As the Cards turn

This season finished short of the goal of the Cards’ 12th World Series Championship in 2012.  The highs and the lows of the NLCS have been covered by others and there is no need to repeat them here.  Good luck to the San Francisco Giants, who beat the Cards soundly.  Bring back another World Series championship to the National League, OK?

Professional wrestling has turned from the sport it once was into a soap opera for men, with good guys and villains, plots, etc.  Upon reflection, I realized that baseball, like wrestling, is very much like a soap opera, except the sporting aspect has not been lost like it has in wrestling.  Let’s take a look at the structure of a soap opera.

All soap operas have a cast of characters.  Some characters are good guys or gals and some are villains.  Some characters turn from good guys to villains and vice versa.  Some characters just hang around until they get a good storyline. Some characters interact with everyone else on the show and some characters interact with very few other characters.  The Cards’ cast of characters contains very few, if any villains.  There were players from other teams, however, that were villains to the Cards.  In the fans’ minds, sometimes the umpires were villains.

Soap operas are usually set in a city (like Salem on Days of Our Lives or Genoa City on The Young and the Restless) and its characters function much like we do in real life – they go to work, come home, marry, have kids, get divorced, etc.  The drama then is what happens to those characters, the situations they find themselves in, and what do they do in those situations. The main setting for the Cardinals is Busch Stadium, although they do play in other major league stadiums.  What happens in players’ lives outside of baseball also can have an effect on their baseball careers.

Another soap opera staple is SORAS, or Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome.  In soap opera vernacular, this means taking a child character and aging them to a teenager in order to advance a storyline or inject life into a dull storyline.  The equivalent in baseball would be calling up a player from the minor leagues to replace an injured player or to help the team, thus taking them out of the natural progression of the player into the major leagues.  Will the minor league player play/pitch better than the veteran and he then replaces him?  Will the minor league player perform at a major league level, or will he fail to live up to expectations and be sent back down to the minor leagues?

Soap operas and nighttime dramas as well also have story arcs, which is when a character has a storyline with a beginning and an end.  Good soap operas and nighttime dramas will have several story arcs – you have to fill up an entire hour, after all.  Sometimes the story arcs relate to each other and sometimes they don’t.  Major events, such as a natural disaster, can also occur to tie together story arcs or change the lives of characters forever.  In baseball, a major event could be a World Series championship or the illness and/or the tragic, early death of a ballplayer.

So let’s take a look at how the 2012 season fits into the soap opera description.  Three story arcs developed for this season.  The first arc was the question of whether the Cards could repeat their World Series championship.  The second arc was the hiring of Mike Matheny as the replacement for Tony LaRussa, despite the fact that Matheny had never managed at a major league level before.  The third story arc was how the team would replace the production of Albert Pujols after he signed with Anaheim.

Two of this season’s story arcs actually started in the offseason last fall when Tony LaRussa announced his retirement and Albert signed with Anaheim.  As referenced above, the solutions for these problems were the hiring of Mike Matheny and the signing of Carlos Beltran.  The drama continued in spring training, when Chris Carpenter was injured and was supposedly lost for the season.  That plot ended with a twist – Chris returned to action earlier than expected.  Another story was the return of Adam Wainwright from Tommy John surgery.  There were other injuries and call ups too.

A major event was the Cardinals’ wild card play-in game with the Braves.  There were bad umpire calls and rioting by the Braves’ fans, but then a fantastic comeback win to lead the Cards to the NLDS.  Another major event was Game 5 of the NLDS.  The Cards’ comeback in the top of the ninth and the win over the Nationals to advance to the NLCS was high drama.

A major event with sad consequences was how the Cards lost the NLCS to the San Francisco Giants after being ahead 3 games to 1.  The bats died in those last three games and the defense didn’t do their job either.

Alas, the first story arc of this season had an unhappy ending.  I looked through the window of the office directly from my desk today and saw an empty Busch Stadium.  Today would have been the first game of the 2012 World Series and it would have been here.  The Indian summer weather we’re having today would have been beautiful for watching a game.  Cards fans mourn for what might have been.

What will the story arcs be for next season?  Will the Cards release Kyle Lohse or will they find a way to sign him?  Will some of the coaches be fired?  Will Lance Berkman retire? Tune in over the winter and next season for – As the Cards Turn.

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

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Gather ’round the Bonfyre

Would you like to chat with others without the 140 character restriction of Twitter? Would you like to chat with friends but keep it private?  Would you like to plan an event, post photos, and chat about it with your friends without the world seeing?  Want to be able to review your conversation later? Or would you like to set up a public event? Would you like the option of inviting Facebook friends? Welcome to a new smartphone app called Bonfyre.  Bonfyre was invented by Chris Clark who hails from St. Louis.  I have downloaded the app to my Android smartphone and it’s very easy to use.  It has a clean interface without a lot of extraneous stuff.

Chris has set up a public event on Bonfyre to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. It’s like a watch party on your smartphone!  When you join the event, you not only have the opportunity to chat, comment and post photos, you also have the opportunity to win playoff tickets, autographed baseballs, and the grand prize of tickets to the 2012 World Series (when the Cards get in).  Please navigate to this blog on your mobile phone and click on this referral link: https://www.bonfyreapp.com/events/stlouiscards2012playoffs_WHLCB.  You will find me, lots of other fans and some of the other United Cardinals Bloggers there to discuss the playoffs.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you on Bonfyre!

Diane

 

It don’t come easy

The title of this post is also the title of a song written by Ringo Starr in 1970.  This song came to mind while I was reflecting on how the Cards won the NLDS and the play-in game last Friday night.  Neither of these games were won easy, especially last night’s.  Down to the last strike  – again.  The Cards are such drama kings, waiting until the very last minute to score.  They have got to stopping winning games and series this way.  I don’t think my heart can take that much excitement. I thought I was going to have to take another dose of blood pressure medicine last night! This team just won’t quit and they won’t give up.  They have heart and they have grit.

I sheepishly admit that I didn’t think the Cards were going to win last night, especially after Adam Wainwright spotted the Nats 6 runs in the first 2 innings.  I lost faith in our boys.  Please forgive me;  I’ll try not to let it happen again.  My hubby turned off the game and watched the Friday night shows on CBS.  Hubby had shoulder surgery last month and he’s been sleeping in the recliner in the living room at night.  He got tired around 10:30 and wanted to go to sleep, so I had to shut down the computer.  I had been following the game on Twitter and saw that the Cards were slowly adding runs and I started getting my hopes up.

My regular readers will remember the post I wrote last year about Game 6 of the World Series and that I went to bed after Josh Hamilton hit a home run, missing David Freese’s walk off home run to force a Game 7.  Since the Cards’ side of the score was slowly creeping up, I thought there just might be a chance they would win and I wasn’t going to miss it this time around.  We have a boom box stereo in our bedroom, so I took my headphones into the bedroom and listened to Mike and John on KMOX through my headphones.  I then posted on Twitter using my smart phone. (I’m @Diane1611 on Twitter if you want to follow me).    Hubby got up around 11:10 and went to the bathroom.  He then came into the bedroom.  “You’re still up? What’s the score?” he asked.

“9-7 Cards, bottom of the 9th and 2 outs!” I replied.  Hubby then decided to stay up and turn the TV back on.  By the time the TV came back to life, the game was over and the Cards had won.  We stayed up until almost midnight watching the commentators and the champagne showers in the locker room.  Yesterday was my hubby’s birthday, so this big win made it a special birthday for him.  It took me a while to get to sleep last night, as I’m sure it did for the rest of you.

Now that the Cards are going to the NLDS, let’s look at some improvements that need to be made.  The 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup have got to start hitting.   Too many players are being left on base.  It’s elementary – if you can’t score, you don’t win.  Make the pitcher earn that out.  Be patient at the plate and wait for a good ball to hit.  Relief pitching is very strong, so no problems there. but starting pitching needs to go a little longer.

Now I can’t wait until tomorrow night’s game – can you?  Thanks for reading – I’ll post again soon!

Diane

Coming in through the back door

For some reason, I am not excited about this year’s playoffs as I have been in past years.  Perhaps it’s because of the way the Cards played this year.  There were times this past season where the team played great and other times where they played horribly.  The Cards were terribly inconsistent this year, for reasons that others have written about and I won’t rehash here.  It’s hard to stay interested in baseball too when your husband, who owns the remote, would rather watch reruns of Everyone Loves Raymond, NCIS, or The Big Bang Theory than Cards baseball and only flips over to the game during the commercial breaks of the aforementioned shows. When this occurs, I keep up with the game via Twitter. I may also not be excited about the playoffs (and baseball in general) because of what has been going on in my personal life this year.  It’s hard to be interested in baseball when life is chaotic.  But I digress.

You may recall that the Cards entered the playoffs as the wild card last year and they went all the way to win the World Series.  Now that we have finally gotten used to (and sort of liked) the wild card format, MLB throws us a curve and gives us the 2 wild card team format, in which the 2 teams with the best records after the division winners play each other in a “play-in” game to get the chance to play a division winner in the NLDS.  Confused yet?  LOL!

Thanks to this new twist in the wild card scenario, even though the Cards finished second in the NL Central, they now have the chance to be the wild card and play in this year’s playoffs.  That’s why the title of this post is Coming in through the back door.   If it weren’t for the play-in game, the season would be over by now.  We bloggers would be looking forward to the 2013 season.  We would be discussing how to improve the team next season.  If the Cards lose on Friday, the review of this season and speculation about next season will begin in short order, I’m sure.

So let’s discuss this play-in game.  Is it game 163 of the regular season?  It doesn’t count in the season standings, so it can’t be.  Is it part of the playoffs?  The Cards will play the Braves for the chance to play in the playoffs, so it’s not.  It’s a game in limbo, hanging between the regular season and the playoffs.

Which team will go on and which team will go home?  The Braves have the momentum.  They have won 20 of their last 30 games.  And this is Chipper Jones’s final shot at the playoffs before he retires, so there’s always that “let’s win it for Chipper” mentality.  The Cards, however, have experience at being the wild card.  Most of the players on the 2011 World Series championship team are with this year’s model.  They know the pressure of winning and the joy of winning the whole shebang.  They want to repeat.  So who will win Friday’s game?  We can speculate and dissect things all we want, but we won’t know for sure until after the final out.

MLB has swiped the NCAA’s Final Four bracket format and developed a bracket for this year’s playoffs. You can find it here if you’re interested in seeing it.  I would have liked to have printed the bracket, but it would have taken all the black ink in my printer’s little black ink tank.  Oh well.

Hope you enjoyed reading!  See you next time!
Diane