Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Update to the Update--Duncan sent to Red Sox AAA affiliate in Pawtucket. Cards get veteran infielder Julio Lugo in return. The Duncan debacle in St. Louis is over. Somebody in the front office (GM Mozeliak?) recognized things had degenerated to a no-win situation for anybody. TLR was devoting too much energy to the unwarranted defense of young Dunc. We all remember how important Chris was to the '06 championship. But as I said yesterday, fans around here are about performance and his '06 exploits were a long time ago and no reason to excuse his '09 struggles.


Update-- Duncan sent to AAA-Memphis. Details here. The team had to do something. Interesting bunch at Memphis these days...Glaus, Duncan, K. Greene--big leaguers trying to get straightened out. Wallace, T. Greene, Mather, etc. trying to prove they can play in StL.


-We got into a discussion in the Grizzlies press box last night about Chris Duncan and the Cardinals. This morning I read where Tony LaRussa feels like vomiting because of what he feels is the shabby treatment poor Chris gets from Cardinals fans.

What? Cardinals fans treating someone shabbily? I think we can all agree that with Cardinals fans it's all about performance. When someone gets booed at Busch it can only be because they are sick and tired of seeing someone fail at their job. That's the only time it happens to our own players. We witnessed it most recently last season with the horrendous showings of one Jason Isringhausen. Izzy couldn't get it done. He didn't get it done. And he got booed. Go back in time a bit and we can remember the under-achieving and hard-to-like Garry Templeton giving the single-finger salute to the fans as they booed him. St. Louis fans are too into team success to let individual failure go by and say..."Oh well...he's a nice guy and we should accept it." No, that ain't gonna happen around here. As nice as Cardinals' fans are to out-of-town players, and as forgiving as they are to our own, they don't suffer continual under-achievement very well.

Now, we are supposed to accept that Duncan is not up to par physically without really knowing what sort of problem he's dealing with. Mr. LaRussa puts out that he is stuggling with some sort of health issue. We know he had the neck surgery in the off-season and was supposed to be back to normal this Spring. But until Tony, or someone from the PR staff, identifies the current problem and gets specific, all we know is that Dunc keeps going out there and looking like anything but a major-league ballplayer. It's hard to have sympathy for anybody if they're not straightforward with you.

Now, we can all ask the question..."If he's not healthy why is he even dressing for games?" That would be my follow-up to the suggestion that his health prevents him from maximum output. How does he earn the right to play instead of someone else A) when he's not healthy and B) when he's not producing? Beyond that, why does TLR continue to trot unhealthy athletes out to fail in key situations? Isringhausen last year...Duncan and Rick Ankiel this year? Is he trying to send a message to the GM and ownership that he doesn't have enough pieces for his chess game? One must wonder...because Tony is anything but stupid.

The other aspect to this that has been studied in detail before is that Chris is the son of Dave Duncan. We all know that Tony is loyal to a fault. He has a soft heart...(witness his ARF work and his emotional reactions to Ank the Slugger a few years ago) but covers it masterfully with his "I'm a tougher/smarter guy than you" bravado. Is he putting Chris out there repeatedly...and for that matter keeping him on the a display of gratitude to his long-time pitching coach? We can only wonder...and we do because it's the situation that we as fans are given. We can't just ignore it...because it's there. If Chris Duncan were on any other team in the major leagues would he be playing? Would he even be on another major league team? The numbers suggest he wouldn't. And if he's not a healthy athlete he shouldn't.

The bigger problem for the organization now is that he has taken himself so far down the performance chart that he has virtually no value in a trade. With his health history and hitting struggles another GM would probably laugh at John Mozeliak if he suggested Duncan had significant trade value.

So, how are we as fans supposed to react? We see someone go on the field night after night...someone who is paid a major-league salary...and who does what any of the rest of us who can stand on two feet and swing a bat could do ourselves. And I'm not even talking about possible favoritism or defense. I guess the janitor in the Cardinals clubhouse had better be ready with that barf bucket.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Sad Follow-Up

-It was good to see and hear yesterday in numerous places that my reaction to the Stan Musial slight at Tuesday night's All-Star Game wasn't an isolated one. Many have reacted with the same level of disgust that I did. And I've gotten numerous e-mails and texts to that effect as a result of my post here yesterday.

In a Dan O'Neill piece in the Post-Dispatch and on, some of the reasons (allegedly) for the Musial slight were put forth. I think I'm even more upset if you can believe what Dan was told.

Supposedly it was all about timing in the program and the President's appearance. They say Mr. Obama's presence in the evening's script wasn't planned for until a few weeks before the game when it became known he would attend. If this were the case, it seems to me that it would have been easily enough accomplished to re-structure the Heroes Among Us segment featuring the video from the five living Presidents. That piece of the program ate up at least 7 or 8 minutes all by itself. And most of it was the video. You mean they couldn't have re-edited the video to shorten the piece up by two minutes in two weeks? A good video editor could have done it in two hours. I fully support the sentiment of encouraging volunteerism, but somebody misjudged the value of a Stan tribute any way you look at it.

Virtually eliminating a tribute to The Man was not the answer to any pre-game timing problem. It may have been an easy answer...but not the correct one.

I do believe that MLB forced the program as we saw it down the throats of the Cardinals brass who likely pushed for a more elaborate tribute to Stan. It makes sense that, as I indicated in yesterday's post, someone at the Commissioner's office cowered in the face of the President's appearance and made some inappropriate choices. Certainly, and accurately, they saw the President's appearance as one of national importance that carried a ratings bonus. They also likely saw Stan's tribute as more of a regional segment, and of appeal to a more limited number. However, this was a baseball night. This was about baseball and baseball stars. Did they forget that? Probably.

Again, if there was a scripting problem to account for, the volunteerism segment needed to be sacrificed..not Stan the Man. He is one of the people that everyone in baseball who makes their living from the sport needs to revere to the utmost in every way possible. Shame on MLB for their disgraceful and numbskulled judgement on this one.

In O'Neill's article, Bill DeWitt III covers for MLB by saying (paraphrasing) they had a lot to juggle and some tough choices had to be made. Well, what would you expect him to say? How about "We're sorry that it turned out that way. Stan is more important to us than anybody...and no disrespect intended...that includes the President." That was his correct answer if he were to make things right for Cardinals Nation and his customer base.

MLB and the Cardinals owe Stan, and all of us who consider him our hero, a heart-felt and unabashed celebration of The Man. We're all longing for it now...and Tuesday's neglectful and wrong-headed happenings have brought it all to a head.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Sad

-Now that the All-Star game hoopla is over here in St. Louis, I have only one question to ask--

"Who the hell was responsible for the so-called tribute to Stan Musial?"

What an opportunity Major League Baseball had to recognize one of the game's all-time greats on a national stage befitting his accomplishments. What an opportunity...that was totally and disgracefully botched. It wasn't was a misfit. The Man was reduced to a sidebar on the evening. If we were expecting something on the order of the Ted Williams tribute of ten years ago, we had another thing coming. And, unfortunately, it did.

I'll admit that I was sitting there in my home theater expecting to see Stan come out in a golf cart to the accolades of the thousands in the stadium. I was already beginning to choke up in anticipation of what was about to come. But that was it. That was all. The people were gathered and told to expect a tribute. But there was nothing else...except a handshake and hello from our sitting President. Come on. As Bob Costas said on the Channel 2 pre-game show, this is one of the top ten, at least, position players of all time. Aside from that, he is thought of by me, and most of the men and women in this part of America of my age, as not only a great player of the game...but as a greater player in the game of life. He has carried himself with an uncommon grace and dignity that is rarely seen in an athlete. Even if you don't recognize his accomplishments as a player, you should his contributions to society.

I think as much as anyone Stan Musial could be responsible for the Midwest tradition of cordial behavior toward one's fellow man. He was the face of Cardinals baseball in the era when baby boomers were just learning the game and life's rules. He showed us that we could compete with ferocity, but also enjoy and respect one's competitors. He proved that being a man isn't always about who is strongest, toughest and most intimidating. His time in the spotlight of this region was as much a lesson about respectable human behavior as it was athletic excellence. We in the Midwest embraced The Man and his approach. Many of us carry it in our DNA.

This night in July should have been Stan's night. The other Cardinals Hall-of-Famers no doubt would agree and would have gladly surrendered any time for their own recognition so that somebody could have put together a fitting video tribute to accompany Stan's entrance to the field. 90 seconds...just 90 seconds of time devoted to highlights, statistics, and tributes from those who could adequately express a bit of gratitude would have changed everything and allowed those of us who had Kleenex ready to let loose.

I, of course, don't know who was responsible for putting the pre-game show together. But I'll bet it was someone at the Commissioner's level (under 50 years old) and not anyone with the Cardinals. It had to be someone who just doesn't get it. Someone who thought that carting this 88-year-old former player onto the field in front of the crowd and on national TV and letting him hand a baseball to Mr. Obama was a tribute. That's not a tribute. It's merely recognition. I know one thing. If Jim Woodcock, one of the very best at understanding what the fans want and an advisor to the Cardinals, were involved, or had his way, it would have been different. Woody has put together some of the very best ceremonies of all time for the Cardinals and the Blues. If he, or someone who has a clue about the love we in this part of the country carry around for Stan, were involved, it would have had a chance to hit the mark. Apprently the lieutenants at the Commissioner's office are oblivious. The whole theme of the evening -Heroes Among Us- up to the point that Stan was brought onto the field was wonderful. Too bad they didn't realize that to a large percentage of those at Busch Stadium and at home The Man is our hero.

Unfortunately, we don't know how long we still have to enjoy Stan. As with all people of his age, a small ailment can turn fatal. And he hasn't been in the best of health for a while now. So, how will this wrong be righted while he can still be a part of a fitting tribute? How can we turn this dismal whiff by MLB into a grand slam for Stan? How can we turn this negative into a positive? It must be done.