We’ll Take Our Good Fortune When We Can

Sure, it’s easy to be a nay-sayer when looking at the standings this morning. It’s only May 9, so whatever the standings reflect mean absolutely nothing in the overall picture of the 2017 baseball season. The Cardinals are only three games over .500. The NL Central is not very good.

But there’s enough negativity in the world right now …

So enjoy the fact the Cardinals are in first place on May 9.

Last year, they were never in first place at all, and were nine games back at this point of the season. The Cards have won four in a row and, as it says above, seven of their last 10. They’ve scored 30 runs in the four games of this road trip so far, and Carlos Martinez drove in four runs last night. Tommy Pham is back and, not surprisingly, he’s hitting.

Appreciate the good fortune and enjoy it while it lasts — maybe it will continue. It’s baseball, and anything is possible.

 

 

Some Cardinals Alternatives To Watching This Year’s World Series

Even though the 2016 World Series gets underway tonight, you might not be in the mood to watch it. Want to look back on some better days instead? Here, and all available on YouTube, are some alternatives that will make for more pleasant viewing.

The videos are the complete games, so watching these should keep you busy … and able to avoid whatever might be happening in this year’s World Series.

Game One – 1968 World Series

Starting off with an absolute classic in a year that didn’t result in a Cardinals World Series championship, but began with an incredible performance by that year’s NL Cy Young Winner and Most Valuable Player, Bob Gibson. His 17 strikeouts in the game are a record that still stands.

Game Seven – 1982 World Series 

Ah, nothing like a Game Seven — especially when it’s a Game Seven win! Watch the Cardinals win their ninth World Series championship, and first since the days of Bob Gibson in 1967, when they beat the Brewers 6-3 behind Joaquin Andujar and Bruce Sutter.

Game Six – 2004 NLCS

The 2004 National League Championship Series between the Astros and Cardinals was an incredible one, yet mostly overlooked by the national media due to the ALCS that was going on at the same time. We remember, though, these hard-fought seven games in which the home team was victorious in each — and the MV3 was in their prime and all making big contributions. Jim Edmonds was the walk-off hero in this one, as you no doubt remember. (Also, in case you forgot, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman were the enemy.)

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10 Years Ago Tonight: Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS

Yes, it’s fun to look back five years ago into the AMF archives and see how we captured the magic of September and October 2011 during the blog’s first year. In fact, had that run not happened, I was planning to write about the fifth anniversary of the Cardinals 2006 World Series run.

Somehow, I’m glad I didn’t have that chance …

Still, tonight is the anniversary of another milestone in recent Cardinals history: the 10th anniversary of Game Seven of the NLCS between the Cardinals and the Mets. And, to honor that milestone, the three iconic plays from a truly incredible game.

From the sixth inning, with the scored tied 1-1.

From the top of the ninth inning, Scott Rolen on first, scored still 1-1, and the reason why Yadi is still booed by Mets fans today:

And, of course, from the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals up 3-1. There were two outs, but the bases were loaded …

Ten years later, it doesn’t get old.

Show Us a Tragedy, and We’ll Write You About Our Hero

There was a boy in the stands, tousled jet-black hair, wide-open dark eyes, mouth open, scarcely believing he’s watching his hero pitching against the Washington Nationals one week ago today.

694940094001_5140533466001_mlb-star-jose-fernandez-2-others-killed-in-boat-cOne kid, watching another kid tease back and forth with the umpires, one kid watching the other kid’s big smile visible from the farthest reaches of Marlins Park, competing with that garish contraption beyond the outfield fence for electric wattage.

The boy with his oversized jersey with his hero’s name across the back, the large 16 under it, cap that barely fits.

Oh, how we envy that boy, look at him, all energy, squirming, hopping around in his seat, slapping the little glove he brought in case a foul ball comes his way, he’s ready. The boy, he’s pointing and shouting at his dad with every strikeout from his hero. That boy, he’s going to grow up watching one of the finest pitchers to take the mound in the history of the sport. He’s going to be able to tell his grand kids about the tall, strong Cuban who played this hard game with such infectious passion.

Did you see what that boy saw? Twelve strikeouts in eight innings against a team a handful of days away from claiming a division title. That’s right, 12. His hero sliced through the Nationals lineup, and had FUN doing it. Did you see his hero in the top of the eighth, in a 1-0 game, with runners at first and third with two outs? Did you see his hero’s mom, on her feet, as the TV camera zoomed in, fanning herself in the excitement. That’s her nino, her hero who saved her in that oft-told story that’s reached the point of fable of the 15-year-old boy who saved her from hostile waters, saved her as they escaped for a better life in a country of dreams.

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Remembering Darryl Kile

Fourteen years ago tonight was Darryl Kile’s last game, which we obviously did not know at the time. Two years ago, I published this post. It is the most-read post ever at AMF, which touches me, and received a multitude of comments — including one from Flynn Kile Jensen — and I wanted to share it again (particularly since it’s already received quite a few views today).

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Somebody Just Wrote the Book on The Cardinals Way — And it Wasn’t George Kissell

The best part of Howard Megdal’s new book, “The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time,” comes right in Chapter One. Megdal recounts reading a note from Baseball Prospectus in 2014 derisively pointing out that contrary to myth, the Cardinals did not invent player development, nor invent the idea of making sure there was a coherent philosophy running through their system.

cdc09793-ab7a-42d6-a5a0-e6cf2e3daef4Here’s the punchline: Actually, the Cardinals absolutely did invent the idea of developing players within a farm system with a manual to guide instructors and players from the lowest farm team to the major-league team on the Mississippi. Hall of Famer Branch Rickey in the 1920s decided to buy up whole teams rather than futilely fight with richer teams for young talent, and began the process to build from the ground up a way to teach those players The Cardinal Way of playing baseball.

It’s hard to draw a line from those days when scouting reports with fewer words than a Tweet were sent tap-tap-tap by telegraph, to this day of instant high-definition video shot on smartphones sent over wireless internet connections to front offices. If any team was capable of melding a respect for tradition with the advances of the early 21st century, Megdal says, it’s the Cardinals. Megdal has exhaustively built a case that contra Michael Lewis’ effort in Moneyball, the organizations best set up for sustained success in this game do just that. After all, the game is still played much the same way it was in Alexander Cartwright’s day; the biggest difference is that the amount of information and knowledge what to do with it to win.

Perhaps the best part of the book are the stories of legendary coach George Kissel, who spent nearly seven decades with the team, beginning with Branch Rickey and ending with John Mozeliak. Imagine! Kissell, using his bachelor’s and master’s degree education in history and physical education, literally wrote the book on fundamentals on playing the game (if you want, you can visit the Cardinals museum at Ballpark Village, where you’ll find his 1969 edition), but more importantly, was the personification of the Cardinals Way, teaching more about life as a professional ballplayer. Megdal follows the apocryphal advice, that if you want to know a general, speak to his troops. Kissell passed away in 2008, so Megdal spends time with not just the former players and coaches who felt Kissel’s influence to learn more about “the Professor.” Even in the final seasons of his life, Kissel would be on the field or in the stands, studying intently, talking with the newest draft choices. Why? Even after all those years, Kissell would say he’d learn something new every day — probably learning more from his students than they from him.

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Throwback Thursday – Chris Carpenter: A Warrior’s Final Stand

Note: As I said last week, I’m not planning on writing much here anymore. But today I’m posting an article I wrote for the United Cardinal Bloggers 2013 season in review publication, which is still available for purchase. Like last week’s from the 2012 UCB publication, it’s also on Chris Carpenter. 

Chris Carpenter: A Warrior’s Final Stand

It can’t be how he expected his career to end.

The final pitch of Chris Carpenter’s career came on Oct. 4, 2013, fittingly on the Busch Stadium pitcher’s mound. Fall sunshine bathed the ballpark with a golden glow as more than 40,000 Cardinals fans stood and cheered.

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Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Unfortunately, that final pitch was of no consequence. His last was a ceremonial one delivered just before Game Two of the National League Division Series between the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Touchingly, he was accompanied to the mound by his daughter, Ava, and tossed the baseball to his son, Sam, behind home plate.

Perhaps surprisingly, the emotion of the moment was visible on Carpenter’s face as he tipped his Cardinals cap to the crowd and, moments later, embraced his children as they all walked off the mound.

Then again, emotion from Chris Carpenter on a pitcher’s mound – though of a different sort – was never a surprise. It was expected. Emotion defined Chris Carpenter’s career nearly as much as his signature curveball.

And nearly as much as injuries.

Injury definitely defined the final two years of Carpenter’s career, 2012 and 2013. Yet it also defined how he became a Cardinal, when the Toronto Blue Jays – the team that chose him in the first round of the 1993 draft – removed him from their 40-man roster after the 2002 season ended, and after he’d had shoulder surgery. The Jays wanted him to sign a minor-league contract with incentives.

He instead chose to become a free agent, signing with St. Louis in December. He missed the entire 2003 season, finally making his Cardinals debut on April 9, 2004, at Arizona. His 2004 season was better than any he’d ever had as a Blue Jay, as he went 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA. But he didn’t pitch after Sept. 18, as a right biceps strain kept him from the mound. Tests later revealed a nerve irritation to his upper arm, a condition we would become all too familiar with in the future.

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From The Cardinals: Statements from DeWitt, Mozeliak Regarding Investigation

The Cardinals issued the following news release.

The St. Louis Cardinals Chairman and CEO William O. DeWitt Jr. and Cardinals Sr. Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak this morning shared their thoughts regarding Tuesday’s news of a federal investigation of the club related to a possible security breach of the Houston Astros’ database.

Saint_Louis_Cardinals_logo“These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” DeWitt said. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable.”

DeWitt said that several months ago, after the team was made aware of the allegations, he and Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak engaged Jim Martin and the law firm of Dowd Bennett to assist the team in providing requested information to the federal government and to conduct an internal inquiry to attempt to identify any employee that may have engaged in the alleged conduct.

“The alleged conduct has no place in our game,” Mozeliak said.  “We hold ourselves to the highest standards in every facet of our organization.  It has been that way forever and is certainly true today.  We are committed to finding out what happened.  To the extent we can substantiate that these allegations have merit, we will take appropriate action against anyone involved.”

“The internal inquiry is not yet complete,” said Martin. “In the meantime, we wish to respect the process and avoid saying anything which would interfere with the government’s investigation.”