What a start by the Redbirds! 9-3…and it doesn’t even feel like we broke a sweat getting there. This team may be looking for several pieces of their identity to emerge, but it’s already clear that “relentless” and “determined” are words that will consistently be applied to the 2012 Cardinals.
But we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get into it (if you haven’t listened to the UCB Radio Hour from last night yet, CLICK_HERE).
About that start by Adam Wainwright on Opening Day… I really feel for the fans who worked themselves into a frenzy in anticipation of this Opening Day – with Waino starting and all – but we really should have seen this coming. His start against the Brewers was less than inspiring. He held his own, but he didn’t exactly have shutdown stuff. Most are attributing his lack of success so far to reduced velocity – a malady the experts claim will heal with time – but it’s also clear he just needs more starts to get comfortable again. And let’s not forget, Mr. Tommy John himself – Chris Carpenter – warned fans and media to temper expectations during Winter Warm-Up. “Cy Young Adam Wainwright,” as Carp called him, may take some time to establish himself. Again, according to Carp, he’s 100% healthy and ready to go – or else he wouldn’t be throwing – but it just takes time and multiple starts to get right. He’ll get there.
What the heck was up with no Clydesdales?! I know, I know…the warning track was wet and stuff. So what. The next day, the Cardinals had the ring ceremony and then delayed the start of the game by nearly a couple hours. Why not do that on Opening Day to fix the track? Is it impossible to fix the track after horses walk on it before the game? I may sound unreasonable, but not having the Clydesdales on Opening Day in St. Louis is just…well…wrong! I feel like the Cardinals and AB need to make this right…maybe with a Clydesdales Day in Busch this season. They could partner with Build-A-Bear to give away mini plush horses…or something. And it really galls me that Luhnow had the Clydesdales at Opening Day in Houston this year…and we didn’t. Back off our traditions, Draft Boy!!!
I absolutely loved the gold jerseys worn by the Cardinals. If you didn’t see it, the players wore special uniforms with gold lettering during the first two home games of the weekend against the Cubs. I wouldn’t want to see them the entire year, but it was fun to see for a few days. In fact…hehehe…I bought a David Freese gold-letter shirsey last week ;) Boo-yah!
And while we’re on the subject of Championship swag…how ‘bout them rings, eh?! Like the hosts last night, I am thoroughly impressed with the design of the World Series Championship rings given to the players this year. Including details such as a “Happy Flight” inscription and the rally squirrel will make them conversation and story pieces for decades.
Tara came up with an excellent plan for delivering Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus their rings last night! I believe she said, “Let’s ship ‘em to a random address in Iceland and then send Albert and Colby notes that say ‘Here’s where it is…go get it.’” Outstanding idea, Tara! And I understand your father deserves creative credit as well…so be it. So let it be written…so let it be done!
Was Game 162 on September 28th a sign of things to come for the Cardinals? After doing everything but dominating their division and season for the 161 games prior, the Cardinals handily won their final game against the Astros 8-0. None of the other teams participating in that historic night of games can say anything even close to that. The Red Sox and Braves blew it…the Rays squeeked in…and it took the Phillies multiple tries to pull off an extra inning win. But Carp and the Cardinals cruised to a calm victory in Texas. Maybe we should have seen what happened in October as inevitable.
Speaking of Game 162 and Paul Kocak’s book, A+E Home Entertainment and MLB Productions should produce and distribute a DVD collection of those games. I would love to see a five or six disc set that included each of the four games involved in that night in their entirety as well as one or two extra bonus discs for extras. One of the bonus discs could even contain a dramatic, specially produced showing of the games mixed together as they happened with or without commentary. The other disc could be devoted to turning Kocak’s book into a film documentary to show the fan’s perspective. Let’s call it, “3 Minutes in September” ;)
Paul brought up an excellent point about technology and Social Media serving to distract from the game. I love to get on Twitter during games, but even I find myself shutting it down for special moments like Opening Day or World Series games. I just don’t want to be distracted from appreciating what’s unfolding in front of me. Even instant replay and DVR technology as spoiled me a bit. Have you ever found yourself missing something in your life – maybe a funny moment between friends, or a cute smile by your children – and instinctively reaching for the DVR/Replay button? I know it sounds silly…but I have. Especially if I miss something on the radio! I’ve grown so accustomed to “never really missing anything” that I worry I take special moments for granted.
A final note about the drama of that night…Game 162 on September 28th: The drama and Hollywood format that it set up for October was, in a word, unbelievable. For example, I have no doubt in my mind that the Phillies would have beaten any other NL foe except for the Cardinals – especially the Braves. It took a special kind of mojo for that STL team to prevail. And yet Game 162 found the Phillies fighting tooth and nail to set in motion their own demise! By beating the Braves and gifting the Cardinals a playoff spot, the Phillies signed their own death warrant. They made “11 in 11” possible. Unreal.
Paul Kocak mentioned Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians on last night’s show. His question was a simple one. Since Doby integrated the American League shortly after Jackie Robinson did the National League, should the AL have a Larry Doby day while the NL has a Jackie Robinson day? My initial reaction was, “Eh…I don’t know.” I thought that one of the reasons Robinson was so special was not simply because he played, but because he played extremely well. Knowing nothing about Doby’s career, I instantly assumed it was less than stellar. I was wrong. Looking up Doby’s stats on Baseball-Reference.com, it became clear Doby is deserving of celebration. In a 13 year career (really, just over 12…he didn’t exactly play much in his first season), Doby hit .283/.386/.490 with 253 home runs and nearly 1,000 RBIs. He averaged 27 home runs and 103 RBIs a season and hit 32 homers twice – 1952 and 1954. Fifty-four, in fact, was possibly his best year with 32 homers, 126 RBIs, and a slash line of .272/.364/.484. Years later, the slugger was voted to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee. Well-deserved, Larry. But to get back to Paul’s point, Jackie debuted for the Dodgers on April 15th, 1947. Doby debuted months later on July 5th, 1947…the same year. Should Doby be given his own day like Jackie? I would love to see it happen in the AL…but Jackie has become such a symbol throughout baseball, I don’t think it would be possible – nor should it – to replace Jackie’s day in the AL with Larry’s day. Baseball may need to get creative and offer something in addition to Jackie Robinson Day to honor Larry – and others – during an MLB season.
That’ll do it for today! Thanks for reading, and don’t forget…today’s an early day game, and Waino faces the Reds.