If you are a Cardinal fan and you read Will Leitch’s Deadspin column this week and you are like me then you, too, are probably well into your fourth fifth of Jack Daniels. You’ve called your mother balling like a baby, the cops have been to your house twice and you have a large welt on the inside part of your leg, you don’t know how or when it got there.
No, sir. The world just doesn’t seem the same anymore.
For those of you dear readers unaware, to summarize, Leitch made a strong point that the Cardinals’ franchise player — the face, the rock, the lone savior of St. Louis — Albert Pujols, may not be as married to the organization as we all think he is, that if the Cardinals aren’t committed to winning (as they appear now), that if Tony LaRussa isn’t around, that if GM John Mozeliak and his army of “stat zombies” (thanks, Prince) decide to continue on the Moneyball route and take for granted that Albert will sit around, silent, simply collecting a paycheck, then it is not fair to assume he will stay with the franchise once his contract ends in 2011.
It’s not fair.
I do not have to tell you how important Albert is to St. Louis Cardinals baseball because Albert is St. Louis Cardinals baseball. The loss of Pujols would be akin to the loss of Franz Ferdinand… or worse! It’d be John Lennon, Jack Kennedy and Aaliyah all dying on the same day! Seriously.
One of the joys from the past few seasons has been watching Yadier Molina develop into a feisty, competitive, smart and affective baseballer. He hits for average, has power, steals bases, always has his head in the game and you can’t find a better defensive catcher. You also cannot listen to a Cardinals broadcast these days without hearing how essential Albert Pujols has been in Yadi’s development. You see them together in the dugout, talking hitting, talking defense, then Yadi goes out produces. It’s a real thing of beauty.
Yet if you listen to Will Leitch’s warning shots and recognize the clear and present danger of losing Albert, then you really have to think about losing Yadi too. His contract is also up in 2011 with a club option for 2012 and if Mozeliak & Co. don’t convince Albert to stick around, you can bet that Molina will be right behind him.
Thinking about all of this makes me want to die. If I feel that way, if Cardinal fans feel that way, if the blogosphere feels that way, then why does John Mozeliak — the pompous king of arrogance — continue to look down upon us — the common voice — like plebeian s***-eaters who know nothing about the game of baseball?
I guess now is the time to start praying to the baseball gods. I just hope they know more about satisfying their fanbase than Mozeliak.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Wait, no… that is a lie.
Because the St. Louis Cardinals released their clubhouse infecting second baseman Adam Kennedy this week and GM John Mozeliak, by simply opening his mouth, has opened the door for more ridicule from those of us who should actually matter the most (the fans) but continuously get tossed aside like a Roger Clemens B-12 filled syringe.
So Kennedy is gone. Great. Ask me if I care.
What I do care about is the $4 million we are paying him for 2009 anyway. Mozeliak said:
“I tried to exhaust the trade market. We thought we might have something happening that really came to an end
this weekend. At that point it was just time. It was more fair for both
parties to do it now than wait a couple weeks.”
Translation: I am not very good at my job.
You mean to tell me, Mr. Mozeliak, that no team in Major League Baseball was willing to trade for Kennedy? No team!?! None?!? You couldn’t get one minor league guy, one nobody, one journeyman reliever for Adam Kennedy?
Give me a break. But in all fairness, Mr. Mozeliak, you are right about one thing. That was a fair deal for the Kennedy camp. More than fair. Here’s $4 million, Adam. Sit on your ^ss, dude. Have a good time. Go out and get a league minimum one-year deal from some team and live off the fat of the Cardinals’ land.
I suspect he will.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals fan forums, blogs and message boards are lighting up with “what the hell do we do now”s; some delusional fans have even gone as far as to suggest Mozeliak may go out and sign a free agent second baseman like Orlando Hudson or Mark Grudzielanek to fill the empty space.
Ha! I laugh in your face! For you know not the true nature of our general manager:
“Right now, we’re going to go with what we have. We would like to do this internally if we could, and we do have confidence that we can.”
Translation: I have the conch! Not you! Me! It’s mine mine mine mine mine! All mine! And I say let’s get these suckas in the ballpark without assembling a competitive team. Why not? Those silly fans have already proven that they’ll support a crappy team; we can do that on the cheap and still rake in millions! Sell ’em t-shirts and Busch Light and bobbleheads that are way overpriced! They love that s***!
Mozeliak finished by saying:
“I do think this [releasing Kennedy for nothing while still paying him $4 million] was an opportunity to inject some energy into that
position and really show that we are moving this club in a newer
Translation: This club is built to fail. I signed Trever Miller and Royce Ring to further weaken an already deplorable bullpen that blew 31 saves last year. My major off-season acquisition of shortstop Khalil Greene hit a mind-blowing .212 last season, I haven’t even tried to land a closer and I am taking Ludwick and Ankiel to arbitration because I want to make them feel uncomfortable about playing in St. Louis. And as soon as this season is over and we have been embarrassed by the Cubs and Brewers, LaRussa and Duncan will walk and I’ll have this team right where I want it: going nowhere!
At least Ballpark Village is right on track:
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
In his last post, my oft misguided and ever self-loathing colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, offered up some morbid thoughts on how to pass the next several weeks while we wait to thaw out and spring into some serious baseball action. Poignantly defeatist in nature, Mr. Krause squashed our spirits more than he uplifted them, as more lamenting on the sad state of Detroit sports franchises and focusing on the natural discourse between Iran and the rest of the world leaves little else than a tinge of bitterness.
Dear readers, there are many more things you can do with your time. For instance…
Postulate How Many More Superbowls the Steelers Will Win Before the Pirates Get Back to the Post-Season (If They Ever Do)
Already the winningest franchise in NFL history, the Pittsburgh Steelers have long drowned out the cheers (if any) from the Pirates faithful. But don’t worry, ‘Burgh, the 2009 Pirates boast a lineup that features the likes of Jose Tabata, Brian Bixler and Nyjer Morgan! Whoo-wee! Get out the ticker-tape, ya’ll! I’m feeling a bit like 1991!
Count the Reasons Why Ann Coulter Has No Soul
Verily, this woman is as crazy as A-Rod is attention hungry. In her most recent blog post (dated 1/28/2009), she had this brilliant quip to share:
“The only reason McCarthy was elected to Congress in the first place is
that her husband and son were shot by a crazed gunman on the Long
Island Rail Road in 1993. Colin Ferguson’s shooting spree wasn’t
stopped sooner because none of the passengers had guns. As has been
demonstrated beyond dispute at this point, armed citizens save lives.”
There is no way these words came from a live human being complete with a heartbeat and the ability to actually feel. No way.
Waste Your Life Away by Playing the Harold Reynolds Drinking Game
(I don’t personally recommend this, but if you’re looking for a quick, painless way to hibernate until Opening Day, click **here** for details. And when I say “painless” I’m lying.)
Try To Nail Down How Many Games the Cardinals Will Finish Behind the Cubs in 2009
Let’s see, there’s Adam Kennedy, Trever Miller, a busted up bullpen virtually unchanged from last season, question marks at third base, second base, starting rotation, no one to protect Albert Pujols, the reality that LaRussa and Duncan will most likely be gone next year, and we still have Bill Dewitt and John Mozeliak at the helm! Folks, that’s just the beginning… I won’t go in to how good the Cubs look, how fresh and exciting the Reds look, how explosive the Brewers look, how nagging the Astros look. Ooh boy, can’t wait to battle Tabata, Bixler and Morgan in the ‘Burgh for the NL Central Toilet Bowl!
Okay, so I admit, my suggestions are just as morbid and defeatist as Allen’s… but if there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that a laugh — a good, hearty, gut-cleansing laugh — can last us a while… or in this case, a long, long while:
Now that is what I call comedy!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
A smile, a wink and a good old fashioned Chicago roundhouse to the face and everyone seems to have forgotten that Rod Blagojevich is the scum of the earth who not only embarrassed the millions of people who chose him to lead but also tainted the already highly critiqued political machine known as the City of Broad Shoulders. And let me tell ya: it’s really friggin’ hard to embarrass a city known to root for those lovable bastions of disappointment: the Chicago Cubs.
Indeed, after a brilliant array of surreptitious spin-doctoring, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President-Elect Barack Obama swiveled from one extreme to the other and now favor seating Blago-appointee and Chicago granddaddy of patronage, Roland Burris, to the US senate. To quote Jack Buck, “Excuse me while I stand and applaud.”
(*clap, clap, clap)
Yes, dear readers, Rod Blagojevich may appear to be a complete idiot, but his sinisterly savvy move of handpicking Burris to take Obama’s place (accented by the potentially trumping race card) just proves that he’s way smarter than anyone ever thought. In fact…
Dude is wicked smah’t.
Meanwhile, many of you may see my flippant ferments to dispel equally corrupt John Mozeliak from the Cardinals’ helm as mere exercise in futile hyperbole, but believe me when I declare my absolute sincerity — that my dissatisfaction stems from a sound place: my undying loyalty to preserve the winning spirit of St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
Whether you like it or not, Mozeliak is corrupt. Anyone who thinks he can throw around pretentiousness disguised as frugality in the Cardinals’ front office is corrupt. Anyone who squashes the fans’ perennial hopes for a pennant (before the season even starts) while the hated Cubbies build and build and build only to get better, is corrupt. Anyone who “rebuilds” a severely damaged bullpen by signing the likes of a lukewarm lefty named Trever Miller or Royce Ring — mere band-aids on a gaping, gushing head-wound — is corrupt.
Yeah, sure, Tony LaRussa is extremely intelligent — so much so that he hid Mozeliak’s ineptitude for most of the 2008 season. With Dave Duncan at his side, it’s no secret that LaRussa has fixed many a troubled bargain-bin pitcher — whatever riff-raff Mozeliak (and Jocketty before him) could dig up and throw his way. But how long can we expect TLR’s elite level of intelligence to conceal the GM’s corruption?
One of these days (probably sooner than later) LaRussa and Dunc are simply gonna get tired of the b.s. and walk away.
One of these days (probably sooner than later) the Illinois legislature (and the Democrats as a whole) are simply gonna get tired of the b.s. and send Blago on his way.
At least, I hope as much.
Intelligence can’t hide the scandalous scars of corruption forever.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
That’s right, dear readers, Albert Pujols is the National League MVP — again — and most deservedly, as this is the A.P. whom the critics said wouldn’t make it through 2008 without having season-ending surgery. This is the A.P. who, without much protection, rarely saw good pitches — ever. This is the A.P. who was forced to bear the enormous weight of a subpar bullpen with a penchant for blowing big leads late and an organization run by a pompous penny-pinching pariah pleasantly pleased with mediocrity.
While I am ecstatic for my man-crush’s crowning achievement, the nihilist in me cannot stop seeing this as yet another detrimental development in John Mozeliak’s quiet quest to do nothing in the way of spending dollars to put together a true contender in 2009.
But what do I know?
I certainly didn’t know that Nate McLouth had any business getting MVP votes, but some writer (most probably a pissed off Pittsburghian with a propensity for pot-smoking) thought it’d be a funny afterthought to include him in the big picture.
I found it… um… awkward.
Speaking of awkward, never before have I seen two grown men sit down together with such unease as I did today when the president-elect met with Sen. McCain for what appeared to be a publicity stunt meant to mend the dissonance between the two camps. Sure. Sounds good. But McCain had to go and bring up what is quickly becoming known as the Annhilation of the Bears, which immediately put Obama (and subsequently me) in a very, very uncomfortable place. I was sorta hoping that Barack would have had the good sense to remind the senator from Arizona about Dennis Green’s post-game meltdown a couple years ago after that torrid Monday Night game in which we all found out:
Well, the Bears still are who we thought they were: not good enough; but you didn’t have to go and bring it up, John McCain. You see, I thought this meeting was supposed to be about healing and planning and bipartisanship. But since you decided it wasn’t, how ’bout those ’08 Diamondbacks?
Regardless, I’m not going to let another Republican rain on my parade of good feelings abound.
Albert Pujols — the most fascinating man in sports — is the NL MVP.
So eat it!
And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Indeed, after that long and winding baseball-politico season and the ominousness of losing every dime I’ve ever saved due to the current worldwide economic crisis, I deserved a damn vacation.
And vacation I did.
Which reminds me, don’t you just hate when you meet the perfect girl and you hit it off right away — so much so that you spend the entire day with her into the evening through the night and find out the next day that she’s your cousin?
Happens to me every year.
But that’s not what I want to focus on today. No. You see, dear readers, while on my vacation, I missed out on some very important happenings: like Gov. Sarah Palin‘s adamant cry to NBC’s Matt Lauer that during the campaign she never got involved with that “inside baseball stuff” that supposedly divided her camp from Sen. McCain’s.
Look, I don’t even pretend to know what she meant by calling it “inside baseball stuff” seeing how it had absolutely nothing to do with baseball; however, I can appreciate her obviously sentimental regard for greatest game on earth and implying that indeed, it’s complicated.
Because it is.
The coast is clear now, but how is it that the Cardinals were even considering a trade for Matt Holliday? A trade that would send away at least two (maybe more) of our most talented youngsters and leave us with a one-year rental of a player represented by Scott Boras? Has John Mozeliak officially lost his friggin’ mind?
The answer to that question is yes and I’m quite sure we St. Louis fans haven’t even seen the beginning of it. Stock up on the painkillers, folks; 2009 could be a long one.
And how is it that Lou Piniella received the Manager of the Year Award? Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing but respect for Sweet Lou and I admire his guile, but this year he did what he was supposed to do (sorta) which was manage an extremely talented, high-priced ball-club to a winning season. That’s like me getting rewarded for drinking beer and watching football on Sundays. That’s what I do, people!
The Cubs were on cruise control all season until October and Lou didn’t have to work nearly as hard as the likes of Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre to get the job done with less talent.
The one thing Lou was supposed to do this year (win playoff games) never happened. I see that as one thing and one thing only: failure. F-A-I-L-U-R-E.
On the other side of the Second City (my side), complications arise with Jermaine Dye and his future in a White Sox uniform. Rumor is: Kenny Williams wants to get some fresh legs in exchange for the veteran outfielder who had a resurgent season in 2008. I understand Williams’ point of view, but I’m pretty sure there will be rioting in the streets if Dye is traded away. Even more rioting if Big Fat Bobby Jenks is dealt (which is also floating around the rumormill).
Just let me know if and when that’s going to happen, Kenny, because I’ll make sure to be back in South Padre until the Southside firebombing lets up.
I suppose Gov. Palin was right. This “inside baseball stuff” is complicated. And I gotta hand it to the Republicans. They ran a
good laughable race. And the tides seem to be turning for the GOP: Mark Foley, while still making excuses for his pedophilia, is at least speaking to the media again; Alaska has more problems than just Palinmania; and Norm Coleman has a 209 vote lead (as I write this).
Like my boy Tupac used to always say: “Ya gotta keep ya head up.”
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
“huge gamble.” Of course, you could argue that an even bigger gamble
took place when Pete Rose threw down money on games or when Tim Donaghy
decided to just throw a few games in the NBA. What do you think is the
biggest gamble (legal or otherwise) that has taken place in baseball
recently and how does it compare to McCain’s?
Gambling, throwing all you’ve got behind one decision, taking a risk… these are paramount aspects of the game of baseball. Without them, the game would be boring. When players and managers break from the norm and go out on a limb, we get excited: distancing oneself from the same old thing causes excitement.
And there has been no shortage of temerity nor bold decision making in our most beloved game over the last several years. Of course, as a Monday morning quarterback, it’s easy to call these moves audacious, ill planned, unrefined after the fact. Sometimes, as in the case of the GOP’s pick of one Sarah Palin, the decision need not be analyzed over and over again to find sound reasoning: there just isn’t any.
Like Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS after giving up three straight hits with only five outs to go and a three-run lead. That was dumb no matter how you look at it. And if it weren’t for 2004 and 2007, Sox fans would still be teeming with angst.
Like scores of players (McGwire, Bonds, Giambi, just to name a few) cheating their fans and cheating themselves by altering their physiology in order to make an extra multimillion or three, break records, tarnish the game. While I understand the desire to perform at the highest level possible, I tend to admire the natural approach over the Frankenstein method. With information regarding the rigorous side effects of performance enhancing drugs being as known as ABC’s — these guys took a big, dumb gamble and now — for the most part — we despise them for it.
But in my opinion, the biggest recent risk sure to backfire on the gambling party was the cave-in decision made by the Red Sox to ship Manny Ramirez out of Boston for Jason Bay. The baseball pundits have spoken, and I have to agree: Jason Bay — no matter how good he is — is no Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox may squeak into the playoff picture, but they are not near as good now as they were with Manny in the lineup and I expect they won’t make it too far without him. The whining and crying of Ramirez was nothing new to Boston’s brass and erasing him from the team not only left a hole in the four spot, it also diminished the impact of one David Ortiz.
And losing Ortiz at-bats to walks sure does make a difference in the wrong direction.
Of course, there are always those gambles that seem ludicrous yet turn out to be smart in the end as well.
Like Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa batting the pitcher in the eight hole to create more opportunities for Albert Pujols. Though seemingly odd because it was such a staunch break from the norm, essentially what TLR has done is make sure AP gets up in the first inning, then contributes as a clean-up hitter for the remainder of the game. It’s hard to argue against that logic and I’m surprised more managers haven’t followed suit.
TLR isn’t the only NL Central manager who has gained notoriety for his arduous risk-taking skills. “Sweet” Lou Piniella, when faced with an ailing Kerry Wood, had nothing but faith in a young rookie call-up from Notre Dame. He threw Jeff Samardzija in the limelight and hasn’t looked back since. With Samardzija pitching as well as he has in recent months, the Cubs bullpen, for the first time that I can ever remember, has suddenly become an asset rather than a liability.
But no gamble in recent memory has turned out as splendidly as that taken by White Sox GM Kenny Williams in trading Chris Carter to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin. Sure, one could argue that giving up a relatively unknown minor league first baseman for the once considered underachieving Quentin was hardly a risk. But put in perspective: trading Garland for Cabrera and Linebrink, cutting Podsenik, resigning Uribe, demoting Josh Fields, putting faith back in Joe Crede while giving a young Alexei Ramirez a shot at second base… Kenny Williams has been a very busy man and the moves he’s made — while controversial — have all turned out for the better. The White Sox have rediscovered their grinder swagger and as I predicted at the beginning of the season, have made a case for winning the AL Central and beyond.
I don’t know what political affiliations Kenny Williams has, if any, but I do know that the GOP’s decision making skills pale in comparrison to the Sox GM. The invasion of Iraq, the atrociously late and unorganized response to Hurricane Katrina victims, the gross misspending of our inflated tax dollars… and now putting Palin — a woman so unqualified to lead a nation that I can’t help but tell myself this is all just a big joke (punchline to come?) — in line for the highest office in the land; all I can say is:
That was dumb.
And let me tell ya, you can go on and hate me for my wordy rhetoric, my inspiring the people, my loose analysis of managerial decisions, but you shouldn’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.