Tuesday, October 31, 2006
All of the following should be done...assuming you can work out the money end of it...
-Re-sign free-agent pitchers Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver. Mark Mulder could be signed to a heavily incentive-laden deal but not counted on to be a member of the rotation....too risky. Sign Barry Zito the Oakland A's lefty...also a free agent. (It's fun spending other people's money...so why not?) That would give you a starting rotation of:
(Mulder can jump in if someone fails...or gets hurt)
That's right...leave Adam Wainwright in the closer's role that he so admirably performed in this post-season.
Move Jason Isringhausen (assuming he recovers well from hip surgery) to a set-up role. He pitches only the 8th inning.
Trade Braden Looper, Juan Encarnacion and maybe a few other spare parts to acquire a solid right-fielder with power. There's been some buzz about signing Luis Gonzalez (old but not finished) as a free agent. I would not be opposed to that.
Teach Chris Duncan how to play left.
Tyler Johnson, Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock and Randy Flores can fight for 7th inning duty.
Brad Thompson, Jorge Sosa, and lefty Chris Narveson would be long relievers.
Let free-agent Ronnie Belliard take whatever money he made as a World Champion second-baseman and go elsewhere. I like him...but not enough to overpay. Aaron Miles can handle second just fine.
I think a deal can be worked out with Jim Edmonds. I would sign him to a new 2 or 3-year deal that would pay him less than the 10-million option the club has for next year...but more than he's likely to command elsewhere at his age. Truth is...you rarely see the combination of speed and power that Edmonds provides in a center-fielder. He and Andruw Jones of Atlanta are about as good as it gets in the NL.
Preston Wilson was a nice fit for this year...but strikes out too much. As a free agent, he'll likely get a better deal elsewhere...and the Cardinals should let that happen.
Keep Molina/Bennett as your catcher team.
Jose Vizcaino might be a good guy to keep around as a back-up infielder. And, of course, you have to keep So Taguchi around in the outfield mix, and Scott Spiezio around in the overall mix.
Of course, it's likely there will be several guys I'm not thinking of step up during spring training to try to make the roster. Remember Rick Ankiel? He's still hanging around in the minors. A handful of young pitchers are supposedly ready to be considered for big-league jobs soon too.
So, what am I forgetting? Oh yeah, keep Scott Rolen at third, David Eckstein at short and Albert Pujols at first. Goes without saying right?
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Here it is in a nutshell. Start the season at the beginning of March...but play all of the March games at the home stadium spring-training sites of all teams.
The Cardinals would play all of their March home games at the Jupiter complex. No, there wouldn't be any home games played in St. Louis in March....only April through August. Then, the playoffs would begin the week of Labor Day and be finished by the end of September. This way all of the games would be played at sites where baseball can legitimately be played. Baseball is not legitimately played in 38 degrees and rain...or snow flurries such as were predicted for Detroit Sunday night. In most cities in North America you can't expect good baseball weather beyond October 1st. That's just the way it is. Fans and players shouldn't have to put up with cold-weather baseball. And, you're playing your championship games in conditions that haven't been dealt with for any of the regular season? Does that seem fair to anybody?
I know what the arguments would be against it...
-The St. Louis Cardinals should not play home games in Florida.
-Why play games in March that many home fans can't attend...as opposed to post-season games in October that make you a little uncomfortable? Most teams don't make the post-season.
-The owners aren't going to go for it because they would lose a bunch of money on the low attendance in March at the smaller, spring-training ballparks.
-The home cities would lose a lot of revenue from sales taxes etc.
There are several other logical arguments against it. But, think of the positives.
-All (or at least the vast majority) of the games will be played in warm weather.
-The post-season games could be played in reasonably warm weather....what baseball is meant to be played in.
-All games in March would be televised back to the home market...and serve as promos/commercials for ticket sales during the April-August regular season.
-Many fans would take baseball vacations...(many already do)...to see their team play in March.
-The Spring-training cities could build bigger stadiums and legitimately expect to see them filled. Tax-sharing plans could be worked out with the home city.
-The national sports scene in March is currently dominated by the NCAA basketball tournament. Some hockey. Some pro baskeball. March baseball could compete effectively with that menu.
The only other idea that fixes the weather problem is to play all post-season games at neutral, warm-weather sites. But, that won't work for many reasons. Plus, home fans shouldn't be denied the chance to see post-season games in their own ballpark.
Of course, Bud Selig, the players association, and everyone else involved with running MLB would poo-poo the idea. "It's not broke. Why fix it?"..they would say. Well, I'm saying it is broke when they ask their loyal fans to sit through baseball wearing parkas, rain-coats, mittens, and ear-muffs. They would consider it...if they could make more money doing it...you can bet on that.
Monday, October 23, 2006
If you missed it, Tigers lefty Kenny Rogers was shown on the national broadcast of World Series game 2 with some mysterious foreign substance gracing the thumb and wrist area of his throwing hand. It was obvious in the first inning. After some curious shots on TV of dugout discussions on both sides, and huddles between the umpires and managers, Rogers came out for the second inning with no obvious foreign matter on the hand. Whether it was totally washed-away...and what it was in the first place...was not well handled or effectively explained by any of the participants in the controversy after the game.
- He wears a different type cap. I notice that Rogers wears a non-traditional type of cap. A low-profile model. It almost looks like a little-leaguer’s cap compared to what the other guys wear. Why would he do that? Does he have a spare cap to present to the umps if they ask to examine it after the game?
- He wasn’t so fiery and jacked-up before his playoff success… Is he trying to impart a different type of mound demeanor to his newly-found superiority to distract everyone from the fact that he may be cheating? And at the same time is he giving the public and press a possible explanation for the overwhelming success he’s having in this post-season…success that he’s never had before?
- Why didn’t Tony LaRussa challenge the stuff on the hand right away? Too much respect for buddy Jim Leyland?
- Why wouldn’t LaRussa talk about it at all?
- Why didn’t the umpires inspect Rogers’ equipment? Glove..cap..etc.
- Why did the umpires, Leyland, and Rogers all have a different explanation of what the substance may have been and what went on during the game?
- Why wouldn’t Rogers answer Fox’s Chris Meyers when he asked what was on his hand during the game?
- What will MLB do about it now? Nothing? Will they let a possible cheater go unexamined? Shouldn’t they have impounded his equipment after the game? You could wipe off the obvious pine tar..and still have some somewhere…on the cap…on the glove…somewhere…just ask Gaylord Perry…he got caught with an emery board in his equipment once.
- Why would Rogers cheat? Well...for one here's a soon-to-be 42-year-old guy who’s had so-so success during his career and gets a chance to shine on the stage of the World Series. He knows it’s probably going to be the last time he has a chance to distinguish himself. He doesn’t have enough confidence in his ability to pitch without an edge. He’s been the source of controversy before…the knocking down the TV cameraman thing in Texas last year…and desperately wants to go out by endearing himself to the fans of Detroit…and baseball.
The only thing that makes me think that there could be a simple and innocent explanation for this whole thing is that Rogers isn't stupid. At least I don't think he's dumb enough to get caught with pine tar on his hand when he knows the close-up, HD cameras of the national TV guys are examining every little detail of the game. Could anyone be stupid enough to have an obvious glob of pine tar on his hand when pitching in the Fall Classic?
Then again, do I believe the explanation of it being a smudge of dirt and rosen that got wet? Nope. It could have been transferred to his pitching hand from somewhere else accidentally...right?
Either way...Bud Selig will have another Excedrin headache before this one's over.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
What do I know for sure?
- Both teams have the same chance to win tonight’s game.
- The game is being played in New York.
- The Cardinals, again, will ostensibly have the better pitcher going to the mound at the start of the game.
- That didn’t make much difference last night because of the Redbirds pitiful offensive display.
- Jeff Suppan has pitched well in big games before.
- Oliver Perez hasn’t.
- The Cardinals have been awful against lefties.
- Ronnie Belliard's tongue apparently doesn't fit in his mouth.
- Tony LaRussa has been doing a solid managing job.
- The players haven’t played anywhere close to their potential…let alone above it.
- We’ve seen this core group of players roll over and die in the post-season before.
- So Taguchi probably should be in the starting lineup.
- If Billy Wagner appears in tonight's game, he probably won't have much confidence that he can save it.
- Jim Edmonds either isn't over his concussion thing...or he's just hitting like normal in the post-season.
-Scott Rolen's double in the 9th off Wagner was the first ball above his waste that he's hit solidly in two months.
-Jose Reyes needs to take a chill pill.
-The best hitter in the game...(you know who that is)...needs to have a game that proves it.
- Many of us had already given up on the post-season a while back because of the bumbling, stumbling last couple of weeks of the regular season.
- Any Cardinals games we’re seeing now are really a bonus to this season.
What don’t I know?
- Which Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion…(the meat of the order that usually wins for StL when they do) will show up.
- What sort of strange occurrence…normal for New York…may influence the outcome.
- In what kind of weather will the game be played.
- How badly do the players feel about not nailing it down in Game 6.
- Will a bad call by the umpires influence the outcome. (i.e. Don Denkinger)
- Which players want to write their names in the history books.
- Which ones would rather shun the spotlight.
- Will Carlos Beltran continue to be the best player in the world when he bats against Cardinals pitching.
- Will the Mets pitching be better than expected…as it was with John Maine.
Whatever the answers…the baseball season has been fun again in St. Louis. As stated earlier, there was no way to expect the Cardinals to go this far in the post-season a few weeks ago. So, no matter what happens tonight…game 7 loss…or trip to the World Series…it’s been a good ride. And Izzy won't blow this game.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I read, with interest, today's column by Bryan Burwell of the Post-Dispatch about the recent antics of our own "Prince Albert". I wrote about the surly nature of Albert Pujols...particularly when it comes to dealing with the press...last year. And, I suggested that Albert's claim to everlasting fame and adulation among Cardinals fans was beginning to move into the "jeopardy zone". It appears, based on Burwell's article and several comments by talk-show hosts that I've heard recently, that Albert has moved even farther into that zone this post-season. He apparently has no use for the members of the press, and doesn't mind showing and telling them so.
What Albert, who is always anxious to portray himself as a man of God, should remember is that the members of the press corps are human beings, and creations of his God, too. They just have a different job to do. If it annoys him, he should be able to stomach the annoyance for a few minutes each day. Dont' you think? Especially when that press corps is his conduit to the public...the same public that sits in the seats at the ballpark...and buys those tickets...and supports his team...so that he can make all those millions of dollars to be able to build that fabulous mansion in West County.
I'm sure Stan Musial had a bad day or two along the way. I'm guessing he was short with a reporter once or twice during his playing days. But, have you ever...ever...heard anybody say, or write, anything bad about "the Man"? Stan Musial, by every account I've ever come across, was always a gentleman and also comes to mind when the term is used...like the guys on the list in paragraph one. That is one of the main reasons Stan is still held in such everlasting esteem by fans of the Cardinals. And the reason his statue is bigger than any other at the entrance to Busch Stadium. He, and his behavior, are worthy of high praise and never-ending reverance.
Is it so hard, man of God or not, to treat other people as equals? Isn't that the foundation mentality of the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you do that, how can you help but be a gentleman? Why has this behavior become so out-of-favor? Is it that boring? That unmanly? That un-fun? Or is it that it doesn't bring with it the "buzz" or "rush" of talking down your nose to others?
This discussion needn't be limited to Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, or any of today's spoiled and overpaid pro athletes. Ungentlemanly behavior seems to be all too fashionable, and visible, in other circles as well. To those who display it, it seems a way for them to say "I'm more important than you"...the exact opposite mind-set of the afforementioned Golden Rule. We see it regularly from politicians, movie stars, pop music artists, business leaders, and yes, some members of the press.
Good for Bryan Burwell to call out Mr. Pujols. It's time that we all started reigning in our "superstars" when they get out of control. They need to be held to a higher standard of off-field behavior. Because they are the examples of acceptable behavior for our young people...like it, or not.
There is no doubt that Albert will, barring anything unforseen, become thought of as one of the greatest players of all time. I'm hoping that something unforseen happens soon to make him understand that he should, and could, also go down in history...like someone before him...as one of the great gentlemen in baseball history. All it takes is a change in his own attitude...and maybe ours toward him. Wouldn't it make our society more pleasant if baseball, and all sports, put more emphasis on the P in MVP....and gave the greatest awards and accolades to the most valuable person, instead of player?
gen‧tle‧man–noun, plural -men.
1. a man of good family, breeding, or social position.
2. (used as a polite term) a man: Do you know that gentleman over there?
3. gentlemen, (used as a form of address): Gentlemen, please come this way.
4. a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man: He behaved like a true gentleman.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
-Well, the Cardinals did it again. They have done it all season. They give you the idea they’re a solid and winning team, only to fall on their faces and disappoint you. Game four of the NLCS Sunday night was a disaster from many standpoints. The starting pitching from Anthony Reyes was timid and barely acceptable. The relief pitching from Brad Thompson, who looked like he was about to pee in his pants on the mound, was ridiculous. Then Josh Hancock came on and took things from bad to pathetic. But, let’s be real. The Cardinals can’t expect to win anything as long as Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols aren’t carrying their share of the load. And have they? If the Birds make it to the World Series without a serious contribution from those two, it will be miraculous.
-For a while I thought the Rams would win a game by having it handed to them by the opposition again. But, not so. I do like the way they are playing…generally speaking. I think Scott Linehan has a better handle on the way to be successful, in the long run, than Mike Martz did.
-The Blues have a winning streak going. Two-in-a-row after last night’s hard-fought, come-from-behind win against the Blackhawks at Scottrade. Strong performers for the Note were Lee Stempniak, Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Radek Dvoark (who has been invisible ‘til now), and goalie Manny Legace. The Blues, who have struggled scoring goals, popped in three power-play goals…a good sight to see. Phoenix next at Scottrade on Tuesday.
-Steve Lyons was fired by Fox Sports after a little “racially insensitive” remark during some kidding around with Lou Piniella in the booth during Friday’s Detroit-Oakland game. Something about being afraid that Piniella (who has some Hispanic blood in his veins) would steal his wallet…was enough to get Lyons canned. Supposedly he’s going to try to talk to the head of the network to get his job back. But, in this day and age he’ll be barking up a pretty tall tree. Too bad, I think he usually does a pretty decent job. Although, he does tend to go overboard with the attempts at humor.
-Are you sick of the political ads yet? Only another three plus weeks to go. Seems like there’s got to be a better use for all of that money.
-How about that football brawl Saturday between Miami U. and Florida International? Disgraceful on both sides. You can put sports uniforms some people…but that doesn’t make them any more of a human being. Heads should roll, and scholarships should be lost.
-The Detroit Tigers are American League champs already…while the Cardinals and Mets flail away at one another in the National League. There’s nothing that indicates the winner of the NL will have any more success in the World Series than they have had in recent years. And that, of course, is none.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
-So, the New York press has written off the Cardinals already..because their Amazin’ Mets are still in the playoffs. I think the Redbirds are definitely the underdogs…but not by the margin the East coast boys would have us believe. They’re not the same team they were with Pedro Martinez, El Duque, a healthy Cliff Floyd…etc. So, don’t count the Birds out yet.
-Also, if Jason Marquis didn’t understand where he stood with Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan before…he does now. He’ll be pitching somewhere next year. But it won’t be in St. Louis.
-I’d like to think that Scott Rolen’s cortisone shot will put him back into the same frame of mind..and degree of health... he had early in the season. If so, he can be a real difference-maker in the NLCS.
-Poor Blues…They have their home opener scheduled for Thursday night. Not only do they have the Cardinals still in the playoffs to distract St. Louis sports fans, but they get a rain-out of game one on Wednesday…rescheduled for Thursday…and many who might have come to the Scottrade Center on a whim…will stay home to watch El Birdos on TV.
-More Blues…So they go on their season-opening road trip and come back with one point out of three games. Two of the teams they played are Stanley Cup contenders (San Jose & Anaheim), so it’s not a disgrace to lose. But, they also have Barret Jackman come up with a knee sprain that will keep him out four weeks. They already had Christian Backman and Jay McKee out with injuries. So, their top d-men are not available for the early part of the season when the team hoped to build a little momentum with the fans. Oh well, nobody told Dave Checketts that going from the outhouse to the penthouse would be easy.
-The Cory Lidle plane crash in New York Wednesday was scary…especially early on when all we knew was that a plane had crashed into another Gotham building. When details started to come out, I began getting the feeling that this was not just an accident. I remember some quotes from ex-Phillies teammates when Lidle was traded earlier this year that said…”All he wants to do is fly his plane and gamble”. Some are already speculating…because there was no may-day call from the plane…that it may have been a suicide flight. If so, that’s a pretty sick way to go out..flying a plane into a building and potentially killing many others.
I watched the debut of Katie Couric on the CBS news tonight. While I don't have any problem with a woman as the lead anchor on one of the major networks, I tend to think there are enough people who do, that her ratings might struggle. The other problem she may have is her many years of "fluff-show" hosting on the Today show. While she did discuss serious news at times there, she also was involved with a lot of very soft stuff...gossip, recipes, movie talk..etc. And, of course, she always dressed up in some weird get-up for all of the holidays. Maybe I'm old fashioned...but I think she may pay for that goofiness of her past in the long run.
I also think that Katie and CBS will be paying for the Dan Rather “Here's our chance to get George Bush so I won’t double-check the facts scandal” for quite a while.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
-Either there is something that nobody knows about...or the announcer at KTRS misspoke when he introduced Danny Cox...who was speaking at the Cardinals pep rally...as former Grizzlies manager Danny Cox. As far as anybody connected with the Grizzlies knows...and I checked...he's not a former manager...or former anything.
-Sad to see good-guy Congressman John Shimkus of Collinsville wrapped up in this Mark Foley/House page scandal. Shimkus and Dennis Hastert-House Speaker and fellow Republican-denied full knowledge of the extent of Foley's suggestive IM's to young, boy pages. Shimkus oversees the program and will certainly take a lot of political hits. He's already being asked to step down from the program by fellow Illinoisan...and Democratic party hit-man...Senator Dick Durbin. Hard to believe that Shimkus would be complicit in any cover-up.
-Well, Cardinals fans...you'll have to get used to the idea that you won't have Dusty Baker to loathe as manager of the Cubs any more. And we so looked forward to a long and lusty feud between he and Tony LaRussa. Oh well, whoever manages the Cubs will instantly become Snidely Whiplash to us anyway. Looks like Joe Girardi will be fired in Florida and probably be snatched up in Chicago. He'll be hard to dislike...but we'll find a way.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
-Spent Friday evening and Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Outstanding Grizzlies broadcaster Joe Pott (right) and I were the guests in the press box of my friend Dan MacLaughlin and the Cardinals. Joe and I were treated to a radio booth of our own in which we recorded some play-by-play for our amusement and whatever other use we can make of it. Joe will undoubtedly be able to use it in his effort to move up the baseball broadcasting ladder. He's well suited and overdue for that next step. Someone will recognize Joe's professionalism, knowledge of the game, and first-class approach to his work very soon. He's great on Grizzlies games...but definitely deserves the chance to be great on Major League games.
Jack Buck once told me that if someone can do play-by-play well at the lower levels of the business, they can do it even better at the top. And the more I thought about it, the more I believed it. At the lower levels, the broadcaster usually does all his own homework, engineering, set-up, and about everything else necessary to do a good broadcast. Many times all of that distracts the broadcaster, and detracts from the on-air product. At the big-league level, usually all you have to do is a little prep work...and then sit down and put on your headset. Other people do everything else.
I'll say this, having done the two games this weekend at Busch, I see no reason why someone with the proper background and talent should ever have an excuse for a poor broadcast.
-The Cardinals, despite a Sunday loss, go on to the post-season again. The sentiment of most is that they will get knocked out of the playoffs early and aren't a very good team. But, many were saying the same thing about this time last year about the White Sox who also limped into the post-season. The Cardinals have their weaknesses, no doubt. But, this time of year anything can, and usually does, happen.
-The Rams are managing to play just well enough to win. 3-1 after four weeks looks pretty darn good for Linehan and the boys. You'd have to say there's a pretty good chance at being 4-1 before they play the Seahawks. They have a date with the not-so-hot Packers, who should be 1-3 after losing to the Eagles in the Monday night game, in Green Bay next week. It looks like Bulger and his receivers are finally getting it together. A little practice against the Lions secondary was just what the doctor ordered.
-I guess when you hear a story about a guy barging into a Colorado school, taking a group of girls hostage, sexually assaulting some of them, then killing one, and himself, all you can do is be thankful that your kid's school wasn't the target of some derranged maniac like that. Security generally isn't tight enough anywhere for someone hell-bent on a suicide mission like that.
-I see that an 18-year-old high-school student from the Czech Republic, Tatana Kucharova, is the new Miss World. The organizers call it, simply, a beauty pageant. And, I guess, it's OK that a high-school kid is deemed the most beautiful woman in the world. But, it seems a little strange to me that this young person, who will be the object of much lusting by the men of the world, isn't yet old enough to drink in the U.S., and many other countries. I might suggest that they have a minimum age of 20. But, I guess beauty is beauty at any age.
-The Blues played their last pre-season game Thursday night at Scottrade Center. They'll open up at San Jose on Thursday. Then the home opener will be Thursday the 12th. The people who run the building are holding their collective breath that the new overhead scoreboard and ribbon boards will be installed for the big night. Some $70,000 worth of lazer shows, fireworks and the like will be featured at the opener. But, the scoreboard hadn't even been shipped yet as of Thursday. Could be embarassing if it's not ready.