Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Nationals

Fill ‘Em Up!

Aah, postseason baseball…

Everyone’s a little on edge.  Professional athletes (even the seasoned ones) get jitters. Fans are barely holding onto their sanity.  Winners, losers, adrenaline, infield fly primers….  all part of the drama.  And from what I can tell, there are two ways to dwell in this unique era (not “error”, mind you… that’s something entirely different despite what the TBS broadcast sounds like during a Cards/Nats game.)

This 2012 Cardinals Postseason Era rallies Cardinal Nation under a set of unique circumstances that, while touched on here, run far deeper if you bleed Cardinal red:

#1 The Cardinals are the reigning 2011 World Series Champions (hard-fought, comeback Cardinals defying all odds – remember??  Of course you do.)

#2 The Cardinals are the first postseason team in history to have won entry as a 2nd wildcard team.  (Of course they did.)

#3 The first-ever Wildcard playoff game was a doozy, temporarily played under a big ol’ P (for protest) and the Cardinals won (of course they did.)

And lest we forget some of the other less-than-lovely 2012 defining sidenotes:  Tony La Russa and Albert La Pujols have left the building.  You may have heard it mentioned that new manager Mike Matheny has zero previous managerial experience.  Lance Berkman, the 2011 National League Comeback Player of the Year, spent much of 2012 injured and most likely has already taken his last career at bat, with rumors of retirement sounding increasingly likely.  Defensively, at shortstop we’ve lost Rafael Furcal (strained elbow ligament) in exchange for Pete Kozma.  (love him or hate him, he’s made it interesting already.)  The Cards squeaked into the postseason with only 88 regular season wins, again rallying juusssst enough to beat the clock as the door slammed shut on the 2012 regular season.

So, with a lead-in like this, why would anyone expect the Cardinals to win in the postseason?  I would.  And let me tell you why.

#1 These are the St. Louis Cardinals.

 Enough said.  ;)

Okay then, back to the reason that got me writing this morning-

From the sounds and smells of the internets yesterday, there are two predominant camps in Cardinal Nation and things started to get ugly (a few notches below bottle-throwing, temper tantrum, Atlanta Wildcard crowd-type ugly, but still…) when their rights to free speech bumped up against the others’ rights to look on the Brightside.

(Quick note for those of you under the rocks:  Despite an other-worldly performance by Adam Wainwright in which he struck out TEN batters in under 6 innings, the Cardinals lost Game 1 of the NLDS to the Nationals even though their rockstar pitcher, Gio Gonzalez, walked – or hit – so many redbirds that we could potentially have won the game by a landslide while Gio still had a no-hitter.  Plus there were pesky SHADOWS on the field, and our boys couldn’t get a hit to save Torty.  In all truthfulness, Allen Craig summed it up best saying “We just didn’t get it done.”)

 

The flood of postgame accusations and criticisms of Matheny’s 8th inning pitching choices spread like wildfire.  Yes, Cardinal Nation was bitterly disappointed in the loss, but why the landslide of gloom and doom and the crazy amount of time spent  slinging blame at all the easy targets?  Why would you want to spend your postseason angry?  This is October baseball and it is a-maaaaaaazing.  The fact that a game can turn on the smallest nuance (Kozma, for instance) means that even those pesky Cardinals have a shot.

Some of us (guilty as charged) are choosing to look at this postseason as a gift.  Yes, our Cardinals snuck in the backdoor (again).  Yes, we started out by losing game 1 of the NLDS (again).  Yes, our offense is schizophrenic (again).  But my postseason glass will be half full until we’re down to the last strike (….again).  Because these are our comeback Cardinals and we’ve felt the magic before.

Sure, on the flipside, even the grumpiest, angriest and down right hostile-est (grammar be darned, it sounds better that way) of baseball fans have a right to their opinions and comments.  And after a tough loss it can even be highly therapeutic (and informative) to read/hear impassioned pleas for why certain armchair management decisions would have saved the planet (hindsight and all.) Truth be told, I follow a whole slew of intelligent, but grumpy Cardinal fans on twitter because most of them throw out some valid points and after unwrapping their anger, I can, at times, discover an interesting nugget and learn a thing or two… and sometimes not, but still…  ;)

So, if I had one postseason wish, it would be for our Cardinals to repeat. (Of course it would!)  Okay, but if I had TWO postseason wishes, I might consider spending the other wish that the glass-half-empty-ers would be more tolerant of us glass-half-full-ers because IMHO the postseason is a heckuva lot more fun when you think  when you KNOW there’s a chance.

Go Cards!!

Girl Talk – Would you rather….

THE QUESTION:  Would you rather deal with fair weather fans that only show up when the team is doing well and otherwise don’t really care, or  fans that live and die with every. single. pitch.  and think the season is lost in the first week when Pujols goes 0-4 or Carp gives up a handful of runs?
Erika says:  
Is there a 3rd choice?  Fair weather fans who respond to a few rough games by bailing out probably can’t name the team’s starting lineup anyway.  While that type of detachment could be a good defense mechanism for a Cubs fan, it hardly befits a true member of Cardinal Nation.  I’m not good at sharing a baseball game with someone who just doesn’t care.  On the other hand, volatile fans give me anxiety through proximity.  It’s either melt-down or mania with them – and that gets tiring faster than Franklin can blow a save.  If I had to pick (and Angela says I do…) I’d pick the live-and-die-with-every-pitch type of baseball buddy as long as they are capable of providing a reasonable, intelligent defense explaining what makes them crazed lunatics (for better or worse) on any given day of the baseball season.
Angela says:
To me, the answer is simple – if I have to choose between the crazies that were blowing up Twitter this afternoon or people that head for the hills during the bad times… I might take the good timers. I think this is a partially emotional response, since I checked out on Twitter after seeing the venom there after Franklin’s blown save today by the ones that are grabbing their pitchforks. Some of these fans just become too much for me. The Cardinals win a blowout and they say, “But so and so went 0-4 and left the bases loaded in the 6th and whatever reliever gave up 2 runs in mop-up duty in the 8th.” People – the Cardinals are winning. They just took three of four from the Dodgers in LA and have gone 5-2 in their last seven. You can smile. You can high five. Enjoy the good times.
Emily says:
I’ve lived on Chicago’s north side for nearly 10 years now, which is the natural breeding ground and safe haven for the fair weather fan, so my first instinct is to say that I can’t stand fair weather fans. This part of the country is full of people who moved to Chicago in their early 20s, purchased a Derrek Lee shirt or a pink Cubs hat, and spend each summer chugging beers in one of America’s largest bars–Wrigley Field. For a truly invested fan, it can be infuriating.
That being said, I think that part of the beauty of baseball is its versatility. There is a time for casually enjoying a game and some badly needed sun; there is a time for watching with fellow fans in a rowdy bar; there is certainly a time for watching from under your bed or behind your couch, pushed into solitude by the sheer intensity of the game. Baseball in June is different from baseball in October, and I feel that the fair weather fan, no matter how gross in October, is a necessity to June baseball and all its fun and warmth. We (the die hard, the obsessed, the truly invested) have a tendency to take things a little too seriously a little too early on (see: week one of the 2011 season), and we need those fair weather fans to remind us, sometimes, to keep things in perspective, to breathe and think, “162 games.”
I think what I’m trying to say is that die hard fans and fair weather fans are both crucial to baseball, because part of what makes baseball great is how it can be enjoyed at different levels and loved to different degrees. I believe that if you care more, the game gives more back to you. Yet as much as I can understand and marginally appreciate every level of involvement, I’ll personally  take the “live and die with every pitch” fan any day, because when it comes right down it, I want to talk to someone who can knowledgeably talk about baseball—not a “Cubs fan” who just found out that Ryan Theriot doesn’t play for them anymore.
Cadence says:
This is a very hard topic for me to approach, because I can’t say I can pick either one. Fairweather fans – at least the ones who obviously don’t care unless they get free tickets to a game – are the worst, but sometimes I consider the living and dying (the extreme version) to be very similar. Passion is a tricky thing and in my opinion, it isn’t always a good thing. I consider myself to be a passionate person…in everything I do. I hate it when we lose, when someone blows a game or when we go on a losing streak. On the other hand, I am very happy when we can score 60-plus runs on a 10 game road trip, we go on a winning streak or someone has a complete game, just to name a few things. I guess what I am trying to say is that my passion for the team (my 5 shelves of Cardinals memorabilia, my 6 shelves full of t-shirts & jerseys, and the fact that almost every one of my profile pictures on facebook is of me at a Cards game) is there…and vivid, but I have many other things going on in my life for me to really place my mood fully in the hands of Ryan Franklin or any other member of the St. Louis Cardinals. It gets me more frustrated to see the huge dynamics from people – ecstatic when we score 15 runs in a game and cursing the name of a player who made a bad play the next game – then it does for me to even have to deal with the people who leave games in the 7th inning.
Ultimately, I can’t change anyone and how they react to sports…they are free to do whatever they want. I will cheer along with my fellow fans when things are good (and I am ok if they are bandwagon fans), but when things go bad, I just have to tune out the stuff I don’t want to hear. I would rather just cheer on my team.
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Have an idea for future Girl Talk posts?  Let us know!
The Cardinals have today off, a much needed rest for players and fans alike after the brutal 10 game West Coast Road Trip.  The Cardinal offense surged on the road and the Redbirds are now sitting at .500 with 8 wins & 8 losses.  Can they keep the magic alive at home?
Next up?  Back home to Busch stadium on Tuesday, facing the Washington Nationals.  Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth…. this should be interesting!
Go Cards!!

The Merry Month of May

Chris closed the books on April quite nicely yesterday, and the boys started out May with a solid win against Dusty Baker and the Reds. I know this has been said elsewhere, but if there’s any manager in baseball that uses his pitchers worse than Dusty, I have yet to see him. I feel bad for the guys on that staff – especially the starters. Their starters are averaging 102 pitches per game, a 35% quality start rate, and have 16 games already in this young season of 100+ pitches in a game (the Cardinals, by contrast, are at 97, 87%, and 9). That’s ridiculous.

Anyway, today I thought we’d have a little preview of the month ahead. If you’re interested, @DBear5 has created a nice desktop calendar for the month of May, which can be found here as well as pictured on the right. It’s easier than actually looking up/memorizing the schedule!

After today’s getaway day game against the Reds, the Cardinals are heading on the road for 4 games in Philly and 3 in Pittsburgh (May 3-9). As far as the Phillies series goes, it looks like the only pitcher we’ll miss is good old, old, old Jaime Moyer. Unfortunately, that means we’ll face two lefties in Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, as well as a little ol’ Cy Young winner by the name of Roy Halladay. The last Philly pitcher we’re likely to see is Kyle Kendrick, who, as far as I can tell, hasn’t faced the Cardinals since June 13, 2008, a game in which the Cardinals lost 20-2, and Aaron Miles pitched a scoreless 9th. Ouch. Needless to say, the Phillies are going to be a tough match-up for the Cards.

I’m glazing over the Pittsburgh series, because I saw them in person last week, and despite the whuppin’ they put on Trevor Hoffman 2 days in a row, they’re still the Pirates, and that really isn’t Trevor Hoffman anymore, just a guy who looks like him. We’ll be okay.

From there, the Cards come home for 3 against Houston (May 11-13), then head to Cincinnati for 3 (May 14-16), before turning around and coming back home again. That’s a head scratcher. I do find it odd that we’ll face Cincy 3 times in the season’s first month and a half, and both the first two Houston series are in St. Louis, which means late in the season we’ll be playing in that bandbox known as Minute Maid a lot. I’ll save my rant on Minute Maid for later in the summer though…

On May 17-23 the Redbirds get to a home series featuring the Nationals, Marlins, and Angels. Wow, the more I look at this schedule the more demented it looks. Okay, so the Nationals actually aren’t horrible this year, and that’s without their savior-in-training, Stephen Strasburg (who might be getting the call to AAA after his next start). They’re being led by Pudge Rodriguez of all people, who’s putting up an insane line of .400/.431/.508, as well as Ryan Zimmerman with his line of .373/.418/.784. Another blast from the past – Jason Marquis – is 0-3 with a 20.52, and has only pitched 8.1 innings. In 3 starts. Tell me – is that bad?

After 2 with the Nats, we’ve got 2 with the Marlins, who are playing .500 ball through the first month. We then face the Angels, our first interleague series on the year, as well as our last until June 14th. One interleague series and then none for 4 weeks? Like I said, very strange schedule. Last year’s Duncan project – Joel Pinero, had a really rough outing on Friday, and is having issues with his sinker, which was his go-to last year. If he loses that, good luck LAA… in other Angels news, the offense is starting to heat up after a slow start, led by (a sentimental favorite, for reasons I’ll never know) Torii Hunter’s .314/.378/.535.

We’ll close out the month with one of the weirdest road trips I’ve seen in recent history, with a 3 game set in San Diego, followed up by a 3 game set in Chicago. Why on earth wouldn’t the powers that be do another West Coast series there? Depending on how the month goes, this will be either a brutal trip or just one of those random things we complain about (get-away day in SD is a 5:35 Central start, followed by the opener in Chicago at 1:20 Central)… but chances are Tony is not pleased with this set-up.

Those of you out-of-towners without mlb.tv will be able to enjoy national broadcasts for the month on the following days:
Wed, May 5 – @PHI on ESPN (the worldwide leader)
Sat, May 29 – @CHI on FOX (the worldwide failure)
Sun, May 30 – @CHI on TBS (very funny)

So here’s to a month of dominant pitching, solid hitting, W’s in the scorebook and leaving scribes scratching their heads as to what could possibly keep the Cardinals from October baseball. Pretty much like April, plus guys like Skip and Brendan breaking out of their beginning of the season slumps and Lohse having more games like the one he started the month with yesterday. It’s good to be a Cardinals fan.

Editor’s Note: We keep finding new toys – off to the left you’ll find a poll question on who April’s MVP was. We picked out Garcia, Penny, and Rasmus (though we could’ve picked others, such as Yadi or Wainwright). Who do you think the MVP should be?

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