The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘St Louis Cardinals’

The bullpens are out of control

Posted by keithosaunders on April 19, 2017

Baseball these days is almost unwatchable.  Without a device that can skip through commercials you’re watching drama on a par with paint drying.  The only time I can watch a game in real time is when I have it on in the background while I’m practicing,  or when I’m eating.  Thanks to a revolving door of relief pitchers from the 6th inning on, the game has slowed to a crawl.  Throw in a few booth reviews and the snail-like pace of most pitchers and hitters and you’ve got yourself a cheap sedative.

What is it with these corporate push-button managers?  They’ve got bullpens, often eight deep, stacked with loutish buffoons, each one throwing in the high 90s.  Yet these pampered gorillas are seemingly incapable of throwing more than one inning at a time.

Then you’ve got the delicate genius managers in the mold of Tony La Russa, such as Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, and Cardinals skipper, Mike Matheny, who mix and match righties and lefties until you want to throw a shoe at the screen.  God forbid these guys ever get into a marathon 20 inning game, they’ll have to forfeit when they run out of players.

 

Delicate genius

Image result for Tony Larussa

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The dawn of the baseball season

Posted by keithosaunders on April 1, 2016

And so, after a long cold winter, or in the case of the Bay Area, a wet winter, the baseball season begins again this Sunday.  This year, instead of the traditional opening night game, there will be three Sunday games:  The Cardinals vs the Pirates, the Blue Jays vs the Rays, and my Mets will visit the reigning World Series champion Royals.

First of all:  Nice touch by baseball tweaking the opening day schedule.  It will be great to have the triple header to kick things off instead of the usual anti-climactic lone Sunday night game.  Plus, baseball feels better in the day, especially to open the season.  I don’t say this very often but…kudos to MLB!

Not only that, but we have three sexy match-ups.  I don’t know about you, but I loves me some NL Central division teams and the Pirates have long been one of my favorites.  So you have a classic match-up between two of the oldest teams followed by a game between two expansion teams.  The Blue Jays figure to be a lot of fun this year and they have earned their slot in the opening day spotlight.  Perhaps we’ll get a Joey Bautista bat flip which will insight another juicy Goose Gossage rant.

Finally we’ll have the Mets vs the Royals.  This is the first time in 30 years in which I’ve gone into the season expecting the Mets to win their division.  Usually the best I can hope for is for them not to embarrass themselves.  This year, with the signing of Cespedes, and the return of their young, stellar pitching staff, the immediate future looks bright.  By the way, when is the last time the two World Series teams from the previous season opened the season against each other?  Answer:  Never.  Yet another nice move by the schedule-maker: finding a clever new spin on a hackneyed inter-league format.

Play ball!metsbeagle

 

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Post mortum

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

The Mets lost the 2015 World Series and they did it in their inimitable style — in gut wrenching and embarrassing fashion.  After an improbable, some might say, miraculous season and playoffs, they came crashing back to earth in a World Series that saw them blow three late-inning leads,including two saves.

Their offense went awol, reverting back to pre-Cespedes quality, and their defense was putrid. I would go so far as to say that this was the worst World Series lineup I have ever seen.  The only one that comes close is the 1988 Dodgers, but that team won!

Yoenis Cespedes was playing hurt, his bat non-existent, but his defense was piss-poor and half the time it appeared as if his head was not in the game.  His bass-running gaffe which ended game 4 was inexcusable.  I was a huge Cespedes fan and it’s obvious that without him the Mets do not make the playoffs, but after watching his World Series error-riddled performance I question his baseball IQ.

It’s not only Cespedes.  Daniel Murphy, who carried the Mets through the NLDS and NLCS, reverted to being Daniel Murphy, slumping horribly and fielding like a little leaguer.  It will be interesting to see which team overpays for him during the offseason.

Nevertheless, I thought Terry Collins had a good Series.  I appreciate the fact that he sticks with his starters longer than most managers.  Matt Harvey, who I killed before the playoffs, pitched an absolute gem through 8 innings of game 5 and he (rightfully) lobbied to stay in the game for the 9th.  How could you take him out?  He was untouchable.  Jeurys Familia had been anything but lights out this past week and it was far from a given that he would have retired the side.  This idea that there has to be 7th, 8th, and 9th inning specialists is garbage.  GARBAGE.  I have no respect for anyone who would second guess Collins for having left Harvey in.  Zero.  If Lucas Duda makes a decent throw to the plate the Mets win the game.

And so it continues.  Even after a World Series appearance I cannot escape the embarrassment of rooting for this team. They couldn’t just lose normally — they had to do it in Keystone Cops fashion.  It’s as if they’re still paying off a deal with the devil they made in 1986. Written in small print in the contract:  Drink up, do as much coke as you want, stay out all night, get into brawls –  I’ll see that you win.  But be warned! Your team will be doomed to lose in embarrassing fashion for the next hundred years. 

A playoff upset to the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, the Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla era of the early 90s, the subway Series loss to the hated Yankees, Yadier Molina’s game 7 NLCS homerun, the epic division collapses of 2007 and 2008, and the garbage years of 2009-2014.

What to do?  I’ll sleep this one off, lose myself in some football, and by the time February rolls around hope will spring eternal.  Despite the doom and gloom of this post, the future does look bright for this team.  If only they can get out of their own way.

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It’s go time

Posted by keithosaunders on October 13, 2015

If you had told me on April 6th when the Mets opened In Washington against the Nationals, that on October 13th they would be playing a playoff game against the Dodgers that could propel them to the NLCS, I would have laughed in your face. But here they are, poised for success in this most improbable season that turned on a dime with the July 31st acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes.

Matt Harvey was mediocre last night versus the feckless Dodgers, but when you’re facing third-rate starters such as Brett Anderson and your lineup possesses gamers like Curtis Granderson and the aforementioned Cespedes, it doesn’t much matter. The Dodgers [probably wisely] sat Chase Utley, but at this stage of his career he is not an impact player unless you count chippy slides.

As for Harvey, I don’t blame him for not being sharp, what with nearly a two week layoff.  In this era of pitch counts and coddling it is unrealistic to expect your ‘ace’ starter to have any kind of rhythm in his biggest start of the year. I wonder what Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson think of today’s crop of tin-men. Hopefully, if the Mets move on, Harvey will be stronger in the NLCS.  They will need him against a frothing-at-the-mouth, too young to be scared Cubs lineup. (yes I have written the Cardinals off)

In the meantime the Mets have a game to win.  Rookie Steven Matz and his sore back will face Clayton Kershaw, who will be starting on three days of rest. The realist in me wants to believe that the pressure of pitching in a closeout game in hostile Citi Field will be too much for Kershaw, who thus far in his storied career has been a playoff washout.  The fatalist in me, however, hears a voice buried deep inside of my head saying, ‘He’s due.  He’s due.’

This is it, Mets.  FINISH THEM.

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New York City to Harvey: Man up!

Posted by keithosaunders on September 6, 2015

The latest news out of Mets-ville is that Matt Harvey, their ace pitcher, has insinuated that he does not expect to pitch over 180 innings this season which would effectively shut him down for the post season.  This came as news to Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, and the rest of the baseball world and predictably, social media exploded in a torrent of outrage and funny memes.

Have we learned nothing from the Stephen Strasburg shutdown debacle of 2013? The Nationals had made the playoffs for the first time in that franchise’s history (they were previously the Montreal Expos and came into the league in 1969) and looked poised to make a deep playoff run.  Instead it was one round and out.  For all the babying and coddling Strasburg still managed to suffer injuries the past two years while his team has underachieved and appear on the verge of having to rebuild.

Harvey, who for all of his talent comes off as an arrogant prick, must have underestimated the passion of the New York fans when he made his cryptic statement.  Either you want to pitch or you don’t. Are you a gamer or are you a bum?  Do you think that in the ’88 Series Oral Hershiser said to Tommy LaSorda, “Hey skip, maybe I’d better not pitch in relief on short rest. I’ve maxed out on my innings.”  Hell no!  Like Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling (that idiot) and Madison Bumgarner he said, “Give me the damn ball!”

Does Harvey thinks that the Mets will accrue post season berths with the regularity of the St Louis Cardinals or the Yankees of the 90s and 2000s?  If so, perhaps he should riffle through a stack of the past decade’s yearbooks.  It’s been a putrid string of seasons since 2009.  This on the heals of epic collapses in 2007 and 2008, not to mention a heartbreaking loss in the 2006 NLCS.

If Harvey really does not want to pitch in the post season I say ship him and his purse to Seattle or Tampa for prospects.  If that’s his mind set then he probably doesn’t have the heart to pitch in big-time games.

———————————————————————————————————

10h10 hours ago

I hope Matt Harvey understands he just became the first player to publicly abandon his team before the playoffs. Good luck with that, kid.

I bet $20 that Matt Harvey would start Game 1 for the Mets. I never thought i’d lose because Harvey didn’t want the ball.

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Throw it back

Posted by keithosaunders on August 13, 2015

throw it back

For years the bleacher bums at Wrigley Field have had the quirky habit of throwing the opposing teams home run balls back onto the field.  When I first learned of this I thought it was a badass thing to do.  It was original and funny too.  In the past 15-20 years, however, fans of other teams have adopted this habit until now it has become de rigueur.  It’s a trope and a tired one at that.

If I was ever lucky enough to catch a home run ball the last thing I’d want to do is throw it away.  How often do these nimrods who mindlessly shout ‘throw it back!’ think this happens?  Allow me to offer a hint:  Almost never!

It’s one thing for the Cubs fans to do this.  I can stomach it from them since it’s their long-standing tradition.  But for a Cardinals or a Brewers fan to do it?  Well that’s bush league.

If I was sitting in the bleachers in Busch Stadium (no pun intended) and I caught Kris Bryant’s home run do you think I would throw it back?  Hell no!   Not only would I keep it, I’d have it bronzed and would brag about it until the day I died.

Imitation is not always a form of flattery.  in this case it’s a form of sheep-like stupidity.  Not for nothing, the Cubs are known as lovable losers.  Is this the kind of tradition you want to imitate?

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The Cardinals: The king of Game 7

Posted by keithosaunders on November 3, 2011

You’d better believe I’m in baseball withdrawal.  What a compelling, riveting Series we just experienced; it was one of the best I”ve ever seen.  Now comes the boring time of the year which is dominated by free agent signings and arbitration settlements.  Gee, will you look at that, Willie Bloomquist got a 2.5 million dollar extension…

Last week’s game seven Cardinals win got me thinking about how they had won more Series — 11–  than any National League team.  The runners-up are the Dodgers and Giants, each of whom have won 6 out of 18 Series appearances.  (the Cards have also played in 18 Series)

But I was more interested in the Series that went to a seventh game.  Off the top of my head it seemed the Cardinals had played in an inordinate amount of them.  Here is what I found:

The Cardinals have won eight World Series game sevens. 

1926 v Yankees

1931 v Athletics

1934 v Tigers

1946 v Redsox

1964 v Yankees

1967 v Redsox

1982 v Brewers

2011 v Rangers  

They lost game sevens to the Tigers in ’68, the Royals in 85, and the Twins in ’87. 

61% of the World Series that the Cardinals have appeared in have gone to a seventh game and their winning percentage in these games is 72%.

Now lets look at the Yankees who have won a staggering 27 Series.

Of those 27 Series ony ten have gone to a seventh game and they have won four of them, or 40%.  Three of those four wins were versus the Dodgers in ’47, ’52, and ’56, and they beat the Giants in ’62.  Admittedly the Yankees probably did not play that many game sevens because of their dominance, but still, for a team that has one 67% of the Series that they appeared in, (27/40) you would think they would have won more game sevens. 

The Dodgers are 2-3 in game sevens, (but I think 1955 should count for more than one win!) and the Giants are 1-2. 

The Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics have fourteen pennants to their name, but have only played in three game sevens, going 2-1.  The Tigers, on the other hand have played in ten Series, five of which have gone to a game seven.  Their record in those games is 2-3. 

What can we learn from this?  The Yankees are indisputably the most dominant team in baseball, but the Cardinals are the most clutch.  After coming from ten and a half games behind in the division, 3-2 down in the Series, and down to their last strike (twice!) who can deny it? 

Ol' bucket-head, Tim McCarver

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For the 11th time: Cardinals

Posted by keithosaunders on October 29, 2011

David Freese is the new Jeter.  I hate him!  (kidding — he seems like a good guy)  What a dream post season he had — how is he ever going to top it, or even equal it?  I guess that’s a good problem to have.

I feel bad for the Rangers, and especially for their fans.  What that must have feel like to have victory snatched from them in that way.  I hope the Rangers have a chance to get back to the Series, but I have a feeling this is going to take a lot out of them, and let’s face it– like Verdun said, their pitching is not that good.  Feliz and Ogando alone cost them the Series, but you also have to look at C.J. Wilson.  Terrible job out of him!  He’ll be gone anyway — good riddance.  I hope he goes to the Yankees. 

Chris Carpenter is indeed a great pitcher — tremendous job out of him on short rest.  He seems like a miserable person, though, as does LaRussa.  That’s why I really wanted the Rangers to win.  The Cards have won enough — 11 Series and 18 pennants.  Still, I must give it up to St Louis.  What a pennant race and playoff run they had.

The Cardinals remind me a little of the 2002 Angels, another offensive-minded club  They’re a team full of gamers that played gutty and hard-nosed ball.  The main difference between the two being the Cards won despite their manager, whereas the Angels had a great manager in Mike Scioscia.  

The thing that makes me mad is that LaRussa’s over-managing style has been vindicated and that we will see much more of the same from all too many clubs in ’12.  It’s fun to watch these games in the postseason, but they are death when it comes to a mid-June A’s-Royals matchup.

So now we must say goodbye to that greatest of sports and turn our attention to football.  Here in the Bay Area the fans and media are crazed with the early season success of the 49ers, who at this writing are 6-1.  One of the radio hosts has them finishing at 13-3!  I don’t know about that, but I do know that I am ready for some football! 

Cmon, trainer, get in the mosh pit!

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At last, races.

Posted by keithosaunders on September 20, 2011

Thank you, Boston, for falling apart.  Your late season ineptitude is providing us with the late season intrigue we so craved.  At this writing the Redsox are clinging to a two game lead in the wild card race with the Tampa Rays hot on their trail. 

Good job out of Tampa going into Fenway this past weekend and taking three out of four from the Sox.  The only Redsox win came on a gutty pitching performance by Josh Beckett, who was returning from an injury.  Beckett, by the way, is unwatchable.  He holds the ball at least twenty seconds between pitches.  The only way to watch a Redsox game is to have it on tape so you can at least fast forward through the commercials.

I’ll be rooting hard for the Rays to pull this thing out.  I’m sick of Boston’s act — I have no confidence that they will win a playoff round, let alone beat the Yankees in the ALCS.  (let me take this opportunity to thank my readers in advance for not going into the Keitho archives and checking my 2011 playoff predictions)  Plus, Tampa is such a feel good story — they have built up a good organization through the draft and a few canny trades.  They play in a disaster of a stadium that looks like a prison field, compared to the designer parks of today.  How can you not like them?

And what’s this I see?  Atlanta’s N.L wildcard lead has been whittled down to two and a half games.  Just when I exhibited an unhealthy amount of man-love for the Braves, they have gone into free fall.  They’re in playoff form — choking in crunch time.  The Cards are improbably two and a half back, with the Giants right behind them at three and a half. 

The Braves will face the Marlins and Nationals, before closing the season out against the Phillies,  (who will have nothing to play for)  while the Cardinals play the Mets, Cubs, and Astros.  Between the expanded roster, and delicate-genius LaRussa’s propensity for over-managing, look for the Cardinals box scores to take up entire pages of the sports section.  

It looks like we’ll be in for an entertaining last week and a half of the season.  I know I’ll enjoy it.  Come the first week of October my season of misery begins — suffering through another Yankee post season.

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Grand Central Division

Posted by keithosaunders on July 25, 2011

CENTRAL W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
Pittsburgh 52 47 .525 26-25 26-22 382 378 +4 Won 1 6-4
St. Louis 53 48 .525 25-21 28-27 474 438 +36 Lost 1 5-5
Milwaukee 54 49 .524 33-14 21-35 443 452 -9 Lost 2 5-5
Cincinnati 50 51 .495 3 27-23 23-28 469 433 +36 Won 2 5-5
Chicago Cubs 42 60 .412 11.5 25-31 17-29 411 507 -96 Won 3 5-5
Houston 33 68 .327 20 17-36 16-32 388 506 -118 Lost 3 3-7

Don’t look now but there’s a classic pennant race shaping up and it’s not where you’d expect.  Forget your AL East with its twin behemoth Yankees and Redsox — their passion play will not begin until October, since the team that doesn’t win the division figures to take the wild card.

The action this year resides in the NL Central; that erstwhile laughing-stock of a division.  There, four teams sit separated by two games in the standings.  Given the fact that the NL East-residing Atlanta Braves figure to take the wild card, only one Central club will advance to the playoffs.

My sentiments lie with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are at this writing, leading the division by percentage points over the Cardinals.  The Pirates have reached the rarefied air of five games above .500, threatening to break their ignominious streak of consecutive losing seasons, currently at eighteen.  It is the longest such streak in professional sports. 

The Buccos are winning with a team of gritty, young ball players.  (that’s what several consecutive years of high draft picks, and a savvy GM will do for you) It’s rare for me to watch a Pirate game in which I fail to utter the sentence, “Who is that guy?”  

Andrew McCutchen is a speedy young center fielder who has 59 RBI.  Their second baseman is Neil Walker, a slick fielder, and a good run producer as well.  Their only semi-star is Lyle Overbay, who is playing first base.  The pitching has been surprisingly solid behind Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens, and Paul Maholm, and their closer, Joel Hanrahan, has been superb. 

The Cardinals are the favorites, with their murderers row middle of the lineup — Pujols, Holiday, and Berkman — but I’m hoping that their shaky bullpen will see to it that the do not run away and hide. 

Milwaukee was a sexy pick at the beginning of the season, and they are proving themselves worthy of the hype.  They’re a good team, and as long as K-Rod doesn’t blow too many games, they are going to be fine.  They’re another team I would like to see take the next step. 

I can’t stand the Reds pitching.  Johnny Cueto?  Edinson Volquez?  Homer Bailey?  It speaks volumes that Dontrelle Willis is making a comeback with this staff.  Still, they’re  another good hitting club that may be able to hang around. 

You see, this is why interleague play is a sham.  Here you have four teams in a pennant race, and they’re all going to playing each other come August and September.  While the Yankees, Phillies, and Redsox, spend September sorting out their post season rotations, there will be daily blood-lettings in the middle of the country.  Interleague is a distraction from pennant race baseball.  It is a novelty act that has worn thin.

If MLB has its way, however, we will see the expansion of interleague play, as well as the end of pennant races as we have known them since 1969, the year divisional play was introduced.  There has been a plan floated around that would do away with divisions, creating two 15 team leagues.  The schedule would be balanced, meaning that all teams would play each other the same amount of times, regardless of league.  Imagine if the Pirates played the Royals the same amount of times as they did the Cardinals.   

Baseball seems high bent on removing any sense of tradition from the game, rendering it corporate and soulless.  All the more reason for us to savor what could well be one of the last great divisional races.  

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