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Well, That Certainly Sucked

by: Brian F. Logush


To paraphrase the late, great Frank Sinatra, "ain't that a kick in the balls."

The St. Louis Cardinals 2012 season has come to an end. Come to think of it, I think 'end' might be too nice of a word. That implies a slow descent into nothingness. What happened over the past three games was anything but slow and nothingness. What we saw was a train wreck, sliding off the tracks and crashing into McCovey's Cove.

It was, to put it nicely, a complete and utter disaster. Three games to one. To get to their second consecutive World Series, all they had to do was win one out of three. Hell, even the Astros could win one game out of three. Not very often, but they could.

Where did it start? Hitting? Starting pitching? Defense? Bullpen? Coaching?

Let's start with the coaching. Mike Matheny replaced a Hall-of-Fame manager, losing an equally deserving Hall-of-Fame pitching coach, and a certain first baseman. Is it his fault? No, it is not. So let's nip that right away. In his first year, he took the club to the NLCS. That's impressive, no?

Bullpen? Color me impressed. Especially considering in the last three games, the bullpen didn't lose the games. Yes, Jason Motte gave up a homer in Game 7. In an 8-0 game. When you're down by eight, what's one more run? I'm sure Motte isn't involved with any point shaving activities.

Hitting? Most certainly. It wasn't much fun to watch teams continuously swing at balls well outside the strike zone. But in that respect, you have to give credit to the Giants pitching staff. They know how to pitch to hitters, and they executed very well. Almost flawlessly. One run in twenty-seven innings. That's all you need to know. And it's not like no one hit the ball. There were several instances where Cardinals would smack the ball to the outfield, but they would hang up and end in the glove of whatever Giant was in the vicinity. But it's hard to overlook that lone run in three games. Certainly a concern, but it's not the main reason.

Defense? Holy crap, was it terrible those last three games. Pete Kozma looked lost out there at short, especially the last two games. He booted the ball around, threw home with no shot of getting the runner... it never seemed to end. Kelly in Game 7 reaching for a hopper wasn't a great call. Lohse wasn't great out there either. But Lance Lynn...wow. He threw that ball like he had a vendetta against second base. And he almost got Kozma steamrolled by Pablo Sandoval, and I can't imagine that feels too good.

Starting pitching? This is the biggie. If you said that Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, and Lance Lynn would throw three games when all they needed was one win, I would've wagered heavily on the Birds. But who would've guessed the three would combine for 9 and 2/3 innings? Especially Carp and Lohse. It was a brutal end to the season, but frustrations over defense and strike zones appeared to mess with their psyches.

In the end, the 2012 season can be looked at as a success. Consecutive years in the LCS. Consecutive Wild Card spots, with an assist from the added slot. But they beat Atlanta in Atlanta, and beat Washington, the team with the best regular-season record, in dramatic fashion. But they still blew a three games to one lead. It sucks. But, hey, that's why they play the game.

But man oh man, what could have been. Well, at least I can turn on Fox Sports and watch some good ol'-fashioned St. Louis Bluuu...

Oh, come on!!


You can follow me on Twitter @Brian_Logush if you are so inclined. If you like sarcasm and dream interpretations, I'm your follow. Just don't ask for a RT if it's your birthday.

What Is the Payoff for a One Game Playoff?

by: Brian F. Logush


With the San Francisco Giants defeating the L.A. Dodgers on Tuesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the second Wild card spot in the 2012 playoffs. Not bad for a team that lost their certain Hall-of-Fame manager and pitching coach. Not to mention the best offensive player in the last fifteen years. But the 2012 playoffs make #12in12 a distinct possibility. As a baseball fan, as well as a Cardinal fan, I am happy to see them in the playoffs. For the majority of my baseball-watching years, I have been fortunate enough to watch great teams, compelling stories, and underdogs that became World Champions. It is odd that arguably the two best teams since 1996 (the '96 and '04 teams) didn't win, but the two inferior ones ('06 and '11) did. However, none of that really matters, as the team and its fan base are focused on Friday's tilt in Atlanta.

Now this is all well and good, and like I said, I'm glad I will witness postseason play again. But you will have to pardon me if I don't like how we made it to the playoffs. And no, I am not speaking of clinching by virtue of the Dodgers losing.

The second Wild Card is yet another bastardization of this game. It was only introduced because Bud Selig saw that postseason implications often come down to the very last day. And hey, what's better than two teams battling for one spot? Three teams battling for two spots!! And by better, I don't mean better play. I mean better concessions. Better ratings. Better gate sales. Better revenue.

I get that baseball is a game played by men that are talented enough and lucky enough to earn eight-figures while doing so. But in order to pay those types of salaries, business decisions must be made. Because, more than anything, as we see with the NHL, baseball - no - sports in general, are a business. Everything, from the hot dogs, to the jerseys, to the stupid Build-a-Bear store, is done to make enough money to support the club. I'm no financial wizard, but I know enough basic economics to know a money-grab when I see one. You got a question on supply and demand? I'm your guy. But if I don't know, I'll ask someone who does and get back to you.

At the root of it all, I'm a purist. Which is odd, since for most of my life there's been a Wild Card team. But one extra game to decide who plays the team with the best record? Baseball is a series games. Three game series, four game series, best of seven... it's always been a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament, where two out of three, or whatever, wins. Simple. It's even in the name of your championship! I'm sorry, Mr. Commissioner, but you don't have my support on this.

I like to think that enough people will band together until the second Wild Card is put out. But I know it won't. People will be in Turner Field at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon, watching the Braves and Cardinals. Hot dogs and beers will be consumed. Wild Card shirts and jackets will be bought. Because, for the first time, there are two Wild Card teams in baseball. This is history.

Too bad it's just wrong. I see Selig and company sitting at a meeting, discussing the game's future. And I see the second Wild Card tossed out there, and everyone running with it. Great for TV! Great for drama! Good for the game. I think Ian Malcolm put it best in Jurassic Park: "They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn't stop to think if they should."

And yes, there are nice backstories this year. Atlanta plays St. Louis, the team that crawled back from the dead to catch them last season, only to win the whole damn thing. And the defending AL Champion Rangers will face Baltimore, who were last in the playoffs when the Hartford Whalers were a real thing. This season it happened to work out. It just sucks when it's going to be two teams America has no interest in watching. Unless Boston makes it. Then it's totally worth it.


Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @Brian_Logush. Aside from sports tweets, I make wrestling jokes and recap Nickelodeon game shows from the '90s.

Wild Card Blues

Ohh...the second wildcard...such an unflattering name...it's like being the second runner up in the Miss America Contest... "Congrats! You're the 3rd prettiest girl here! Yea, these other two are waaaaaay better looking, but compared to those trolls over there, you're a...you're not too bad." I'm not excited or proud of it, but if it gets us in the tournament, well, it gets us in the tournament.

12 in 12?
We do have a chance to win it all again. We have the best offense in the National League, a strong starting staff, a reliable bullpen...and most importantly, a true Ace in Adam Wainwright. In a one game playoff against the Braves, would you rather have Tim Hudson, or Waino? Hudson has been a great pitcher at times during his career, but I'll take Waino any day. The Braves second best starter is Tommy Hanson. He's 12-5 with a 4.27 ERA. Our second best starter is Kyle Loshe...13-2, 2.61 ERA. The Cards have the advantage, but anything can happen in a one game playoff...anything.

The NLDS...STL against Cincy...we have the better starting staff, a slightly better lineup, but Cincy has the better bullpen. I trust Chapman and Bronxton more than Boggs and Motte.

Against Washington...no Stras, but they still have Gio and Zimmerman, and a damn good lineup. I would side with Washington, but Davey Johnson is still pond scum in my estimation.

The Dodgers? Kershaw, Kemp, Ethier, Billingsly...is that all ya got? Pretty good 4 piece, but it's no orchestra.

If we get in we have a chance, but so does everyone else, that's what makes postseason baseball more intense and exciting than any other playoffs. We hang on every pitch here in baseball heaven...you can see your last gasp of breath before your face as Wainwright breaks off a curve, and the mist and the breaking ball both seem to hang in the air forever, until the moment is over and Molina is running towards the mound in a fit of child like jubilation...God I love baseball...

MVP?
Matt Holliday, my preseason pick for MVP the past two seasons, is putting together one hell of a summer. .302, 23 hrs, 81 rbi's, 78 runs, .899 ops...if he finishes at .310, 28hrs, 105 rbi's, 100 runs, .900 ops...who else would you give it to? The only other guy I would vote for is McCutchen. Right now, .349, 24 hrs, 76 rbi's, 87 runs, .995 ops...He's the best candidate now, but if the Pirates continue to slide and McCutchen does as well...it's Holliday's award to lose.

Comeback Player of the Year?
Carp has two of these, Puma has one...and now Waino may have one as well. As of today he is 12-10, 3.65 ERA, 154 k's, and not to mention 2 shutouts and 3 total complete games...all off of Tommy John surgery! He could finish at 16-11, 3.30 ERA, and 200 k's, if so, he would have my vote. I'm not sure of all of the qualifications for the voting on this award, but our old buddy Ryan Ludwick would get my other vote...if I had two..wait, I don't even have one?

Luddy last year-  .237, 13 hrs, 75 rbi's, 56 runs, .674 ops
Luddy this year-  .270, 25 hrs, 70 rbi's, 43 runs, .911 ops
Luddy projected- .265, 31 hrs, 92 rbi's, 60 runs, .905 ops

Those are worthy numbers...if he qualifies.

Cy Young?

Loshe is our best bet, and a good one. Let's run some numbers...I am a baseball geek..not like Keith Law, that guy's a scared little child who has never had control of any situation on a field of athletic competition, who now, in his prolonged child-like state that has lasted into middle age, tries to gain control over something he could never possibly participate in by working a spreadsheet. He's a scared, pathetic, petulant child

Pitcher                            W-L        ERA      K's      IP           W%
Johnny Cueto                 16-6        2.44       135   169.2        72.7
Kyle Lohse                     13-2        2.61       104   169.0        86.6
R.A. Dickey                    15-4        2.82       181   175.1       78.9
Matt Cain                        13-5        2.83       159   174.2       72.2
Stephen Strasburg           15-5        2.85       183   145.1       75.0

Lohse has the best winning percentage bay far, close in IP and ERA, but way behind in K's. The award is Cueto's to lose. If he ends up as a 19-21 game winner on a first place team and his ERA stays steady, he will win. But, if he throws a couple duds...and, I don't know, maybe, kicks someone in the face, Lohse could sneak up and grab the award.


As for the other awards...Gold Gloves...Yadi, Jay, Furcal, Waino...maybe...but I have no idea how they vote for these...Silver Slugger...Yadi, Holliday, Beltran....


None of these awards are worth a snowball's chance in Pequignot's attic (yes, only two people in the world get this joke, but it's funny) if we don't get in the playoffs...they are worth nothing. As I like to preach to anyone that will listen...only one stat in sports matters...only one. Wins-Losses. That's it. It really is, and living in Cardinals country...I take real solace and comfort in that fact.

-Will Saulsbery
Will is a graduate of the University of Missouri, he currently resides in St. Louis.

August...Lull me to Sleep

 

Goodness gracious sakes alive (as the great John Wooden use to say)What are we doing here...August?

First question, why weren't the Olympics scheduled for the two weeks right before the NFL Season started? Now we're stuck with three weeks of just baseball and pre-season NFL talk. Look, I love baseball, but all this talk about the second wildcard doesn't exactly make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What can we do? Who really cares about the last roster spot on the Rams? It doesn't matter...it really really doesn't. And on a side note,  you know when your high school coach said, "We're only as strong as our weakest link"....he was full of sh%$...the Bulls  were as strong as Jordan and Pippen...they weren't as strong as Bill Winnington ...Ohh, and laughing during practice...it's a good thing. And as for a  coach that screams all the time...to quote Dimitri Martin, "Raising your voice, it's the second best thing to being right."

Moving on, after that much needed catharsis...what we need to get through this lull is personality...not you or me, but from our athletes. Remember how awesome guys like George Brett, Mark Grace, Will Clark, Jose Canseco, Tim "Rock" Raines, Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs were? Who do we have now? Derek Jeter...that guy's as exciting as a marathon of According to Jim. Who do we really care about...baseball players are boring as hell...where have you gone Brian Wilson?

We need a guy to do commercials with Bo Diddly and break a bat over his knee, run up the out field wall and tell us, Bo Knows! Canseco was a nut job, but at least he was colorful...Tim
"Rock" Raines...just Google why he has that nickname...George Brett and Wade Boggs..men's men!

What are we left with? The laugh out loud antics of the comic genius of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera?? Bryce Harper has to start hitting? Can he please? Or, is that a Clown Question, bro? Gimme something...a story and back flip...at least a good baseball movie...nothing?

Then, we're going to have to settle for wildcard talk and how some un-drafted rookie can really make his mark on special teams...there is not a way in any reality that I could possibly care less about either. How long till the Rams begin their inevitable march toward 5-11? When is the first wildcard round? The NLCS? The series? Well, they ain't in August. They all seem so far away in a distant future blocked by twelve hour days and way too much Law and Order Criminal Intent...I could read, and yes I do you sarcastic ass...and I do go outside...but I love sports, and I'm not going to apologize about complaining for this lull. Gimme something...gimme a story about an Eddie Jones or Shawn Kemp comeback...tell me that Kirk Gibson choked out one of his relievers after giving up a 3-run shot in the 8th...I need something...anything...please??

-Will Saulsbery
Will is a graduate of the University of Missouri and he currently resides in St. Louis, MO. Yoou can read more of his 
 

Cardinals Mix blog featured writers LS Murphy,Brian F. Logush
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