Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reflections from a Cardinals Fan

“It’s hard to explain how this happened.” – Tony LaRussa.

I agree. I’m a Cardinal fan, but I admit I did not see this coming. Certainly not in August when St. Louis dropped two of three to the Cubs and then got swept at home by the Dodgers. Milwaukee’s lead had reached double digits and there was no way my beloved birds were going to catch them. But they did catch Atlanta for the Wild Card after the Braves dropped their last five games of the season. The Cards then vanquished the Phillies, Brewers, and Rangers to win their 11th world championship. It was an improbable conclusion to one of baseball’s most memorable seasons. Below are some reflections and random thoughts about what happened:

David Freese truly deserved his World Series MVP. In 2007, the Cardinals traded Jim Edmonds to get him from San Diego. Four years later, that move is paying big dividends. Edmonds was one of the all-time Cardinal greats, and in retirement he is the gift that keeps on giving.

Tony LaRussa (and baseball managers in general) usually receive too much credit for victories and too much blame for defeats. It’s the players who decide the outcome of the games. That said, TLR made some nice moves to help his team win this postseason. Most notably, the relief pitchers he deployed in the NLCS did an outstanding job of neutralizing the Brewers big bats. On the other hand, Game 5 against the Rangers was one of the worst managed games in WS history. Had St. Louis not eventually prevailed in the Series, the dark cloud of those poor decisions could have lingered over Busch Stadium all winter. As it is, Phonegate is now little more than a footnote.

I never liked Lance Berkman much when he was with the Astros all those years. Now that he is wearing the Birds on the Bat, he’s one of my favorite players. Funny how that goes.

That was really nice of Prince Fielder to give the Cardinals home field advantage in the World Series. Thank you, Mr. Fielder.

Wonder how many analysts picked the Cards to win the World Series after they lost their best pitcher Adam Wainwright for the entire season.

Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson reminds me of Garret Dillahunt from Raising Hope.

I’m glad the World Series ended in October. That’s the way it should be. Baseball in November is just not right. Abner Doubleday would agree with me. I know he did not invent baseball, but still, he and most other Civil War generals would not want to see World Series games played in the same month as Thanksgiving. I don’t like the Super Bowl in February either.

Football may be more popular and basketball has a faster pace, but baseball is the best sport. The drama, the tension, the moves and countermoves, the duels, the plots and the subplots—there’s just nothing like baseball. It’s true today, just as it was true a hundred years ago. The only time it’s not true is when teams I don’t like win the World Series.

I’ve seen it a hundred times, but that Taco Bell chalupa commercial with Brian Wilson still cracks me up. “Because I’m Black Ops!”

I feel bad for the Rangers, even more so after seeing the images of a forlorn Nolan Ryan late in Game 7. Hopefully Ron Washington and his team will someday win a title for this organization. The Rangers lineup is loaded, so it could happen next year.

With the Cardinals overcoming such insurmountable odds to win the championship, I may have to abandon the usual pessimism I harbor when watching baseball. This pessimism, I should point out, was cultivated by Cardinal postseason failures in 1985, 1987, 1996, 2000-2002, 2004-2005, and 2009. Does this season make up for all those disappointments? Yeah, it kinda does. Especially when factoring in their other improbable world championship in 2006.

Pujols belongs in a Cardinals uniform.

Wow, it was a lot of fun watching baseball this October.

Spring Training is less than four months away!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Men Among Giants Book Tour

On Saturday, October 15th, I will be signing copies of Men Among Giants from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Barnes & Noble SouthPointe (2910 Pine Lake Road) in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On Saturday, December 3rd, I will be signing Men Among Giants from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at James Arthur Vineyards in Raymond, Nebraska.

Hope to see you there!