Category Archives: Uncategorized
Mostly non-baseball posts.
I have to write this, because I have to write something.
The facts are well-known by now: a seriously disturbed individual walked into Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT and opened fire with two handguns, killing about 30 people—and 20 of them were children. English is a versatile language, but it falls way short in having adequate words to describe something like this. Maybe every language on Earth does. But that doesn’t stop the information from flowing constantly, on the best of days as well as the worst.
Social Media is a funny thing. It is, simultaneously, all of these: annoying and inspirational, informative and misleading, shocking and totally predictable. I read dozens of “reports” throughout the morning on various reputable news websites and their Twitter feeds that turned out to be partially or completely false; too many times, being first trumps being right. But the gist was easy to grasp, and the horrible realities sunk in quickly. Many people spoke out about the gun violence problem in this country; their opposition promptly swatted them back with either “this is not the time” or “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Others took the stance that more guns were needed, or they hoped their guns would not be taken away as a result of this nutjob’s actions; their opposition knocked them down with labels like “heartless” and, again, “this is not the time.” And probably the majority stuck to the middle of the road, offering something to the effect of “please don’t politicize this tragedy, this is not the time, let us all grieve and help the victims and their families.” I don’t have a problem with that in principle, but don’t trivialize the issues at hand by calling them political. Gun violence, like all violence, is a societal issue. We have a problem with violence in this country. This is not news. It is also, apparently, “not the time.” Well when the hell is the time, then?
Where I sit on this issue is what I would call “medium-left.” I’m not really anti-gun, because I just don’t care that much about them to have that stance. Frankly, I don’t get the fetish—and believe me, that’s the correct term to use in too many cases. I’m generally not a fan of concealed carry, simply because I don’t think the vast majority of Americans are skilled enough, smart enough, or stable enough to safely carry a loaded gun around all the time. It’s not the gun that scares me; it’s the fuckup that’s carrying it around trying to pass judgment on who might be a thug and who might be just a person wearing a hoodie. You want to talk about freedom? I happen to like walking around town without worrying about being accidentally shot by an untrained citizen who thinks his or her wallet is going to be lifted because they were looked at funny. That’s true freedom to me. Now I know the 2nd Amendment humpers will either be getting ready to click over to another website right about now, or are simply readying their vitriolic (yet patriotic, I’m sure) reply for the comments section below. But before you go, let me say I too believe in the 2nd Amendment—especially the part that says “well regulated” at the very beginning. We are not well regulated when it comes to gun laws, not by a longshot. But we need to be.
One of the favorite arguments in debates like this is “Well, how many people kill other people with their car? We gonna ban cars now too?” Listen, Gomer—that’s not exactly apples to apples, and you know it. But even if it was, think about what it takes to legally become a driver: months of driver’s ed, written tests, road tests, eye tests, registering and ID’ing the driver, registering a vehicle, re-registration of the vehicle yearly, re-registration and ID’ing the driver every five years max, retesting, etc. Is that even close to what a citizen has to go through to legally own and carry a gun in most states? It is far too easy for the wrong people to obtain weaponry and equipment that should be reserved for police and the military: automatic and semi-automatic weapons; extended magazines; thousands of rounds of ammunition; body armor…and on and on. Self-defense? With that? Give me a break.
But I digress—back to social media, and something specific I saw on Twitter that really grabbed me. The same basic idea was tweeted by many in slightly different ways, and I failed to note where I first saw it so I cannot properly attribute this quote. My apologies to whomever said it first. But trying to sift through the more guns/less guns/gun control/CCW for all/let’s not talk about it now hullabaloo, I found this simple statement to be the most telling:
Only in America can gun ownership be a right and healthcare be a privilege.
Try to not let your biases cloud your vision while you read that sentence—look at it as just a general statement of fact. Kind of seems like skewed priorities, no? Imagine a society where the reverse of that statement was reality. What if gun ownership was a privilege—not illegal, but tested, registered, retested, the whole lot—and healthcare (including mental healthcare) was a right protected by the Constitution? I know, I know…there’s a money issue. Ignore that; just evaluate this idea on principle. Would we as a society—We The People—really be worse off? After all, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Then why aren’t we taking better care of our people–body, mind, and soul? And save your “Obamacare” diatribes; this isn’t about that. Bob Costas raised a stink recently after the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide by going on TV and saying they’d both still be alive if he didn’t own a gun. Well, here’s my stink to raise: would six adults and 20 children in Newtown, CT still be alive if Adam Lanza had no access to his mother’s guns? Maybe. Would they all still be alive if he had unimpeded access to mental health professionals who could evaluate, diagnose, and maybe treat him for some of the impulses that led him to commit this unconscionable act? Maybe. If the U.S. had a better handle on both sides of the equation, could this tragedy—along with the numerous others that have occurred in recent years—have been prevented? Yes, I believe so.
Again, this is not just a gun issue. It’s not just a healthcare issue. It’s not just a political issue, and it’s not just a rights issue. It’s a society issue, and a priorities issue. Only across-the-board changes will truly prevent things like this from happening again. And it may cost some money, and it may result in uncomfortable nuisances we aren’t used to. But the longer we bicker about it without taking action, that prevention will never come. This is something worth working towards. Now really is the time. You know why? Because prior to 12/14/12 should have been the time, but we missed it. We cannot continue to miss it again and again and again.
Major League Baseball announced the postseason game times/broadcasts through Saturday this afternoon:
Thurs. Oct. 4th *NYY @ BAL (If Necessary) 7:10 p.m. (ET) TBS
Fri. Oct. 5th N.L. Wild Card Game, STL @ ATL 5:07 p.m. (ET) TBS
Fri. Oct. 5th A.L. Wild Card Game 8:37 p.m. (ET) TBS
Sat. Oct. 6th ALDS Game 1 @ DET 6:07 p.m. (ET) TBS
Sat. Oct. 6th NLDS Game 1, CIN @ SF 9:37 p.m. (ET)/6:37 p.m. (PT) TBS
So, Cardinals fans…who’s getting out of work by 4:00 Friday?
The road trip is winding down.
Our trip started at 4 a.m. last Wednesday, July 4th, as we headed south towards Gulf Shores, Alabama. We watched the sun rise over southern Illinois, heard a different version of the “southern accent” each time we stopped for gas, food, or a stretch, and made it to the Gulf of Mexico with plenty of daylight to spare. Gulf Shores is a spectacular destination for anyone who wants to get to a legit beach vacation spot in less than a day by car (from the St. Louis area, anyway). Certainly many of the most exotic beach locales on the planet are easily reachable in just a few hours by plane. But if flying isn’t an option for whatever reason—or if the prospect of a road trip is just more appealing—you could do a lot worse with under 12 hours on the road than Gulf Shores.
Two things immediately come to mind: First, the food is outstanding…especially if you enjoy seafood. Thursday evening at a place called Oceans, I had a piece of grilled grouper that was so good I didn’t know if I wanted to eat it or make out with it. I am a seafood fiend, and this may have been the best piece of fish I’ve ever had in my life. Other highlights included the tuna dip and Mahi tacos at LuLu’s, the gumbo and etouffee at DeSoto’s, and the bacon-wrapped shrimp (as well as the steaks) at Nolan’s. Honestly, we probably could have stayed two weeks, hitting a different local place for lunch and dinner each day, and not made it to every one. The other great thing about Gulf Shores is, of course, the coast. The beach is white sand and the water is calm and warm. We could have found plenty of activities to keep us busy—golf, deep sea fishing, museums, exploring, etc. etc.—but all we really wanted to do was relax on the beach for a few days. Mission accomplished. Some may not find appeal in that type of vacation, and that’s fine. But when I’m laying on a beach chair reading a book with the breeze off the water hitting my face, or standing in the salty, waist-deep gulf while the just-right sized waves break over me, well—for my money, there’s no better therapy on Earth.
We decided to break up the trip home, so we left Gulf Shores Sunday and stopped in Tunica, MS for a couple nights’ stay at Harrah’s. We may hit the casino, or we may just stay in the room and drink beer all day. Regardless, we head home tomorrow and back to the daily grind on Wednesday.
People sometimes talk about “recharging the batteries” on a vacation. Being someone who doesn’t normally let stress overwhelm, I’m not sure I ever really knew what that meant before this week…but I definitely understand it now. Relaxing, sleeping in, not stressing over alarm clocks and deadlines and job duties and housework—all have been well overdue. That’s tough to see when you’re in the thick of it. But from the outside, the picture is much clearer.
For several years, I have written a weekly column about the Cardinals on InsideSTL.com and it has been great. But a couple of weeks ago, site owner Tim McKernan posted an article saying they were looking for a full-time columnist. Not full-time as in 40 hours per week, but a daily column writing about whatever that posts on the site every morning. I threw my hat in the ring, as stretching my journalism legs has long been a desire of mine. This week, I found out I am a finalist for that gig.
Now comes your part: your feedback can help my cause. Per McKernan’s post today (you can read the entire column here):
“Starting tomorrow and through Friday, each of the final four will have a new column that I will post in my section. I would really like your feedback…whether it be in the comments section or via email…on the columnists you like/dislike and why. As I told the applicants, they can play Girl Next Door and flood the voting box all they want. That’s not going to determine who gets the job. But, as this is a subjective process, I want to get as much feedback as possible.”
Basically, he’s looking for legitimate feedback on all of our columns; gratuitous and obvious fluffy stuff like “This is the best thing I’ve ever read!!! Hire this man immediately!” will not be taken seriously, so don’t bother. And the same goes for illegitimate negative feedback for the other finalists. Also, if you’d rather not comment because of a conflict of interest based on our personal relationship, that’s OK too. I’m not begging for votes here, because this isn’t a contest; I’m just letting everyone know what’s going on. But this does help me, too, because I’m interested in the legitimate feedback as well. It’s always great to hear, whether good or bad, because it lets me know what works and what doesn’t. I write because I love it; without readers it’s just a journal entry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s nice to know the difference. It’s nice to hear about it when someone is actually paying attention, for good or ill.
So visit InsideSTL over the next three days and check out my columns. Leave some honest feedback, if you like. And if you want to discreetly cross your fingers for me to get this gig, that would be OK too.
It’s time for another United Cardinal Bloggers project, and this may be one of the hardest yet. The St. Louis Cardinals franchise and its fans have been on the right side of so much success over the years it’s really tough to pick favorites. But I’ll give it a try.
First I want to talk about how I’m defining this list. To me, an “Iconic Moment” is a singular play on the field—therefore, major accomplishments like Albert Pujols’ 3 HR game in the 2011 World Series or Bob Gibson’s 17-strikeout performance in the 1968 World Series aren’t eligible. Not that those events are anything less than iconic, but they’re really a series of moments that together make up an historic accomplishment. That’s not what this list is about. Second, this list takes into account the stakes of the game in which they occurred as well as the situation at hand. For instance, Pujols (2005) and Yadier Molina (2006) both have iconic postseason home runs in their careers. Pujols’ home run gave the Cardinals the lead when they were down to their last strike against the Houston Astros in an NLCS the Cards eventually lost; Molina’s untied Game 7 in an NLCS the Cardinals went on to win against the New York Mets. The biggest in-game situation had to be Pujols’ bomb, but Molina’s ultimately led the Cards to the World Series. So…coin flip? Finally, in light of the moments I just mentioned, I’m reserving the right to name a moment that several Cardinals accomplished, even if it was in different games, seasons, or eras. If the Cards had another player that broke the single season stolen base record, that moment could be paired with Lou Brock’s 105th steal back in 1974 as one iconic moment accomplished by two Cardinal greats. Maybe that violates the spirit of a list of five, but I don’t really care—it’s my list, not yours.
5. Home Run #62 – The cloud of scandal will always overshadow damn near every home run hit between 1990-2003. But throw that out the window for a moment and go back to 1998. Baseball was still recovering from a labor-related stoppage and cancellation of the World Series in 1994, and the sport was revitalized by the home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Maybe it was an artificially generated feat, but at the time it defined baseball in the 90s. In some ways it still does. And when McGwire squeaked #62 over the left field wall at Busch Memorial, the entire world was watching. How many regular season moments in baseball can claim that…maybe a dozen?
4. The Mad Dash – Most people reading this weren’t around for it—hell, my parents weren’t even born yet—but Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter has to make the list for his “Mad Dash” in the 1946 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. Game 7 was tied in the bottom of the 8th inning at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis…talk about dramatic. Slaughter took off from first with the pitch and scrambled all the way home on what was essentially a long single by Harry Walker. The run Slaughter scored turned out to be the game-winner and gave the Cards their third World Series title in five seasons.
3. The Home Run Heroes: NLCS edition – Since MLB introduced a playoff system in 1969, the Cardinals have participated in the NLCS 10 times and won six of them. As with any playoff series, the stakes are high for every game. But late-inning and walk-off home runs are some of the most dramatic moments in the sport; in a playoff game where a trip to the World Series is at stake, those moments become legendary. In 1985, it was light-hitting Ozzie Smith giving the Cards a 3-2 series lead against the LA Dodgers by sending his first career left-handed home run over the wall in extra innings with the iconic Jack Buck telling the Busch Stadium crowd to “Go Crazy, Folks” (as an aside, which is more iconic: the hit itself or Buck’s call?). In 2004, Jim Edmonds sent another Busch Stadium crowd over the edge with a 12th inning blast to force Game 7 against the Astros. The next year, the Cards were down two runs and down to their final strike before David Eckstein and Edmonds both found their way on base ahead of Pujols—who momentarily broke the prematurely celebrating Astros’ hearts again by destroying a ball over the wall in Houston. And in 2006, Molina stunned a Shea Stadium crowd by breaking a 1-1 tie in the 9th inning of Game 7. Not all of these hits led to a series win, but they did all lead to goosebumps and everlasting memories.
2. The 3000th Hit – Only 28 players in MLB history have reached the 3000 hit plateau, and only a handful of teams have more than one player achieve the feat in their uniform. The Cardinals are one of those teams: Stan Musial collected his 3000th hit on May 13, 1958 and Lou Brock joined the 3000 hit club on August 13, 1979. Musial continued to play for several more years, of course, finishing his career in 1963 with 3630 hits—still to this day good for fourth all-time. Brock’s achievement came near the end of his final season in the Majors; the speedy runner finished with 3023 hits for his career. But the rarity of the feat alone deserves mention on this list, and the fact that it was accomplished by two of the most iconic figures in the franchise’s history makes it even more special. Plus, with Pujols now gone for the second half of his career, it could be the last time a Cardinal makes it to 3000 for quite some time. Interesting but not shocking tidbit: Both milestones came against the Chicago Cubs.
1. The Ultimate World Series Hero – The St. Louis Cardinals’ 2011 season had so many heroes and moments, starting with the unprecedented comeback run to clinch the Wild Card in Game 162 and ending with Allen Craig’s catch for the final out of Game 7 of the World Series. There are literally a dozen or more moments in that nine week span that will stick out in the minds of Cardinal fans for years and years to come. But the biggest game of them all only needs to be identified by two little words: Game Six. Everyone on the planet knows the story: down to their last strike in two different innings, but they wouldn’t quit. You got the feeling that if the Cards could just get to their half of an inning without a deficit, they’d win the game. And that’s exactly what happened when Freese stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th. Home Run. Game over. Series tied: “We will see you tomorrow night.” Down to their final strike twice; now celebrating at home plate. Factoring in the entire game—called the greatest ever played by more than a few in the know—as well as the World Series circumstances; the fact that it happened at home; the fact that it was a native St. Louisan who did it; and that it led to the Cards’ 11th World Series title…David Freese’s 2011 World Series Game 6 walk-off home run is my most iconic moment in St. Louis Cardinals history. Admittedly, Freese is no Musial, Gibson, Smith, or Brock. He may never make the Hall of Fame, and he may never hit milestones like some of the guys above. But he cemented his name into both Cardinals and Major League baseball lore as first tying and then winning one of the greatest baseball games ever played. That’s hard to beat.
I will be doing a quick radio hit with The Balance/The Gary Snyder Show today at 4:07 CST to talk about Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels and, presumably, what the Cardinals may do going forward. Tune in via the link below!
Less than a month ago, the St. Louis Cardinals capped off one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history by defeating the Texas Rangers in an epic World Series. In this day and age, finding video and audio replays of any baseball game is as easy as pulling up an internet browser on the nearest online device. But for an expertly assembled package of storytelling, highlights, interviews and emotion, the only true option is Major League Baseball Productions’ presentation of The 2011 World Series Film, which is now available in a two-DVD set (the Blu-Ray version is available December 6).
Disc one features the official film, narrated by actor and St. Louisan John Hamm. The film starts on the St. Louis Riverfront, with the iconic Gateway Arch making an immediate appearance as the stage is set for the telling of the ups and downs of the Cardinals’ 2011 season. Obviously, early in the year, there were more downs than ups as Hamm guides the viewer through the Adam Wainwright injury and Albert Pujols contract drama that overshadowed the team from the beginning of Spring Training. Next is footage of Ryan Franklin giving up a late-game home run and Colby Rasmus bobbling a fly ball that turns out to be the game-winning hit for the opposition. Seems like eons ago, doesn’t it?
But these nasty memories are merely part of the set up. The film briefly covers the big trade with Toronto, the Rafael Furcal acquisition, and the sweep by the Dodgers—the last low point of the season. From there, the chasing down of the Atlanta Braves over the regular season’s final five weeks culminates in the Cards celebrating their NL Wild Card clincher after Chris Carpenter’s gem in Houston and the Braves’ loss in Philadelphia while the Cardinal players watched in the Minute Maid Park visitor’s clubhouse.
From there, the film summarizes the Cards’ NLDS win over the Philadelphia Phillies and NLCS win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Throughout the show, broadcasts from TV and radio are seamlessly merged with Hamm’s narration so the story feels like it’s told from multiple angles. When significant records were tied or broken throughout the year and the postseason, a graphic appears illustrating the feat. The editing and production on this film is nothing short of superb, and it adds an element of dramatic flair not found in straight highlights and replays from the games themselves.
But the real story here is the World Series, and not surprisingly, that’s where the detail in the story explodes. Each of the series’ seven games gets a long segment, and each game’s story is built up with a relevant introduction. For instance, after the segment featuring the Cards’ Game 1 win, the footage shifts to Jason Motte enjoying some pre-Game 2 BBQ at Pappy’s in St. Louis with his family and, obviously, a room full of restaurant customers who happen to be Cardinals fans. Before Game 3 and Game 6, the footage shows the perspective of rolling into the home team’s city as the series shifted to a new ballpark.
This series had so many side stories and subtexts, and each was covered brilliantly in this film. The on-paper match-ups and how similar the Cardinals and Rangers were…the Allen Craig-Alexei Ogando battles…the offensive powerhouses and their pitchers duels in the first two games…The Albert Pujols Game…The Derek Holland Game…Game 5 shenanigans, including the Pujols-Craig hit and run fiascos and “Phonegate”…it’s all here. And it’s all great.
Then there’s Game 6, perhaps one of the greatest in World Series history. From the start, with the Rangers putting up early runs, to the errors and misplays on both sides, the game unfolds as one of the sloppiest anyone has ever seen. And then the Cardinals mount their comeback. David Freese’s game-tying triple in the 9th, Lance Berkman’s game-tying single in the 10th, and the game-winning homer by Freese in the 11th are all highlighted in their amazing baseball glory. “We will see you tomorrow night.” Smiles, chills, and tears are included free of charge.
And the Game 7 segment puts an exclamation point on a tale that wouldn’t be believed if it wasn’t captured on film. After the teams exchanged two run frames in the 1st inning, the Cards took charge of the game. But one of the most poignant moments of the film was when Motte came out of the bullpen in the 9th–in his interview, he said he took a couple of slow steps down the ramp to look around and take in the scene at Busch Stadium. It was yet another moment of profound reality, like David Freese becoming the hero for the team he grew up rooting for or Chris Carpenter re-assuming the role of Ace after Wainwright went down. The only thing missing from the film—curiously—is Joe Buck’s “What a team…what a ride” call as Craig caught the final out. The omission is probably only noticeable by those with the St. Louis bias, and it doesn’t ruin the film. But it is somewhat conspicuous.
The film also captures some of the parade through Downtown St. Louis as well as the announcement the next day of Tony La Russa’s retirement. This comprehensive look at the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals covers all the bases and does so beautifully. It should be enough to get even the most die-hard fan through the cold winter until the next Spring Training.
2011 World Series Film DVD Bonus Features
This Week in Baseball: Lance Berkman
Prime 9: Tony La Russa
Cardinals Clinch Wild Card (team watching PHI beat ATL from visitor’s clubhouse in HOU)
NLDS Game 5: Last Out and Celebration
NLCS Game 6: Last Out and Celebration
World Series Game 3: Albert Pujols 3 Home Runs
World Series Game 6: David Freese Triple to Tie
World Series Game 6: Lance Berkman Single to Tie
World Series Game 6: David Freese Walk-Off Home Run
World Series Game 6: Lance Berkman/David Freese Presser (funny exchange between the two as Freese recalls Jim Edmonds’ 2004 NLCS walk-off)
World Series Game 7: David Freese Double to Tie
World Series Game 7: Last Out and Celebration
WS Parade (brief ride-along with Freese)
Want More? (Nick Punto mic’ed for final play of World Series; MLB Productions Social Media links)
Disc Two contains the complete Game 5 of the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies, with a menu to start the game from any half-inning or the pre-game show on TBS. Overall, both discs comprise about four hours of video. Order your copy here or check your local retailer.
If you’re like me, you find yourself constantly revisiting the Cardinals’ website for video highlights from this past season, or maybe you check the channel guide every day hoping MLB Network will air something from those magical days in October.
Well, soon you’ll have to go no further than your own DVD collection to get your 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals fix. And Tuesday, you can get a sneak peak in downtown St. Louis.
Major League Baseball Productions’ presentation of the 2011 World Series Film is showing at the Peabody Opera House tonight. Details and instructions for ordering tickets or your very own copy of the DVD can be found here.
Additionally, I have secured a copy of the DVD to review on this site. As soon as it arrives–literally within minutes–I will crack that baby open and post a review of what I find inside. And even if you don’t necessarily want to know my particular thoughts about the film, you’ll still want to check back because I will also have a few copies to give away FREE!
More to come!
The St. Louis Cardinals battled the Texas Rangers from the brink of elimination to the apex of jubilation to force Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. This improbable journey that started way back in August finally culminates in Major League Baseball’s ultimate clash Friday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
And yours truly will be there.
What can you day about the 2011 Cardinals? They started off slow, looked ugly at times, found ways to hang around, and at the end muscled up to show the world that not only were they still alive; they were well and able to kick the ass of the best teams in the league. And this description covers the entirety of the 2011 season as much as it covers Game 6 on Thursday night. Microcosm? You bet, brother. But once again, the Cardinals came out on top when, by all accounts, they probably shouldn’t have.
It’s hard to put into words how I feel about what will go down over the next 24 hours. Through sheer luck of the draw, I have been able to see three potential “final games” at Busch this season: the last home game of the regular season vs. the Chicago Cubs; Game 4 of the NLDS vs. the Philadelphia Phillies; and Game 5 of the NLCS vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. And I sat on tickets for Game 7 of the World Series for a week and a half knowing the odds weren’t necessarily in my favor. There hasn’t been a Game 7 in the World Series since 2002. The Cardinals were not favored by most of the so-called experts. And I’ve never been very lucky at anything at all. It almost doesn’t quite register that this World Series is happening the way it is.
But this Cardinals team is not one to lay down in front of a challenge. They’ve had their backs against the wall since sometime in late August; every game has felt like a must-win. So why on earth would anyone ever doubt this team? How can even the most seasoned and numbers-conscious tactician look at the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals over the last two months and say “There’s no way these guys can pull this off?”
It’s a ridiculous notion, now. Down to the last strike? Pfft. No problem for this team. How about two 2-run comebacks? Where does that fit in on your Sabermetric spreadsheet?
This is what baseball is truly all about. It’s about impossible comebacks and stellar series and two teams pushing each other to the brink. It’s baseball’s version of Mecca, and it all goes down at Busch Stadium. Remarkable.
If the Cardinals lose Game 7 it will be disappointing. But the season will not be a failure. The Texas Rangers should feel the same way. These teams have given baseball something special to this point, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Friday night.
For a number of reasons, the St. Louis Cardinals dropped Game 2 after taking a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning. The Texas Rangers were opportunistic in their base running and their hitting, the Cards were less than crisp on defense, and Tony LaRussa made a questionable but fateful decision in pulling Jason Motte from the game before he’d given up the lead. A series tied at 1-1 looks immensely different than one sitting at 2-0. And LaRussa may have some even bigger decisions ahead.
Now it appears we’re headed for a barn-burner of a World Series, which is not unlike what most thought this series would be from the beginning. Yes, the Cards lost in disappointing fashion last night. But, technically, the Rangers did the same thing in Game 1. And with the way these two teams played their respective LCS, No one could have predicted scores of 3-2 and 2-1 to start this series. So even though conditions will be vastly different in Arlington for the next three days and the offenses could really come alive, the old adage of “pitching wins championships” will probably still hold true. The question for the Cards is, do they have enough?
Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia are clearly the Cardinals’ best two starters, and the team split their starts. But both pitched masterfully compared to what they gave the team in the LCS. Whether they figured something out, or just fooled the Rangers’ hitters enough, or benefitted from the weather, or ANYTHING out of just them pitching well contributed will never be known. So now the Cards are relying on Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson to contain the Rangers’ lineup in Arlington and keep the Redbirds in this World Series. If they cannot do so and the Rangers go up 3-1, the Cards have their stopper ready in Carpenter, who will be on regular rest. In that situation, there’s no one we’d rather see on the mound. He’s the best candidate to stave off elimination and get the series back to St. Louis where Jaime Garcia would have the job of forcing Game 7. And the Cardinals would rest their Game 7 hopes on…who?
This is where things get hairy for the Cards. I’ve been agonizing over this ever since I found out I have tickets for Game 7: Who will be the starter for that game, if it’s played? Conventional wisdom states it would be whomever starts Game 3, which at this point looks like Lohse. Theoretically, the Cards could go with whoever pitches better between Lohse and Jackson. It’s tough to imagine the Cardinals having their entire unexpectedly magical season come down to Game 7 of the World Series at Busch Stadium and one of the top two starters aren’t on the mound. The only other guy who could make the start is Jake Westbrook. And he would probably be the least desirable option of the five considering he hasn’t started a game since September 27, a start where he gave up five earned runs to the Houston Astros. This is not a guy you want to pin your World Series Game 7 hopes on.
But what about your Game 5 hopes?
What if the Cardinals find themselves 2-2 going into Game 5? That would guarantee at least one game back at Busch Stadium no matter who won the last game in Texas. It seems like a no-brainer that Carpenter get that Game 5 start, because he gives the Cards their best chance to go up 3-2. But what happens if he loses the game? Or what if the bullpen loses it, or if Carp give up one run but the Cards don’t score any? Then the Cardinals are bound to the Garcia/question mark to try to nail down the team’s 11th World Championship. The only other option would be to have Westbrook start Game 5. Scary? Yes. But if Game 5 is not an elimination game, they’re guaranteed at least one more game in St. Louis. And in the absence of Adam Wainwright, there’s no more formidable task for the Rangers to have to undertake than needing to beat Carpenter and/or Garcia in St. Louis. They haven’t done it so far.
A lot has to happen before this situation even comes up. But I honestly would be surprised if this series doesn’t go at least six games. And I’m not sure if this Westbrook theory works with the Cards up 3-1. Maybe it makes it easier? I don’t know. I really cannot get this idea out of my head. Is it the worst idea in the world?