year, it was interesting to hear from different writers and social media club representatives about how social media has affected their jobs and lifestyles. I enjoyed particularly hearing from Derrick Goold and Matthew Leach about how social media has effected the way they do their jobs and how much more accurate and responsible they have to be with their coverage because of how quickly it has to be reported. Take the Jaime Garcia thing this week for example; within a matter of 24 hours, it went from Tony LaRussa saying in pre-game media questions that Garcia would be shut down for the season, to him not being shut down but just skipping his next start. I understand it has to be hard. The fans have adapted to the very quick turnaround of twitter/social media and they expect to hear something almost every time reporters are in the locker room. They are working hard to give the fans what they are looking for, but still responsible for being informative and fun without pushing people away. I appreciate that they were so open and seemed to make themselves open to suggestions. I kind of knew that anyway; I always see Leach and Goold responding to [reasonable] questions and thoughts on twitter…both have responded to me in the past. I wish I would have had a chance to chat with them. I hope there will be another opportunity to do so. We all know that everything happens much faster on twitter. In fact, I know that many of my friends who don’t have twitter or stay connected to social media of any kind are usually an hour to 24 hours behind on information depending on how hot of a topic it is. I don’t need to explain to you how great of a tool it is; marketing and otherwise, but its obvious that there is a need for social media in the world of sports and it its popularity is continuously growing.
View from our seats for Social Media Night
Anyway, after a quick chat with McGraw Milhaven (I had to say hello, after all, he was the emcee and my former co-worker at KTRS), my friends and I headed to our seats in right field. I must say, pretty amazing seats for this event. Because this post is just way too short with the social media night event alone, I had to come up with something else to write about today. After Jacqueline’spost earlier this week about everyone “fighting” about who are the better, more die-hard fans; those who still believe no matter what or those who are realistic and base their opinions off the obvious, I was inspired to think about another topic that has seemed to plague my twitter feed since July 31st.

As fans of a specific team, are we allowed to continue to support and cheer for a player who was traded in the middle of the season (or even the offseason)?

pointing to luddy (4/09)
If you follow me even remotely closely on twitter, you should know how I felt (feel) about the Ludwick trade earlier this season. At first, extremely upset, then eventually coming off the ledge and realizing that is just what happens, but still a tiny bit upset that my favorite player for the past couple years is really playing for another team. I completely understand the whole “we gave him his first-time-back-standing-ovation, now he plays for another team” argument. Believe me, I do. I mean, look at Jim Edmonds; when he was traded, we still cared about him but had to get over it cause he ended up being traded from the Padres to the evil Cubs. But, I still don’t want to buy it, and I think I have the right to feel this way. Are we not allowed to be fans of different players even if they don’t play for the team in which our loyalties lie? Why can’t we be allowed to appreciate players for their heart, their play, and the place they have in our hearts? To me, Ryan Ludwick will always be a Cardinal. I know we might not have had the payroll option to keep him next season anyway, but at least that would have given me some time to have closure. I am still feeling like I was cheated out of seeing a guy who played with heart.


Meeting Ludwick at WWU 2010 – was telling him how
much I liked his walk-up song…he was laughing at me.
When Luddy came up to bat for the first time on Thursday night, I knew there would be nothing but cheers and applause for the former Cardinal. And, I was proven right. Before they even announced him, people began clapping and I was rising to my feet with many others around me. At the same time, my friend Amanda said, “wouldn’t it be cool if they played his song?” in reference to Brass Monkey by the Beastie Boys. “Nah, I don’t know….”, I began to reply as I heard the music to Brass Monkey begin to play over the loudspeakers. I was speechless. The standing ovation lasted for a minute or so and Luddy showed his appreciation with the tip of his batting helmet for all the fans in St. Louis that evening. The twitter account @FollowThePadres was very insightful on Luddy’s return to STL Wednesday and Thursday. Before the game on Thursday a tweet said that Ryan Ludwick expected his return to be very emotional when he would be greeted by the fans. Needless to say, I have a feeling it WAS very emotional for him. I think he had “a moment” when he received his round of applause and heard his song played at the stadium, but that’s just me. :) I continued to clap and cheer all night for Luddy and I saw several Ludwick jerseys and t-shirts all around me, so I know he was very appreciated for his time here — and missed now that he is gone.
Two fans cheer (one still wearing Ludwick’s jersey) as
Ludwick took his place in RF on Sept 16, 2010.
The reason I bring this up is because there have been several instances on amongst Cardinal fans since he was traded away where feelings have outweighed loyalties. Some people may believe “once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal” and some may believe that once they are traded it is time to part ways. I agree with both. Fans in Cardinal Nation still applaud David Eckstein when he comes back to Busch Stadium, and wave to him from the seats when he is warming up…and he ALWAYS waves back. Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds still get applause from the fans at Busch Stadium, while it may not be quite as much for any of those 3 now as it was the first year after they were traded. John Mabry still gets love from many Cardinal fans and even though he too was a Cub, his loyalties obviously lie with the Cardinals as he comes back for Winter Warm Up and other Cardinal events. There are plenty other former Cardinals that have been traded and are welcome when they come back to Busch Stadium with their new teams. The initial enthusiasm may wear off, but the special place in members of Cardinal Nation’s hearts for ex-Cardinals will always be there.

Courtney & I with the Ludwick cutout last season.
So, Cardinal Nation, let those who wish to keep cheering for former Cardinals do so. I see nothing wrong with continuing to support those players. Once they leave, it is not so much that bitterness for the club because of the trade exists, but simply that there is a love and appreciation of how those players play the game. Those who don’t think it is OK to root for a player who is no longer with their team, that is fine, just don’t criticize others for wanting to do so. We all know that Cardinal Nation is the stronger tie, but we can continue to wish the former players well and root for them to be successful with their new teams; as long as it isn’t at the Cardinals’ expense of course! :)
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