Tagged: My Team(s)

How good can they be?

With even Jason Marquis pitching well today, and the Cardinals scoring nine runs with the entire offense contributing I started thinking… How good can this version of the St. Louis Cardinals be?
They’ve already won more games in April than the ’04 or ’05 version that won 100 games each. Albert Pujols already hit 19 home runs faster than anyone in the history of the game. They even seemed to have survived Jason Isringhausen’s yearly crazy phase.

Yet…

Is the production of the outfielders really all it can be yet? (Tip of the hat to John Rodriguez who just keeps hitting and keeps hitting regardless of the playing time he gets.) Are we seriously still platooning Aaron Miles and Hector Luna at second base and getting by with it? (Just asking.) Will one good start against five bad ones work all season for Marquis?

I’ve done little more than list a bunch of thoughts or questions that either don’t require or don’t have a good answer, but I can’t help but aimlessly wonder about what might be this season. Of course, I hope the Cards win 115 games. I hope the season ends with the celebration of a World Series title. I hope Albert hits 80 homers, and I hope Chris Carpenter starts getting the wins he deserves and wins a second Cy Young Award.

But just in case none of those things happen which may very well be the case. I would just like to say right now that I love, LOVE, L-O-V-E watching this team play on a daily basis. It is the highlight of my day every day…win or lose. I know every day they take the field as the better team and that means they have a much better chance of winning than they do of losing. Yes, sometimes they lose. Sometimes they even lose to the Red Sox in the World Series, and other times they lose to the Astros in the NLCS. And when things like that happen I cry and pout and lament what might have been. Still at the end of the day, looking at the grand scheme of things, I’ll take the Cardinals.

I’ll take the Cardinals, because at least during the Albert Pujols generation, I know that I’ll have the opportunity to ponder how good they can be. My biggest complaint will be about problems that haven’t actually caused problems but potentially could. I will actually be able to count Pujols striking out with the bases loaded already up by eight runs as a huge disappointment.

This post wasn’t designed to turn into an overall Cardinals love fest, but it did anyway because thinking about just how good the ’06 version of the St. Louis Cardinals has the potential to be led me to another question.

How lucky am I to get to find out?

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Gone Fishing…

I hate finals.
I like the Cardinals sweeping the Marlins and heading home for a nine game stretch. Today was not an altogether perfect game which is odd considering the final score was 9-1. A couple of dropped balls by Hector Luna and So Taguchi as well as Juan Encarnacion failing to score on a Scott Spiezio double he though was going to be a home run resulted in a less than pretty performance. Of course, there is plenty to be concerned with when thinking only of Sidney Ponson leaving the game with elbow pain. He sounded awful upbeat after the game for a guy who basically requested to be removed from the game. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a couple days before we know anything and even then it will be something to worry about for weeks to come. But enough negativity…

I won’t claim I “predicted” Jeff Suppan’s fantastic Friday night start, but I did say Thursday during my radio interview that, with S(o)up, it always feels like his next start is going to be a good one. Close enough.

Can I just say for the record that I am tired of people calling the potential of Albert Pujols being walked often the potential of him getting “the Bonds’ treatment.” I have to hear enough about Barry Bonds without having to think of him in the middle of perfectly pleasant conversations about Pujols. Plus, it really hasn’t started happening yet, it’s nothing to talk about. (Ok, yes it is something to talk about and it’s starting to happen a little bit, but I still resent calling in “the Bond’s treatment.” There. Rant over.

Speaking of Barry Bonds, he spoke positively about Pujols in his post game interview Sunday night. Saying he didn’t know if he’d have a chance to catch Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list because he plays in the National League. Bonds said Albert was so good…he’ll probably start getting a lot of walks… It really never ends.

Finally, Yadi’s been hitting a little bit which is cool.

I must return to my real life now…way before I’m prepared to do so. For those of you keeping score at home…the King Lear paper is done and now it’s on to a ten pager on baseball during the Civil War and how the game being played then directly resulted in it becoming known as “America’s game.” Fascinating. (Only three more days of school! Woo-hoo!)

One more for the record books…

One more win that is…a record 17th in April for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards finished off an impressive 8-2 home stand. Now it’s off to Cincinnati and a match-up with the first place Reds.
The final score of today’s game was 9-2, not exactly close, but the Nationals still walked Albert Pujols four times. Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to get used game like that.

Writer’s Block

Alright, so I haven’t had “writer’s block” so much as I’ve had two weeks until the end of the semester. Still, it’s been WAY too long since I’ve posted. With each day that passes the daunting task of catching up on the days I missed only grows, so I’m really not even going to try. Instead, here is a list of thoughts with a yet-to-be-determined length.
(1) Thus far the NL Central is baseball best division. Below is a list of the five best records in baseball (as of Sunday morning) with NL Central member in bold. (It’s not that I don’t think you know who they are so much I want to test some HTML codes. Oh, the joys of having an Apple laptop.)

Cincinnati Reds 17-7
New York Mets 16-7
Chicago White Sox 16-7
St. Louis Cardinals 16-8
Houston Astros 15-8

Just for the record, Baseball Prospectus says the Mets, Astos, and White Sox have had the three easiest schedules early on. (Found in this week’s SI on page 74 in case my indecision made it seem like I was making it all up!! Sorry!) I mean, just look at what has happened since the Astros started playing the powerhouse Reds. Now there is a sentence I didn’t envision typing four weeks ago.

(2) Juan Encarnacion’s RBI total has sky-rocketed! With his home run in the second inning of Sunday’s game his now has SEVEN RBIs and TWO home runs. Wow! He’s got my All-Star vote!

(3) Um…call me a loser, but I’ve already voted 50 times for the All-Star teams. My Friday night consisted of watching a movie and continuously clicking “VOTE AGAIN NOW” until I maxed out both of my email addresses. That by no means means I’m through, however. I would encourage any Cards fans to vote as often as possible and any fans from other teams to forget the ballot exists!

(4) If Mark Mulder or Chris Carpenter get a no-decision when they deserve a win again any time soon…I’ll complain about it again!

(5) For the second straight year the Cardinals have set a record for wins in April. I understand the season starts earlier now than it used to, but this cannot be a bad thing.

(6) I know we still have a game to win today, but I’m interested to see how the Reds series will go. I’ve not yet bought into the belief that they’ll hang around the top of the division all season, but you can’t deny how impressive they’ve been so far. Of course, we took 2 of 3 from them earlier this season at Busch.

(7) Get well soon, Scott Rolen. I don’t even want to think about how sick he must have been to stay away from the ballpark altogether for so many days. It’s good to see him sitting on the bench today, and it will even better to see him standing at third tomorrow. (Crossing my fingers.)

(8) I was pleased to see John Gall get the call up from Memphis. I hesitate ALWAYS to agree with ANYTHING Al Hrabosky says, but I couldn’t help but support his theory that the Cards simply do not need 12 pitchers right now. As for Ricardo Rincon going on the DL, I think there is much more to the story than we’re being told. “He’s been sore for three weeks but didn’t tell anyone so now we’re going to put him on the DL,” doesn’t quite cut it for me. But then again, maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist.

(9) By the way, I mistakenly thought I was the only person who got annoyed with my team’s announcers from time to time. However, since joining MLBlogs I’ve read many posts and comments that suggest others have far more contempt for their play-by-play and color men than I have ever had. Particularly surprising to me is people dislike of Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, and Joe Morgan. I don’t agree with everything they ever say, of course, but I had never recognized the charges against them. I’m not saying people who don’t like them are wrong…just that I was surprised to discover all the animosity.

(10) Albert Pujols. There simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe the man. 14 home runs, 32 RBIs, and I can’t say I’m surprised. I struggle with the thought that, at the age of 19, I may be seeing the best baseball being played by the best baseball player that I’ll ever see in my lifetime. Still, I feel so lucky and privileged to watch Pujols at the plate, in the field, and any and every other opportunity I get. When he comes to the plate my world, and I think most every one else’s who have a view of the game on TV, on the internet, or in person, stops completely, and I can’t take my eyes off of him.

In case you think I’m being dramatic, and I am a little bit, chew on this for a second. Again I yield to Baseball Prospectus who say, “Willie Mays’ best year came at 24, as did Mickey Mantle’s. Stan Musial’s was at 22. Cal Ripken had four of his five best seasons by the age of 25.” Not that any of the players mentioned failed to ever have great seasons again…

Here’s to Albert’s best season coming when he’s 43, and here’s to another Cardinals victory this afternoon!

Picture Perfect Pitching

Eight unbelievable innings from Chris Carpenter followed by a uneventful ninth from Jason Isringhausen made for a picture perfect pitching afternoon in Cardinal Nation.
It was also great to see Jim Edmonds contribute, big time, to the offense. He knocked in three of the Cards’ four runs with a solo home run and two-run double. Hopefully today was only the beginning of a hot streak for Jimmy.

A day off tomorrow…then bring on the Cubs! We have a sweep to repay them for…

What everyone’s saying…

I spent a lot of today and yesterday reading many different points of view from and about The New Busch Stadium. I thought others might enjoy doing the same, so click here, here, or here to read what others have to say. Bernie Miklasz wrote the best article about the opening yesterday.
This is only a sample of what people are saying, but it’s a start. Today’s Post-Dispatch has much more good stuff to delve in to. Happy Reading!

Mulder Makes Opening Game Memorable

Regardless of what transpired in today’s inaugural game at Busch Stadium (III), it would have been a game to remember for years to come. Although I’m not yet half as old as the old Busch was when it was demolished, I could have easily told you who hit the first homer (Felipe Alou) and first Cardinal homer (Mike Shannon) for years now, thus proving my point.
However, the performance of Mark Mulder made today’s victory over everybody’s favorite bandwagon, the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only did Mulder deliver eight plus innings of outstanding pitching, he also drew a walk, hit a double, and cracked a home run. His efforts at the plate are particularly surprising due to the fact that, before today’s game, he had never even hit an extra-base hit in the major leagues.

Not to be forgotten are Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. Pujols hit a monster blast over the left field fence in the third inning for his fourth homers of the young season, and Rolen made an unbelievable dive to his right, picked up the ball, and delivered a bullet on the fly to first baseman Pujols…from his knees!

The ballpark, although not fully finished, looked magnificent on television. The classy Cardinal and Busch Stadium emblems embedded into the brick behind home plate are actually my favorite things from a TV standpoint. (I’m way into details.) I’m disappointed that Matthew Leach has already deemed the new Busch inferior to another park. I can’t say if I agree or not, however, because I’ve never been to any of the parks he mentions. That will soon change, though, because I WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE FOR WEDNESDAY’S GAME! (I had to capitalize that because I feel like shouting it every time I think about it.)

My visit to St. Louis on Wednesday will undoubtedly result in a new photo album here at Rachel’s Redbird Ramblings, so come back and check it out! (Read that again with a cheesy commercial-guy-voice in your head…it makes the sentence much more fun.) It feels nice to be over .500 again, no?