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.
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.
@miklasz thank you. what'd i miss?—
EL MAQUINO (@elmaquino) August 21, 2012
> 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.
> 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.”
> 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
> 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 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.