Hey ESPN – why won’t you talk about the Cards?

MicrophoneThe ESPN crew came to St. Louis to broadcast last evening’s Cards-Cubs game.  But the ESPN crew acted like only the Cubs were there. Hello, ESPN – there was another team in last night’s game.  But you sure wouldn’t have known it by watching the game.

The whole ESPN broadcast last night was a Cubs lovefest.  ESPN spoke with Joe Madden, while Mike Matheny wasn’t even spoken to and barely mentioned.  Between innings, the ESPN team started talking about Kris Bryant.  The game resumed and they were still talking about Kris Bryant.  We didn’t know what was happening in the game.  When the game starts, go back to the game!  Otherwise, why broadcast the game at all?  This season, the Cardinals have many players deserving of a few minutes of ESPN’s time to tell their stories to a national audience, but none were given.  Stephen Piscotty was mentioned, but only because SportsCenter was running a special after the game about Stephen and his mother, who suffered from ALS.

There was no mention of the storied rivalry between the Cubs and the Cards at all, which is probably the reason that ESPN broadcast this game.  There was a brief mention of Yadier Molina’s horrific injury during Saturday’s game (please get well soon, Yadi, and do listen to your doctors!).  I realize the Cubs won a World Series a couple of years ago, and the Cards haven’t won one since 2011.  But the Cards have won 9 more World Series than the Cubs (and the World Series wins weren’t over 100 years apart either).

What ESPN also failed to mention was that the Cardinals are currently in first place in the National League Central.  Chicago is currently in fourth place.  I can maybe see being all lovey- dovey over the Cubs if they were in first place, but they are not.

I can only imagine how the ESPN team reacted to Dexter Fowler’s hitting the walk-off home run in the 14th inning to win the game and sweep the Cubs, since it was 1 AM and I was already in bed.  But given the rest of the evening’s coverage, I’m sure it was less than enthusiastic.  They probably focused more on Justin Heyward not catching the ball than the Fowler home run.

Unfortunately, Cards fans should be used to the Cardinals being ignored by the national media by now.  ESPN’s non-coverage is doing a real disservice to Cardinals fans who live in other areas of the United States.  Unless they purchase MLB.TV, or live close enough to another major league stadium that the Cards play in, they have no chance to watch the Cards play live.  A national broadcast gives them that opportunity.  Let’s hope that ESPN shapes up by July 29, their next broadcast of a Cards-Cubs game.

I mentioned Stephen Piscotty and his mother earlier in this post.  Sadly, Gretchen Piscotty died today at the young age of 55 from ALS.  My prayers and condolences are with Stephen and all of the Piscotty family.  If you would like to contribute to ALS research in honor of Mrs. Piscotty, click here Mother’s Day is this Sunday – if your mother is still alive, give Mom a call and tell her that you love her (and send her flowers!), or better yet, spend some time with her.  Mom carried you around in her womb for 9 months and raised you up right, so the least you can do is say thanks and tell her you love her.  Husbands, don’t forget to do nice things for your wives who gave birth to those kids and trained them up right.

That’s all for now! Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

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The top 5 Cardinals stories of 2017

Top 5Tomorrow is the last day of 2017! Where does the time go?  (Probably the same place that missing socks from the dryer go.)  One of the United Cardinals Bloggers projects every year is to post what we believe were the top 5 Cardinals stories of the year.  There was a lot happening with the Cardinals this year, so it was hard to select just 5 top stories.  Like the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve, I will count down from 5 to 1.

5.   The Matt Adams left field experiment. Left fielders have been moved to first base before (see Albert Pujols), but I do not remember the reverse ever happening – until it did.  Bloggers and Cardinals fans alike scratched their heads at Mike Matheny’s bizarre experiment.  Thankfully, the Adams experiment ended and Matt was traded to the Braves.  Matt was later released by the Braves and picked up by the Nationals.

4.   MLB’s punishment on the Cardinals for Hackergate. MLB finally laid the smackdown on the Cardinals for Chris Correa’s hacking of the Astros’ computer system.  All things considered, the punishment was pretty lenient – a $2 million fine and the loss of the Cards’ top two draft picks to the Astros.  It could have been worse.

3.   Bullpen meltdown. Seung Hwan Oh did not repeat his stellar 2016 season, leading to his release.  Trevor Rosenthal was injured and had to have Tommy John surgery. The Cards released Trevor at the end of the season.  The big signing of Brett Cecil was a bust.  Juan Nicasio was picked up off of waivers from the Phillies in September, too late to qualify for the playoffs, but he pitched very well and I, along with a lot of other fans, were hoping that the Cardinals would sign him.  Unfortunately, the Mariners signed Juan for a lot more money than I’d be willing to pay him.

2.   The signing of Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals lost out on Giancarlo Stanton, but that didn’t stop John Mozeliak from signing Ozuna.  I think the Ozuna signing was a good one.  Ozuna is friends with some of the Cardinals players, so he will fit in well with the team. It touched my heart when I read that Ozuna wants to make Cardinals fans smile.  Ozuna’s signing, however, led to Stephen Piscotty being traded to the A’s so he can be closer to his mother, who suffers from MLS.  And what will happen to Randal Grichuk?  Stay tuned for As the Outfield Turns.

1.    The emergence of Tommy Pham. Tommy has been in the Cardinals system for a long time.  He has battled through injury and an eye disease, but this season, Tommy upped his game and became the best player on the team. His emergence led the team to move Dexter Fowler to left field so that Tommy could play center field exclusively.

This off-season has seemed incredibly long, hasn’t it?  Mo has made a few deals (Ozuna, Mikolas) and changed up the coaching staff (welcome back, Jose and Willie – we really missed you), but there are other additions that need to be made so that this club can compete in 2018.  Hopefully after the first of the year, Mo will get out there and get it done.  The hot stove is losing its heat – and I’m not talking about the current frigid weather in the St. Louis area.

Winter Warm-Up is in 3 weeks and I can’t wait.  John Tudor, my favorite pitcher from the 1980s, will be signing autographs and I have my autograph ticket already.  You can order the free autograph tickets online to get them in advance so you don’t have to wait in long lines at Winter Warm-Up.  A lot of the free autograph tickets are already sold out, so don’t wait!  If you’re going to be at Winter Warm-Up, follow me on Twitter (check out the Twitter feed over in the right hand column) and maybe we can meet up!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, and may the Cardinals finally win the World Series again in 2018! Thanks as always for reading, and see you next time!

Diane

Worse. Game. Ever. (that I’ve seen in person)

angryLast night’s Cards-Reds game was the most horrible game I have ever seen in person. The Cards lost to the Reds 15-2.  In my last blog post, I compared the bad Cardinals to a beer league softball team, and sure enough, that’s the team that showed up to play last night.  When I played co-ed softball, there was a 10 run mercy rule (the game ends after a team scores 10 runs), but unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to baseball.  If it did, the game would have been over after the fourth inning.

My last blog post pleaded for Good Jaime to show up last night. Bad Jaime showed up instead.  He only lasted one inning. The experiment to move Jaime back into the starting rotation failed miserably. I’m pretty sure that last night was the last time we’ll ever see Jaime pitching in a Cardinals uniform.

Michael Wacha relieved Jaime in the second inning, but he wasn’t much better.  The next relief pitcher was Luke Weaver.  After Luke, Dean Kiekhefer came in to pitch. Hazelbaker, a position player, was the last pitcher of the game. We left the game after the sixth inning.  We just couldn’t take any more misery.

Yadi had a bad night too; he couldn’t throw out anyone trying to steal.  The Cards did score a couple of runs, so at least it wasn’t a shutout.  The highlight of the game was a Stephen Piscotty triple.

I always buy a scorecard and keep score when I go to a game, but last night, I stopped keeping score after the fourth inning.  The Reds’ lineup batted 1 ½ times in the fourth inning, and there’s no room on a scorecard to score a second run through the lineup (if there is a way, someone please let me know how), so I just gave up keeping score all together.

My friend noticed how empty the stadium was last night even before the game.  There was less than 40,000 attendees for the first time since 2013.  The left upper deck was completely empty.  In fact, the fans booed several times last night, and I’m ashamed to say I was one of them.  I never thought that I would ever boo my beloved Cardinals, but last night I did.  It appears the fans are getting tired of crappy baseball.  I’m glad that I didn’t pay for my tickets to last night’s game; I would have been really angry if I had paid good money for that lousy outcome. It’s a shame that the last game I got to see at Busch Stadium this season was such a debacle.  I missed going to Bible study for this?  I would have gotten more out of Bible study that that game.

After last night’s loss, the Cards are 1 game back of the Giants for the second wild card spot.  It’s still possible for the Cards to get to the wild card game, but even if by some stroke of luck they did, I really don’t think they’d win the game.  I think the guys have finally run out of steam, and Yadi especially.  Carson Kelly should have been called up earlier to give Yadi some days off, and Mike Matheny should have insisted that Yadi take more time off.  Brayan Pena was supposed to be Yadi’s backup, but he got injured.  Either the guys are totally exhausted, or there are some issues going on in the clubhouse that we are not yet privy to.  It appears they have checked out for the season.

I think it’s time for us Cards fans to start mentally checking out of this season too.  I predicted back in May that this wasn’t our year, and I was right. After the season is over, there will be some housecleaning occurring.  I think there will be some players gone next season, and maybe some coaches and perhaps a manager too.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

Diane

Trade deadline thoughts

DeadlineSorry I haven’t posted more.  It’s really discouraging watching the Cards play.  I’m a glass-half-filled kind of gal, so it’s hard to find something to write about when your team is playing badly.  One can only complain so much before it gets tiresome, and I love my loyal readers too much to subject them to too much negativity.

As you probably know, the trade deadline is August 1 (since July 31st is a Sunday), which is exciting yet scary at the same time. So are the Cards are sellers or buyers at the trade deadline?  Despite playing badly, the Cards are currently in line for the second wild card slot and are also in second place in the N.L. Central.  A Cubs collapse/Cards surge could mean another division title.  A key acquisition or two could make all the difference to get to the playoffs.

So if the Cards are buyers, what do they have to offer in a trade?  The Cards have an option on Jaime Garcia.  When Jaime starts, you never know if you’re going to get Good Jaime or Bad Jaime.  When Jaime is good, he’s very, very good, but when Jaime is bad, he’s awful.  Jaime should be some other team’s problem.

Kolten Wong is another player who may be better off with a change of venue.  There is a lot of pressure here for him to succeed, and Kolten appears to not handle pressure well.  The only negative about trading Kolten is the 5 year contract he signed earlier this year. It was meant to give Kolten a vote of confidence, but it doesn’t appear to have worked out that way. If Kolten is traded, the Cards may have to eat some of Kolten’s contract for the deal to work. Jedd Gyorko and/or Greg Garcia can take Kolten’s place at second, or there is another alternative, which I’ll discuss below.

Matt Adams’ shortcoming is that he only plays one position.  He would be a great DH for an American League team.  If the Cards could trade Adams to an AL team for a good player, I would be all over that trade.  Brandon Moss could move to left field and Matt Holliday could play first, which could possibly extend his career beyond this season.

The Cards do not need two center fielders.  If you melded Randall Grichuk and Tommy Pham into one person, you’d likely have a great center fielder.  However, since we can’t, one of these guys needs to leave, and I think it should be Tommy Pham.  Tommy is older and is injury prone.  If you need a second outfielder in case of injury, Stephen Piscotty can play center and Jeremy Hazelbaker can play right field.  There are a lot of fans who would like to see Carlos Gonzales patrol right field (and Piscotty would then become the CF), but he would probably bring a very high price tag.

One player whose name has been bandied about as trade bait is prospect Alex Reyes. I really don’t think the team should give him up.  A team should not give up an exciting prospect pitcher  The Cards should, however, call Reyes up in September when rosters expand to gear up for the playoffs, and get him some major league experience.

So what do the Cardinals need in order to get to the playoffs?  They need a good set-up pitcher.  Jerome Williams, who the Cards recently brought up from Memphis, is not the answer.

I have heard that Aledmys Diaz’ natural position is second base, so if Wong is traded, Diaz could move to second. Not all of Diaz’ errant throws can be blamed on rookie mistakes, perhaps. Peralta could then go back to shortstop, or a good shortstop could be acquired.  This could also help with the defense problems in the Cards’ infield.

The Cards could also use Mother Nature to cooperate and not force rain outs. Today’s doubleheader is the second in two weeks. Last week’s doubleheader was a day-night double, which gives the players a break between games; however, today’s doubleheader is a true doubleheader. The doubleheaders and game delays wreak havoc with a pitching rotation.  Calling Mike Mayers up from the minors as a fill-in ended up as a major humiliation in front of a national audience.  I sure hope he can recover from it.

That’s all for now! Thanks as always for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane

Spring training is over – hallelujah!

BalloonsThe Cards’ last spring training game today was a doozy and to make things even better, it was against the Yankees.  There were home runs a-plenty – 2 by Stephen Piscotty, 1 by Tommy Pham, 1 by Jeremy Hazelbaker and 1 by Brandon Moss.  Hopefully, the hitting slump is over and the team meetings the other day did the trick in getting the guys motivated.

Let’s hope the Birds will have some of today’s firepower in Pittsburgh on Sunday, despite the fact that the high temperature this Sunday in Pittsburgh is supposed to only be 39 degrees – and that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius. I’ve attended games in early October in St. Louis in those kinds of temperatures and I feel sorry for those poor fans who will be shivering in the stands.  When MLB assembles the schedule for next season, they should ensure that no games are played in the Northeast, the upper Midwest and Toronto in the first part of April, since there is still the possibility of cold weather and even snow. Unless, of course, the games are scheduled in Milwaukee and Toronto, since those stadiums have roofs.  In contrast, the high temperature in St. Louis this Sunday will be 68 degrees.  That’s a perfect temperature for a ball game – not too hot and not too cold.

I was so hoping that the Cards would leave spring training without a major injury.  Unfortunately, Jhonny Peralta tore the same ligament on his thumb that Yadier Molina did during the playoffs last year. Jhonny will be out at least until June.  Peralta’s injury led to the signing of Ruben Tejada.  However, Ruben left today’s game with a left quad strain. Jeremy Hazelbaker, who has been hot during spring training, is going north with the team due to Tejada’s injury. Mitch Harris will start the season on the disabled list with compression syndrome.  And Jordan Walden, who looked like he would be good to go up until Wednesday, is now on the DL with shoulder issues.  Walden’s injury led to an opening on the roster for Rule 5 player Matt Bowman, who pitched in today’s game.

But the most devastating injury out of spring training was not to a player. Third base coach Jose “Secret Weapon” Oquendo is out for the season due to a knee replacement surgery that went awry and had to be repeated.  The Cardinals offered to let Oquendo do some coaching from the bench, but he said if he couldn’t do the job he was hired to do that he didn’t want to be there at all.  Jose’s absence will be a great loss for the team, since not only does Jose work with the Spanish-speaking players, he works with the other players on base running.   First base coach Chris Maloney has moved over to third base to replace Jose and Bill Mueller has moved to first base.  Time will tell how much Jose’s absence will affect the team.

The Cards have two days off before Opening Day on Sunday.  I’m ready for regular season baseball, aren’t you?  I’m ready to come home from work and know I’m going to be seeing my favorite team playing ball on TV.  This Sunday is going to be awesome – church in the morning and then coming home in time to watch the Cards’ opener on TV.  Are you ready for some baseball? I know I am!

As always, thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Resilience despite adversity

ResilienceI wrote a blog post earlier this season about how the infirmary was getting full of Cardinals players.   Maybe that was bad luck –  who knows?  The Cardinals have endured more than their share of injuries this season.  I’ll list them so we can see the magnitude of the injuries:

Jordan Walden – shoulder
Adam Wainwright – torn Achilles tendon
Matt Adams – torn right quadriceps muscle, Grade 4
Matt Holliday – torn right quadriceps muscle, Grade 2
Matt Belisle –forearm tenderness
Jason Heyward – hamstring strain
Randal Grichuk – muscle strain lifting weight, elbow strain
Jon Jay – recovery from off-season wrist surgery
Yadier Molina – slight tear of left thumb ligament
Carlos Martinez – strained shoulder
Stephen Piscotty – outfield collision with Peter Bourjos

(If there is anyone I missed, or if I goofed up on the injuries, please let me know in the comments section below.)

Yet despite all these injuries (and with some great pickups and call ups by Mo), the Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central with the best record in baseball.  The magic number to clinch the NL Central is 2, and if the Cards win tomorrow at Pittsburgh, it will be zero.  This will be the Cardinals’ first 100 win season since 2005.

The Cardinals have shown amazing resilience this season. A lesser team would crumble under the weight of all these injuries. But the Cardinals have not crumbled, thanks to the managing of Mike Matheny.  Mike is the glue that has held this team together through all the injuries and all the other craziness this season (hacking? What hacking?).

Now we Cards fans and bloggers may not agree with every move Mike makes, but you can’t argue with results. This is Mike’s fourth year managing the Cardinals (heck, managing a major league team, period) and the team has gone to the postseason every year for the last four years.  How many managers can claim that honor during their first four years of managing?  If you want to get some insight as to how Mike manages a team, I highly suggest you pick up and read his book The Matheny Manifesto (click on the title to find it on Amazon).

Mike deserves the NL Manager of the Year award for the way he has handled the Cardinals during this season of adversity.  However, we Cards fans all know that the NL MOY award will go to Joe Maddon, since he turned those loveable losers the Cubs into playoff contenders, and Chicago is a larger market than St. Louis too.

The Cards’ game tonight was postponed until tomorrow due to rain.  It will be made up tomorrow with a day-night doubleheader.  Game time for the first game is 12:35 PM CST.  I will be listening to the game on KMOX at my desk. I will be hoping and praying for no more injuries, and that the Cards will clinch the division.  Last night’s game made my stomach upset; I’m hoping for an uneventful win tomorrow.

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane