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31 March 2011

St. Louis Cardinals badge for Twitter

I've had a couple of fine Redbird fans ask me about the bird on the bat badge that is on my twitter profile picture (@stimpy66).
Just direct your favorite browser (or your least favorite, it should still work) to  Input your twitter login info, and you too can splash a fine bird across your face (or whatever your profile pic may be).  Enjoy!

Opening Day 2011

It is upon us.  The first step in a grand journey to the land of October.  Hope is the very essence of the season.  Can't you smell it in the brisk spring air?  Can't you see it in the bright sunshine?  Major League Baseball's glorious opening day is here, and I'm a happy, happy fan.

Dreaming is the goal on this day.  Dreaming of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday combining for 4 tape-measure HR's.  Dreaming of Lance Berkman greeting the faithful at Busch III with a 5-5 day.  Dreaming of Colby Rasmus doing the usual at the plate, while positioning himself appropriately in center field.

Fearless leader Chris Carpenter will take the ball today.  The nightmare of Opening Day 2007 with him walking off the mound with a right arm about to fall off is a distant memory.  Dreaming today of the long awaited no-hitter for our bulldog - the last remaining hole in his Redbird resume.

This fanatical, occasional blogger will man the twitter along with 100+ friends.  You can find my list of BIG St. Louis Cardinal fans @stimpy66/stl-cardinals.  Join us, and share the emotional roller-coaster that will be today.

The wonder of America's "Beautiful Game" is that we have no idea what will happen on any given day, nor do we know how we will feel at the end of the day.  Euphoria may be quashed tomorrow.  Likewise, despair will be banished soon (sorry, Cub fans, you are the exception that proves my rule).  That is the unique condition thrust upon those of us that live and breath a sport that is dominated by failure.  A hall of fame hitter fails nearly 70% of the time at the plate.  A superior team disappoints 60 times a summer.  Ain't it great!

This desert rat has the great fortune to be in the heart of Cardinal country.  Alas, I will not be in the STL today for the festivities, but in a smoky sports bar in Herrin, IL, sharing the joy of the day with fine folks dressed in similar red apparel, leaving my poor mother alone for 3 hours in the afternoon.  Sometimes, blood is not thicker than fandom.

01 March 2011

When a Season Flashes Before Your Eyes

I was innocently listening to the St Louis Cardinals game on the MLB 11 app on my iPhone, listening to Mike Shannon comment about how Chris Carpenter must have an early tee time today.  He was working so fast that he was making 2 pitches before the came back from commercial break.  And he was mowing down Marlins, and seemed to be focused on the curveball.  And it was working.

After all the early drama of camp, this was a wonderful tonic for a angst-ridden Redbirds fan.  Suddenly, Carpenter pulls up, comes out, and my breath got short.  My phone exploded with texts as I passed along the breaking news. 

Alas!  We all moaned and whined about how the season is broken before it starts.  How if it would be possible to overcome losing Wainwright?  No way we could overcome losing 2 aces.

It Got Worse

While we all were still wringing our hands over Carpenter, Mitchell Boggs had to leave the game with an injury.  Suddenly McClellan would be necessary in the bullpen.  We would have to waste precious payroll on a scrub like Kevin Millwood.  The proper plan of progression the organization has for Shelby Miller would be shelved.  Lance Lynn would be pushed up too soon.  Miguel Batista is now an important signing. The season - and the future - was blown up in 15 minutes time.  Oi vay!


Eventually, word came out that Carpenter has a strained hamstring, and Boggs has a back strain.  Whew!  Not a mention of the dreaded words "elbow" or "shoulder".  But these are not injuries to gloss over.  Both will require plenty of rest to heal properly and not linger throughout the season.  Pitching through such injuries could force either pitcher to change their deliveries to compensate for the pain and later in the season provide us with such unwanted terms as "elbow", "shoulder", "evaluation", "Paletta", and worse of all, "Dr. James Andrews".

Of course, true St. Louis Cardinals fans know better than listen too closely to optimistic medical prognosis from the front office (see: Carpenter, Chris; Lohse, Kyle; Penny, Brad; et al).  Bill Belachik is a friend of TLR, and La Russa seems to have picked up his bud's crazy NFL injury reports (the first time Tom Brady was not listed as "probable" was the game he had the knee injury and was lost for the season).

Too Much Excitement

I am excited about every baseball season - no matter the realistic hope I have for my Cardinals.  But so far this spring training has been FAR too exciting.  I have much trepidation about Lance Berkman's elbow.  If he can't play the outfield regularly, it is a huge blow to the lineup.  Jon Jay is exciting, Lance Berkman is an all-time special hitter.  Berkman will be on the "Pujols" plan that was implemented when Albert's elbow blew up while he was still an outfielder - hit the cut-off man who is standing 40 feet into the outfield.  It's not optimal, but the Red Sox won a World Series with a CF who's uninjured arm was so bad his LF felt compelled to cut off his throws. (a tip of the cap to Manny for the single funniest thing I've ever seen in baseball).  But it doesn't stretch the imagination one lick to see that elbow affecting Berkman at the bat, and that isn't much fun to think about.

Excitement The Right Way

The Cardinals exploited the wind for 4 HR's today.  The Marlin's didn't.  That means the St. Louis pitchers were all down in the zone.  That's a great thing.  The routine plays on defense were made, and Jon Jay made an outstanding play in LF today.  Thats great news.  Matt Holliday hit a HR.  An average season from Holliday is a great thing.  Losing Wainwright is a massive blow to hopes, but there is still outstanding talent on this team.  There is players like David Freese, Allan Craig, and Tyler Greene who are ready to show talent on the big league level.  And Albert is still on the roster.  This season should be fun and the team competitive.  But no more drama, please!