Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 5 Cardinal Stories of 2007 (and 5 things to watch for 2008)

Dan over at C70 at the bat came up with the good idea for some of us Cardinals bloggers to list what we thought were the biggest stories of 2007. The idea was to post the list today and he'd link to all the lists in his blog.

Well, with perfect intentions, this post should have appeared this morning. However, Indy/Tennessee was a bit too enthralling (I wanted to know who the Chargers would be playing this weekend), and then the Sound of Music came on (can't miss in my book)... well what do you know it's New Year's Eve.

As a west-coast blogger, well, I get to post on Monday nights after most of the world has gone to bed - or in the case of today, gone to the Champagne bottle. So I missed the boat. But, since I gave my word I'd do a post on my thoughts regarding the top 5 Cardinal stories of 2007, here's my short list.

5. Josh Hancock dies. Really only memorable because a professional athlete died in the middle of the season. It did mentally affect the team's performance for a time, and it did serve as something of a marshalling point; however it didn't galvanize the team like Darryl Kile's death in 2002 did (or the way Sean Taylor's death has for the Washington Redskins)

For me, this was memorable because ol' Josh's father decided to sue the world over his death - the restaurant, the bartender, the tow truck driver, yada yada yada - which led to this post. It wasn't something I enjoyed writing, but it needed to be said.

4. Walt Jocketty, Cardinals part ways. After 14 years, a World Series Championship, and the contract extension he had signed through 2009, you'd think this event would be higher on the list. Fact was, rumors of discord in the Cardinal front office had circulated all year, including the widely reported "story" that Walt was considering taking over the GM job with Cincinnati. His ultimate departure from the organization wasn't that big of a surprise; it was, frankly, one of the worst-kept secrets of the year.

3. AP left on bench; NL loses All-Star game. A big story because of the magnitude of Pujols' star power, the fact that his manager was the one running the NL side (and the one who decided to stay with Aaron Rowland against K-Rod), and the fact that the NL had the bases loaded with 2 out and down by 1. A hit would have won the game. Why would you leave the NL's most feared hitter on the bench in that spot? The story quickly diffused into explanations from LaRussa and Pujols about why and that it wasn't that big a deal, but it once again IMHO displayed why playing the All-Star game for home field advantage in the World Series is a terrible idea.

2. Edmonds traded to Padres for Minor Leaguer. Signifying the end of the Edmonds era in St Louis and the start of the MV3 break-up. Most had expected Rolen to be the first to go given his ongoing friction with LaRussa (which has been true for 3 years, so doesn't make the top 5 this year). It also formally and blatantly signalled a change of course for the franchise; a conscious decision to dump payroll in the form of stars no longer producing; a significant effort to upgrade the team's farm system and build a winner from within (in the fine tradition of Branch Rickey). Lots of us greeted this news with shock and dismay, me among them.

1. Carpenter has surgery, done for the year. The biggest story of the year. Chris was the lynchpin of our hopes for a title defense; everyone knew with Mulder on the shelf until after the All-Star break, a reclamation project (Wells), a cross-your-fingers-project (Looper), a head case (Reyes), and the 'rookie' starter (Wainwright), Carpenter had to produce. He went down in early April, and we all hoped he could come back. He tried and couldn't. Cardinal playoff hopes went down the tubes the day the club reported he was having surgery and was done for the year. What a huge pyschological blow for the team and their fan base!

So that's it. As I search my 'wine cellar' (read: second fridge) for any bubbly to ring in the new year, here's 5 stories to keep your eyes on for 2008:

- Will the Cardinals sign a free agent pitcher (God help me if it's Kyle Lohse)?
- How many votes will McGwire get for the HOF this time around?
- Will Mulder and Carpenter regain some semblance of their old command when they return?
- Will Colby Rasmus be as good as he's projected to be?
- Will Rolen stay a Cardinal for all of 2008?

Cheers, Happy New Year, and please - if you're partying on the town, don't drive.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Politte and Resolutions

Hopefully you all had a joyous Christmas, spent with loved ones. I assume Santa brought you what you wanted, or at least surprised you with unexpectedly good gifts (I was, more on that later this week); if not, well, splurge a little on yourself. I'm sure you've earned it, and if not, make something up.

While we were on hiatus, the Cardinals signed Cliff Politte to a minor league contract. Politte was a large part of the White Sox bullpen success in 2005 (68 appearances, 67 1/3 innings, ERA 2.00), but only threw 30 innings in 2006 and then went down to shoulder surgery, from which he spent all of 2007 recovering. I'm assuming he'll be a non-roster invitee to spring training, and will probably start the season at AAA.

Politte joins Johnson, Carpenter, and Mulder in the pitcher's section of the team rehab clinic.

So Taguchi has latched on with another team, signing with Philadelphia. Taguchi will get $1 Million in 2008 and has an option for 2009. Now, having gone to college in the Philadelphia area, I will admit to having the slightest bit of affection for the Phillies, although to be honest it's more because their fans crack me up than because I like the baseball they play. At any rate, I'm glad So's found work, and as before wish him well.

While I was poking through my archives looking for my Christmas post from last year, I stumbled across my New Year's Eve post. Apparently the Egg Nog was especially spiked last year, for I made some Resolutions, which I promptly forgot about. Whether or not I'm foolish enough to do this again next week only time will tell. But if I do come up with some resolutions for 2008, I ought to at least look at how I did on those I had for 2007. So here goes:

1. Hit .600 in 2007 - Due to many things, but mainly to a growing family, I only played 41 games this year, which translated into 146 at bats - less than 50% of the at bats I had in 2006. This probably helped the average; I hit .589 this year. Close, but no banana.

Yes, I keep statistics on myself. Playing rec/beer league softball. Insert OCD joke here.

2. I will learn to dive for sinking line drives - Nope, still haven't done that. I did decide that sliding was a better plan than diving. Less risk of injury. However, the old man still has some giddy-up in his stride, and I was able to get to most line drives hit in front of me. The other ones either I played on a hop..... or chased after they skipped by me. Swing and a miss.

3. I will learn to drive to the hospital with a concussion after attempting to dive for a sinking line drive - rendered moot by my good sense in not diving at my advanced age. Call it a tie.

4. I will run for more than 4 minutes (blah blah blah) - We'll just stop there. I didn't run for 4 minutes continuously at any point last year. Fitness test for the USN? I swim it, vice running it. I did determine that if I do a set where I run for 2 min, walk for 2 min, and repeat that cycle 5 times, my back locks up. I don't do that anymore. Seemed practical. Swing and a miss.

5. I will pleasure my wife whenever she wants me to - I did this so well, in September my second son was born. Needless to say now my wife won't let me anywhere near her. I'm lucky I'm still allowed to live in the same house. Success!

6. I will lose 11 pounds - Actually gained 5. When I recently had blood work to determine my triglyceride level, the counter read "TILT" and then shut down for 2 weeks. Dietary changes are a-coming. I might have more luck with this one in 2008. Swing and a miss.

7. I will swim 450m in under 7 minutes - We do 2 Physical Readiness Tests a year. May 2007 - 8 min, 30 seconds. Dec 07 - 9 min, 45 seconds. Yes, the trend is the wrong way. Yes, it was nowhere near 7 minutes. I hate getting old. Swing and a miss.

8. I will broaden my topics beyond the St Louis Cardinals - I did the Villanova preview on Deadspin for the 2007 NCAA tournament, which was the big success. There are some VU, Charger, and Ram posts sprinkled throughout the year here, but otherwise it's all Cardinals, all the time. Swing and a miss.

So the final tally - 1 Success, 5 swings and misses, 2 ties/close calls. Wow. Pretty dismal, eh?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas Wishes

Christmas sure was a lot more fun when I was the child vice the adult. Sooo much easier to go to sleep and wake up with presents under the tree. Sooo much harder to put tree up, decorate it, wrap presents, arrange them, clean house for family coming over tomorrow, prep food... and we're still not done. I'm exhausted. I don't know how my parents did it.

There has been some movement by the Cardinals in recent days, but we'll hold off the discussion on all that until after the Holiday. Instead, I'm re-posting something I did last year for Christmas, because it succinctly reminds us of what this day commemorates.
"Today I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells, and gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled...

all, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up.

The stocking for the Child born in a manger.

It's His birthday we are celebrating. Don't ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then let each put in his share: loving kindness, warm hearts, and the stretched-out hand of tolerance; all the shining gifts that make peace on Earth.

- Re-printed w/o permission from the movie "The Bishop's Wife" (1947)
Compliments of the season to you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Like Watching Chrome Rust

There really isn't much that happens in the off-season. Moves by the Cardinals are few and far between. When they do happen, as in the Edmonds trade, they provide a couple of days discussion; but eventually every angle has been covered and it's time to move on.

Pondering what to write about is like watching chrome rust - you waste a lot of time, and not much happens. That's one of the reasons why I shifted to a two post per week schedule last winter - I ran out of things to say. Which, for anyone who knows me, is almost unbelievable.

One of the sites I peruse (as you can see from the right margin) is C70 at the bat. At the tail end of the Edmonds discussions, commentors started discussing retired numbers, or more specifically, numbers that have been 'unofficially' retired. This caught my interest.

So let's talk about Cardinal Retired Numbers.

For those of you unsure which players have had their numbers retired, here they are:

1 - Ozzie Smith (HOF)
2 - Red Schoendienst (HOF)
6 - Stan Musial (HOF)
9 - Enos Slaughter (HOF)
14 - Ken Boyer
17 - Dizzy Dean (HOF)
20 - Lou Brock (HOF)
42 - Jackie Robinson (HOF)
42 - Bruce Sutter (HOF)
45 - Bob Gibson (HOF)
85 - August A 'Gussie' Busch (Owner)

Yep - all but Ken Boyer are in Cooperstown, making this a hard group to join. I think Busch is also in the hall, but I can't prove it from the HOF website.

So of the unofficial retired number list, who should we consider to join this group? (Note: I selected what I consider representative statistics for this analysis.)

1. Jim Edmonds (#15)? Played for the Cardinals 2000-2007. 3-time All-Star. Top 5 twice in MVP voting (4th in 2000 and 5th in 2004). Six Gold Gloves (2000-2005). Sliver Slugger (2004). Top 15 on team's all-time list in HR (4th), RBI (12th), and walks (7th). Reasonable case for the Hall.
Projection: Probable. As a Cardinal, he is one of the greats in the history of the club.

2. Willie McGee (#51)? Played for the Cardinals 1982-1990, 1996-1999. 1985 NL MVP. Two time batting champion (1985, 1990). 4-time All Star. Silver Slugger (1985). Three Gold Gloves (1983, 1985, 1986). Top 15 on team's all-time list in RBI (14th), Hits (11th), Total Bases (14th), and Stolen Bases (4th). Got 5% of HOF vote in 2005, 2.3% in 2006, so won't be going to the Hall unless the veteran's committee picks him up.
Projection: Possible. One of the most beloved Cardinals of the past 20 years. Other than Ozzie, the best position player on Herzog's teams in the 1980s. Had a petition drive started in his name; I think it got over 10,000 signatures, but not sure what happened to it. I have a nice T-Shirt commemorating the petition effort, though.

3. Whitey Herzog (#24)? Managed the Cardinals 1980-1990. Three NL East Division Titles, 3 NL Pennants (1982, 1985, 1987). One World Series (1982). NL Manager of the Year in 1985. 822-728 as Cardinals Manager.
Projection: Very Probable. Herzog missed getting into the Hall this year by one vote (Veteran's Committee), so he may make it in 2009. Once he's in, I imagine the team will retire his number much like Bruce Sutter's in 2006.

It's interesting that only one Cardinal manager's had his number retired (Schoendienst), and that was for his exploits as a player. Now that Billy Southworth is in the Hall, that should change.

4. Darryl Kile (#57)? Pitched for the Cardinals 2000-2002, compiling 41-24 mark. All-Star in 2000. Died tragically from a blocked artery in 2002; found in his Chicago hotel room the morning he was to start against the Cubs, June 22, 2002.
Projection: Not Likely. By all accounts he was a good man and excellent teammate, but his number would be retired more because of his tragic death and the way that galvanized the team in 2002 then for his on-field exploits as a Cardinal. Did not receive a vote for HOF in 2007.

5. Josh Hancock (#32)? Pitched for Cardinals 2006-07. 3-4 record, 1 save - your typical middle reliever. Killed in a collision on a St Louis highway April 29, 2007; was later found to be legally drunk at the time of the crash.
Projection: Not in this lifetime. An appropriate period of not issuing 32 to another player is warranted. I'd be a little bit surprised to see #32 on a Cardinal before the 2009 season. After that, someone else should wear the number. His death was untimely; but I don't think a guy who was so self-destructive in life is someone we should lionize in death by retiring his number.

Anyone else we should consider? Make your pitch in the comments.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Some Follow-up

Since the Edmonds trade story broke, it's been comparatively slow on the Cardinals news front. Especially if you choose to ignore the story on Fernando Vina (which I do).

But it gave me a chance to peruse some of the Cardinal Blogdome reaction to the trade. And as always, Viva El Birdos is the site I visited first. To quote some snippets from the article:

the news that jim edmonds asked for this trade has done little to stop the angry recriminations over it. there are still plenty of people out there --- including a few who e-mailed me yesterday --- who insist that thte [sic] deal was born of dewitt's money-grubbing and/or mozeliak's stupidity.

however the cardinals spend the $6m, that return will get added to the value the cards have already received in exchange for edmonds, david freese. frustrated jed fans are dismissing this guy as a piece-a-shit prospect, which isn't fair; he'll never be a star, but he has a decent chance of delivering a few seasons of league-average offense.
I assume that, although Larry could have just checked the diaries at SportsNation to gauge reactions to the trade, he surfed the web to a few other sites. Which got me thinking: I know he's read this site in the past; I don't know how often he reads it since I came back here from Was my post one of the ones 'dismissing this guy as a piece-of-shit prospect'?

Yeah, it could be interpreted that way.

In hindsight, in the paragraph above the second Edmonds photo, I should have inserted the word 'apparently' between "because they" and "got so". That more accurately describes how I feel about the trade. The rest of the post is as neutral as I wanted it to be. Freese didn't appear on any Padre top 10 prospect list I could find, but I didn't want to dismiss him as a player of the caliber of Pete Rose, Jr, so I tried to portray some of his successes as well. Let's face it: guys named MVP of their league are pretty good regardless of which league they play for.

In all honesty, we won't know if this trade is a good one or a bad one for at least two more years. We'll have to wait and see how Freese progresses in the Cardinal system. Or, if he gets packaged into a deal for another player, we'll evaluate that player's performance to see if it was worth having the rights to Freese at all.

Josh over at That guy's downright hysterical about this trade. Which I have to say I found somewhat amusing.

I understand the long-term vision behind the trade, though I still think the Cardinals didn't get much in return; but I'm willing to wait and see how Freese pans out before I start organizing a 'pitchfork and torch' march through downtown St Louis.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Edmonds returns to SOCAL

This weekend is the last weekend of my academic quarter, and as such, I am knee-deep in preparations for finals. I have 2 classes - one called Cost Estimating, the other Naval Operations Analysis. They can be as dry as they sound. The Naval Operations Analysis class does look at, among other things, probabilities for blowing stuff up, which is pretty cool.

I took my Cost final today (3 hours), and have the NOA final tomorrow. It's take-home, and we have 8 hours to complete it.

Needless to say I'm not exactly in touch with the larger world right now.

So I finish my final, and flip over to, to find this.

One of the greatest catches you'll ever see.

My feelings about this are decidedly mixed. On the one hand, I've been reading/listening to the chatter in various places (Viva El Birdos, for example) that the Cardinals need to get younger, that their farm system is dry, that they have too much money tied up in too few players. Of course, this prevailing opinion was counter-punched recently in this article by Jeff Gordon.

I'd gotten to the point that I understood the release of Bennett, Eckstein, and Miles in the name of fiscal responsibility and because they all allegedly had significant weaknesses in their game.

But trading Edmonds? What a message.

Baseball these days is a business. The men who own major league franchises didn't get to the point where they could own a major league franchise without being sound businessmen. And they don't make investments lightly. They jealously guard their capital, and they aggressively pursue high returns for their money. You can't get too sentimental over your investments these days. Emotional attachment to something, be it a stock, house, or player, leads to bad fiscal decisions and a loss of opportunity.

That the DeWitt's treat the club as a business they're trying to make a profit from has never been clearer to me than right now. I'm sure they want to win championships; I'm sure based on the trades they allowed Jocketty to make during his tenure as GM, the salary they tied up in big-name players, the fact that this team has had one of its most successful runs in its history since 2000. But they're also in this for the money: new stadium, jettisoning KMOX as the Cardinals' flagship station being two examples. And approving today's trade.

Edmonds was the longest-tenured Cardinal. A three-time All Star, multiple gold glove winner, and cause of many, many big plays with his bat and glove. But he had suffered through two injury-plagued seasons, and it was becoming increasingly obvious he couldn't hit left handers anymore.

The Cardinals let him go in exchange for David Freese, a ninth-round selection in 2006, a prospect who played last year in High Class A and a man who doesn't appear on anyone's 'Top 10 Padre prospect' list. He was the Sun Belt Conference player of the year in 2006 (South Alabama).

The Cardinals reportedly freed up $7 million in salary with the trade.

I guess the club is thinking this could be the guy that eventually replaces Scott Rolen at third, which is forward-thinking. I'm not sure if my shock is because they traded Edmonds away, or because they got so little in return for him.

In any case, thanks for the memories, Jim. Good luck in San Diego.

I guess we'll find out how good Colby Rasmus really is now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report - small print, no pictures....

Before we get to the meat of tonight's discussion, some points of order:

1. I've added a link to Sports News Connection. Check it out. It's a one-stop website with links to articles from around the country, for example,,, the Sporting News, and local paper reporting. Towards the bottom of the page is the 'Sports Blog Connection' section, and The Stance is listed as the Cardinals blog. More exposure never hurts. Welcome, Curt, to our margin.

2. Dustin over at introduced me to the Baseball University website. Yes, there is actually a BASEBALL UNIVERSITY. Would that I had found that out before deciding to slug through a statistics-based Masters program. All kinds of cool courses (hitting fundamentals, scout like a pro) are offered, as well as classes designed to make you a better youth coach. You need to know these things; there's so much to learn about the great game. Check it out.


Today brought the release of the Mitchell Report. I'm not going to go into great detail here, because the report (and subsequent 80+ player list) is being dissected on sports sites (and newspapers and blogs) across the world. But I did have interest in one specific question:

Does the report identify Mark McGwire as a steroids user?

The report is 406 pages long. Small print, no pictures. Dry. Since I don't have the time (right now, maybe later) or the patience (ever?) to read the entire thing, I did the next best thing:

I searched the pdf file for the word 'McGwire'.

McGwire does appear rather prominently in the report. By my count, his name appears 46 times (37 in the body of the report, and nine more times either via footnote or bibliography). The report basically re-hashes all the public events in McGwire's baseball life since that day in 1998 they found andro in his locker. After wallowing around without a point for 132 pages, we finally come to the crux of the issue, on page 133:

"During the course of the investigation, we interviewed a number of coaches, club personnel, former teammates, and other persons who know McGwire. Only Canseco, who repeated the allegations from his memoir, said he had knowledge of McGwire's alleged use of steroids (emphasis mine). Through his personal lawyer, I asked McGwire to meet with me for an interview about these issues, but he declined to do so."

You would think, based on how discredited McGwire currently is, that if there was dirt to be had on him it would be easy to bring to light. Most people have difficulty not kicking someone when they're down; that person's an easy target and probably won't fight back. So why did no one come forward to say they had seen McGwire using?

There are several possibilities. Mitchell didn't interview players (or had little luck getting them to talk; he reported sending letters to Bonds, Palmerio, and Sheffield, among others, and got no answers from them either), so the guys with the real dirt remain silent. Perhaps Canseco had an ulterior motive for accusing McGwire in his book. I don't know.

The one thing that works against the Canseco ulterior motive theory is that McGwire never forcefully (to my knowledge) denied the report.

Whatever the reason, these facts remain, and are not in dispute: The ONLY proof we have that McGwire used steroids is the testimony of one man. No one has come forward claiming to have sold McGwire steroids (a la Victor Conte with Bonds). No former training partner of McGwire's has come forward either to back up Canseco's story. There is no corroborating evidence to prove McGwire used steroids. I expected this report to include his name. It doesn't; yet it does include other former players among those named.

I hope the entire BBWAA took notice. Stop treating McGwire like an ex-girlfriend you believe betrayed you. Vote the man into the Hall.

76.5% of the voters did not vote for McGwire last year, and in their arrogance and adolescent pique, probably won't this year. They won't let facts get in the way of a good emotional argument.

I have two words for them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Makes A Great Gift!

Ok, now for the update on Cardinals goings-on:

1. Rolen and LaRussa still hate each other.....check.
2. Cardinals haven't signed a free agent starting pitcher yet......check.
3. Mo can't find a suitor that wants Duncan or Ankiel in exchange for pitching help.....check.

Looks like the status quo is still in place. So, I thought I'd take time out to describe a recent birthday gift I received.

The following description should not be taken to mean that I did not like any other birthday gifts I may have recently received, or that I am not grateful to have received said items. I simply wanted to talk about this one during a slow week.

Just in case members of my family read this site (and I know who you are...)

I recently had a birthday. How old am I? 'As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.' Name the movie that comes from and I'll think of something cool to acknowledge your acumen with. Anyway, a couple of days passed, and a package arrives from Seems my younger brother had sent me something (I can't call him my little brother, as he is 3 inches taller and 30+ lbs heavier. Pretty close to how much bigger my dad was than I. Yes, I'M the runt).

So I open it. And it's this:

Now, I'd seen this DVD set advertised on-line (and in TV commercials) before, and thought it might be cool; but never thought to buy it. Let me tell you: It's pretty cool.

The set includes 6 disks, of the following games at Busch:

- 1968 World Series, Game 1 (Gibson strikes out 17)
- 1982 World Series, Game 7 (WE WIN - on the scoreboard after the game ended)
- 1985 NLCS, Game 5 (Herzog out-manages Lasorda; the 'Go Crazy, Folks!' game)
- 1987 World Series, Game 3 (I'll have to watch it to see why this one made the cut)
- 8 Sept 1998 game vs Cubs (McGwire's 62nd HR)
- 2004 NLCS, Game 7 (Clemens, afraid of Rolen, pitches to AP with the tying run on third; AP doubles, Rolen HR on next pitch, World Series bound!)

Each DVD jacket includes interesting facts. For example, the 2004 jacket states: AP hit .500 against the Astros in that series. It also includes the attendance, how many hitters STL pitchers struck out, men LOB by each team, and the box score on the back. The inside of the case includes a summary of each inning's events (ex: 2004 bottom of 6: Cedeno bats for Suppan; Cedeno singles to center; Renteria sacrifice bunts, grounds out to pitcher [Cedeno to second]; and so on), which makes it easy for you to find the event you're looking for.

The DVD itself allows you to watch the whole game, or select what half inning you want to skip to or start viewing from.

Naturally I watched all of 2004 Game 7 again. One of my favorite Cardinals games ever. But not before I discovered that this particular disk has some extras included on it.

Like Edmonds' HR the night before that forced Game 7.

I did not see that event live. I was at work all that day. I was on the Submarine Squadron staff in 2004, and although the OPCON (Operational Control room) had recently restored its cable connection to the TV in there - ostensibly to watch the news for major world events - I hadn't been able to camp in that space to watch the game. I was, of course, monitoring the game via the internet. As I was getting ready to head home I stopped by to see the ninth. I saw Izzy blow the 4-2 lead. I listened in the car as the Cardinals swung feebly at Lidge, and Tavarez pulled his head out of his ass long enough to retire 6 straight Astros.

I was almost home when Pujols reached. I heard Rolen make his out while sitting in my driveway. I had the radio turned up so I could hear it, and started taking stuff out of the trunk of my car; when I heard the distinct sound of static from my radio. When I fixed it, all I heard was bedlam.

You see clips of the HR but it doesn't do it justice. Seeing Edmonds foul off the first pitch, then send the second one soaring into the Cardinals bullpen gave me goosebumps. A smile appeared on my face without me thinking about smiling.

I haven't watched the rest of the set yet (I didn't see the 1982 Game 7 either, I listened to it on the radio while I did homework), but I will. It (other than Gibby's game) will be a walk down a pleasant memory lane for me.

I highly recommend this set for the Cardinal fan near you.

Younger bro: Thanks.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

Flags all across the country are at half mast today.

I've gotten several questions from civilian co-workers, 'Why are the flags at half mast? Who died?'

Today is December 7th. Here's who died:

Today is the 66th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, which formally and finally got the United States into the shooting war now known as World War II.
It also led to one of the best speeches FDR ever gave. If you've never heard the speech, other than the famous first line, here it is:

"Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire."

If you know a veteran of the Second World War, call him. Visit his or her grave today if they are no longer with us.

And remember those who perished on that Sunday morning so long ago.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Victoria, Cesar, and SCOTT

I meant to blog last night, however, a little thing known as the Victoria's Secret fashion show was on. So I was unable to type, as my blogging hand was busy.

WITH THE REMOTE. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Things I learned from watching that boob-and-ass-fest:

- Brazil could become a creditor country to the world if they bottled Amazon River water and sold it under the byline "drink this and look like a lingerie model!" You gonna tell me the 'fat' lady in the green muumuu down at the trailer park wouldn't guzzle that stuff by the gallon?

- I'll bet the after-walk spread was a bowl of tic tacs and some fortified water. That's a lot of bony women. Beautiful faces, but not much meat.

- 'Dream Angel Heavenly' Fragrance? Come on. They ought to name that shit 'Spilled Semen', to memorialize the 10 million adolescent boys who use those catalogs for other than their intended purpose.

And now, back to baseball.

I've got some catching up to do from my last post, so here it is in a nutshell: Cardinals signed Cesar Izturis to a 1 year, $2.85M deal. reported the contract included incentives that, if met, could make it worth $3.5M. There's no option for 2009, so this is a one year rental.

Here's a comparison of what Izturis and Eckstein did over the past 3 years in some categories I selected. These are their averages from 2005-2007:

Izturis: 90 Games, 317 AB, 31 R, 81 H, 14 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 4 SB, 5 CS (nice), 19 Walks, 28 K, .255 AVG, .298 OBP.

Eckstein: 133 Games, 521 AB, 72 R, 155 H, 22 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 9 SB, 5 CS, 38 W, 36 K, .297 AVG, .356 OBP.

To be fair, Eckstein lead off for the Cardinals all 3 years, while Izturis hit all over the batting order; and Izturis was relegated to the bench the last 2 years as a Dodger, Cub, and Pirate.

For a fielding comparison, I just looked at fielding percentage and errors:

Izturis: Average .975 fielding pct, 7 errors (I just looked at his stats playing short)
Eckstein: .976 fielding pct, 14 errors.

So it's a wash there; Izturis made fewer errors on average, but he also had fewer chances to make a play than Eckstein.

Frankly I don't see how the club improved with this signing. Izturis is a weaker bat who hasn't played short full time since 2005. Basically the organization has decided to tread water this year under the assumption that Brendan Ryan, who isn't ready for prime time full time (which most prognosticators agree is true), will take over at short full time in 2009.

Not to mention the Cardinals parted ways with one of La Russa's favorite players; the 'toughest man I've ever had play for me,' I believe was the sound bite.

Which brings us nicely to one of La Russa's least favorite players: Scott Rolen.

Not sure when this article went up, but it's scathing. As far as La Russa's comments on the organization's best interests, I completely agree. Rolen, when healthy, makes this club infinitely better. The last time the club dumped a veteran on a snap decision was the shipping of Keith Hernandez to the Mets; worked out pretty well for Keith, and the Mets (we got Jack Clark to replace him, so I can't really complain about the consequences to the Cardinals).

In all seriousness, what did the Cardinals expect to get offered for Rolen? Other teams are dealing from a position of strength. They know Rolen is unhappy in St Louis, and they know the Cardinals are trying to move him. They also know he's had the three shoulder surgeries in the last two years, and they've seen his power numbers decline steadily since the collision with Hee Sop Choi in 2005. If St Louis was trying to deal him in 2004, at the peak of his powers, they could have held out for a king's ransom; but now, other GM's are like sharks circling for the kill.

Additionally, I think now, based on how this situation has blown up in St Louis, and the ugly way Rolen left Philadelphia in 2002, that Scott can justifiably be classified a clubhouse cancer; and what contender wants to insert a malcontent into the mix in the locker room? Rolen was golden in Philadelphia initially, and then went to play for the team he idolized as a kid (and admitted was perfect for him), yet both periods of employment ended (or are going to end) very badly.

Who would willingly want to deal with that nonsense?

The Cardinals have also been rumored to be shopping Jim Edmonds and Anthony Reyes. The Padres are rumored to be interested in both (at least according to the Channel 8 sports guy on the 11 o'clock news out here). St Louis can lose Rolen or Edmonds, but not both; AP got very little to hit last year, can you imagine what he'll see pitch-wise this season if his protection is Duncan or Ankiel? For Reyes: I'll say it publicly now: unloading Anthony Reyes would be a mistake the Cardinals rue for years to come. His stuff is too good. Quit treating him like a yo-yo and let the man pitch.