Monday, April 30, 2007

Tragedy In St. Louis (And I'm Not Talking About Losing to the Cubs)

After horrible events like the tragic and untimely death of Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock, there really is no room for sarcasm, even at the expense of the Cubs. Instead, I offer up my sincere condolences to his family, friends and all of those he touched in major league baseball. From all I've read, it seems he was the real deal. Genuine, humble, honest and hardworking, he was devoted to his family and loved the game of baseball. Guys like him are a novelty in the machismo machine of professional athletics and he will certainly be missed.

Friday, April 27, 2007

So, Cardinals really CAN fly!!

So, as I sit here waiting for Jason Marquis to throw the first pitch in St. Louis and get this weekend's Cubs vs. Cards match-up underway, I'd like to point out that Skip Schumaker is a STUD. I wasn't necessarily hot on the idea of optioning him up over John Rodriguez after spring training, but turns out I had no freakin' clue what I was talking about. (As usual.) After going three-for-five in his substitution for an ailing Chris Duncan (more on that in a minute) and jump starting what would become the Cardinals biggest comeback of the young season, Mr. Schumaker officially wins my heart. In a night where the bats were uncharacteristically hot, (at home no less!), this young gentleman came out guns a blazin' and I, for one, am thoroughly impressed. Kudos to you, fine sir.

Now, back to that Chris Duncan thing. He hit his head on the ceiling at his apartment complex in his haste to get to the game and consequently required stitches. How exactly does that HAPPEN? What makes you in such a hurry that you actually become AIRBOURNE? As confused as I am, the news doesn't surprise me that much. He just kind of seems like a guy who hits his head on things. Did you see him in right field during the post season last year????

Regardless of all of this, we should all let out a collective cheer for winning two, count 'em, TWO home games in a row! It's unprecedented!! This after Pujols did that whole manly "provide game winning hit" routine on Wednesday. He's been practicing that a lot lately and I think this kid may have a future. But like I demonstrated with the whole Skip Schumaker thing, I've been wrong before.

Anyhow, I plan on watching as much or as little of this three game series as I can without having a complete psychological breakdown. This first one is a bit of a struggle for me, seeing as stupid Jason Marquis ate us up last weekend and he's facing Anthony Reyes who has been less than convincing so far this year. On one hand, it's one of the few games I get to see over the course of the season since WGN will carry it. On the other, I may be forced to watch from between my fingers like I'm seeing a horror movie if we can't generate some offense. And I really can't stand horror movies. Call me a pussy, but who wants to watch people have really violent and awful stuff happen to them? If I was into that, I'd be a Twins fan.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Henceforth Declare My Child ROYALTY!!

The bad news is the Cards got handed another loss last night at the hands of the Reds and three multi-RBI home runs. Kip Wells faced 27 batters, allowed eight runs, issued three walks, hit a batter and did not strike out a single hitter. Add that to the fact that once again, the line up could not manage more then three runs in a game and we have ourselves another big giant stinker at home.

Matthew Leach sums it up best:

The Cardinals are 1-7 at Busch Stadium this season. They have lost seven
out of 10 and haven't won consecutive games since a four-game winning streak
from April 8-11.

Hmmmm. That royally blows. What is a loyal Redbird fan to do to make oneself feel better? Why, you go to a Cubs game!

I managed to get my grubby mitts on tickets to last night's face-off with the Brewers and was not disappointed. Accompanied by a couple of die hard Cubbie fans, we sat just a few rows up on the left field side in spitting distance from Alfonso Soriano. (In case anyone's keeping track at home, $136 million dollars has bought the Cubs one RBI. BARGAIN!!) Rich Hill dirtied up his immaculate ERA by giving up a couple bombs to Prince Fielder and Kevin Mench and sadly, Derrek, Aramis and Alfonso could not find it in themselves to do much to counteract it. If it wasn't for the rain that started in the eighth inning you would have detected big giant tears of devastation running down my cheeks.* It's always tragic when you get taken to task by someone legitimately named Prince. In any case, Jeff Suppan was on the mound and it was nice to see what we could have kept had we somehow located $42 million extra dollars. I really should have looked harder under the couch cushions.

Anyway, it doesn't say much when the most positive part about Cardinal baseball is the Cubs sucking. Eventually, Prior might stage a gem of a comeback and then what? As amusing and almost disgusting it is to enjoy their long and miserable history, it doesn't make the Cards any freakin' better. At some point this season, I hope to genuinely get excited about MY team and stop relishing in a situation that's bound to be temporary. (I mean, seriously. Lee and Soriano are NOT going to have silent bats all season long. As many times as I wish upon a star, that just isn't going to happen.)

In closing, Prince is a fantastic name. It's right up there with Slappy, Asshat and Monkeynuts.

*Fear not, loyal friends. No tears were wasted in the viewing of this game.

Monday, April 23, 2007

MLB - Cards + Royals - Coppertone = GOOD TIMES!!

Even though I was down in Kansas City this past weekend, I was still able to keep pretty solid tabs on those wily Redbirds. (Which is a nothing short of a miracle considering how much I had to drink.) I was able to monitor Friday's match up via Gameday on my computer before I left town and the scoreboard at Kauffman Stadium kept me abreast of Saturday's disaster. Yesterday's was the only one I was near a television to see, but boy, was it worth it! I love me some game winning home runs!! WEEEEE!!! God help anyone that faces Albert in that kind of situation. He's just scary good at launching balls into the stratosphere and making closing pitchers cry. It's pretty much my favorite thing in the whole wide world.

Also, despite being permanently disfigured from sitting in the sun all day Saturday, I really got a solid deal. In forfeiting tickets to the Cards game at Wrigley, I was able to avoid a disgusting abortion of a game in which we could not manage to score a single run against Jason "Out of Control" Marquis. I shudder to think about how obnoxious that would have been to see in person. I simply don't have the constitution for it. Instead, I got to sit outside in sunny 80 degree weather drinking beers with some of my greatest college pals and watching a game that didn't induce heart failure. Unfortunately for all 19 Royals fans in attendance, the Twins ended up winning, but it was an exciting game to see nonetheless. I got to see former Cardinals Mark Grudzielanek and Reggie Sanders and didn't have a single anxiety attack all day! (Except for when Mark Teahen hit a home run and fireworks suddenly started going off in the outfield. I nearly crapped my pants.)

Ultimately, it could not have turned out any better. I got to see a major league ballgame, didn't have to watch the Cardinals lose to the Cubs and was rewarded with St. Louis taking two of three at Wrigley. So minus the reconstructive surgery I'm going to need to fix the third degree sunburn all over my body, this weekend was a raging success. Hooray, Royals!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Hope The Royals Are Grateful For My Attendance

It wasn't a convincing win today, but a win nonetheless thanks to Preson Wilson's shot past the Ivy. (We still can't score any damn runs! ARGH!!!) Jason Isringhausen reminded me again of why I don't watch these things without first downing a couple horse tranquilizers and and Braden Looper continues to be one of the surprising bright spots in what's started out to be a depressing season of Cardinal baseball. What makes today even more special is I've only had TWO Cubs fans tell me that Albert Pujols takes it in the Poo-holes. Isn't that miraculous? Of course, I had another one substitute a bad Tony LaRussa/drunk driving joke, but you can't really blame him for trying. It's not his fault that Cubs fans are about as creative as my dining room table and repetitive as a stoned monkey with Alzheimers.

On another note, I detest myself. I had my company tickets for tomorrow's game given to me a few months back and then accidently planned a trip to Kansas City over the top of it. How does someone let that happen? What the hell is wrong with me? I guess the bright side is I'm going to see a Royals game tomorrow instead.

I want to punch myself in the stomach.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Caution: Side Effects Include Cramping, Nausea and Losing

Just when I start to get excited about how we're playing, we have a stretch like this where it's almost impossible to imagine us winning EVER AGAIN. A drunk hobo once told me that it's hard to win ball games when you don't score any runs. Hmmm. That's interesting. It's very telling that a man who had just peed his pants and was gnawing on a plastic cup had a better grasp on the obvious then the Cardinals lineup. We've had a few promising outings, including a couple of ten run routes of the Astros and the Brewers, but there's only been three occasions where we've scored more then three runs in a game. That's going to take us no where but the toilet in a hurry.

Speaking of toilets, someone needs to seriously start monitoring what these guys are eating! Every time you turn around another guy is out with food poisoning. Strict standards need to be put in place that prohibit the consumption of whatever Scott Rolen and Scott Spiezio are noshing on. If it's anything other then raw hamburger and dog food, I'll be shocked. That just seems fitting somehow.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's ALIVE!!!!!!

Well, it's official. Albert Pujols' season of destruction has finally begun. After a quiet start, it's nice to see him back to his old ways of, well, you know. KICKING TOTAL ASS. With two home runs and five RBI's in Sundays game against the Brewers, it became clear that Mr. Pujols has no intention of NOT being completely awesome this and every season until the cruel clutches of death wrench that bat from his hands. The night sweats and tremors might suggest otherwise, but I really wasn't too terribly concerned about him easing into the season. He was bound to light up sooner rather then later, because you know it just eats him alive when he isn't dominating every at bat. I can just see him fuming in the dugout, thinking, "Man!! Chris Duncan gets to hit ALL the home runs! No fair!"

But seriously, what a freakin' slacker. The fact that he doesn't already have 19 home runs is a disgrace to the league. What in god's name has he been doing?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why Thank You, May I Have Another?

It sure is nice to know that we're not the only team whose closer induces heart attacks. After losing two straight games in the ninth inning, Salomon Torres is probably making calls to see Brad Lidge's therapist right about now. Yesterday, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead into the ninth where Scott Spiezio singled in two runs to take it to extra innings. Cue Skip Schumaker's sac fly in the 12th and it's game over. Then today, Chris Duncan unloads a bomb in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie and ultimately give St. Louis the win.


So now the Redbirds have won five of their last six and four in a row to claim a share of first place in the central division. Thanks, Salomon!

In his defense, I think that being a closer has got to be about the most thankless position in baseball. Minor mistakes can hurl situations completely out of control and efficient outs don't necessarily inspire a showering of gratitude. There is virtually no room for error and it's safe to say that no matter how many 1-2-3 outings a guy has, fans are always going to more vividly remember the catastrophic ones. It's easy to credit the collective team effort for an especially satisfying win, yet in a crippling loss it usually just feels better to blame one guy. Unfortunately for them, no matter how quiet the bats are or how sloppy the defense, the closer is the easiest and most likely of targets.

Which is why I'm surprised most of these guys don't turn into homicidal maniacs. In fact, until someone can prove to me that Jason Isringhausen doesn't have a closet full of automatic weapons, I'm steering clear the hell away from St. Louis.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Absence Truly Does Make The Heart Grow Fonder

So, I leave town for a couple days and guess what? We finally win some games! WEEEEEE!! After a brief sojourn in my native Iowan town (where I can actually watch televised coverage of Cardinal baseball,) I am happy to report that we were able to take two of three from the Astros and another today against the Pirates. Adam Wainwright and Kip Wells pitched another couple of great games and Braden Looper sounded lights out today. (Back in Chicago, I'm forced to listen to the play-by-play on XM Radio.) It even appears that Mr. Albert Pujols himself is joining in on the fun! You can only imagine how much this settles my nerves. I might not even have to drink tonight. (Well, not as MUCH anyway.)

Plus, today was the home opener for the Cubs and it looks like they crapped the bed again. Considering how cold it was outside, I'm surprised so many people showed up to watch. However, on my evening commute home there were plenty of drunken morons parading around Wrigleyville tempting me to run them over. (I even saw one dude biff it and smack his head on a fire hydrant. He must have taken the loss exceptionally hard.)

This must be God's way of telling me I need to visit my parents more often. Duly noted.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Even My Yearbook Pictures Are Less Embarrasing

Remember a couple days ago when I was uncharacteristically calm and collected after our Opening Day loss to the Mets? Yeah, all of that has since gone out the window and my blood pressure has returned to its typical Cardinal induced levels of BATSHIT CRAZY.

Over the first three games of the year we've scored two runs. Two runs in 27 innings! We are 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position! Thanks for showing up, guys! Also, much appreciation goes to Preston Wilson for his fine additions to our already impressive list of defensive miscues, along with special gratitude to Josh Hancock and Russ Springer for only giving up 7 runs in the seventh and eight innings instead of 27. Now THAT would have been embarrasing!

The bright spots through all of this? Our young and surprisingly capable rotation and JASON ISRINGHAUSEN!! Are we now living in an alternate and parallel universe? If this keeps up, I'll be on a steady diet of Xanax and Smirnoff for the next six months.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

So Far, So Good!

Hey kids, we're off to an AMAZING start! Two games, two losses to veteran (read: OLD!) pitchers, a few base running mistakes, three defensive errors, nine base runners stranded in scoring position and approximately 97 balls swatted into double plays. Then, to add insult to injury, Carpenter is missing his next start as a "precautionary measure" against swelling in his right elbow. That's just freakin' wonderful.

In more positive news, Kip Wells showed promise in his first start and fans got to see the first home run of the year at Busch Stadium, courtesy of Scott Rolen. Someone should go ahead and order those 2007 championship T-shirts, don't you think? We're on FIRE!!

At least we have the Braden Looper start going for us tonight. Wait a second...

Speaking of Looper, I have it on good authority from a Mets fan friend of mine that while he was in New York he did some side work as a circus attraction with Carlos Beltran's mole and the bearded lady. True story.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

They Don't Call It US Cellular For Nothing

Leave it my snarky allies on the Southside to continue doing God's work. This is from an educational series of videos and articles created by the fictitious "Southside Chicago Board of Tourism." Designed to mock their ignorance, TSSCBOT covers topics as confounding as dining, transportation, legal tender and dialect by answering questions from Northsiders.

My favorite query is by Carolyn from Evanston. I once tried extending a hand to a Cubs fan and he just tried to pull my finger. Lesson learned.

I'm Having Fun Already!!

Is it a total testement to my insanity that I was more emotionally invested in the Cubs' loss yesterday then I was in the Cardinals' on Sunday? I watched nine whole innings of getting our asses handed to us as though sedated, but watched half an inning of the Zambrano Explosion and was positively giddy for the rest of the day.

Five innings, five runs and five walks.

I'm so happy! I think I need therapy.

It's Opening Day--WEEEEEE!!!

Opening Day means several things. First, it indicates that the bitter Chicago winter is FINALLY nearing its end and that I can officially stop wearing long underwear to work. Secondly, it means the Northsiders are breaking out their Soriano jerseys and gearing up for what I'm hoping will be another agonizing and tortuous season. Best of all, this year it's a reminder that the St. Louis Cardinals are the defending 2006 World Series Championship. After five months without baseball, it's a great excuse to re-live the experience and an even better excuse to start using this as the go-to response to EVERYTHING. "Oh, Zambrano had two-hitter? Yeah, nice World Series." "So, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen are on the DL again? Oh, well. At least we won the World Series!" "A nuclear bomb is set to go off and level every major Midwestern city? Hmm...that's too bad. But at least we've got that World Series Championship!"

However, as I sat down and watched the Mets attack us both offensively and defensively, I was struck with an eerie sense of calm. Obviously, I would like to have seen the Redbirds notch a win against the Mets on their first outing of the season, but for some reason, as the runs built up against us and double play after double play eliminated most of our scoring opportunities, I could hardly muster up the energy to utter an expletive. It wasn't that I didn't care about the win, it was just that the singular importance of the game was so minimal. Keep in mind, the last time the Cardinals played the Mets it was in a do or die situation. This win on Sunday night hardly counts as a moral victory for Willie Randolph & Company considering the relative stakes. I honestly felt kind of bad for them. They could sweep the series and it would still do nothing to eliminate the agony of losing game 7 in the 2006 NLCS. It just doesn't matter.

Now ask me again how I feel when we face them in game 7 of the 2007 NLCS.