Category Archives: Game Notes

Everything from odds and ends to a complete beat writer description of a recent baseball game.

Son of a Mitch

Now that’s what I call a hiatus.

Recently I made the trek back to the St. Louis area for a visit. It was a reconnect and recharge I enjoyed. Many of my family and friends had the expected questions: How do you like Texas, do you miss home, etc. etc. But one question I got more than I expected.

“Are you still writing at all?”

The long answer is complicated, so here’s the Cliff Notes version: Yes, I am, but not stuff I want to share at this time. The extension of the writing question was always some version of whether or not I was able to still watch or listen to Cardinals games. And the answer there is also yes, thanks to MLB.TV. I don’t see nearly as many games as I used to, obviously, but I get to see or hear at least some of most games. Plus there’s always a steady stream of baseball updates on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I did get to a game at Busch last week, and realistically that might be the only Cards game I see. If that holds, this will be the first year I only see one game at Busch in I don’t know how long—maybe a decade or more. But I do have the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers Triple A affiliate) playing right down the road and could always make the trek up to Arlington or over to Houston for some Major League action. Regardless, I’m still able to see a good amount of baseball; I just haven’t been writing about it—until today.

Mitchell effing Boggs

The game only ended about five and a half hours ago thanks to that bizarre rain delay, but 11 or so hours ago Mike Matheny called out to the bullpen to get a reliever up to close out a 2-1 game. Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal were apparently unavailable after pitching a bunch of games in a row, so he picked Boggs—the enigmatic, suddenly always struggling reliever who was lights-out as the 8th inning guy last year but has blown more saves than he has secured in 2013. No one can figure out what has become of this guy. He’s been down all year. The Cardinals sent him to Memphis where he pitched better but still didn’t excel. And he comes in to a game where Michael Wacha makes his Major League debut with a great outing and allows the Kansas City Royals to tie the game. The Royals were mired in an historically bad slump before the 9th inning of last night’s game. They had lost eight in a row and 12 of their last 13 and hadn’t hit a home run in like 9451 innings. So what’s a bad team’s cure for that kind of suck?

Mitchell effing Boggs.

And Matheny is at least partially culpable here, too. There are plenty of places to insert a troubled reliever so he can get straightened out. The 9th inning of a 2-1 game isn’t one of them. But it’s decision time regarding Boggs. This isn’t about one loss, or failing to sweep a series the Cardinals should have swept, or ruining Wacha’s debut. This is about wins and losses, and Boggs has been responsible for too many of the latter. I’m not saying the Cards need to release him, because the talent is there—we’ve seen it for several years. Maybe it is going from the 8th inning stopper to the 9th inning closer that messed him up just a little before it turned into a death spiral. But something is amiss with Boggs, and whether it’s his head or his health or his mechanics, he demonstrated again last night why he does not deserve to be anywhere near the mound in any inning of a close game.

 

–Chris

UCB Weekend: Success

Saturday night, members of the United Cardinal Bloggers—which includes yours truly—gathered at Patrick’s Restaurant and Sports Bar (Formerly Pujols 5…blech) at Westport for the annual UCB Dinner. Food, drinks, and good times were had by all. And the Cardinals sure know how to treat their keyboard-pounding fans, as Sunday at Busch Stadium was “Blogger Day,” which included a pre-game presentation and all-inclusive suites for the game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The UCB dinner was great. It’s always good to get to put faces with names or, in some cases, Twitter handles. Parts of the evening were sponsored by Burton History Trees and Any City Sports Fan (more on both in future posts). But as much fun as we had, I think everyone was really looking forward to Sunday’s events at Busch Stadium.

That's me way over on the far left!The Cardinals’ social media gurus are Lindsey Weber and Ron Watermon, and they did a great job putting the day together. A pregame program featuring appearances by Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III and General Manager John Mozeliak highlighted the day. They conveyed a little bit of team news, talked Ballpark Village, told us their thoughts on what we do out here in the online ether, and took questions from the crowd. Then we hustled up to the party rooms, where we were treated to some big time food and drinks. The menu included the usual ballpark favorites, plus pulled pork mac-n-cheese with buffalo sauce, jalapeno cheese brats, and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Needless to say, I did not have any ballpark favorites. Oh, and the beer was free. The Cardinals definitely know their audience.

To top it all off, the Cards on the field turned what was heading toward a crushing defeat into a walk-off winner in extra innings. It wasn’t a pretty victory, but it counts the same in the standings. All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. I’m not one of the bloggers that makes any money off of this little hobby, so perks like this are definitely appreciated. And it’s even better when the Cardinals toss a little official recognition our way.

Now, about those press credentials…

–Chris

The 2012 Opening Day Running Blog

Well here we are again…sitting in a garage in the heart of Belleville, IL with a smoking grill, a counter full of sides, and cold beer everywhere. Technically, it could be damn near any day of the week once the winter weather breaks. But in late March or early April, I’m definitely talking about the St. Louis Cardinals Home Opener. And this is my third installment of the Opening Day Running Blog.

The rain delay gave us all ample opportunity to eat, play some cards, and have a beer or six. We’re at my buddy Ken’s again, and we’re joined by Joe, Shane, Zac, and Scot the Cubs Fan. He’s all decked out in Cubbie Blue. We look at him with scorn. We started off with breakfast at the Hy Ho Restaurant in Belleville, and they weren’t impressed with him either. And that’s really saying something; the Hy Ho is a greasy spoon of the highest—and lowest—order.

The game was pushed back to a 3:45-ish start, with the pregame pomp and circumstance kicking off around 3. But we have word from sources at the ballpark that the Budweiser Clydesdales will not be making their traditional laps around the Busch Stadium turf. Could this be an omen of bad things to come? Wait, there’s Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. And Dunc has a beard. All is right with the world again.

3:45 – We’re getting ready for the Star Spangled Banner but the bald eagle brought in to make an avian patriotic display has yet to land. Normally, the majestic bird leaves its cage somewhere in the outfield, makes a few passes around the stadium, and goes right to its handler in the middle of the diamond. This thing has been circling for at least five minutes, and does not even look like it’s interested in landing. We’re beginning to wonder if it might pick up National Anthem singer Shannon Magrane in its talons and carry her away.

4:01 – Darwin Barney: one of the goofiest names in Major League Baseball.

4:04 – The Cubs have taken the lead 1-0 on two seeing-eye singles through the hole at short. Heh heh…through the hole…

4:07 – Ian Stewart parks one into the seats in right field. Cubs up 4-0. Scott the Cubs Fan looks pleased.

4:08 – Scott the Cubs Fan gets a text and guesses it must be a “F-you” from someone. He checks and says, “oh, it’s from my mother.” We’re all guessing it’s still a “F-you.”

4:10 – The top of the 1st finally ends…Cubs 4, Cards coming up.

4:12 – Taking the mound for the Cubs, Jeff Samardz…samma…Jeff. Jeff is pitching.

4:18 – The first two Cardinal hitters go quietly, but Holliday and Carpenter get on in front of David Freese. Excitement is at an all-time high around the patio table.

4:19 – A likely strike is called a ball on Freese. Scott the Cubs Fan is disgusted. I believe it’s the new strike zone Freese will see, like the Atlanta Braves pitchers of the mid-90s enjoyed. I could be wrong.

4:21 – Al Hrabosky offers some broadcast gold: “David Freese has holes.”

4:22 – Freese strikes out swinging. Cubs 4, Cards 0 after one.

At this break in the action, we decide to make things a little interesting. It’s the “Cup Game;” not to be confused with “2 Girls, 1 Cup” (DO NOT GOOGLE IT…TRUST ME). Basically, everyone puts a buck in a cup and it gets passed around; each time a new batter comes up, a new person gets the cup. While you’re holding the cup, if your hitter strikes out or hits into a double play, you must pay a dollar into the cup. If your hitter gets an extra base hit of any kind, you win what’s in the cup and everyone re-antes. If your hitter does anything else, you pass the cup on as is.

4:30 – The Cubs go quietly in the top of the second. No one wins any money, but no one loses any either.

4:35 – After a Yadier Molina strikeout, the pot grows by one. I have Matt Carpenter, who gets a base hit, but that does nothing for my monetary status. Dammit.

4:38 – Scott the Cubs Fan has drawn both pitchers early in our little game. Karma is indeed a bitch.

4:44 – Rick Hummel sighting in the Press Box, chatting with Dave Duncan and Tony La Russa.

4:48 – La Hair hits a Grand Slam, putting the Cubs up 8-0. More importantly, that was Scott the Cubs Fan’s batter. This pretty much seals the deal: he will die today, because we will be forced to kill him.

4:50 – Wainwright gives up a hit to Marlon Byrd. His curveball is hanging, and everything is hittable. This is not a good return for Waino, but he should have plenty of opportunities to bounce back. Then I remembered he’s on my fantasy team and I’m even sadder.

4:52 – Samard…z…i…j…a strikes out, and I owe a dollar. FML. After TWO AND A HALF INNINGS, the Cubs lead 8-0.

4:56 – Victor Marte is warming up in the bullpen, and by warming up I mean eating an entire turkey.

5:05 – After three innings, the Cubs still lead 8-0.

5:06 – You know what never gets old? Pronouncing David DeJesus’s name as “De-Jesus,” like THAT Jesus. We’re idiots.

5:10 – The bases are loaded AGAIN for the Cubs, and there’s nobody out. This is beyond ugly.

5:11 – Fortunately Alphonso Soriano grounds into a double play, but a run still scores. Ken pays a dollar. Cubs lead 9-0.

5:14 – in probably the play of the game for the Cardinals, Matt Carpenter makes a stumbling, bumbling play and flips to Marte covering 1st for the final out of the inning. It looked so bad, it looked great. Another friend, Jeff, has popped in momentarily. He likes the Cards’ gold jerseys. Yep…he’s the one.

(Break in the action: Scott the Cubs Fan has to leave to pick up his son, and we all have to move our cars to let him out. I think he’s used that excuse to get out of a beat-down multiple times. His time will come.)

5:28 – We’re all just buzzed and distracted enough that we forgot what the order was in our little dollar game. Scott the Cubs Fan leaving the rotation didn’t help either. Time to re-draw and re-ante.

5:29 – Jon Jay drives home the first run of the game for the Cardinals with a single. Shane Robinson scores. I do not earn any money on that one.

5:30 – Carlos Beltran knocks a single up the middle and Jay takes third. Joe says, “The comeback is on!” We all shoot him a disapproving look and keep drinking.

5:33 – David Freese with an RBI single, Cards now down 9-2. Jeff claims it’s the jerseys. Ugh.

5:35 – Yadier Molina with an RBI single, Cards now trail 9-3. We may be getting close to starting to think we might believe.

5:37 – Matt Carpenter with a triple! The Cardinals are now down 9-5. Ken takes the pot; time to re-ante. And, we have a game on our hands.

5:40 – “Disco” Descalso strikes out to squelch the rally. Cubs’ lead is cut to 9-5 after five innings.

5:43 – Joe Mather makes his triumphant return to Busch Stadium as a Cub for the first time, and no one cares.

5:47 – Ladies and Gentlemen, Darwin Barney is batting. I love you, you love me, we are blah blah blah…

5:49 – The wife’s home! Everybody hide! Damn rain delays…

5:53 – Jon Jay legs out a lucky double, and I collect the pot! But the other guys are out of dollars so we’re done for now. Oh well. I think I made $2 today.

5:56 – David De-Jesus robs Matt Holliday’s bid for an RBI with a diving catch in right. Still 9-5 Cubs after six innings.

6:10 – “Ken, quit fingering the meat!” It’s getting late, folks.

6:11 – Alphonso Soriano makes a diving catch. It’s a big deal when he does something right.

6:14 – Kyle McClellan in for his second inning of work. Why do I get the feeling this isn’t a great idea? And, of course, as I’m typing this, he hits Marlon Byrd.

6:15 – Blake DeWitt bounces into a double play. You may get away with this yet, Kyle.

6:16 – Groundout, and the Cards are out of the inning. But they’re running out of chances; it’s still 9-5 and we’re headed to the bottom of the 8th inning.

6:21 – Disco with a one-out double. Time for a rally, hopefully before the rain kills this game.

6:24 – Tyler Greene with a predictable strikeout. Why are the Cardinals still giving him a chance again? Oh yeah…he can run. That would really come in handy if he ever got on base. Kerry Wood coming into the game, so the Cards still have a shot.

6:28 – Rafael Furcal bounces out to first. Cards still down 9-5.

6:32 – “Did Jeff leave?” Yeah, Shane…about 20 minutes ago.

6:34 – Fernando Salas mows down the Cubs in the top of the 9th. The Cardinals are down to their last chance, and I’ve got a lot of beer left. Maybe I’m slipping in my old age.

6:35 – Wait! I’m not old! Give me another beer!

6:42 – And after an uneventful bottom of the 9th, Carlos Beltran strikes out to end the game. The Cardinals fall to the Cubs 9-5.

Well…that kind of sucked. But, as always it was a good time with good food and good friends. We watched a little playoff hockey as the evening wound down, chatting and joking and telling stories. Really, that’s what Opening Day is all about: getting together with friends and fellow fans to watch some baseball and have fun. Whether you go to the game, enjoy it with a group, or enjoy it from the comfort of your own couch, you know everything seems a little better once baseball is back. Now I have to get ready to go to my first game of the year, Saturday—when the Cardinals are presented with their 2011 World Championship rings. Should be a great day at Busch Stadium.

One final note…At about 8:30, I received a text from Scott the Cubs Fan: “I think I just saw that eagle fly past my house.” Perfect.

Social Media Night with the St. Louis Cardinals

Thursday is Social Media Night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first of a four game series, and before the game a special presentation takes place featuring the three most active Twitter users on the Cards’ roster: David Freese, Jon Jay, and Daniel Descalso. It looks like tickets are still available. This will be my third SMN at Busch, and I can confirm that “real” baseball writers—you know, the ones that do it for a living—attended this event in the past as well. Either way, if you’re going to the game and you enjoy interacting with the Cardinals, other fans, and sports journalists/bloggers/writers via Twitter, Facebook, etc. this is a can’t-miss event. And if you read any of my scribblings, whether you enjoy them or not, please come say hello!

–Chris

@birdbrained

Another Case for Instant Replay

Late last night—rather, early this morning—the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves wrapped up a 19 inning game on what appears to be a blown call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals. The videos over at MLB.com are real-time, of course, but nowhere near the up close and personal view Meals had. It’s tough to see a 100% conclusive tag of Julio Lugo by Pirates catcher Michael McKenry. The internet is a powerful tool, however, as are DVRs and camera phones.

 

This picture was tweeted by @Silber_Bullet:

 

pirates-braves

 

This one comes from Pirates blog Raise The Jolly Roger:

 

pirates-braves2

 

Obviously, the play is still really close. But it pretty much looks like Lugo is out. Calls like this are the exact reason expanded—but still limited—instant replay is needed in Major League Baseball. For the record, I do NOT believe balls and strikes should be called by a machine. I still believe a balk should be a judgment call. And I do not want unlimited challenges throughout a game. But something needs to be done. Umpires are human and make mistakes, so why not take steps to eliminate some of that? Fair or foul, out or safe, home run or not…these are true-false calls that don’t have to have anything to do with judgment. Umpires, players, coaches, and executives in the game have to want the calls to be correct, no matter which way they go. Expanding instant replay is a really easy way to accomplish that.

It’s time for MLB to step into the 21st century. It ain’t 1985 anymore.

 

Denkinger 85

 

–CCR

Terrible Tuesday

The St. Louis Cardinals kicked off their three game series vs. the Philadelphia Phillies by allowing 14 hitters to come to the plate in the top of the eighth inning, resulting in nine runs in what was, up until then, a close game. But the Phillies’ formidable power was not to blame—the Cards’ bullpen was.

The frame featured five St. Louis relievers. And the Phillies did have six hits in the inning. But hit batters and walks? Unacceptable. This had the makings of a really good win: Going into the eighth inning with a lead against Roy Halladay, who by that time was out of the game, and the Phillies is a place not a lot of teams find themselves. Kyle McClellan pitched a great game, going seven innings and only allowing one run. A win tonight would have meant getting the series off on the right foot, holding onto first place, and bolstering team confidence a little after the Albert Pujols injury.

But Pujols’ absence had no bearing on this game whatsoever. This game was pissed away. And not because the Phillies are that good; Cardinal relievers could not throw strikes. It’s just about time the front office finds guys who can.

-Chris

@birdbrained

An Interesting Monday Night Lineup

The St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup for tonight’s game against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies has been posted. The batting order looks normal, but pay attention to the positions:

  1. Theriot – SS
  2. Jay – CF
  3. Pujols – 3B
  4. Holliday – LF
  5. Berkman – 1B
  6. Craig – RF
  7. Molina – C
  8. Punto – 2B
  9. Westbrook – P

That’s right…Albert Pujols starts at third tonight. Lance Berkman takes his place at first, and Allen Craig—who originally was slated to play second base, for some reason—has been bumped to right field. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the reasoning and timeline for the switcheroo. On 101.1 ESPN radio in St. Louis, Bob Ramsey asked where this has been all year if Pujols is capable of playing third?

I would like to take it a step further: Where was this last year, when the Cards were running out butt-asses like Pedro Feliz and Felipe Lopez for two thirds of the season? The Hot corner was a major hole for the Cards in 2010, and though it wasn’t the only reason they finished second, the dearth there certainly was a factor. So what changed? I always thought Pujols playing at third base wouldn’t work because of his elbow and the risk of injury. I guess he’s better now. Or maybe the Cards aren’t concerned about that risk anymore.

 The other moves I’m on board with, although obviously Pujols is a better defensive first baseman than Berkman. But Berkman’s bat needs to be in the lineup…so why isn’t Daniel Descalso playing third, Punto second, Pujols first, and Berkman right? Can LaRussa simply not bear having Descalso face the left handed Lee? Is that worth the risks associated with the current lineup’s positioning? Maybe this is as much an indictment of Berkman’s play in the outfield and the Phillies’ lefty- and switch-heavy lineup.

Should be an interesting game…maybe an interesting series.

–Chris

The Opening Day Running Blog II

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It’s Opening Day…Christmas in March. I find myself without a
ticket to the game. But several of my friends have again taken the day off of
work and gathered at by buddy Ken’s house for food, drink, and baseball. We
have two televised games to watch: The Detroit Tigers vs. the New York Yankees,
and of course the San Diego Padres vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Most of the
Tigers-Yankees game has been spent playing cards, prepping food, checking
fantasy lineups, and having drinks. But now that we’re just a few minutes from
first pitch at Busch Stadium, I’ve cracked open my computer and started a
running blog. Last year’s was a pretty good entry, but we had much better
weather and many more drop-in guests. This year, in addition to Ken, we also
have his brother Ed, other good friends Terry and Zac, and of course Scott the
Cubs Fan in attendance. Let’s play ball!

2:45 – The cavalcade of Cardinals Hall of Famers has begun,
and Stan Musial is in attendance wearing his new Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Red Schoendienst are in
attendance, too…each wearing their brilliant red blazers. Opening Day has
officially begun in Cardinal Nation. I have a glass full of ice and some kind
of aged rum I brought back from Mexico. You might be asking, “Rum and what?”
Just rum, friends…just rum. I have a couple of cigars at the ready, too. Could
be quite a day.

2:55 – The coaching staff and players are being introduced
after their parade around the field in huge pick-up trucks. This isn’t as
exciting on TV. All we’re doing now is hoping none of the trucks stops short,
injuring yet another Cardinal for the season.

2:59 – Speaking of injuries, Adam Wainwright was just
introduced. Pitch a good game today, Ad…wait. Crap.

3:00 – Colby “Boomhauer” Rasmus and Albert Pujols were just
introduced. No boos for Pujols, even without a contract. I didn’t expect boos,
but you never know.

Now that the Fox Sports Midwest broadcast has cut away to
Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky, and Rick Horton, it’s probably a good time to
mention we have a pot of chili, grilled brats, two different taco dips, and
three boxes of Hostess desserts. We expect other people to stop by, trust me.
But it’s a good spread.

Here’s the Cards’ starting lineup, courtesy of the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch:

1. Theriot SS

2. Rasmus CF

3. Pujols 1B

4. Holliday LF

5. Berkman RF

6. Freese 3B

7. Molina C

8. Schumaker 2B

9. Carpenter P

The San Diego Padres are rolling out the following lineup:

1. Venable RF

2. Bartlett SS

3. Hudson 2B

4. Hawpe 1B

5. Ludwick LF

6. Headley 3B

7. Maybin CF

8. Hundley C

9. Stauffer P

3:20 – The first pitch of 2011 from Chris Carpenter is a
ball. It’s officially baseball season.

3:27 – Carpenter gets through an easy 1-2-3 top of the
first, and looks sharp. Cards coming up, no score.

3:29 – After Theriot is robbed of a base hit in centerfield,
Rasmus takes one to the wall in right and Will Venable can’t handle it. In
fact, he looked completely lost. Rasmus ends up on third with a triple and
Pujols is coming up with one out.

3:31 – Pujols pops out in foul territory, and my slightly
liquored friends and I start mock-razzing him, saying things like “Is that’s
what 30 million per year is going to be worth?!?!” We’re hilarious.

3:32 – Matt Holliday comes up and rips a single up the
middle, scoring Rasmus. Cards lead, 1-0. This is what I like to see.

3:34 – In his first at bat as a Cardinal, Lance Berkman
strikes out. Cardinals 1, Padres 0 after one inning.

3:41 – Carpenter’s first base runner allowed is a hit by
pitch of Ryan Ludwick. It wasn’t intentional, as far as I can tell. Ludwick is
quickly erased though on a 6-4-3 double play turned nicely by Theriot and
Schumaker.

3:42 – Scott the Cubs Fan just informed us his chicken
enchiladas are almost done. Good Lord, I didn’t realize we have even MORE food.
It’s like Thanksgiving. I wonder if I’ll fall asleep with gravy on my face?

3:43 – The sun has FINALLY poked its way through the clouds
here in Belleville IL. We’re sitting in Ken’s oversized garage and just raised
the big door. A quick breeze reminds us it’s still only about 50 degrees
outside, and we promptly close the door again. Smart guys, we are.

3:48 – Schumaker is up, and Terry keeps making fun of him
for adjusting his batting gloves after every pitch. I never really noticed it
before…but it is kind of annoying. Schumaker then reaches first on a dropped
third strike, but Carpenter grounds out weakly to end the inning. Cardinals 1,
Padres 0 after 2.

3:55 – Carpenter again makes quick work of the Padres, and
has faced the minimum through three innings. I love a great pitching
performance, but it doesn’t make for exciting blogging. What am I going to
write? “Hey, another strike! Boo ya!”

3:58 – Theriot knocks a base hit into left, and we give
Scott the Cubs Fan a hard time. “Remember that?” Ken says. “Yeah, and I
remember all the other games, too” Scott replies. Don’t worry, Cards fans…he’s
outnumbered.

4:01 – Albert Pujols comes up with runners on first and
second, no one out and grounds into a double play. “Trade him!” lament my sarcastic
friends. Something tells me this will be a theme throughout the year anytime
Pujols makes an out when he has a chance for an RBI, though. That will make
this season really irritating at times. Holliday follows with a groundout.
Cardinals 1, Padres 0 after three innings.

4:06 – As excited as we are for Opening Day, we’ve decided
to play a game of euchre while we watch the game. Maybe it’s a sign of the game
moving kind of slowly so far. Of course, as soon as we sit down at the table,
Will Venable rips a double down the left field line for the first Padres hit of
the day.

4:08 – David Freese makes a highlight reel catch on the
third base line and throws out Bartlett at first. Those ankles look pretty
sturdy early on. Freese is easily one of the most important components to the
Cards’ success this year. So far he looks good.

4:11 – After a sacrifice fly, Carp gets out of the inning. Still
tied 1-1.

4:17 – Three straight hits by Berkman, Freese, and Molina
quickly put the Cards back up 2-1. In perhaps a more important story, no one
got hurt and the speed on the basepaths was BLINDING.

4:18 – Venable makes a great diving catch on a Carpenter
bloop into foul territory to end the inning. Cards 2, Padres 1 after four
innings. Time for more rum.

4:29 -After Ludwick walks, he steals second when Schumaker
can’t hold onto the ball during the tag. Molina threw it perfectly; Schu just
dropped it (Ludwick might have gotten a hand up, but that’s still a ball that
has to be held). Nick Hundley then sends a rocket off the wall, scoring Ludwick
from second. Padres 2, Cardinals 2. We’ve got a barnburner on our hands!

4:35 – Albert Pujols just grounded into another double play.
In three at bats, Pujols has made five outs. He’s off to a great start. And
yes, I realize it’s only the first game of a 162 game season. But he’s on my
fantasy team, and he’s killing me right now.

5:03 – Took a break from the log to eat more food, finish
the euchre game, and refill my rum. In the meantime, Dan showed up. He
compliments my chili and enjoys a swig of my rum. Chris Carpenter has pitched 7
strong innings, a great start for this early in the season. He’s due up second
in the bottom of the 7th so he’s likely finished for the day.

5:08 – I’m right about Carp; after Schumaker led off the
inning with a single, Daniel Descalso pinch hit and bunted Schu over to second
base. But a Theriot groundout and Rasmus strikeout later, the inning is over.
We’re still tied 2-2.

5:23 – We just got into a lengthy discussion about baseball
salaries. Ed doesn’t seem to think Pujols is worth $25 million or more; he
thinks Pujols should do just play for $15 million. We’re fairly certain he’s
drunk or crazy. Even Scott the Cubs Fan laughed. I had a hard time convincing
Ed that the CBA doesn’t allow players to be paid based on their performance
year over year. I know what he’s trying to say. It’s easy to talk about what
would be “nice” or “right” but reality is harsher. I’ll need another drink to
finish this conversation.

5:42 – Matt Holliday just snuck a solo home run over the
wall to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Scott the Cubs Fan said it would be
Pujols who was the hero after his awful day at the plate, but once again he was
wrong. Ed just asked how much Holliday makes, so I shook up a beer and opened
it in his face.

5:50 – Ryan Franklin is brought in to close the game out.
The first two outs were relatively easy, though Headley did give one a ride.
But Cameron Maybin spoiled the party at Busch by cranking a solo homer to dead
center. Franklin is on the hook for his first blown save of the year. Is that
Jason Motte I see warming up in the bullpen? This is not how today was supposed
to end.

5:57 – The Padres bring in Chad Qualls for the bottom of the
9th. Molina, Schumaker, and Jay (after a double-switch) are due up.
Yikes.

6:01 – Jay smokes one up the middle that Qualls gets a glove
on but can’t hold on to. Jay is on with two outs. Theriot is up….

….

…and lines out. Extra innings on opening day!

6:06 – Brian Tallet makes his Cardinal debut, and I do a
quick image search for some of his epic pics from when he was a Toronto Blue Jay.
Dan drops the first Goose Gossage reference of the day.

6:10 – Tallet mows down the Padres, and looks good doing it.
Due up for the Cards: Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday. Go Cards!

6:14 – Leadoff walk to Rasmus. Mike Shannon must be going
nuts in the radio booth right now.

6:15 – Pujols grounds into ANOTHER double play. That’s eight
outs for him on the day. That’s just awful. Has he ever had a day like this? Oh…ask
and you shall receive. They just flashed a graphic that states Pujols has never
grounded into three double plays in one game. Good thing we’re not keeping
track of GIDP in the fantasy league.

6:17 – Holliday walks. Up comes Allen Craig. Come on, kid…we
need a hero.

6:18 – Craig fouls out to Venable, who is having a heck of a
game. Time for the 11th inning…and more rum.

6:23 – Hundley gets a two out single off of newly promoted
Cardinal Brian Augenstein. Not good.

6:25 – Maybin also singles; Hundley to third. But Ryan Theriot
blows the relay and Hundley makes it home on his terrible throw to the plate. The
Padres take the lead 4-3.

6:28 – 5-3 Padres. FML. More rum.

6:31 – Ed asks Dan why he smokes Marlboro Reds instead of
lights. Then he asks Scott the Cubs Fan why he smokes Marlboro menthols. I then
ask Scott the Cubs Fan why he’s such a woman. All conclusions can be drawn from
his Cubs hat and shirt.

6:33 – The Cards now face one of the best closers in the
league, Heath Bell. Ugh.

6:36 – Schumaker lines out to end an uneventful bottom of
the 11th and the game.

What’s the bigger story today: Pujols 0 for 5 with three
GIDP, or Franklin’s blown save? I have a feeling we’ll see more of Franklin’s
performance than Pujols’ performance, especially when you realize that Pujols
has NEVER had that kind of a day. In fact, not many ever have…according to
ESPN, it’s the first time since 1920 anyone has grounded into three double
plays on Opening Day. Closers blow saves…it happens. But wasting a Carpenter
start as good as the one he put on is really tough to watch. Bottom line is, this
was game 1 of 162. The Cards got off on the wrong foot, but they have a chance
to right the ship Saturday.

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