Saturday, October 13, 2012

St. Louis Cardinals: The Maverick Deserves ALL of the Credit for Cardinal Miracles

I understand if you disagree with the headline, but look at the RECRD.  Last year, this blog MADE THE CALL in August, when the Cardinals were 10.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the "wild card" slot in the Natinal League playoffs. No. I did not make the call FOR the Cardinals.  Rather, I made the call that iw was al over, and the Cardinals OUT of the playoffs.  I still think I was right, except for one thing:  I did not adequately take into accont the ability of the ATLANTA BRAVES to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (ging 10-21,, or so, over the last 31 games).  But I did not sto with the "call". 

I correclty said, last year, that Tny LaRussa was doing a LOUSY job as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, bo put  a talented team in a positoin that it was out of the race in late August.  Tony LaRussa, as with others (Anderson Cooper, for example), obviuslly paid attentin to this blgo.  There is no doubt taht LaRusssa was CAPABLE.  But he was jsut coasting along last year, managing a talented team to barely more than a ..5000 record.  LaRussa, in fact, PROVED my pikint.  He got MAD, because of MY article.  What else can you conclude?  I posted my article right at the LOW point of the Cardinals lat season. From that pont, LaRussa  and the Cardinals SURGED.  It is true they needed a LOT of helpe from the Braves, but the Crdinals suddently became a GOOD team.  LaRussa started producing MIRACLES, jus to SHOW ME that he was still a gnius.  You know the ned.  The Cardinals won playoff series after playoff series in the FINAL GAME (they have now won six straight "eliminatin" games).  And th eCardinals produced that MIRACLE in the 6th game of the World Series, when they were TWICE trailing by 2 runs and down to not only their last out, but their last STRIKE.  All ME.  I produced ALL of it, with my article in August. 

Doubt me?  Never do that.  Segue to this year.  Again, I declared correctly that the Crdinals had been managed unsuccessfully by Mike Matheny, to barely better than a .500 team.  I correctly noted that Matheny kept LOSING most of the game where a manager might be expected to make a difference:  the COMPETITIVE games (close in the late innings).  This would even continue into thtis year's playoff with the WaShington Natinals, where the Cardinals-until the miracle last game--LOST the 2 close games (with Matheyny mking decisins that did not turn ut to be right to win one of those close games, when I think ehe should have won ONE). Again, the Cardinals produced a MIRACLE last night.  Down 7-5 in the 9th, and again down to their last out, and last STRIKE (TWICE), the Cardinals again staes a miracle rally to win 9-7.  No.  I don't think that Matheny MANAGED this game particularly welll.  He left Adam Wainwright in the game too long, despite TELLING the announcers of the game ahead of time that he would not "ride" Wainwright too long if he ran inatop trouble.  This caused the Cardinals to fall behind 6-0 after only 3 innings.  And--not so obiuvsly--I would have given Molina the "take" sign i the 5th inning, with a 2-0 count, AFTER the Nationals' pitcher had already WALKED Cardinal after Cardinal, includng jsut walking in a run.  Molina has not been hitting well.  Why not MAKE the pitcher throw a second strike, rather than swinging at the first strikee? Molina flied out. In the end, howeer, it did not matter. The Cradinals had one more MIRACLED left.

Okay.  It was not quite so dramatic this time.  But WHY were the Cardinals "inspired" to another miracle?  Again, it was obviusly this blog that ws responsbile.  I made the (correct) CALL that the Reds had WON the divison.  Since the Reds are not the Braves, that "call" was never in questin.  I specifically said that becasuet here were TWO wild cadd teams this year I could not "make the call' on the wild card temas (as laSt year).  I also said that I could NEVEr "make the call" again in favor of the Braves, after last year, and that the Cardinals were lucky the Braves were one of the obstgacles in their way.  However, I said that the Braves SHOULD hAve the first "wild card" spot, if they were a normal team, but that the Cardinals wuld have to be regardesd as in the hunt for the last wild card spont becuse of the divison they are in, and the lack of teams really making a statement ahead of them.  Well, the Brves AGAIN were an easy "obstacle" for the Cardinals in the "wild card game", even tough the Braves at least made th playoofs this time.  And the Cardinals DID continue to show lackluster managing, as ALL of the "wild card" contenders COLLAPESED in early September.  Dodgers, Prirates, Cardinals:  they ALL seemed not to WANT to get that last wild card spot.  However, because they were in the Central Divisin, the Cardinals hd 9 straight games, in late Septempber, against the hapless Cubs and Astros. The Cardinals won 7 out of 9, and a team that haD fallen close to .5000 sprinted ahead int he wild card race.  The Cardinals were then at home--albeit against the Reds and Nationals--for the final six games, and managed to BARELY hold off a Dodgers team that missed a chance to come witin one game in the next-to-last game.  Again, the role of this blog ws not QUITE so obvius hhis year, but can it be denied?

 never counted the Cardinals OUT this year, because of the two wild card teams, but I sid three things:

1.  The Cardinals were not even a .5000 team, after their 20-11 start.

2.  Mike Matheny, like Tony LaRussa last year, had not maganed the team well in his first year, as a team with good STATISTICS kept losing the close games.

3.  The "wild card path" was gong to be ALMOST IMOSSIBLE this year, because there would first be that "one-game playoff", and THEN two more series where the Cardinals weill not have home field advantage OR a Tony LaRussa tring to orve me wrong about him not being a genius anyomre. 

I stated, in my articles in this blog, that IF the Crdinals suddenly did find the "magic" again, it wouuld AGAIN be ME wo was responsible.  How can you doubt it?  After what I said abut Matheny, and the Cardinals (sho still had to be smartnig over what I said last year), did the team not AGAIN have an enormous incentive to 'put it together"? I thin so.  True, the timing was not so obvius this time . The Cardinals did play better after my article, but then started lOSING up to those series with the Astroes and Cubs.  But, really, is it not obvius that Matheny took some time--especilly against better oposition in  10 game road trip--to realy figure out how to SHOW ME WRONG.  And, after my comments, did not the TEAM know that they needed to turn it around for their new manager(who they probably LIKE better than the intense LaRusssa).? No. It makes SENSE that my comments did not have their full effect ntil the Cardinals were up against it in games agaInst temas (Cubs and Astros) they sHOULD beat?  And, once they gained their footing, were they not intent on again SHOWING ME that  was wrong about them and their new manager? 

Oh.  No. 3 abovbve is still a problem.  The Cardinals have a THIRD challenge this yea--aganst San Franciso.  However, they should have about an EQUAL chance with SF, which ws probably not ture with the Reds (who San Fran managed thieir own "miracle' against).  Caardinals chances now seem to be at least even, wlthough I would NOT recommend gong down to their last out, adn strike, again.  Even MY INCENTIVVE cannot produce miracles forever. 

If you did not guess, or now from previus articles, I am a Cardinal fan (although not to the ont of being blinded to faults).  have been a Cardinal fan ever since a happy childhood (first 12 years) in the hill country of Arkansas (Mt. Ida)--even tough I have lived in the Southwest (El PaSo and in New Mexico) ever since my 9th grade of school.  I grew up listening to Harry Carey describe the Cardinals--especially Stan Musial--on radio (KMOX ouat of St. Louis).  I only went to one Cardnals baseball game in person, but I have rfemained a Cardinals fan al o fthese years--through the years of Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and al of the others.  Mark McGuire?  Yes, although he never had the e kind of allegiance I gave to Musial, even efore the  steroid thing.  One smal blto on my choldhood was that the Cardinals never made the world series when I was a child, and when I was footing for Stan Musial, as there was that gap between 1948 and 1964 (I was born in 1947).  Still, I have never regretted beng a Cardinal fan over the eyars, and do not regret it now.  I am extremely happy that the Cardinals again have a good chance to make it to the Worl dSeries.  It would even be nice to see the onld--veryold, like back to the 1930s) Yankee-Cardinal rivalry renewed.  Even though I can't root for the Yankees, part of me wuld like to see the Cardinals and Ynkkes hook up again in a World Series. 

Oh.  I was proven right that the Cardinals mae the right decisin to let Albert Pujols go, rather than pay too much.  It is not that Pujols had a baed eyar.  It is just that Pujos is obviusly NOT that god a risk for TEN YERS, and ppears to be clearly on the downhill side of his career (even if still better than most on the uphll side of their careers, and perhaps capable of another monster year or two).  "Money Ball" has a lot to recommend it, even though the Cardinals obviusly owe Pujos an awful lot. 

P.S  No proofreading or spell checking (bad eyesight).  Should I have TRASHED the Cardinals, to keep the INCENTIVE gong that has worked so well?  Maybe.  But the excitement from last night's new miracle madee that impossible for me.  I do thinl it is time the Cardinals stooped doing miralces, and gvve my heart a brake. I am not as lyong asI once was, listening to Harry Carey and imagining myself to be Stan Musial (even though I am right-handed and ws never able to hit well at all).

No comments: