BERNIE, HERE’S YOUR ANSWER

THE BIG PIECE

Bernie, this is from your column today.

“This time the Cardinals were exposed by the Pirates. The young and ravenous contenders refused to be denied in the quest to outlast the tired, malfunctioning old champion. The Pirates had more energy and extra willpower. They had a bit more offensive kick. They had a bullpen that kept the gate closed, except for the small opening that the Cardinals crawled through for one run in the 17th inning Sunday. …

“If you look at the National League leaders in the most important offensive categories, the Cardinals are at the top or near it. Well, I don’t care what the NL rankings claim; they’re lying. This offense is fraudulent. It can bully teams for a one-night torrent of runs, only to disappear in most close games. …

“The con is up. The Cardinals bring the thunder enough to be misleading. But those eruptions for eight, 10 or 12 runs are false advertising. They are movie-trailer games, featuring alluring highlights of home runs and heroics make the production look a lot better than it really is. …

“‘The guys played hard,’ Matheny said. ‘They did. They fought. I’m proud of how they went about it. I’d really like to have walked out of there with a win, but I liked the way they played the game.’

“Sorry, Mike. But that’s nonsense.

“That rah-rah stuff may resonate with the high school baseball team at Westminster Christian Academy, but this is major-league baseball.

“They don’t give trophies for trying in major-league baseball. They give the players millions of dollars for trying. That’s what they are paid to do: try hard. Given that the Cardinals aren’t far behind in the wild card race, you’d hope the players would give an effort. That isn’t good enough. Not even close.

“Matheny is managing an underachiever. Now 121 games into the season, it’s clear that the Cardinals lack a sharp competitive edge. That’s among the prime reasons they come up short in so many close games. …

“Maybe the manager needs to get mad and push harder instead of applauding his players’ effort after a squad loaded with All-Stars scored only three runs in 19 innings.

“‘Tough one to swallow,’ Matheny said, talking about Sunday’s loss. And if Matheny can’t get this lagging team going, he’ll have to swallow the failure of an entire season.”

.

When I read this, the first thing I thought of was Jack Clark’s famous poopy pants rant from back in 2010.

Anyway Bernie, I think you need to be sat down and told two things.  One, that when a baseball writer like yourself accuses–let alone one player–an entire team of players of not trying, 99% of the time it’s not only an incorrect take but also a cowardly one since I’m willing to bet you didn’t tell Matheny in the interview room, “Sorry, Mike, but you saying that your team fought for 19 innings is total BS.”

Two, you’ve been writing these pointless “the Cardinals are frustrating” columns for months now, to which the reader and only react with a, “Why yes.  yes they are.”  But after the pages and pages of dead-end complaining, you’ve finally walked right past a reason for the frustration and you still can’t see it.  Luckily, I found out a couple months ago, and I’ll give it to you for free so we can all stop reading these pity party dispatches.

The Cardinals play to the score.  Most likely subconsciously, because, as you said, they’re getting paid millions to try hard and–gasp!–they know that better than you do.  But they do do it.  Look at all their games from when the easy schedule stopped and the inconsistency started and see if you can find a pattern.

Rk Date Opp Rslt Opp. Starter
32 May 11 ATL L,7-9 M.Minor
33 May 12 ATL L,2-7 B.Beachy
34 May 13 ATL L,4-7 T.Hanson
35 May 14 CHC L,4-6 R.Dempster
36 May 15 CHC W,7-6 P.Maholm
37 May 16 @ SFG W,4-1 M.Bumgarner
38 May 17 @ SFG L,5-7 M.Cain
39 May 18 @ LAD L,5-6 T.Lilly
40 May 19 @ LAD L,0-6 C.Kershaw
41 May 20 @ LAD L,5-6 C.Billingsley
42 May 21 SDP W,4-3 C.Richard
43 May 22 SDP W,4-0 E.Volquez
44 May 23 SDP W,6-3 J.Suppan
45 May 24 PHI L,9-10 J.Blanton
46 May 25 PHI L,3-5 C.Lee
47 May 26 PHI L,0-4 K.Kendrick
48 May 27 PHI W,8-3 R.Halladay
49 May 28 @ ATL W,8-2 T.Hanson
50 May 29 @ ATL L,4-5 R.Delgado
51 May 30 @ ATL L,7-10 T.Hudson
52 Jun 1 @ NYM L,0-8 J.Santana
53 Jun 2 @ NYM L,0-5 R.Dickey
54 Jun 3 @ NYM L,1-6 J.Niese
55 Jun 4 @ NYM W,5-4 D.Gee
56 Jun 5 @ HOU L,8-9 L.Harrell
57 Jun 6 @ HOU W,4-3 B.Norris
58 Jun 7 @ HOU W,14-2 J.Happ
59 Jun 8 CLE L,2-6 J.Tomlin
60 Jun 9 CLE W,2-0 J.Masterson
61 Jun 10 CLE L,1-4 U.Jimenez
62 Jun 12 CHW L,1-6 J.Quintana
63 Jun 13 CHW W,1-0 J.Peavy
64 Jun 14 CHW W,5-3 G.Floyd
65 Jun 15 KCR L,2-3 V.Mazzaro
66 Jun 16 KCR W,10-7 B.Chen
67 Jun 17 KCR L,3-5 L.Mendoza
68 Jun 19 @ DET L,3-6 J.Verlander
69 Jun 20 @ DET W,3-1 R.Porcello
70 Jun 21 @ DET L,1-2 J.Turner
71 Jun 22 @ KCR W,11-4 V.Mazzaro
72 Jun 23 @ KCR W,8-2 L.Mendoza
73 Jun 24 @ KCR W,11-8 J.Sanchez
74 Jun 25 @ MIA W,8-7 R.Nolasco
75 Jun 26 @ MIA W,5-2 C.Zambrano
76 Jun 27 @ MIA L,3-5 A.Sanchez
77 Jun 29 PIT L,5-14 K.Correia
78 Jun 30 PIT L,3-7 J.Karstens
79 Jul 1 PIT W,5-4 E.Bedard
80 Jul 2 COL W,9-3 J.Outman
81 Jul 3 COL L,2-3 J.Francis
82 Jul 4 COL W,4-1 J.Guthrie
83 Jul 5 COL W,6-2 C.Friedrich
84 Jul 6 MIA L,2-3 R.Nolasco
85 Jul 7 MIA W,3-2 C.Zambrano
86 Jul 8 MIA W,5-4 A.Sanchez
87 Jul 13 @ CIN L,3-5 M.Latos
88 Jul 14 @ CIN L,2-3 M.Leake
89 Jul 15 @ CIN L,2-4 H.Bailey
90 Jul 16 @ MIL W,3-2 M.Fiers
91 Jul 17 @ MIL L,2-3 R.Wolf
92 Jul 18 @ MIL L,3-4 T.Thornburg
93 Jul 20 CHC W,4-1 R.Dempster
94 Jul 21 CHC W,12-0 M.Garza
95 Jul 22 CHC W,7-0 T.Wood
96 Jul 23 LAD L,3-5 C.Billingsley
97 Jul 24 LAD W,8-2 C.Kershaw
98 Jul 25 LAD W,3-2 A.Harang
99 Jul 26 LAD W,7-4 C.Capuano
100 Jul 27 @ CHC W,9-6 T.Wood
101 Jul 28 @ CHC L,2-3 J.Samardzija
102 Jul 29 @ CHC L,2-4 P.Maholm
103 Jul 31 @ COL W,11-6 J.Francis
104 Aug 1 @ COL W,9-6 D.Pomeranz
105 Aug 2 @ COL L,2-8 A.White
106 Aug 3 MIL W,9-3 R.Wolf
107 Aug 4 MIL W,6-1 M.Rogers
108 Aug 5 MIL W,3-0 M.Estrada
109 Aug 6 SFG W,8-2 M.Cain
110 Aug 7 SFG L,2-4 B.Zito
111 Aug 8 SFG L,0-15 R.Vogelsong
112 Aug 9 SFG W,3-1 M.Bumgarner
113 Aug 10 @ PHI L,1-3 R.Halladay
114 Aug 11 @ PHI W,4-1 C.Lee
115 Aug 12 @ PHI L,7-8 V.Worley
116 Aug 14 ARI W,8-2 I.Kennedy
117 Aug 15 ARI W,5-2 J.Saunders
118 Aug 16 ARI L,1-2 T.Cahill
119 Aug 17 PIT L,1-2 J.McDonald
120 Aug 18 PIT W,5-4 E.Bedard
121 Aug 19 PIT L,3-6 J.Karstens

When their opponents score a lot, the Cardinals step up and hit back.  But when their opponents don’t score, neither do they.  You observed this when you said the offense “can bully teams for a one-night torrent of runs, only to disappear in most close games,” and “those eruptions for eight, 10 or 12 runs are false advertising [... and] make the production look a lot better than it really is.”

But this phenomenon is, in all likelihood, a subconscious thing, and it’s right to point this out to the team and say, “Hey guys, be the high-scoring Cardinals all the time, not just when you need to be.”  That’s how you address the situation in writing.  Calling Matheny a liar and his boys a bunch of bums is not how to do it.

(Also, save the “Pirates had more energy, willpower and offensive kick” nonsense.  They had sixteen scoreless frames yesterday and the only reason that thing went into extras at all was because of a dinky infield hit and an error by a pitcher who had one of the best games of his career against them.)

UPDATE: Bernie was a halfway good sport bout it.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals signed 16-year-old Nicaraguan Ronald Medrano.  Yep.

> In the offseason, Showtime decided to profile the Miami Marlins instead of the Cardinals for the annual The Franchise show.  The show got cancelled early because the Fish suck so bad.

THE OPINES

> Former Cardinal Chris Perez, focal point of the worst Mozeliak trade ever,  got into it with an idiot A’s fan and ripped him a new one, leaving the fan spiraling in a torrent of lame comebacks.  Watch.

> Barret Browning gave a very depressing quote after getting the wrong chamber in yesterday’s 19-inning Russian roulette game with the Pirates.

“It came down to one guy not doing the job.  And that was me.”

THE NUMBERS

> Just one today.  Here’s what Carlos Beltran’s done this year:

.278, 28 homeruns, 85 RBI

And here’s Albert Pujols:

.278, 28 homeruns, 85 RBI

THE DAILY PUJOLS

> Albert was back in town for a charity golf tournament on his day off.

“St. Louis is going to be in [the Pujols family's] hearts forever, and I believe this is something to show people that we aren’t going anywhere,” Pujols said.  “Obviously, I’m wearing a different uniform and playing in a different city, but the passion that I have is not going to change.”

THE FRIVOLITIES

> The story of the Beltrans’ pet monkey:

“During one of his first years in the majors, with Kansas City, Beltran had a dream about a little monkey picking at his hair. So, he looked to buy a monkey, driving from KC three hours toward St. Louis to pick one up. (‘No research, nothing,’ he says now. ‘Straight to the monkey.’) The first weeks included cutting holes in diapers for the monkey’s tail. Mikaela lived with him for several years until a ransacked apartment convinced him the monkey needed a new home; it now has one.”

> The last picture of Fredbird alive before Mark McGwire beat him to death with a wood plank.

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