As we know, A.J. Pierzynski’s reputation preceded him.
Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
He was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox on July 9 — the very day Yadier Molina tore a ligament in his thumb sliding into third base. There was Twitter chatter that the Cardinals should sign Pierzynski once the full extent of Yadi’s injury was announced the next day, yet also much consternation since we also read how much of a jerk he is.
Fast forward to July 26, when he was signed by the Cardinals — at a time when they needed a little spark as they were in a 4-game losing streak that included being swept by the Rays and a loss the day before to the Cubs. Pierzynski immediately made an impact in his Cards debut at Wrigley Field, going 3 for 4 amid boos from the Cubs fans.
He’s now played seven games as a Cardinal, is hitting .320 in those games and was a key part of the comeback rallies in both last night’s and Sunday’s respective 3-2 victories. The Cardinals have won 6 of the 9 games they’ve played since he joined the team on July 26.
Yes, it’s been a frustrating season so far for the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. I’ve found myself less enthusiastic about them for sure and, if we’re ranking our favorite Cardinals teams, at the moment they’d be near the bottom of those I’ve watched in my now-15th season as a fan.
Sure, I could just be affected by the Cardinals tremendous success they’ve achieved since I became a fan in 2000. We all are spoiled, and really do need to realize that if we don’t already.
But it could be worse.
Looked at the standings lately?
The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox are currently 38-45 and last night were no-hit by Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs for 7 2/3 innings before losing to the Cubs 2-0 and finishing with just two hits. They’re in fourth place in the American League East, 6 1/2 games behind the division-leading Blue Jays and 7 games back in the AL wild card standings.
Then there are the Cardinals’ opponent for the next three games, the San Francisco Giants.
After going 19-9 in May, they had the best record in MLB at 37-20 on June 1 and a 7 1/2 game lead in the National League West, which grew to 9 1/2 games on June 8 … and has been falling ever since. Their record in June was 10-16, which included sweeps by the Nationals. Rockies, White Sox and Reds. The Dodgers win over the Cards on Sunday and the Reds completing a four-game sweep of the Giants put the two teams into a tie in the West, plus the Dodgers’ win last night while the Giants were off means the Cards will be facing the second-place Giants. Now, the Giants still are 10 games over .500 at 46-36, but they were 21 games over at one point.
I’m not yet over the World Series — what about you? (Actually, I’m not yet over the 2004 World Series — what about you?)
Yet today’s schedule brings the Red Sox to Jupiter, which means that it’s not going to exactly be a lineup for Boston like we saw last October. (Hopefully that means less horrid facial hair.) Although looking at the Cardinals lineup, with Yadier Molina behind the plate for the first time this spring, seems to say “ooooh, this is serious.”
Or that Yadi’s tired of just hitting.
But, given that FOX Sports Midwest is bringing today’s game, you know Dan and Al will be on the THIS IS SERIOUS! bandwagon. Because they love nothing more than hyping things, don’t they? And, based on last weekend’s broadcasts, they also love telling us about everything we watched last October and have already moved on from, although they didn’t have the chance to tell us all about it in their hyped-up giddy way at the time so they have to remind us over and over now … and in April when real games start.
A week ago this morning, the butterflies were already building. I was nervous. The reality of winning two games in Boston with the Red Sox on the verge of a history-making win seemed slim. But hoping beyond reasonable hope is what sports fans do. Michael Wacha gave the Cardinals as good a chance as any, and the law of averages seemed to imply that the offense was “due,” as they say.
It could happen. Crazier things had.
That was then.
Now, I’m finding it gradually easier to look back. Just as fans hold out hope until the bitter end, they also feel the hurt when the fairytale ends. It’s not technically our loss, but it stings like it is. Our summer is invested in the success or failure of our team; we inhale and exhale — quite literally! — based on what our players do; attitudes and emotions can be swayed because our team is up … or down.
As I watched Game 6, as our team’s World Series hopes slipped further and further out of reach, I said aloud to my dad, “Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much.”
Admittedly, I have a tendency to care too deeply about pretty much everything. Cardinals baseball is no exception. When they’re up, I’m up. When they’re down, I’m down. When they are confident (a la Adam Wainwright’s comments before heading back to Boston), I can be confident. When they’re disappointed, I’m devastated. Continue reading →
As Cardinals fans, we’ve had the good fortune to watch great games from our team throughout 2013, with 97 wins in the regular season and nine wins in October. Fantastic, each game in its own way. Every single victory.
Yet not every game was as bright and beautiful as this picture of a sun-drenched Busch Stadium. There also were the 65 regular season losses, made all the more painful when they came in bunches — three in a row from time to time, the brutal seven-game streak in late July.
And now the Cards have seven October losses following last night’s Game Five defeat to the Red Sox by the score of 3-1. It’s the second time this month they’ve lost two in a row.
But this latest loss feels so much worse, that much harder to take than losing Games Two and Three of the NLDS to the Pirates. Which makes sense — the stage is bigger in the World Series, more people are watching and paying attention as the teams still playing now stand at only two. And the bigger the stage, the deeper into October we get, the more magnified everything is. Which makes the losses even tougher — especially losses in the World Series, and back-to-back losses at Busch Stadium where the Cardinals have had so much success this season.
To lose the final home game of the year … ugh.
That’s not how any of us wanted it to play out, obviously.
For the first four innings, Game Four of the World Series was good from the St. Louis Cardinals perspective.
Then it wasn’t.
And, since we all know there are nine innings in a game, we’re now looking at a 2-2 Series tie after the Cardinals lost to the Boston Red Sox 4-2.
Through the first four innings, Lance Lynn was terrific — facing only the minimum number of Red Sox after the one base runner he did allow (David Ortiz, of course, on a second inning single) was erased on a double play.
Plus the Cardinals scored a run in the third when Matt Carpenter singled with one out, advanced to second when Jacoby Ellsbury let the ball get past him in center field for an error and scored when Carlos Beltran (of course) singled.
Then the fifth inning arrived, as did the beginning of the end. We all know about Lynn and his one bad inning. As an October special, it actually extended over two innings, the fifth and the sixth. Although the fifth inning actually could have been much worse, as a lead-off double by Ortiz (of course) and back-to-back walks to Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts loaded the bases with no outs. Stephen Drew was next, with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game — and the only run of the inning.
We know the final score of last night’s Game Three of the World Series: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4.
And, by now, we do believe what we just saw in the bottom of the ninth — we’ve all watched replay after replay after replay.
The bottom line: this …
was obstruction, since it illustrated the very example given in the MLB rule book:
We as Cardinals fans are thrilled.
Baseball fans who understand the rules — and appreciate the umpires not only making correct calls but also having a press conference with Joe Torre after the game to further explain, by reading the rule book, how the correct call was in fact made — are pleased with the outcome, even if the ending was something none of us have ever seen in a World Series game.
Everyone else? Not happy, to put it mildly. Red Sox fans (and players) in particular.
Plus those furious it’s the Cardinals benefiting from this call — Cubs fans, Reds fans, Pirates fans, probably Dodgers fans. Especially Braves fans, remembering last year’s wild card game and the infield fly call.
Game Two was so much better than Game One for the St. Louis Cardinals, to state the absolute obvious. Then again, winning has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it? And the Cardinals were definitely better last night as they beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 and tied the World Series at one win each.
As it unfolded, Game Two also taught us some valuable lessons. Such as lesson one: a “bad” Michael Wacha is still really, really good. Last night was Wacha’s worst start since mid-September and, obviously, still incredibly impressive.
Yes, his October has been so unbelievable that we have to go back to Sept. 19 to find a game in which Wacha allowed more than the two earned runs he gave up on one swing by David Ortiz last night. And the only other time in his short big league career that he walked four, as he did last night, was on Sept. 14 against the Mariners. Yet even with those “bad” numbers from last night, Wacha gave up only three hits, struck out six and won his fourth game in October — and the Cardinals have won eight games this month so far. He’s been so very good that, going back to his final regular season start (his near no-hitter against the Nationals) through last night, he’s allowed just three runs in 35 2/3 innings pitched for a 0.78 ERA and struck out 37.
For the fifth consecutive year, the first four games of the World Series will be dedicated to raising awareness for important causes associated with charitable programs and partners of Major League Baseball, it was announced today.
MLB will highlight support for the military, specifically through the Welcome Back Veterans initiative, by dedicating Game One of the 2013 World Series to honoring veterans and military families.
Game Two will focus on two long-time MLB charitable partners in Boys & Girls Clubs of America, to demonstrate the ongoing effort to enriching the lives of young people, and Habitat for Humanity, to spotlight the organization’s efforts to provide safe, decent and affordable housing in partnership with low-income families. Game Two will also recognize the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint initiative of MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Game Three will highlight Baseball’s commitment to youth from underserved communities through Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the importance of education through the Breaking Barriers program and celebrate community service through the announcement of the winner of the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.
Game Four will look to inspire fans worldwide to join MLB and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in advancing the fight against cancer.
The 109th World Series begins tomorrow, Oct. 23, on FOX.
While we as Cardinals fans are thrilled about the World Series, and Red Sox fans obviously are too, not everyone shares these sentiments. Dodgers and Tigers fans, of course. And, not surprisingly, fans of our teams’ biggest rivals.
Yet that can bring about new Cardinals fans, even if only for the World Series. Like Yankees fans. Welcome!
I’m a Yankee fan. And more importantly, I’m a Yankee fan who was actually relieved to have a stress-free October. Not to brag or anything, but I’ve only had two of those Octobers in the past 19 years so I really needed this break.
Some people thought that made me a bad fan and even accused me of rooting for them to not make the playoffs, which isn’t true at all. Would I have preferred to have my team fighting for a championship? Of course, but it didn’t happen and, when it didn’t happen, I wasn’t that upset about it. Do I miss it sometimes? Sure, I get a twinge of jealousy when I see fans of other teams excited over a big win but I also like being able to go to bed and not stew over a bad loss or have about 15 panic attacks while watching a do-or-die game.