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Monday, October 31, 2005

 

File Under: Rumor and Innuendo

Yesterday in the Sporting News, Ken Rosenthal notes the Nationals could pursue a trade with the Marlins for Juan Pierre. The real news for Redbird Nation is that Pierre, 28, is potentially available for trade. He plays center field, and you may have heard, the Cards do have a guy at that position. However, would he be willing to patrol the grass in right or left for two or three seasons in St. Louis? He slumped last season, but if baserunning is the new black, Pierre is Coco Chanel. Quick glance at his stats (he's a lefty): COL 2001: .327 /.378 /.415 108 runs, 46 SB, EqA .257, WARP3 4.4 COL 2002: .287 /.332/.343 90 runs, 47 SB, EqA .235, WARP3 3.2 FLA 2003: .305/.361/.373 100 runs, 65 SB, EqA .272, WARP3 4.9 FLA 2004: .326/.374/.407 100 runs, 45 SB, EqA .275, WARP3 5.5 FLA 2005: .276/.326/.354 96 runs, 57 SB, EqA .257, WARP3 4.3 See more of his stats here. He's definitely not a power bat, but he gets the hits, collecting over 200 hits 3 out of 5 full seasons. In the lineup, Pierre leads off, Eck bats second, with his high average for runners in scoring position, and Albert never has to worry about the RBI category in any triple crown race. Think of it this way, remember all those innings in the NLCS where the Cards' bats left Albert leading off innings? Pierre and Eck as 1, 2 OBP punch topping out the order makes that scenario much less likely. Of course, LaRussa's propensity for aging sluggers in the two slot makes this move even more unlikely. Pierre made $3.7 million this year, and might get a deal after a slump last season. Just a thought, if he is on the block, teams like the Mets, Yanks, and BoSox could be in hot pursuit. Presumably, Florida would want pitching as part of it since they'll be loosing Burnett. Marquis in Marlin green? Sounds like a good match to me, maybe throw in another minor player/prospect. Just a thought.

Friday, October 28, 2005

 

An Alarming Trend

The subject of race in professional sports has again commanded headlines. It deserves a thoughtful, informed discussion, but, once again, it will receive no such thing in the papers and on TV. For Major League Baseball, the subject came up in relation to the Houston Astros being the first team in the World Series since the 1953 Yankees without an African American player. Like most, I doubt that Houston’s management intentionally constructed their team that way. Besides Houston, the Red Sox, Orioles, Braves and Rockies had rosters without a single African American player. The Cardinals carried only two African Americans on their post-season roster (Ray King and Reggie Sanders). Throughout all of Major League Baseball the number of African American players stands at an all time low. In 1975, more than 27 percent of MLB players were African American; today, that number is right below 9 percent. Never one to hold back with criticism of Bud Selig, I have scoffed at MLB’s half-hearted, “easy-out” attempts to promote racial equality in the past. However, there are larger cultural and economic forces at work here, well beyond the reach of MLB. People typically and correctly offer baseball’s decline in popularity as a sport among African Americans as a reason for the decline in the number of players. MLB has taken steps to address this by promoting the game in African American communities and the game’s African American stars. They are even constructing a couple of baseball academies similar to those in Caribbean and Central and South American countries. However, there are other cultural factors at work here, the very same ones we were reminded of in New Orleans about two months ago. Think separate but unequal. As economic opportunities have dried up in many African American communities, the opportunity for youth to play baseball and develop as players has disappeared as well. I know what you’re thinking, “all you need for baseball is a bat, or something like it, a glove and a ball.” This is indeed true, and some of the greatest players in the history of the game developed on crudely fashioned fields with makeshift equipment. But the game has changed. For those with the opportunity, you can play in highly competitive, well organized leagues year round. Year round play in most places requires the finest and most expensive of facilities. You can play in traveling leagues, if your parents can spring for your participation, the hotels rooms to stay in, and the time away from jobs to be there. You can even send youth to very expensive camps or year-round schools that tutor kids in the three R’s only as a legal afterthought. Merely playing on the varsity team hardly suffices. Obviously, these things do not apply across the board. Players will still arrive in the major leagues without ever having been to a camp or played in traveling leagues, but the disadvantage of not having these things is clear. Combine inaccessibility with a declining interest and it becomes an incredibly difficult task for the suits running MLB. Making the task especially difficult is the catch 22 created by having so few African American players: without African American players that African American youth can look up to, it becomes even more difficult to recruit future African American players that kids can look up to. Many youth in Caribbean nations or Central American countries also lack the kinds of opportunities that middle class suburban whites do, but there are other factors to consider here. For one, there is far less competing for athletic attention. Soccer is very popular, but there are not six other major sports competing for attention. Often baseball or soccer are the only accessible forms of entertainment in a limited media environment that is sometimes strictly controlled. In several places Venezuela, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, baseball is by far the most popular sport. National cultures have latched onto the sport, promoting it among their citizens through various means. Another factor that has helped to develop major league players from these countries (and territories in the case of Puerto Rico), has been a heavy investment by major league teams and MLB itself. For decades the facilities and leagues administered by these entities have helped to develop players and play a major role in influencing the small media markets there. Bringing more African Americans into the game will be no easy task. The approach Baseball is taking represents a good start, but will ultimately do little to effect the cultural and economic forces that conspire with other factors that keep African Americans out of the major leagues. When segregation was all that kept African American players out of the league, addressing the issue merely required dismantling the legal barrier. The issue is far more complicated now, and requires the attention and consideration of all Americans and baseball fans. Bloggers note: I’m not presenting this information as a personal soapbox or to pigeonhole this into a simple left or right politics issue. When I read this fact about the Astros the other day (the same day the Air Force Academy coach made his statement) it hit me on a personal level and got me thinking. As a blogger, I am partially chronicling personal experience, in this case as it relates to Cardinal Baseball. My intention here was simply to ask myself and you as baseball fans to think deeper about this issue, beyond the simple right or left politics that so often clouds mature, rational discussions of race and class. This weekend, I intend to approach the outfield, or, more specifically, what to do about it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

 

We Have a Winner

Congrats White Sox! Chicago does in fact have two baseball teams, and we hear Mayor Daley's a fan of the South Siders. Even the Chicago Tribune, official newspaper of the Chicago Cubs, put it on their front page. Thanks should go out to the Astros for being the most boring (think uninteresting group of players) World Series participant in recent years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

Infield Pathology: The Case for Grudzielanek's Return

Just back from a nice little break, sorry avid reader(s). Nevertheless, Diaspora hiatus is over. Anyway, this is probably something of an exercise in futility, but I want to go back to playing GM for the 2006 team. The big changes for next season, clearly, lie in the outfield and among the pitching staff. The question of the starting infield seems to answer itself, except for one key spot up the middle. A healthy Scott Rolen (whether he can stay healthy is always a good question) mans the hot corner. I think you know the first baseman. Eck returns at short. Yaddie continues to make catching look easy. But what about second base? Grud, the 2005 second baseman, was working on one year, $1 million contract with bonuses. Given the poor market for free agent second basemen and big hole(s) to fill in the outfield, getting Grud back would be the easiest, safest thing the Cards could do. Grud plays consistent defense, turning in a Rate2 of 99 last year, and a career Rate2 of 98. And his overall numbers at the plate were solid, .294/.334/.407 with 8 home runs and 8 SB. His WARP3 was 4.2, EqA .258, and his VORP 23.1. Essentially, the Cards could do much worse than Grud at that spot...remember talk of signing Roberto Alomar last winter. There really is nobody at 2B on the FA market that represents an upgrade. The most exciting player is Cleveland's Ronnie Belliard, who does represent an upgrade (2005 VORP 31.5, WARP3 7.8 and .267 EqA), but Cleveland's management would have to be drinking the Lake Erie water not to pick up the $4 million option they have on him for '06. Who else is available? Tony Graffanino is probably the best, but presents a worse option than Grud. D'Angelo Jimenez belongs in a bench role, and Bret Boone has no place in the post-roid era. I said the infield debate was relatively simple, but there is one complication. If you will recall, the Cards and Grud agreed that the team would not offer him arbitration after this season, making him a free agent. Because they will not offer him arbitration, they will not be able to negotiate with or sign him until May 1 (my understanding of the complex FA rules, please correct me if I am wrong). If I am correct about this part of the Cards agreement with Grud, then they will have to negotiate with him in that 15-day period after the World Series ends, before players can file for free agency. I say Jock works it out with Grud in that window. If he doesn't, then he has to get creative. What about Luna? Luna turns 26 before the start of next season, and at one time was talked about getting a shot to play more for the big league team. I harbor doubts about his ability to be a full-time major leaguer. There was debate before last season started around this topic. Of course, if the team doesn't work something out with Grud, Luna would get a long, hard look for the job this spring. In this scenario, the Cards could go for one of the cheap free agents, like Graffanino, and platoon him and Luna and hope that Luna develops some versus major league pitching. Luna probably would have benefited from a full season in Memphis this year, but the team's need for bench players who could play in the infield superseded his development. He could also sweeten the pot in a trade down the line. ADDITION- There's another option here for second base, Abraham O. Nunez. Without question, Nunez proved his worth to the team this season, filling in quite capably for Rolen, and he certainly has the ability to play second. My personal feeling, in spite of the heroic turn he put in this year, is that Nunez is still no more than a bench player. Grud's bat carries a more value. Keeping Nunez to spell infield injuries, particularly lenghty ones, probably offers more value than resigning him to start at second. Could also be a potential trade chip. Keep checking the news wire in throughout those 15 days after the Series wraps up, and expect some answers to the 2B question. I saw several people on Sickels' Minor League Ball site's "You're the GM! Redbird Edition" throw out the possibility of signing big money free agent SS Rafael Furcal and moving Eck over to second. The problem I have with this is primarily, an injudicious use of funds. In Eck we have a solid lead off hitter. He got on base at a better percent than Furcal, striking out much less, and out hitting Furcal. Furcal's advantage is in the stolen base department. Why spend as much as $9-10 million on Furcal when get a great on-base guy for under $3? Why tie up that much cash with an aging outfield with one or two gaps in it? For 2006, sign Grud, remember his bat wasn't the only silent one in the playoffs, and deal with the OF and pitching needs. Beyond 2006, stay tuned.

Friday, October 21, 2005

 

Cardinal Pathology

A mere 48 hours ago all discussion around the Cardinals centered on the anxiety and hope awaiting the sixth game of the NLCS. Let the post-mortem begin. Really, what better way is there to dissect the 2005 Cardinals than for us mouse pad general managers to start configuring the 2006 team. Never without an opinion, the Diaspora weighs in. Pitching While the pundits hype the pitching match-up that is the 2005 World Series, let’s not rush to drastic conclusions here. Our starting rotation does not shoulder much blame for loosing the NLCS. In games 2-4, it was competitive enough to give our bats the chance to score the handfull of runs needed to win the game. The top of the rotation is secure. Carpenter may not win a Cy Young, but he should be in shape and ready to handle 220 innings of work as a 30 year old next season. Mulder, well, we’re stuck with him now, so we have to make the best of his presence. If he’ll lay off the bong and get his head into games, he’ll be fine. I’m not convinced he’s a good number two, but he’s our number two (pun kind of intended). Two of the last three rotation spots are filled. Kid Reyes should fit in well, and offers another starting pitcher with some true power, which we need. He’s young, so I don’t expect 20 wins from him. At $4 million, I really think Suppan is a bargain. He’s hardly an ace, but he has been reliable and consistent for the Cards. Where’s Morris, you ask? Pitching with some team that has more than graciously offered him a ridiculous three year, $30 million contract, I answer. Read Brian Gunn’s post-mortem over at the Hardball Times. Mr. Gunn is spot on when he notes that given the pitching strengths of the two World Series teams GMs around the league are going to go crazy and pay the handful of mediocre free agent starters (A.J. Burnett, Morris, Washburn, etc.) mad ace dolla beelz y’all (my words, not his). Our money is better spent elsewhere than Matty Mo. There’s also still the matter of Marquis. Right now, I lean toward going to arbitration with him, and then using him as trade bait down the road. If the scouts can find an unheralded, diamond-in-the-rough youngster or an experienced pitcher in need of an overhaul, that could work too. Wainwright could be up in the show too, but I would not be surprised if he starts the season in Memphis. Al Reyes had Tommy John surgery, so he’s not an option for a RHP in the pen until ’07. He is also a FA after this year. I hear people talking about Tavarez. He’s pricey and a FA. The question with him is whether or not this was just a bad year or if he is spent. I don’t know. If he commands $3 million, probably best to cut and run. Brad Thompson will be back for a second year, and will build off his performance as a trusty innings eater from the right side. Eldred’s a FA, but if he comes cheap, grab him. Tyler Johnson should be good to go on the left side. Ray King wants out, and could make a good add in player to leverage in a trade. We also have Flores on the left. The biggest need in the pen is for a hard throwing set-up man to give us a worry-free eight before Izzy takes the mound. That used to be Tavarez. I don’t know who’s available to fill that role. Of course, Tony could use an amalgamation of pitchers to get through the three or four outs before Izzy. More to come For now, the infield looks pretty settled. They may as well keep Grud at second base, and not screw with Eck by moving him there and making a big money signing of Furcal. The outfield’s a tougher question. And I’ll throw my two and a half cents in on Tuesday, after a little vacation this weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

 

So It Goes

I'm handling it all pretty well right now. I think Pujols' home run and the general celebration around Larry Walker, Busch Stadium, and the team itself has made the coping process much easier. Here are a few quick thoughts on it:

Anyway, I don't have a lot of energy for the blame game...yet. And it is worth noting that this was an enjoyable season, having a blog really added to it. In fact, being a part of the Cards' blog community is great, the best fans in baseball=best bloggers in baseball. Well, no force of history can wipe out a Diaspora. We'll always be here (sometime before this winter we'll be migrating, it is what a Diaspora does, away from Blogger), so keep taking time out of your work day to swing by.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

 

Game 6

Two hours until game time. My stomach is in my throat, and all day, I have been on the verge of throwing up. I'd leave my liver in some stranger's Li'l Playmate cooler to be at Busch Stadium tonight. There is absolutely nothing left to say. It will come down to man versus man on the field tonight, a game more a test of wills than skill with a glove or bat. Is it just me, or is the anticipation for this game bigger than for a game 7? I hope to be as sick and emotionally exhausted tomorrow for the very same reasons as I am today.
 

Hot (Stove) Stuff, and more.

I wasn't all that surprised when Joe Torre announced he was coming back to the Yankees for 2006. Although, I speculated that he would probably leave, possibly to don Dodger blue next year. There's a lesson about purges to be had here. A autocrat cannot simply purge his most popular general. He can purge those around him, hand-pick their replacements, carefully question the general's strategies and decisions, and then wait for the general to slip up somewhere. If the general is seen as creating his own demise, installing a new one is far easier. Torre's contract is up after the 2007 season. I predict the 2006 season is his last in the Bronx. ------ Former Cardinal great Terry Pendleton pulled himself out of contention for the Dodgers managerial vacancy. Obviously, we wish Terry Pendleton nothing the best, but it would be hard to stomach him leading the Dodgers. Given the impact he has made in for the Braves as a player and now as their hitting coach, he deserves a shot at managing his own team. The sentimental choice for him would probably be to take the helm in Atlanta when Cox retires. Cox turns 65 right after next season starts, so who knows how much longer he could go. Anyway, the Hot Stove stuff never ceases to fascinate me, and it's a pleasant distraction from thinking about tonight's game all day. Cardnilly explains for those of us thought it was over. Viva El Birdos puts Mulder's performance in elimination games under the microscope. Over analysis over from Josh at the Birdwatch. If you want to get an idea of what a dysfunctional place your nation's capitol is, read the latest "Business of Baseball Report" over at the Hardball Times, man this city sucks. Try to stay focused. Game time will be here before you know it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

He said with a grin...

I'm fighting the urge to look at stats relating to tomorrow night's game. If you have spent any time on the web today, you already know the historical comparisons of other playoff comebacks. (Did anyone else look up Dave Henderson on eBay today?) There's no need to rehash them here. We can pick up with stats tomorrow. I haven't stopped smiling all day. I even took a quick inventory of the greatest moments in my life thus far: 1) Getting married 2) Albert's home run 3) Quiting a job 4) Drinking first beer 5) Drinking second beer That's a rough outline. This is a family blog, so there a couple of moments that remain on my personal list. The first two are set in stone though. The minimal role of momentum from the regular season into the playoffs has been well noted; the White Sox certainly dispelled that notion this year. Momentum, in a series, carries a lot more meaning, ask our friends on Chicago's North Side in therapy for the last two years. Every game is suddenly more fun and less tense now. Hopefully, our boys have that feeling now too, and when they go out there tomorrow afternoon they swing the bats like just a little looser, more relaxed, and confidently replaying a single thought over and over in their heads, "Hey, we're the Cardinals, this is easy," Crack. Pow. Cheer. Cards Win! Clearly, it won't be easy, but if they work Oswalt hard and swing the bat, there's no reason they can't make another date with the Astros at Busch.
 

HOLY...

Un-believable! There may not be a better way to win. Albert Pujols truly is the second coming of Joltin' Joe, Ted Williams, et al. That's exactly what great, legendary ballplayers do. Series implications and predictions can wait. Right now, we all need to be savoring the home run that nearly found its way out of Enron Field and the hero who sent it there.

Monday, October 17, 2005

 

Eject Respect, Respect Eject

The more I read and gauge the reactions to LaRussa's temper-tantrum, the more inclined I am to support it. LaRussa exploded for a team that has been rather emotionless and, after close losses, passionless. Our lineup has gone out there for three games now and carried themselves as though they were stuck in some droll, 9-5 world (like the rest of us). Bat. Field Ball. Repeat. The case was made in the comments of this post today over on Birdos, that LaRussa acted, at least in part, to protect his pitcher, Jason Marquis, a pitcher never too many steps away from a mental melt-down. I think that is certainly part of the reason for LaRussa to flip out like that; it definitely may have been the catalyst. What it really represented was the frustration and repressed emotion that had built from the last 24 innings of baseball the team had played. In ice hockey, teams often intentionally use a fight or a bone shattering check into the glass to fire up the players and/or the fans. Last night's tirade by the Cardinal manager was no different. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the other factors contributing to it was the lack of any effort by the players to shift the momentum. As I said in my last post, it damn near worked. That ninth inning near-rally on Lidge would have torpedoed the entire Houston effort had it been successful. In today's box score, the ninth inning can merely be seen as two hits and two rally killing grounders. In spite of LaRussa's effort, the sparks must not have taken with all of the players. Pujols made a "church picnic" slide (see Josh's entry at The Birdwatch) into the plate, Sanders couldn't get a ball out of the infield, and Mabry couldn't get a ball to the outfield grass or find the adrenaline to add half of a second to his dash to first base. Game over, maybe the series too. LaRussa's version of the bruising body check delivered for the sake of his team ultimately fails perhaps for being too little too late in the game, misplaced aggression. The team should have come out seeking a bloodly revenge as soon as they dragged the batting practice nets onto the field. Someone should have retaliated for Lane's "extra" defensive slide into third the night before, sending a Houston player back into the field with his own "deep contusion" from a fastball. It may have put a runner on base, and that was a chance the Cards could afford given Houston's similar penchant for coming up empty with men on base. More importantly, it might have shaken a few Redbirds out of their October haze. Hell, they might have even realized that there was something terribly wrong. Comparing the ability of each lineup, it's no surprise that Houston is leaving runners on base, but with the talent on our team there's just no excuse for the Cards to be doing as poorly as they are with runners on base. Maybe, just maybe, someone (and all we would have needed last night was just one) would go out there and play with their heart on their sleeve. It might be the only juice they needed to drop one into the outfield. Speaking of heart, John Rodriguez has earned a start tonight. I realize he probably won't get it, clearly a manager has to go with the proven guys first. However, every time he's had the opportunity to come into a game this postseason, he has made the most of it. I would have liked to see him have the full atbat that he finished off for Edmonds. He may very well not have the stuff to be a full time major league outfielder, but he's got the heart to be playing tonight. In October, sometimes, passion is all a player needs. If we don't see any of that in the first inning tonight, turn your TV off before the second inning gets underway, go for a walk, start thinking about next season.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

 

Bums

That was some of the worst umping we've seen all year. You know what I'm talking about. I really thought LaRussa was going to kill Cuzzi, and that was a good effor to get his team fired up, if that's what it partially was. It almost worked too. Phil Cuzzi has a history of this, ask Roy Halladay. Happened to the Brewers in July too. However, Houston's pitching has the Cards down 1-3 in the series. Or is it our lack of hitting, even the inability to get a sac fly and crack Lidge. Edmonds did have a hit tonight, Walker got on base, but right now Molina's the second best hitter on the team. Start J-Rod tomorrow, the guy's had some good at bats in the series. That drive to CF when he replaced Edmonds would have been a HR in lots of other parks. I hate to call 'em bums; even as good as Pujols has been in the series, running for third on Sanders' hit was a mistake, probably just from the excitement. You can't really blame the Cards' hurlers, they've been effective enough to give the team a chance to win. Bums. World Series prediction: White Sox in 5.
 

Sunday Afternoon Comin' Down

That was a hard loss to take, because it didn't have to be a loss. We nearly beat them, and there were clear rays of hope. How about Mabry, nothing all season, and a huge double into left off Lidge? It was the Cardinals first ever run off the Astros' closer. Clemens was off, and if we have to face him again, I feel pretty darn good about it. Jeez, the Fox broadcasters kept going on and on about Clemens' mother. OK, Fox we get it. He was close to his mother this year, and she passes away. It happens to people everyday, and I don't need a 20 minute lesson in greif from Bob Brenley and Tom Thumb. We're watching a baseball game here. Fox wants to turn everything into the SuperBowl. Last year, I muted the TV and turned KMOX on to listen to the broadcast. Time to start doing that again. A win today ties it. I agree with Boros, it's anybody's at that point.

Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Rest Reggie, Rest

I frantically scanned the web all day for an update on our Left Fielder, nothing yet. I have a gut feeling that he sits out for game 3. Mostly, this is based on the wide range of evaluations heard in the media, from the "trainwreck" comment to "50-50" to Sanders' own assessment that he's just a little sore (hopefully, that's not like Rolen's "just a little sore"). I won't say that it is a fortuitous event, but if he has to sit a game this might well be the best one for him to recuperate. Out of all Houston starters, he fares the worst against Clemens, 1-5 with 2 BB and 2 K (small sample size and all that). He is 9-3 with a triple and a homer versus Backe, Houston's game 4 starter. Who might we see in his place, though? Let's consider the possibilities of potentials versus Clemens, Houston's $18 million man. (Funny enough, old friend Roger Cedeno has a .423 avg and 1.070 OPS in 26 at-bats facing Clemens). It stands to reason that Taguchi or John Rodriguez will represent left field tomorrow afternoon. Rodriguez has not faced Clemens. Taguchi is 4-8 with an RBI, 2K; of his four hits, none were for extra bases. I suspect Taguchi starts, kind of a reward for the excellent ball he played this year filling in for injured players. He played 54 games in LF this year, and had a Rate2 of 104. Rodriguez is a natural left fielder; he played 40 games there this year with a Rate2 of 107. I'm sure fellow Cards' fans remember a few bad plays he made there though. While I think J-Rod is a good start too, we are probably better served having a lefty bat off the bench should wackiness ensue. What happens if TLR rests Walker too? An attempt to play the mental game and make Houston cocky and thinking they are a shoo-in. Obviously, I think you gotta go with your proven guys, if they can at all play, and Walker and Sanders are most definitely proven guys. I remember ranting about Walker on these pages sometime in the regular season, and just as soon as I did, he had a huge night at the plate (too short on time to look it up for you). [Marquis hasn't faced him either, but me wonders if he will get the chance soon?] Que Sera, Sera.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

Decisions, Decisions

I understand why Tony want to keep Mulder in for the sixth, but I think we needed the out he made striking out in the 5th. If the pinch hitter, who would be less likely to get an out, gets on base, then there's a much better shot for Pujols to come up that inning. Now he leads off in the 6th. Of course a HR cuts the lead in half. 6th inning update: Damn, it's nice to be right! Wow! Nice catch Jimmy! That holds Berkman at first. Didn't something happen with an Edmonds catch in the LCS last year? It's huge that Oswalt has owned Edmonds in this game, and many of the others as well. Top of the 8th now, and I find some solace in the 2-1 score when Oswalt has been in prime form and one run belongs to a Yaddie's mistake for a passed ball. This game should be tied right now. It's a comforting thought, and a reminder of the quality of our team. Not only are the Astros pitchers going to have to be dominant, flawless, but other factors have to be there for them to take games from us. All those 'Stros missed opportunities will loom large no matter what the outcome is in tonight's game. Let me just remind the reader, the above paragraph as written prior to the 8th inning. Damn, Reggie don't be hurt. Tomorrow, I suspect there will lots of doom and gloom talk, some probably from by fellow Cards bloggers. Keep Believing. The series is tied 1-1, the Astros have to beat us three more times, only one of which will feature Oswalt, and I suspect if we see him again things will be a little different. We all knew going in this wasn't going to be a sweep, but rather a hard fought, but winnable, series. It remains so.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 

Unlikely Heroes

Andy Pettitte was supposed to be the missing link for an Astros team that lost in seven to the Cards in last year's NLCS. The Cards moved to correct that assumption in the bottom of the first. Catalyst Eckstein gets a base hit, Albert hits a nice ball just short of a homer, and Reggie Sanders homers to give the Cards a quick 2-0 lead over the lefty ace missing from Houston's 2004 squad. Nunez and Carpenter add another with a little small ball. Another Nunez single in the 5th starts off a two run inning for the Cards. Suddenly we have a 5-0 lead against Pettitte, two more runs than he surrendered to us in 20 innings during the regular season...so much for the regular season stats. Before the game, the announcers mentioned the Sanders-Pettitte battle, and another pundit on the web mentioned it as well. Sanders wins that match tonight. The Cards played incredibly good baseball tonight getting runs with power, using the squeeze, and key singles by guys like Nunez and Eckstein. Oh, and some guy named Pujols had an RBI single too. Carp pitched one hell of a game, battling and battling much more than all of the 1-2-3 innings reveal. The 17 ground outs through 8 innings neglect the tale of a radar gun that consistently read 95 mph. The Redbirds' top starter gave fans a shiver in the top of the third when he gave up two walks to face Berkman with two outs. Berkman grounded into a double play off Carp's first pitch. In the fourth, he issued his third walk, but it was a smart move to bring up a weak hitting Adam Everett. That led to another sweet play by Nunez to get Ensberg easily at the plate. Then he goes 1-2-3 for the fifth and sixth, gives up the HR to Burke, and comes back for a 1-2-3 eighth. I really thought that Carp should sit after seven, but then he went 1-2-3 for the eighth to remind me why I am not a big league manager. Carp proved tonight that his ace status is for real and his name is not out of place with Clemens and the other mighty aces mentioned so often in this series. Nunez also deserves a special mention for his play tonight. Derided so often for not being Scott Rolen, the fill-in third baseman of the year had a great game. The second of his two singles, on a 2-3 night, set up Eck for an RBI single. In the field, he played sharp, proving his worth as Rolen's replacement. Izzy came in for the save, and still gave us cause for a gasp or two. His defense, their only mistake of the night, let Lamb get into scoring position and a sac fly brought him home to make it 5-3. All in all, Izzy probably only should have had one hit against rather than two, and any "ink" used to complain about him on the web tomorrow is wasted. That was a good game, and just what the Cards (and their fans) needed to take some of the stigma away from all the "top three" talk that has led to even devout Cards' fans predicting doom. The Cardinals just beat the Andy Pettitte, the left handed member of Houston's much vaunted "top three," and a pitcher seen by many the most likely to tie the Cards up in knots. Smile and sleep well tonight, we all deserve it, but wake up tomorrow serious and with your game face on because there is much more baseball to play.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 

This Is It (NLCS version)

So the pundits are atwitter about the Astros taking the NLCS in six or seven games. Check out the split in predictions over at ESPN, and roll your eyes at the time you just wasted by visiting their site (a site that symbolizes everything undemocratic about the web). Around cyberspace, the case is being made that the Astros take this series based on the strength of their top three starting pitchers. For most of these guys, I am assuming that their predictions, like the predictions of a Padres victory, are based on a very specific set of factors and a series of events happening, one-two-three. But any amateur historian can tell you that events in a series never unfold in a clean, precise manner; there are simply too many other factors that can interfere, not the least of which is the will of an individual. For the past three days, I sat and stared at this computer wondering what a usually wordy fellow could say. I wanted to take a look at the stats, Cards vs. Astros, pitcher vs. hitter, etc., but I just couldn't muster the desire to consider them, although they do seem to give the Cards and edge. I just had an intuitive sense that they just didn't matter anymore. This is October, and things often happen differently than graphs and statistical analysis can impart. All of the players on this team are capable of doing their job well, and at this point we fans need to go more on faith than as much as anything. Ryan made perhaps the best statement I think can be made about the Cardinals and the playoffs over at Birdwatch today. Read it, accept it. Alright, my inability to say anything in fewer than a thousand words just won't let me stop with that. Here's a little bit of analysis I'll offer in a few lines of thought. Let's go back to the four games played in the Braves/Astros NLDS series and consider a few things. The Braves put up 21 runs to the Astros 25 runs. Had the Astros had a better lineup, they might have scored 50 runs against a Braves bullpen that would have looked bad on the Royals this year. Four relievers came on to get four outs after Hudson left after 6 2/3 innings. To get those four outs they faced 13 batters, gave up 5 earned runs and 4 walks. In game three, Jorge Sosa left with his team trailing 2-3 against Oswalt. After Sosa's six innings, three relievers came into the game. These three quasi-professionals surrendered 4 earned runs, faced 6 batters, and got ZERO outs. You know what happened in game four. Hudson left with a 5-1 lead and the Astros came back to win in 18. Clearly, the series MVP for the Astros goes to the Braves bullpen. Okay, so the Braves pen stinks, what does this mean for the Birds on Bat? Well, it means the Astros' starting three pitchers weren't the deciding factor in that series. In fact, outside of Tim Hudson's lousy series, the Braves starters held their own with the Holy Trinity and gave their team a chance to win. No Astros' starting pitcher escaped with less than three earned runs, although Pettitte and Oswalt pitched well in their starts. If the Braves offense (which is not as good or as clutch as the Cards, in my opinion) can touch them for a minimum of three runs, the Cardinals offense should be able to match that. We may see a few games where the final score is 3-2 or 4-3, but the advantage goes to the Cards in game like that. Oswalt, Clemens, Pettitte, Biggio, and Berkman (the last two, with Ensberg make up the sum total of the Stros' offense) are competitors, fierce competitors, but so are Pujols, Walker, Edmonds, Sanders, Eckstein, Carpenter and on and on down the lineup. The Cardinals aren't going into this series playing like the team waiting out the course of the season and avoiding injuries through September, they're going in to this with a focus and intensity unmatched and unknown by most. They're not going to loose a series to a team that outmatches them only in the top of the starting rotation.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

 

Good Wood in SoCal

The term "pitcher's park" means nothing to Eck. That's the same place he smacked a homerun at RFK in August. Must be his power alley overall, the grand slam against the Braves (the other Eck dinger I was lucky enough to see) was in the same place in Busch. And Woody loads the bases. Come on Larry, shake it off. Reggie sets the NLDS record for RBIs! Tough break for Woody, but not going to pause for remorse until we are the World Champs.

Friday, October 07, 2005

 

Size Doesn't Matter

Well, just let me get out in front of anyone who would disparage the Cardinals for small-balling themselves to a 6-2 win yesterday. I suspect the pundits and the others who predicted a San Diego upset are having to backtrack a little bit now, and picking away at yesterday's win offers a good opportunity to do just that. (Any bets that these are some of the same people who picked Seattle to win the AL West?) Eck's bunt in the third came on top of a walk to Nunez, a FC for Molina, and a Khalil Greene error. Astacio was shaken, and this move was a good way to get an easy run on a pitcher who had been hyped coming into the game. The next run came when Albert walked. Drawing first blood offers an advantage in the head game, in the sense that maybe now Astacio has less confidence in the defense behind him and his own arm, surely the man knew he had a walk problem since coming to the NL in spite of a good record. The next inning, Grud and Nunez get on base via hits, and two more sac hits bring in runs. Astacio's out after that inning. I doubt the head game was the only consideration that went into manufacturing those four runs, but I will always be convinced it's a factor. It also helps that Astacio represents another pitcher with the kind of post-traumatic stress disorder that spending several seasons at Coors Field seems to inflict, Mike Hampton anyone (Chacon is a surprising example of the reverse). Does the head game work with a seasoned vet like Clemens or Pettitte? Not as likely, obviously. However, I've said it here before, it's a real head game with pitchers, and I don't doubt that factor came into play in Thursday's game. Pinto points out another advantage to the win yesterday. He notes that the Padres were certainly hoping to use the spacious Petco Park to neutralize the Cards' power bats. This win takes away that advatage by proving the Cards can win in ways that are more befitting of the cavernous Petco. [Here's the link to Pinto's 'musing.' I'm printing it this way as Blugger seems unable to do it the other way right now. http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/9116 Which brings me to my other point that sometime during the offseason we will be moving the Diaspora to its very own home on the web.]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

 

Pastacio Walks

There are those Astacio walks I was talking about. Two runs on no hits in the bottom of the third! The downside, a stout Padres bullpen is coming into the game.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

 

Revisitation

Okay, in the spirit of the postseason, I jumped out ahead in looking at the Padres starters for the next two games in the series. In a lazy move, I'm reposting the info here. It's Pedro Astacio tomorrow and Adam Eaton in game 3, to be played a time to be determined in the spacious confines of Petco Park. Will Fox and MLB and the Trilateral Comission start the game at 8 a.m. so it will be a nooner on the East Coast? Stay tuned. In related news, visit the Post Dispatch Cardinals Page and politely request that their Cards blog be renamed. It is currently called the Birdwatch, the same name as one of our favorite Cardinal blogs that appeared long before. Leave a comment there AND send an email with your request. Well, Yahoo! was wrong, it's Astacio (PAstacio per CardNilly). Since coming to the Padres his ERA went from 6.04 to 3.17, not too bad, some credit should probably be given to spacious Petco Park. Here are some more interesting stats though: from TEX to SD his ground ball/fly ball ratio went from 0.99 to 1.11. He walks more batters pitching for his new team as well. His K/BB ratio fell from 3.75 in TEX to 1.14 in SD. His BB/9 went from 1.48 to 3.92. While that also says something about the different approaches by the TEX and SD coaching staffs and the difference in venues, the fact remains that PAstacio is putting more men on base, never a good thing when the opposing team's 2-5 hitters can put one out of the park, even in Petco, with one fell swoop. Who hits PAstacio well? Pujols: 4-11, 3 HR, .364/.333/1.182 Walker: 13-26, 2HR, .500/.533/.846 Edmonds: 4-12, 2 2B, .333/.467/.500 Sanders: 13-49, 3HR, .265/.315/.490 Starting game 3 for the Padres is RHP Adam Eaton. Eaton's a good pitcher at home, and gets good results there even after pitching poorly upon his return from injury. Last season, he never lived up to his potential. This year, he started out on fire, a large part of why the Padres jumped out to an early lead in the NL West. I suspect the Cards remain focused, not taking his performace through the end of summer too lightly. Is this the clincher? I hope so, since I've been fighting off this "terrible sinus infection" for the NLCS, with a possible relapse later in the month. More tidbits of interest re: Adam Eaton. - Career vs. St. Louis: 5GS, 1-2, 5.04 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .290 BAA - at Home this year, 11GS, 8-1, 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .257 BAA - Upon returning to the Padres rotation on August 26 thru the end of the season, he went 2-3, with a 5.20 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9, 2.18 K/BB. - at home since returning from injury 8/26, 5GS, 2-1, 5.06 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9, 3.00 K/BB- Struckout 11 Dodgers in his last start; it was the Dodgers. - There is an excellent song by The Jam called "Eaton Rifles" Larry Walker vs. Eaton, 2005: 1-3, HR; career vs. Eaton: 11-32, 4 2B, 5 HR, 5BB, 4K .344/.436/.938 Pujols vs. Eaton, 2005: 2-3, HR; career vs. Eaton: 2-7, HR, 2BB, 0K .286/.500/.714 Edmonds vs. Eaton, 2005: 1-2, 2B; career vs. Eaton: 3-11, 2B, HR, 2BB, 3K .273/.385/.636

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

 

UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8-0! (8-5 final) Reggie hits GS! Edmonds a triple away from the cycle. Jake Peavy, a good young pitcher that had most Cards bloggers frightened, is chased before 5! Yeah, I'd say this is a pretty good team, but there are 10 more wins to go. Screw humility. D'oh! Spoke too soon, but a little bullpen slop was easily absorbed, and that GS was pretty damn exciting.
 

Pastascio

Well, Yahoo! was wrong, it's Astacio (PAstacio per CardNilly). Since coming to the Padres his ERA went from 6.04 to 3.17, not too bad, some credit should probably be given to spacious Petco Park. Here are some more interesting stats though: from TEX to SD his ground ball/fly ball ratio went from 0.99 to 1.11. He walks more batters pitching for his new team as well. His K/BB ratio fell from 3.75 in TEX to 1.14 in SD. His BB/9 went from 1.48 to 3.92. While that also says something about the different approaches by the TEX and SD coaching staffs and the difference in venues, the fact remains that PAstacio is putting more men on base, never a good thing when the opposing team's 2-5 hitters can put one out of the park, even in Petco, with one fell swoop. Who hits PAstacio well? Pujols: 4-11, 3 HR, .364/.333/1.182 Walker: 13-26, 2HR, .500/.533/.846 Edmonds: 4-12, 2 2B, .333/.467/.500 Sanders: 13-49, 3HR, .265/.315/.490

Monday, October 03, 2005

 

What's Eaton You?

Starting game 3 for the Padres is RHP Adam Eaton. Eaton's a good pitcher at home, and gets good results there even after pitching poorly upon his return from injury. Last season, he never lived up to his potential. This year, he started out on fire, a large part of why the Padres jumped out to an early lead in the NL West. I suspect the Cards remain focused, not taking his performace through the end of summer too lightly. Is this the clincher? I hope so, since I've been fighting off this "terrible sinus infection" for the NLCS, with a possible relapse later in the month. More tidbits of interest re: Adam Eaton. - Career vs. St. Louis: 5GS, 1-2, 5.04 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .290 BAA - at Home this year, 11GS, 8-1, 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .257 BAA - Upon returning to the Padres rotation on August 26 thru the end of the season, he went 2-3, with a 5.20 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9, 2.18 K/BB. - at home since returning from injury 8/26, 5GS, 2-1, 5.06 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9, 3.00 K/BB - Struckout 11 Dodgers in his last start; it was the Dodgers. - There is an excellent song by The Jam called "Eaton Rifles" Larry Walker vs. Eaton, 2005: 1-3, HR; career vs. Eaton: 11-32, 4 2B, 5 HR, 5BB, 4K .344/.436/.938 Pujols vs. Eaton, 2005: 2-3, HR; career vs. Eaton: 2-7, HR, 2BB, 0K .286/.500/.714 Edmonds vs. Eaton, 2005: 1-2, 2B; career vs. Eaton: 3-11, 2B, HR, 2BB, 3K .273/.385/.636
 

Infield Chatter, part 6

As you no doubt have read by now, the Cardsblogging family got together for a chat last night. Although it was primarily focused on the postseason, the discussion ran through the gamut of important baseball topics (superstitions, for instance). It went for nearly two hours, and, courtesy of Scott, aka CardNilly, it's been broken down into six parts for your reading pleasure. If you're reading at the Diaspora, chances are you're also reading the other great Cards baseball blogs. If you don't make it a practice to check these other sites, change your routine RIGHT NOW! Birdos was just named "Best Blog" for St. Louis by the Riverfront Times, and these other sites are bloody good reading themselves. All of them have a little something for the stats folks, traditionalists, and those who like to be entertained won't be disappointed either. I don't know what the other team blog families are like, but the Cards' easily have one of the best. Part six of the chart is presented here. The other parts: I at Viva El Birdos (lboros), II at CardNilly (Scott), III at bellyitcher (bellyscratcher), IV at Get Up, Baby (Dan Up), V at The Birdwatch (Rob), and IV right here. Enjoy! bellyscratcher: I hate the Sox. So much. I was really rooting for the Indians. Ryan: me too, plus tom berenger plays for the indians,a vietnam vet, with Charlie Sheen Dan Up: I want to see Giambi hit like ten home runs ina series and sink the Red Sox, the national mediawould have a stroke Ryan: then pop a vein in his neck Scott: I was secretly hoping for a playoff decided byanother Aaron Boone homer... Rob: Giambi has to hit some of those homers offSchilling.bellyscratcher: That would have been good Ryan: ugh schilling is insufferableRob: Decided by a Tony Womack homer. Steve Goldmanwould have a stroke. Scott: Do such beasts as Womack homers exist? bellyscratcher: What the hell happens to middleinfielders on the Cardinals? Dan Up: if it was decided by a Tony Womack homer TonyWomack would have a stroke Ryan: i know, is there some magic MI coach we don'tsee? Ryan: works for Keebler in the offseason Scott: I see him coaching third base every day. Scott: Anyone not think that Oquendo's our nextmanager when TLR decides to hang 'em up?Ryan: good point Rob: He's got the perfect pedigree. Dan Up: I try to block La Russa retiring out of myhead Ryan: i once heard ColemanScott: Vince...? Ryan: but i dunno about that Ryan: Jeff Gordon offered up Ozzie at one point, buthe's Jeff Gordon Dan Up: "Okay, everybody, when you get to firstbase--RUN. When you're finished running, sit out inthat field over there until the PA guy calls on you torun again. And do lots of drugs." Rob: That would be bad. Ryan: would be good for Izzy, the coke thing bellyscratcher: Jose is the next manager. I think heand Tony have an agreement. Scott: Does Whitey come back in the Don Zimmer role? Dan Up: Whitey could probably take Pedro Ryan: only he can contribute bellyscratcher: I like the White Rat and all, but hequit on the team. No thanks. Scott: I see authority issues there -- it'd have to beclear that Whitey was subordinate to Jose... Ryan: i think Whitey Ryan: is retired for good Dan Up: I'd be all over it if they agree to installthe old TWA Dome astroturf at Busch III bellyscratcher: Ugh. I think there are some franchiseplayers that would object. Ryan: hey, did anyone think Hal McRae had a positive,negative or neutral effect on hitting this year Dan Up: hey now, don't make Roger Cedeno's mind up forhim Dan Up: I don't know, I can never tell with hittingcoaches Dan Up: if he slipped Nunez an aluminum bat orsomething I'll give him credit Ryan: yeah, it's tough to see, any thoughts on JEd's year Scott: I think he's gotta get some sort of credit forAbe and Eck and the Gooch. Mabry's tanked under his watch, though... bellyscratcher: Not sure. Jimmy's been in a year longfunk. But Sanders is always chatting with him (knows him from way back when). Abe’s another good example. Rob: Grudz seem to slip as the season progressed. Scott: Jimmy = hurt. He'll get cleaned up in theoffseason and have another great year, another goodyear, and an okay year and then retire... Ryan: i thnk he was dealing some with injuryRyan: referring to grud Ryan: and jimmy bellyscratcher: Edmonds has like 9,000 injuries. Knee, shoulder, wrist.... Rob: Yeah, it works for both. Tough to say with hitting coaches... bellyscratcher: At least he's not drunk? Rob: I still can't believe Taguchi had the season hehad. Dan Up: yeah Taguchi surprises me every time he gets a hit Ryan: gotta run. you up for this again after the NLDS? bellyscratcher: I'm still pissed at the ChiSoxstealing the nickname Gooch. Dan Up: if things go according to plan, sure Rob: IF... bellyscratcher: Hope so Scott: Cool. Ryan: they will Ryan: see you later Ryan has left the room. Dan Up: honestly I think it'd be cool if we could setup something like this monthly-ish next year Dan Up: and alternate bellyscratcher: I'd be on board for that. Dan Up: yeah I'll be busy making myself soundremarkably witty and intelligent Rob: That sounds good. Scott: Time permitting, that's a really good idea. They do it semi-regularly over in theRedblogosphere... Rob: The Reds must be a blogger's dream. Scott: Except for the losing, yeah. Dan Up: "The pitching was bad again." Dan Up: over and over bellyscratcher: RHM and I played hangman today Rob: But it's a different villain every day! Scott: Saw that. Got both the answers before you did. But I wasn't watching the game at the same time... bellyscratcher: I screwed it up. Dan Up: did you get her out on "Earned-Run Average"? bellyscratcher: Damn, I should have done somethingwith Milton. Dan Up: I don't know what I would have done if theCardinals had actually gone through with signing Milton Scott: He probably would have made your spontaneouscombustion list... Dan Up: I'm worried it wouldn't be spontaneous if Iplanned it Dan Up: they don't let you blog in maximum security bellyscratcher: Molotov cocktails at Busch, huh? Dan Up: after Jose Macias hit his fourth home run Rob: Or Neifi Perez. bellyscratcher: I think all of the Red Sox areilliterate. bellyscratcher: Sorry, watching ESPNews Dan Up: why bother reading when ESPN fellates you overthe airwaves bellyscratcher: hey, the Cubs had a losing season. That's nice. Rob: TV is bad for you. Dan Up: yeah tenet number one for me enjoying abaseball season is that the Cubs lose, after that it's all gravy Scott: Did the Brewers end up beating them in thestandings? bellyscratcher: Yep Scott: sweet Rob: And they're bringing Dusty back. bellyscratcher: the brewers are kinda scary for nextyear Dan Up: yeah they remind me of this year's Indians Scott: Brewers are still a couple pieces short, I think. But they finally got smart ownership and general management, so I'm worried about them, yeah. Rob: The Brewers need a real bat. It'd help if they traded Overbay. Dan Up: Prince Fielder is one bad motha bellyscratcher: They're like the Reds with much morepitching and a slightly worse offense. Scott: shut yo mouth! Dan Up: I'm just talkin about Prince! Scott: then I can dig it... Scott: We're here all week, folks! Try the veal! Dan Up: tip your waitresses! bellyscratcher: (polite clapping) Scott: And that seems as good a place as any to endit, eh? Rob: OK. Dan Up: Unless somebody wants to end the vaudevillewith a stirring rendition of Over There bellyscratcher: Indeed. Night all. Talk to you soon,crossing finger, knocking on wood, etc. Dan Up: yeah Dan Up: don't anybody get too superstitious in the interval Be sure to check out the other parts. And stay tuned to the Cards' web realm for more fun throughout the postseason.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

 

Myths, Legends, Mark McGwire

More than any other sport, baseball constitutes an important thread of our national cultural identity. It is more than a form of entertainment, and baseball itself is far bigger than the business around the sport. Rising to importance during and after the Civil War, the most terrible experience the United States ever faced, baseball enculturated us as we navigated our way through a place so dramatically changed. Cultures and societies need legends and myths that tell their stories. This serves to mark achievements and pass them onto subsequent generations. For a nation born from the Age of Reason and transformed by the violent and traumatic experiences of the Industrial Revolution and the other machinations of the modern era, innovations that uprooted ancient existences and slowly replaced their references of identity, the legends and myths born of a population-wide phenomenon like baseball are even more important. This is why we make legends of the people who played the game. We scrutinize statistics to measure the greatness of our heroes and to find those that will embody the heroes of the past and carry on the legends and myths. At what point does a player and a story become a legend and what makes them so? There is not an answer. Public debate heated up this week as Mark McGwire returned to spotlight in Friday's Busch Stadium memorialization ceremonies. A contentious debate to say the least, and a fungo bat and the national media's ire suffered most directly from it. When I sat down to write this post this morning, I knew there would not be any easy conclusion to the situation for me. To call McGwire a legend will incite controversy (albeit to all six readers of this site), but I personally feel that he warrants that title. First of all, legends permit flawed persons. In fact, the flawed protagonist often embellishes the myths and legends of this society. Historians drag the names of great people through the mud all of the time, act of cynical criminality done, in so many cases, merely for profit and name recognition. Other historians take such things into account without judging the subject, affording little weight to an asterisk in light of the greater role played by their subject. McGwire's case holds forth much similarity. It is now quite clear he used steroids, and further damaged his personal image with a congressional testimony worthy of the political criminals who had him put on the stand for a show trial that would not have been out of place in the world's more notorious totalitarian societies. His larger contribution to baseball, to the national myth, has less to do with his specific number of homeruns he hit or his personal behavior. His record chase restored some measure of greatness, excitement to baseball. Doused in cynicism after a strike year and competing with a myriad of other sport and media distractions, kids stopped playing baseball, they turned away from the game for farcical entertainment like wrestling. McGwire helped to reverse baseball's course from national irrelevance, an accomplishment of much more importance than hitting 70 homeruns. As fans, we must move on from the debate, or confine it to the realm of statistics. What has been done is done, and my argument certainly does not open a new front in the debate. We established the legend and the myth during those years, before the steriod debate heated up again, and it is beyond our power to unmake it now. McGwire earned his place in the commemoration of Busch Stadium and in the larger celebration of the Cardinals franchise and baseball itself. Fans can boo or cheer as they see fit. The point about him using his child as a shield is ridiculous as well. McGwire surrounded himself with his kids all through the homerun chase, if you will recall. Now, the best thing for McGwire to do is fade from the public into the personal. For us, the fans, betrayal stings. However, the feeling will pass, and we should make our best effort to hasten the process. Among other things, the legends and myths of baseball teach forgiveness, particularly forgiveness of individual flaws in light of a greater good.

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