First, the most obvious yet necessary statements of the offseason thus far:
1. I was/am/will continue to be thrilled that Cardinals are the 2006 World Series Champions.
2. Albert Pujols should have been the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player. He’s starting to be treated a lot like Michael Jordan in his day, and I don’t like it. Karl Malone, please meet your baseball equal for this season…Ryan Howard! It’s alright though, because just like the MJ vs. Malone debate, at the end of the day there is not a lot of disagreement from intelligent sources about who is the better player. (Yes, thank you, I do feel better now that I’ve got that out of my system. I suppose here is where I should make the obligatory, “But hey, Ryan Howard seems to be a great person and he sure enough proved he could hit for a lot of power this season. He’s a country strong St. Louisian, that boy, and a hard worker to boot. Woo-ee.” There. I said it. Happy?)
Second, I owe a belated thanks to the surprising number of people who emailed and/or posted messages during Yadi’s amazing playoff performances. Apparently there was a lot of googling “Yadier Molina aka super hot, super great baseball player” going on and several people found my blog that otherwise would not have. The title of this post probably already delivered the answer to by far the most commonly asked (especially emailed) question…I was finally able to confirm that Mr. Molina, despite his youth and diverse gifts, already has a Mrs. (Breathe ladies, if I can get over this you can too!)
I even managed to find a picture of couple at long last that can be found below. It is from the opening of Albert Pujols’ restaurant. From left to right the picture includes: the real Mrs. Molina, Gladys, the original Benjamin Molina, Yadi and Wanda. Now, if you’re thinking what I was thinking the first time I read that you are currently thinking, “He’s married to a woman named WANDA?!?!?! He could be married to a (insert your name here) for goodness sake!” Trust me. I know how you feel. I will say that she looks perfectly friendly in the photo while Yadi looks perfectly creepy for some reason. Yet, incredibly, I still like him a considerable amount more than her. And, no, I’m not willing to reconsider that position and be civil and nice and all that stuff. Maybe someday, but not today…or tomorrow….or the day after that in all likelihood.
I know this isn’t the ending most were looking for, but I hope that it provides people with some closure. (Grin.) I’m going to cross the proverbial line and just get downright gossipy here, so I’ll apologize ahead of time. Sorry! I’ve looked every place I can think of for pictures of Wanda with Yadi at the Championship Parade and never saw her anywhere, and I scoured the net for months for a picture of her before the restaurant opening shot popped up. I originally presumed that meant she preferred to stay in Puerto Rico or something, but the above picture shows she’s in St. Louis at least part of the season. Plus, you would think Yadi playing the World Series would bring her stateside and thus make her available for the parade. I think can see the picture I’m trying to paint…
I promise I’m not a mean person.
As always, I wish I had more time to post here. I’m hoping the holidays will bring some extra free time. Until then, may the Cubs and Astros knock off their spending and the Cardinals increase theirs!
Clearly, I haven’t been “rambling” with any sort of consistency lately (at least not on here), but these are the times that test the patience and dedication of fans and I’m stepping up tonight. I figure a liveblog is the perfect way to go into what I hope is an active postseason for me (as a blogger) and the Cards. Of course, they have to earn the right to play more than the 162 scheduled game, and I’m hoping that all begins with a win against the Padres tonight.
I realize I’ve been gone long enough for people to have forgotten who I am and for many people to start blogging without even realizing I exist. So, if you happen to happen by RRR tonight BY ALL MEANS leave a comment with your thoughts or just introduce yourself. Let’s go Cardinals!
7:11–First pitch a ball from Jeff Suppan, the Cards clear number two starter right now. I was surprised to learn the other day that he is one the winningest pitchers in the entire NL over the last three seasons.
7:12–Not the start I was looking for. Jose Vizcaino, filling in at shortstop for the again injured David Eckstein, committed an error on the definition of an easy ground ball. My spirits will no be broken this soon! No way!
7:14–Double play. See, no worries.
7:15–I always hate to see Todd Walker at the plate against the Cards…at least he’s not wearing an Cubs uniform. 6-3 without a hitch this time. Let’s get some runs!
7:18–Bottom of the first with Preston Wilson leading off. If you would’ve read me that sentence at the beginning of the season, I’d have called you crazy. Wilson grounded out to short. Now for the thunder…
7:19–I swear to you I typed “NOW FOR THE THUNDER” before Chris Duncan smashed a ball over the centerfield wall! Back to back anyone? By the way, I would like everyone to dig into my archives and find my posts live from Spring Training where I raved and raved about Duncan and said I thought he could contribute to this team this season. (Patting myself on the back…)
7:21–Albert just hit the, um, **** out of a ball to right, but it was caught, and Rolen finished off the inning with an out. Is anyone else thrilled that the bullpen door is still firmly latched?
7:25–Vizcaino is steady again throwing out Mike Piazza. (I really hope I’m spelling his name right. I’ll check.)
7:26–Double for someone…I was trying to check my spelling. Mike Cameron is up. Remember when he was great for those great Mariners teams. It seems like that was decades ago. Ugh…I’m old. He just got a base hit. First and third, one out.
7:28–Just for the record…I have a good “lucky charm” track record with the club this year. I’m 5-0 in games watched in person including 2 complete games by Carpenter.
7:29–Really. I should learn to keep my mouth shut. We’re tied at one. Suppan doesn’t look bad, and I guess I can’t expect him to be perfect.
7:31–2-1 Padres. Four hits in a row. Is now the time to begin praying?
7:32–Yadi, in all his gold glove deserving glory, just took a bunt from the pitcher and turned it into an out at second. First and third. Two outs. Let’s get out of this.
7:33–Good. Grief. I may have to abort this mission. A catcher’s interference, of all things, just loaded the bases.
7:34–Bases clearing double by Brian Giles. Super. 5-1 Padres. Adding insult to injury…the Astros are up 1-0 on the seemingly unbeatable Phillies.
7:37–Walk to Walker. This is the inning that never ends. It is eerily silent in the stadium by the way. There is absolutely no background noise (alright…we all know that’s an exaggeration, but I digress). THE INNING JUST ENDED!!! Woo hoo!
7:40–My fingers don’t get a commercial break. Phillies 2, Astros 1.
7:41–Juan Encarnacion, with a swing only his mom could love, just went in the hole 0-2. The good news is this pitcher shouldn’t be able to pitch a complete game shutout. David Wells, the schedules started is out with some kind of infliction a can’t remember the name of and don’t have time to look up. We’re facing Thompson. Yes, that’s right. Thompson.
7:44–Well in the time it took me to type that last entry, the Cards got two outs and a base hit. YADI WITH THE INFIELD HIT! Stop the presses!
7:45–Two on, two out…and Jeff Suppan up…here we come!
7:46–By the way, Jim Edmonds may or may not be available tonight. In other words, nothing has changed. Yikes, I would say Suppan “struck” out but really it was more of a wave. We pay him to pitch though, right?
7:53–Wow Scott Rolen has an arm! (Obvious statement of the day award winner!!!) He doubled a runner off first after catching a screaming line drive. Who cares if the replays says the guy was safe? I know I don’t care. Not in the least…I’ll take every unfair advantage we can get and then some.
7:55–We’re heading to the bottom of the third with the top of the order due up. I say commence the comeback.
7:58–Base hit. Duncan’s up. I’m typing way to much, just for the record. I’m going to try to scale it back a bit, so this thing isn’t eight feet long! Base hit Duncan, by the by. El hombre at the plate. He’s the reigning MVP in case you’ve forgotten, and he deserves retain that title next year. Couldn’t help myself…maybe I’ll write the reasons why sometime. Then again, maybe my teaches will cancel my two tests this week or a pig will wave on the way past my third floor window… (Albert got a hit 5-2 Fathers)
8:03–Rolen giveth and Rolen taketh away. He hit into a double play of his own and Encarnacion ended the inning. The commencing of the comeback will commence in the next half inning. Read it again…it makes sense…
8:07–Al Hraboski just said we shouldn’t be concerned. Well, that means it’s official…IT IS TIME TO GET CONCERNED.
8:09–Padres’ pitcher, Mike Thompson is out. Two down in the inning. Suppan is settling in. (Crossing fingers)
8:15–Phillies 4, Astros 2 just for the record. The crossing of my fingers seems a bad idea. Suppan is finished after giving up a hit to Dave Roberts and walking Giles. Yes, I have duct-taped my mouth so as to not say ridiculous things like “Suppan is settling in” again. Ever. Tyler Johnson in the game. (Crossing all of my fingers and most of my toes…)
8:20–Double steal. I dare them to try it again. I dare them…
8:21–Strikeout, inning over…commence the comeback. (No, I’m not going to let that die until we actually do come back!)
8:25–Belliard reaches on an error by the third baseman, Manny Alexander. Where did Todd Walker go? Wherever he went…that’s exactly where I want him to stay.
8:27–Base hit Vizcaino. 5-3! EDMONDS IS UP. I REPEAT…EDMONDS IS UP!
8:30–EDMONDS IS OUT! I REPEAT…EDMONDS IS OUT! HOME RUN! Tied at 5-5…I’m short of breath!
8:34–Pitching change. Two outs now. 4-4 Phils-Astros. Inning over. Comeback complete…we’ll worry about the take over later.
8:39–Josh Kinney and his quirky motion are in the game. I would say I have a lot of confidence in him for whatever reason, but then he’d probably give up a eight-run homer. So, for now I’m just saying he’s in the game.
8:44–Inning over. 3-4-5 due up. Operation “take over” begins… (I’m all about relentless optimism.)
8:47–Astros 5, Phillies 4…going to the bottom of the seventh. For the second time tonight Albert hits a base hit that wasn’t a base hit but was instead caught by a fielder. Ugh.
8:51–Admittedly, this inning didn’t go as planned. Three up. Three down.
8:53–I was on the phone with my mom (who is also watching the game) when Edmonds hit his homer, and I just read what I typed again and now realize it could have sounded like he made an out or collapsed in a heap on the field. Oh well…I got there eventually. Kinney is back for the 6th.
8:57–A very long at-bat was just ended on a ground ball to shortstop. One out. Off subject…they just showed Jim Edmonds lounging in the dugout his jersey already replaced by a batting practice jersey/jacket…like nothing happened. You’re going to have to trust me when I say this was pretty great to see.
9:01–Onto the bottom of the inning unharmed. Houston’s still up by a run after seven innings. I really want them to lose, but then again, I really don’t want the Phillies to win. I don’t want to see Philadelphia or their first basemen make the playoffs. It’s not that I’m scared of him or them. I just prefer the Cards’ first basemen to have all the spotlight of the postseason. And, yes, I feel this way regardless of how nice that guy is…or where he grew up…
9:05–I feel a Yadier Molina hit coming. I’m never wrong when it comes to feelings about Yadi…
9:09–Just waiting for that hit…
9:10–I guess I’ll keep waiting. Two outs, runner on first, and a pinch-hitting Aaron Miles up to bat. I need a nap…just saying…
9:12–Can we discuss for a moment what color exactly the Padres’ pants are? Are they supposed to match their gold lettering without actually being gold? Off-yellow-ish is the best I can do for them right now. Off-yellow-ish, for the record, is not a flattering color.
9:14–Base hit for Miles. First and third with our man Preston Wilson stepping to the dish. A strike out?!?!? Wilson never strikes out! (Sorry, that was uncalled for.)
9:19–Brad Thompson into the game for the Cardinals and promptly gives up a double to Brian Giles who is proving to be a real pain in St. Louis’s side tonight. Bunt moves him to third. A strike out would be superb.
9:21–6-5 Padres on a chopper over the pulled in shortstop Miles. Unlucky. Did you feel that? I was momentum switching over to the visiting dugout. NOT SO FAST. Double play ends the inning.
9:26–Here comes the thunder! (It’s worth a shot…)
9:27–Lefty Embree strikes out lefty Duncan (kudos to LaRussa on giving him a shot against the lefty though regardless of the outcome). Pitching change for Pujols. Is it wrong that I expect him to do something amazing?
9:32–I really do expect too much of the guy. Really. He, um, struck out. Rolen is out of well. We have two more innings though! Six more outs to use up!
9:35–Thompson back out for the eighth. I would say I’m happy that he seems to have essentially gotten back on track with his career, but then he’d probably give up an eight-run homer…
9:38–Time for the bottom of the eighth with San Diego still leading 6-5. The bottom of the eighth inning is also known as the bottom of the last inning without Trevor Hoffman. Just something to think about or avoid thinking about.
9:41–Houston wins. I’m beginning to feel uneasy. Very uneasy.
9:44–Two out base hit for John Rodriguez. Skip’s up. He was a hero for Team USA just a few weeks ago…why not be a hero for the St. Louis Cardinals? New pitcher…
9:48–No hero tonight. Grounder to short. Inning over.
9:51–Braden Looper in the hold the lead at one run but gives up a single to lead off the inning. Here we go…with a double play?!?!?!
9:54–Force at second. Giles is up again. Lovely.
10:00–If Looper worked any slower…something bad would happen…
10:01–Two on, two out…
10:01–Padres’ pitcher Scott Linebrink hits for himself as Trevor Hoffman is apparently unavailable. He got a hit to left but Chris Duncan threw out a runner at the plate. Again, I refer you to my Spring Training posts…
10:03–How about a ninth inning comeback for us for once?
10:04–Miles to get us started…
10:05–Base hit into center. Wilson to get a hit next…
10:07–Strike out, one out. Duncan is up…coming off his assist to end the last half inning. (I’m playoff game-nervous by the way.)
10:09–Dan McLaughlin just said, “It’s up to Pujols.” Yes, yes it is. (Duncan struck out as well.)
10:11–Four pitch walk to Pujols. Alright, then, Scott Rolen.
10:13–“Base hit, home run, I don’t care either one.”
10:14–What I didn’t want was a strike out. But, alas, it is what I got nonetheless.
10:15–Everybody stand back…I’m hitting the panic button.
I’m too depressed for anything else. Maybe more later. Maybe tomorrow.
Yes, I know that the All-Star break isn’t technically the middle of the schedule. Yes, I realize it’s been 14 years since I posted, and you probably thought I was dead. Yes, I am going to proceed with this post nonetheless.
The first half of the season hasn’t so much been up and down and up and down as it has been up and then down. Still, the Cardinals resume play Thursday with a four game lead in the Central, and they are nine games over .500. Not too shabby really.
If I find the time I’ll do a more thorough job by breaking down each aspect of the game (starters, bullpen, defense, etc.). However, right now it’s hard enough for me to find time to watch the game–forget writing about it. Again, the answer is yes, I am aware that there are no violins playing for me. I didn’t expect any anyway.
For now I choose to believe that the worst days of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals are behind them. I’m not convinced that the best days will ever get here, but I’m not ready to write the season off by any means.
Honestly, the starting staff could do anything this half and completely fail to surprise me. I can believe the person who tells me they are going to be horrible as easy as I can believe the person who thinks they’re ready to get back to their old, reliable ways. I will say that, no matter what Jeff Weaver ends up contributing, I’m not sorry to see Sidney Ponson go. It’s not that he was horrible, although he sometimes was, it’s just that he lied to me and to everyone else. He said he was ready to change, ready to dedicate himself to baseball and then he proceeded to take his opportunity for granted, get fat, and pitch horrible enough to lose his spot in the rotation. His two good starts mean little to me in the big picture because his job and career were on the line, and that seems to be the only time he is capable of pitching well. I hate that–really hate that. Weaver has a great opportunity to be successful. He was apparently already starting to pitcher better in Anaheim and, let’s face it, we gave up nothing for him. I wish the guy we traded luck, but his career ceiling isn’t as valuable as a Jeff Weaver pitching good to great.
I still think the Cards need a bat, and Walt Jocketty does, too. The problem is finding someone available. (Some nights I dream of Alfonso Soriano without ceasing, from the moment my head hits the pillow until my alarm clock sounds. Then I wake up and realize it was all just a dream–an impossible dream…) Everyone’s saying it, but Jim Edmonds’ bat will be a strong enough pick up (meaning he is able to consistently hit well for the rest of the season) for St. Louis to win the Central. But for the Cardinals to win the World Series, they will have to have another legitimate, every day bat in the lineup. LaRussa mix-and-match is successful in the regular season because of his genius, but it doesn’t win championships–especially when a lineup requires as much mix-and-match as his currently does.
A more obvious statement has probably never been typed, but…if the Cardinals want to be around when the season ends they need to play better. They have to play better. Period. Jocketty, LaRussa, and team management can do all they want, but the men on the roster are going to have to start playing better baseball–St. Louis Cardinal baseball! When the team began their downward spiral against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, I wasn’t concerned. The starting pitching was horrible (with the exception of Anthony Reyes), but the starting pitching was clearly the problem. I figured they could and would remedy the situation before many more games had passed. Even the best staffs had slumps, right?
Right. And then the entire team starting playing sub par. One night the bullpen was awful. The next night it was the defense that lost the game. After that it would be the offense’s fault and after that it was a starter who imploded. This is when I started to lose my cool and say things like, “I don’t understand, last night the bullpen was fine and two nights ago they could hit the ball. Tonight they can’t do either.” And then the next day they would score 12 runs and lose because Jason Marquis had a negative bi-polar pitching performance.
Sure, they won their last three games against Houston before the break, but this is still not a team firing on all their proverbial cylinders. For the first time in a while, though, they looked liked they had a chance to get there. I hope this is the case.
I’d like to watch some Cardinal Baseball.
Well, things aren’t going to get any easier for the Cardinals as they try to break their three game losing streak. They just got swept by the AL Central’s second place team, the Chicago White Sox, and now they have to take the leaders in that division, the Detroit Tigers. If anyone out there claims they had the Tigers winning the division or even leading it in June, I’m going to need a witness to verify your story.
Tonight Chris Carpenter (6-3, 2.46) will take on Justin Verlander (8-4, 3.21) in Detroit. I know close to nothing about Verlander, which is to say I just checked out his stats and bio on MLB.com. I know one thing that makes me smile, however. Albert Pujols will be in the lineup and playing first base. See, it makes you smile.
Perhaps the most interesting match-up of the series will take place on the benches rather than the field with Tony LaRussa going against longtime friend (and former Cardinal employee) Jim Leyland. Both are undisputedly talented managers, and I’ll be paying close attention to their moves and counter-moves.
A sweep (alright…or even two wins) of the Tigers sure would make this road trip feel and look a lot better.
I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard a person say they’d rather lose a game by 15 runs than one. (Or something similar…) Well, the Cardinals tested that theory in their series with the White Sox. It was ultra painful to watch them get their brains beat out in the first two games, and uber painful to watch them take a tough 1-0 loss.
However, I’m not really one to dwell on the negatives of a baseball season particularly when my team is still leading its division by four games. Yes, we got swept by the Chicago White Sox, and that is not good. No, it is not the end of the world. I rated this series as a six on a 1-10 importance scale before it started, and I refuse to get all worked up at this point.
First and foremost the Albert Pujols returned to the lineup tonight after missing just 15 games. A chunk of games, to be sure, but every Cardinal fan realizes it could have been much worse. He didn’t get a hit tonight, but he also didn’t look terrible at the plate. Somebody is going to pay very soon…he has some ground to catch up. The remarkable thing (if Albert Pujols is still capable of being remarkable) is that he is still tied for the National League lead in home runs and is just one RBI behind league leader Ryan Howard. Unbelievable!
Of course the story of the night was Anthony Reyes’ performance. Just for the record, if he hadn’t been called up to make the start as Tony LaRussa hinted, I think I would have slipped into a deep clinical depression. Tonight, although he lost a heartbreaker, he stepped up in a big pressure situation and performed better than well. Most of the time when a major league pitcher gives up one run over the course of a complete game they win…not that that obvious statement is capable of making Reyes feel any better tonight. They showed a shot of him walking through the dugout right after the game ended. Barry Weinberg gave him a pat on the back of the head and fellow starter Jeff Suppan reached out and slapped his shoulder. I’m not sure if Reyes looked extremely angry or extremely sad, but either way my mom and I both released a big, “AAHHHHH” for him. I don’t know a thing about his personality and I assume this loss isn’t going to stick with him in any negative way, but the disappointed/disgusted/disturbed look on his face after the game is going to stick with me for a while. He deserved to be smiling, and he and the rest of the world knows it. (Insert obligatory kudos for Freddie Garcia here.)
Still, Reyes was impressive yet again as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. If he ever again finds himself a Memphis Redbird I’ll be as shocked as I was watching Jim Thome’s homer land in the stands tonight. He’s here to stay not because the Cards desperately need quality starting pitching (they do) or because he’s a top prospect (he is) but because he has earned it with repeated superior performances that I don’t think even Tony LaRussa can in any way discount.
Before I begin…a big “WOW” and a big pat on the back to the Cards for sweeping the Rockies. Life for the team hasn’t been as difficult as many have pretended, but this also hasn’t been an easy time. I still refuse to get over the disappointment of Albert’s injury because of its historical significance, but this weekend’s series went a long way toward raising my spirits. That and Albert is most certainly on his way back. How amazing would it be for him to return to the team still leading the league in home runs and RBI? Just think about that for a second…
Now, I have a bone to pick with Tony LaRussa. I seriously cannot begin to understand all the mystery surrounding the starting rotation right now. The other day he hinted (without much reserve) that Anthony Reyes would return to the rotation, but now he is denying it. He has told us Sidney Ponson has been sent to the bullpen in hopes of correcting his recent problems. Other than that everything is pretty much a mess as far as the hopes of understanding who will step on the mound as the Cards’ fifth starter and when.
While I won’t go so far as to say that I am outraged by this mystery and secrecy, I have two MAJOR problems with this picture.
My first problem is LaRussa acting as if he doesn’t know what is going to happen or who is going to start. This is the guy who I read sat down right after the All-Star Game last year and planned the rotation for the rest of the season. This is a guy renowned for his planning and preparing and plotting. He may play the game one day at a time, but he certainly doesn’t plan it that way.
I understand that even the best plans and preparations must sometimes be altered or changed altogether, but if he expects me to believe he doesn’t know, right now, who is starting on Thursday then he isn’t half as smart as I give him credit for being. Whatever the reason he decided to shake up the starting rotation, I approve of his decision. Maybe he’s only hoping to strike a little fear in the guys who have been struggling (seems to be working so far), maybe he has actually decided Reyes deserves a shot (he does), or maybe he for real believes skipping Ponson for a start and letting him help out the bullpen during interleague play will correct his issues (I find this one hard to believe, but I give it proper attention nonetheless).
However, his continued vagueness and indecision regarding the situation is an insult to my baseball intelligence that I’m not will to take without a swing. He knows what’s going on. I think I know what’s going on. At the very least, if he refuses to resolve the latter, he should admit the former.
My second problem, lucky for you dear reader, is shorter. LaRussa, a guy I promise I like almost all of the time, said of Reyes “Evidently, he’s not ready” for the big leagues because he allowed four runs in six innings while striking out three and walking none. Are you kidding me? From that line, which is below average sure but far from horrible, LaRussa made that statement. I’m not sure the world has ever seen a greater overstatement especially considering that the start was close to if not the worst start of his season at Memphis or St. Louis. How happy would Mark Mulder be to get one of Reyes’ bad starts right now?
I think I’ve made my point, but I could go on and on. The ridiculousness and coldness (for lack of a better term) of the statement really bothers me. Bet you could’ve figured that out on your own but oh well. My only hope is that had I been in the interview room, heard his tone of voice, and heard the question asked I would feel differently about the comment. My benefit of the doubt margin in this case, however, is very small.
This is good to read. Tony LaRussa is by no means denying that he is thinking about inserting rookie Anthony Reyes into the starting rotation soon…only this time without any particular injury to a current member of the rotation as his reason. Neither I nor anyone else can guarantee his continued and/or consistent success in the big league, but at this point I don’t think any starter is without need of a wake-up call. Carpenter seems to have gotten his, and we can hope that LaRussa coyness with the situation, if nothing else, will be sufficient for the rest.
And personally speaking, I’d like to see a Reyes’ start where he has his stay in the big leagues at risk. In each of his previous starts, he knew he was headed back down to Triple A regardless of what transpired. In other words, while it wasn’t exactly a "no pressure" situation, it also wasn’t "you pitch well and you stay or else." I"m ready to see the the "kid" has…inside and out.