Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Point/Counterpoint: To Boo Or Not To Boo?

After the series in New York this past weekend, I engaged my good friend K-Dog (a DIE HARD Mets fanatic) in a little conversation about the rules of east coast fandom and the merits (or lack thereof) in booing players. I initially broached the topic with a casual email expressing bewilderment over the New York faithful booing my man Albert Pujols on Sunday afternoon. Her comments so intrigued and exasperated me that I've decided to post them here along with my response. What follows is that conversation in full.

Me: Okay, K-Dog…I have a bone to pick. I watched as much of the Mets/Cards game yesterday that I could stomach and was a little disturbed by what I saw. (Aside from you kicking our ass, that is.) You guys were booing ALBERT PUJOLS! I couldn’t believe it! What the heck is up with that? You can’t boo Big Al! I’m starting to wonder if you crazy New Yorkers even like sports. Unbelievable!!!

PS: I was watching David Wright yesterday and you know…it’s really too bad he’s so unfortunate looking.

PPS: My Dad thinks he might like to have Jose Reyes play for the Cardinals. He thinks that kid might have a future.

K-Dog: We boo those who tend to murder us with heavy hitting. Chipper Jones and Pat Burrell for instance. We hate them. See, the importance and very backbone of New York sports fandom is this: we appreciate good baseball/football/insert sport here, when it benefits us only. And more often than not, as long as you performed well for us while you were here, we welcome you with open arms even when you perform well for an opposing team. Mike Piazza, for example - it might have been the first ever opposing team curtain call by a player in history. He hit a home run against the Mets on his first trip back to Shea and his loyal New York fans requested a curtain call after he took the the lead from us. We are fiercely loyal when and only when you give us something to be happy about. If you don't, we will throw you to the wolves so fast your head will spin. Slump or not, we don't give a shit what the hell is going on with you - you're making millions of dollars to hit and catch baseballs - make it happen.

As for Pujols - its part of New York baseball. When a guy hits a 2 run homer in the top of the 27th inning at 4 in the morning to beat us, we don't like him. Imagine Manny Ramirez & David Ortiz darkening Yankee Stadium's doorstep. It matters not that Ramirez might be one of the best right handed hitters in baseball. As far as Yankee fans are concerned, he causes them great pain and is therefore the devil. He, his children, his grandparents, his pets, etc. deserve whatever comes their way. It's part of the experience. We are equal opportunity booers, however. While we boo Pujols for killing us, we just as heavily, perhaps more so, boo our own players when they're killing us as well. As much as we may not care for Pujols at this time, we actually HATE Aaron Heilman, (i.e. the guy who gave up the 2 run winning homer in the 27th inning.) Loathing would not be an exaggeration. That guy must actually dread getting the call. We see him warming up in the bullpen and immediately start massaging our temples. Carlos Delgado was getting it pretty good for a while, too. Then he hit 9 RBI's at Yankee Stadium last month, tying a NY Mets record. At his first at bat at Shea that night (after a day/night double header, the 1st in the Bronx, the 2nd at Shea), he received a thunderous standing ovation.

We have simple requests: those that oppose us must not hit against us; those whose paychecks depend somewhat on our season ticket holdings must earn them. Otherwise, go f*$& yourself.

As for David Wright, he is just downright hot - it makes me happy to look at him. Plus it doesn't hurt that he's actually pretty good at baseball. You can't have Jose - aside from his idiotic dancing and handshakes in the dugout, he's extremely good at baseball and he's very entertaining to watch. And speaking of good at baseball, have you seen my new best friend Fernando Tatis? The man is on a serious hot streak. It seems singles are no longer good enough - doubles, triples and homers seem to be much more preferable for him.

Me: I think you could have summarized all of that quite succinctly just by saying “New York sports fans are crazy lunatics.” I didn’t realize there was such a method to your madness! Do you all receive some kind of manual at birth?

I just really HATE booing. My argument here is three-fold:

First of all, the way New York treats its athletes makes me want to have you all treated for bi-polar disorder. I sincerely empathize with anyone who plays on the east coast. It takes a special person to be able to tune that out and just try and do your job. In all reality, there are probably very few who are either a) super-humanly talented enough or b) strong minded enough to get through a stint out there without having batteries thrown at them or requiring therapy. When it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s BAD??? Jesus. These guys damn near have to put their families in protective custody. And that’s all before the media gets a hold of them! It’s a bit silly, no? Trying to find guys resilient enough to handle that has to significantly shrink your talent pool.

Second, I understand booing total assholes. (Perfect example: Carlos Zambrano!) But booing someone just because they are a good athlete and do not play for your team makes absolutely no sense. I may not look forward to people like Carlos Beltran coming to the plate, but for crying out loud…I think the man has earned his respect from Cardinals fans over the years. He’s not raped my sister, set my house on fire or otherwise done anything to me personally to inspire actual vitriol. Therefore, while I sincerely hope he strikes out, he’s
f@#$ing GOOD. I’ve got to appreciate that even if I don’t necessarily LIKE it. What is my booing really going to do about it anyway?

Third, I don’t believe any professional athlete ever truly earns their paycheck. No one should get paid that much to play a damn game. However, me booing an overpaid baseball player is not going to deprive him of his millions OR inspire him to play better. Therefore, why waste the energy?

Basically, my point is…it’s a damn game! It’s sports and entertainment! Unfortunately, perpetual frustration comes with the package. I want to murder Jason Isringhausen 100 times a year, but it makes me sublimely sad to see him booed off the field at Busch Stadium. Where’s the fun in kicking someone when they’re down? I’ll swear violently under my breath, thank you very much.

PS: I also DESPISE fans that heckle the visiting outfielders. Grow up already, you drunken buffoons. There was a guy doing that when we were down in St. Louis and I wanted to throw a hot dog at him. Stop behaving like the Wrigley Field bleacher monkeys! You’re embarrassing me!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stop Losing, Dammit!

It really shouldn't surprise me, but the Cardinals have managed to take me from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in only a matter of days. Just when it seemed as though they were an unstoppable force of nature, my beloved Redbirds have spent the past six days crapping the metaphorical bed. It's been positively DEPRESSING. After losing 5 out of the last 6, including a 4 game sweep by the surging Milwaukee Brewers (who we OWNED earlier this year!!) and a couple of shellackings by the white hot New York Mets, the Cards are 4 games back and lodged in third place. I just really don't think it's fair for them to give me the illusion that they are a decent baseball team and then piss it away in such dramatic fashion! Granted, beating up on the poor little San Diego Padres may not have been the strongest indicator of talent and skill but STILL...doesn't momentum count for ANYTHING? You'd think these guys would have gone into that Milwaukee series with a little bit of swagger and attitude. Instead it looked like they were sleepwalking. (Which, I should mention, is completely possible and totally understandable by this point. I don't think the Cardinals have had a day off since January. Aren't there some kind of labor laws that prevent teams from playing for 18 straight days?)

The good news is that Chris Carpenter is scheduled to make his first start on Wednesday since he went on the DL last spring. I'm hoping that between him and Adam Wainwright rejoining the rotation that there might be some redeeming value left in the season. I know it's a little premature to give up on the year with two months left to play and the divisional race being as tight as it is, but honestly, the games I watched this weekend didn't inspire a great deal of confidence. Our starters can't make it through the 5th inning, the bullpen can't stop giving up home runs and it appears as though scoring more than 4 runs in any given game is downright impossible. As hard as he tries, Albert Pujols can't do EVERYTHING!

That being said, this slump couldn't come at a better time for me personally. I don't think I've had a complete nervous breakdown in weeks, so this ought to take care of that. Whew!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I may have nearly died of a heat stroke, but I returned from St. Louis a VERY happy woman. Three days, three games and three exciting wins make this another doozy for the record books. With a win on Thursday night before we even arrived, the Cardinals were able to complete a 4 game sweep of San Diego and catapult themselves within 2 games of the Scrubbies. (Who lost two of three to Houston over the weekend. So sad!) Not a bad way to kick things off after the All-Star break, eh?

We kicked the weekend off in true Trumbull fashion on Friday night by attending the Champion's Club at Busch Stadium, where we were encouraged to drink excessively. With a license to eat and drink whatever we wanted, you best believe we were prepared to get our money's worth! As it turns out, we needed all the sustenance we could get, as the game lasted for what felt like 9 hours. When it was all said and done, there were 24 combined base hits and 18 runs. Ryan Ludwick smacked a 3 run homer in the 4th (his 22nd) and Ricky Ankiel fought through a 12 pitch at-bat in the 7th for his 22nd dinger of the year. Plus, a ton of other stuff happened, including Braden Looper looking anything but inspiring. He was as sharp as a doorknob right out of the gate and ultimately capped off his gem of a performance with a two-run homer to Jody Gerut in the 4th. Fortunately, five relievers were able to combine for six innings and gave up only one additional run on four hits. In fact, despite some cynical prognostications from my mother, even Jason Isringhausen didn't totally embarrass himself. (No, he saved that for Sunday. More on that later!) After 4 more runs in the 8th, the Cards won it 11-7 and we stumbled back to the hotel drunk on victory.

Without a doubt, the coolest thing that happened on Friday night was me skyrocketing to inevitable fame after being flashed on the Jumbotron. My Dad and I participated in a pre-taped segment before the game in which they asked us what we thought the Padres were named after. I mumbled and stuttered like an idiot without a clue, which was apparently amusing enough to use in the final piece. We're still trying to figure out what they must have done with the footage they shot of Dad, as he carried on for a good few minutes about monks, robes and the color of his own eyes. We came to a joint conclusion that it's being used to entertain the vendors in the breakroom.

Saturday began with a trip to the Cardinals Team Store, where I purchased more crap I most certainly do not need. Following a light lunch of cheeseburgers, fries and pizza at J. Bucks, we hauled our buns back to the ballpark for the 2:55 start. And let me tell you something...it was HOT. We were naturally sitting right in direct sunlight and it got so toasty by the third inning that I was actually running out of places to wipe my sweat. It also got downright depressing as Todd Wellemeyer gave up 5 runs in the first two innings before finally settling the heck down. (He was able to then pitch scorelessly until he was removed in the 7th and retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.) Albert Pujols hit a three-run double in the 5th to pull it within 2. After RBI singles by both Rick Ankiel and Skip Schumaker, Big Al knocked in one more in the 6th to put the Redbirds ahead for the 6-5 win. Seriously...that man is a freak of nature. I don't remember what they're paying him, but I'm sure it's nowhere near what he's worth. He's like a superhero or something.

Anyway, the crew was getting a little weary by Sunday. We'd gone out for a celebratory Italian feast on Saturday night that had left a few of us a bit, shall we say...dehydrated. Combined with the impending 96 degree heat we'd been promised for that afternoon, pretty much all of us were convinced we were going to pass out and die by the 4th inning. Luckily, that didn't happen or we would have missed one of the most awesome endings to a game that I've ever seen. None of us had great expectations going in, as both Pujols and Yadier Molina were resting and Jaime Garcia was on the mound for his first major league start EVER. However, it ended up being a wild game in which the Cardinals came from behind in the 8th, saw the lead evaporate courtesy of Jason Isringhausen in the top of the 9th and surged back for good in the bottom of that same inning with an Aaron Miles walk-off grand slam. Albert Pujols was brought in to scare the crap out of people in the 8th, which is when Troy Glaus hit a 3-run bomb to put the Cards in front. This being the Cardinals bullpen (leading the Majors with 23 blown saves!) that wasn't going to be nearly enough run support. Izzy and Little Brad Thompson proceeded to cough up enough meatballs to tie things up, which actually made things far more exciting in the end. So, thanks for being so frustratingly poor at throwing baseballs, gentleman! Anyway, after Pujols drew a walk and made it to third on a failed pick-off attempt, both Yadi and Skippy were intentionally walked. Enter Mr. Miles and his big fat grandie! WOOHOO!!!!! I needed multiple martinis, a big steak AND some cheesecake in order to adequately celebrate that ridiculous hot mess of an afternoon. (I should mention that I also desperately required a SHOWER.) St. Louis now has 24 come-from-behind wins and 12 final-at-bat wins this year. I'm being told that means these guys are a scrappy bunch of ballplayers. I'm personally inclined to think it means they're a bunch of damn drama queens, but either way I hope they keep it up.

So, now...despite dropping two in a row to Milwaukee (including the game Monday night in which we nearly came back AGAIN!), we are still resting just 2 games behind the first place Scrubbies and 1 behind the now second place Brewers. This ought to make the rest of this season a complete and total NIGHTMARE. I'm tired of hearing about the wild card race already! Anyway, I'm headed back to Iowa this weekend, which means I'll be able to catch a couple more games on TV. (I'm not terribly concerned with seeing any of the people that live there, considering I ran into three different groups of people from my hometown at different times over the weekend. To be honest, it kind of creeped me out.) It would be really special if we could split this series with the Brew Crew and go into the weekend with some momentum. I suppose the good news is that either way, I'll be able to watch those games without having to deal with sweat and sunblock running into my eyes or my legs sticking to the bottom of my seat. See, that's just how I am, people. Always looking on the bright side of things! It's amazing how delusional you can get with the right amount of sun and alcohol poisoning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Your Mid-Season, All-Star Break Baseballooza!!!

Good grief, I've been a lazy blogger this summer! Here we are on the day of the All-Star game (i.e. my favorite day of the entire season! Pointless baseball!!! WOOHOO!!!!) and I haven't mentioned my complete disdain for this mid season debacle even ONCE. I don't know what's wrong with me. Anyhow, in the slapdash, haphazard and loosely organized fashion that I've adopted this year, I will attempt to recap the last several weeks. Try to keep up, would ya?

  • First and most importantly, I'm gearing up for the big annual family trip to St. Louis this weekend. I'm hoping for three things: 1) A decimating humiliation of the San Diego Padres, 2) a decent steak and 3) sub-Amazonian humidity levels. I just can't drink beer efficiently when the back of my legs are sweating.

  • The Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Redbirds in St. Louis over the 4th of July weekend. I officially stopped speaking to approximately 78% of my friends and almost quit my job.

  • Much was made about Jim Edmond's comments regarding his new role in Chicago and Tony LaRussa's angry reaction to them. My take? Jimmy is a Cardinal and always will be. He can (and should) say whatever he needs to say to endear himself to the Chicago public while he's here. In the end, I think we all know where his best years were and where his heart is. I will not begrudge him the opportunity to play and it's nice to see he's still got some mojo. That being said, Jim Edmonds can go suck on jet fuel. It is, by default, my obligation to hate him and all that he stands for while wearing that uniform. I don't make the rules, people.

  • I spent the actual 4th of July holiday up in Milwaukee at Miller Park. If I were to indulge you in the details of that trip, you would more than likely (and probably rightfully) judge me harshly. I therefore spare us all the indignity.

  • Jason Isringhausen and Chris Perez combined their respective talents this past Saturday and successfully blew a contest against the Pirates. It was both completely appalling and utterly spectacular in its predictability.

  • The Brewers traded for CC Sabathia and the Cubs acquired Rich Harden. Meanwhile, the Cardinals tried to pretend nothing happened and continued to...OH MY GOD, LOOK OVER THERE!!

  • Mark Mulder started the July 9th game against the Phillies and threw 16 pitches before his arm fell off, promptly ending his career. WEEEEEEEEEE!!!

So yeah...these are the highlights that come to mind from the last several weeks. Despite the Brew Crew storming ahead of us for a brief spell, the Redbirds are still planted 4.5 back in second place behind the Scrubbies. I'm planning for an action packed weekend down at Busch Stadium, so I hope all of the guys we've got playing in the All-Star Game don't wear themselves out. (Cue crickets...) It's time to start the second half of the season with a bang...and preferably not one from a self inflicted gunshot to the foot. GO CARDS!!!