Tim McKernan, Fri, 09 Oct 2009 05:02:00 GMT
This is not in reference to erection or the Emmy-award winning Growing Pains character Richie Stabone. It’s in reference to Merkle’s Boner, an infamous play in Cubs’ history from 1908 in which New York Giants Fred Merkle failed to step on second base following what should’ve been a walkoff base hit. But, the hit was overturned because he was forced out at second…and the game was declared a tie. The game was replayed…and the Cubs won and won the National League Pennant. And, then went on to win their last World Series.
101 year’s later…the play is still talked about.
I don’t know if they’ll be talking about Matt Holliday’s mishap in the 9th inning of Game 2 101 years from now…but I assure you…if the Cardinals lose this series and the team traded away as much young talent as it did to get Holliday, the play will live in infamy for years.
As it should.
Yesterday’s loss was the most painful one that I can remember dating back to…at the very least…Tony Womack’s NLDS-winning hit in 2001. But, you could make a case that it’s the worst since 1985 and Don Denkinger. Unlike Womack’s hit, the Cardinals had this game won…and were heading back to St. Louis with homefield advantage, and Chris Carpenter set to pitch Game 4.
Instead, the 2009 season is on its deathbed.
I’ll break this down and point blame left and right…but I want to make this clear: I still think the Cardinals can win this series. I really do. I wouldn’t wager on it, but I wouldn’t bet on the Dodgers either. If the Cardinals beat Vincente Padilla Saturday, I’ll take my chances with Carpenter on short rest Sunday and Wainwright in Game 5 on Tuesday.
But, no matter what…at the very least, Holliday’s Boner cost the Cardinals the ability to start Carpenter or Wainwright in Game 1 of the NLCS…and Wainwright wouldn’t be available until Game 3.
Of course, at this point, every Cardinal fan would take a trip to the NLCS with a rotation of Todd Wellemeyer, Donovan Osborne, and Neil Allen. Just fucking get there.
Unfortunately…they should’ve been well on their way…but three guys blew it. One uncharacteristically. One fundamentally. One…as he has done for the last seven weeks.
Holliday says he lost the ball in the lights. It’s a terrible break. It very well could be the deathblow to the Cardinal season. There’s no excuse for it. None. It’s beyond devastating.
Many Cardinal fans are furious, and they have every right to be. Some are saying ridiculous things like, “Holliday just cost himself millions of dollars with that play.”
No…it won’t matter. That’s a play he makes 99 out of 100 times. It’s got nothing to do with his value.
Some are saying Boras should give the Cardinals a discount now.
And, I’m sure Ryan Franklin will be giving back part of his new contract extension as well.
But…here’s something that I’ll throw out there…and it could damn well be a shot in the dark…but I think it’s worth it.
When Holliday comes to the plate Saturday night, if you’re at the game, cheer your fucking balls off. Stand up. Scream. Make him feel loved like he’s never felt before.
But, I’m not saying to do this to show the country “we’re the best fans in baseball.”
I have business reasons for this.
Even though the old bats in town may think members of the Cardinals were sent down from heaven above, the players are human, and I assure you, Holliday feels like shit. I think some guys wouldn’t be as torn up as a guy like Holliday is. My guess is he won’t be able to sleep, and he won’t ever forget what happened at Dodger Stadium.
He already feels guilty.
So, when the time comes Saturday night, make him feel loved like it’s nobody’s business…and perhaps…maybe, just maybe…he’ll feel some form of indebtedness to the Cardinals and give them the benefit of the doubt in the negotiations. Not Boras. Holliday.
Now, if you honestly don’t want him back because he dropped the ball…or because you just didn’t want him back anyway…then feel free to boo. But, I honestly think this has a small chance to work.
Even if it doesn’t, it shows the rest of the country that we’re the best fans in baseball, and that of course, means everything. *
On to point two: Rasmus’ baserunning in the top of the 7th. Dreadful. Inexcusable. And, a rally killer.
After driving in De Rosa with his shot to the warning track and over Matt Kemp’s head, Rasmus committed one of the biggest sins in baseball: he made the first out of the inning at third base.
The cameras later showed Tony La Russa going batshit—as he should have—as the play happened, and the cameras showed Albert Pujols counseling Rasmus on the mistake.
Wainwright was up next…and he would’ve moved Rasmus to third. Lugo singled in his at bat. And, you’re now talking about a 3-1 game. The play will get forgotten because of Holliday’s error, but it was a huge fundamental mistake…and a killer.
And, then there’s Ryan Franklin.
Now, I’ve been writing about Franklin’s collapse here and talking about it on the show for six weeks. Just because someone is a Cardinal doesn’t mean they magically get right after being wrong since August 19th.
So, next time there’s a clear trend that something is wrong with a player, I’d suggest that the team have a plan B as opposed to being “all-in,” as Tony La Russa called himself earlier this week, with Ryan Franklin.
However, Franklin did enough last night to win. This loss is more on Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus than Ryan Franklin…and that’s coming from one of the Cardinal closer’s biggest critics.
With that said, he still had a chance to get out of the 9th without blowing it…and as has been the case since he started to implode August 19th, he fell behind hitters and gave up walks and hits. Ryan Franklin did what Ryan Franklin’s been doing for the last month and a half.
The fact that he shit the bed is not shocking.
Here’s something that is:
The TBS/public access broadcast team said that Tony La Russa was leaning toward Chris Carpenter starting Game 4 Sunday night…win or lose Game 2.
So, if that was the plan…and since the schedule for the postseason has been out for months…and both National League series were scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday-Saturday-Sunday-Tuesday for months…and Ryan Franklin has been bad for seven weeks…and you acquired John Smoltz to pitch out of the bullpen…then why the hell was John Smoltz pitching in the rotation through the end of the season and not getting a chance to see how he would do coming out of the bullpen back in September when the Cardinals had wrapped it up?
Tony La Russa’s blind loyalty to veterans has burned him in the past in the postseason, as I wrote yesterday. And, to not work Smoltz out of the bullpen is beyond a shame. It’s a huge mistake. They paid today…and really…do you feel good about Franklin going out there in Game 3, 4, or 5?
Even though I know there’s not much good to say about Game 2, and no one wakes up feeling good about it today, Adam Wainwright was so damn good yesterday. Man, that was fun to watch. That was playoff baseball. He threw first pitch strikes to 17 of the first 23 hitters he faced. The Dodgers were helpless.
Iffffffffff it gets back to Game 5 in Los Angeles, I love the idea of Wainwright versus Wolf.
Really…is it that absurd to think Pineiro beats Padilla, Carpenter beats Billingsley, and Wainwright beats Wolf?
I say the answer to that is no.
The issue is who closes the games out for the Cardinals.
And, not that I’m by any means ready to turn the page to 2010…but that issue isn’t going away after this postseason.
I don’t recall feeling so good about an outcome and then feeling it slip away so quickly…since about three hours earlier.
Hey…let’s lose two of the biggest games of the year in gut-wrenching ways in a matter of three hours on a gloomy, cold day to up the alcohol consumption in town.
Unlike the Dodger deal, Nebraska earned this win. And, once the rain stopped, surprisingly, the Huskers looked like a much better team. I say surprisingly only because I thought the rain would benefit Nebraska…but it clearly worked to Missouri’s advantage.
I’d like to see this game played in normal conditions with Blaine Gabbert not hurt, but you know what? I am not as depressed over this loss as I am the Cardinals’ collapse in the 9th…because Nebraska is the better team. And while the Tigers could’ve possibly gone into homecoming at Texas 6-0 with Dez Bryant now out for next week’s opponent Oklahoma State, I didn’t really think Missouri was going anywhere but potentially one of those upper-tier postseason exhibition handjob games they call bowls.
But, don’t get me wrong…the Missouri loss kills. It was there for the taking. They absolutely dominated the first three quarters…and then just like that…they looked helpless. I think I’m just so numb to the sports pain of the night that Lexington Steele could sodomize me at this point and I’d think I sat on a feather.
Blues Lose To Complete The Night of Dreadful News
I’ll be honest. I didn’t see more than two minutes of the game.
At this point, I’m most bullish on the 2009-10 Blues versus the 2009 Cardinals and 2009 Tigers…and I love the way the Blues’ organization operates.
But, to act like I’m too upset over a loss in October to whateverthefuck a Thrasher is would be dishonest when my sports heart aches from The Dodger Stadium Drop and The Faurot Fourth Quarter From Hell.
The insideSTL.com September 2009 Girls Next Door Party Tonight At Lucas Park
Oftentimes, I want to be hosting a Girls Next Door party about as much as I want to be getting up four hours now from completing this fucking column.
But, in the case, I just want to get intoxicated…so I’m thoroughly looking forward to the fun and games tonight at Lucas Park for the September GND Party.
You can still vote for your favorite of the five by clicking HERE. And, you’ll be able to scream and yell—but no fucking noisemakers or artificial noise allowed—for your favorite GND tonight at Lucas Park. Here’s a look at the five September 2009 insideSTL.com Girls Next Door:
The insideSTL.com Poker Tournament A Week From Sunday At Harrah’s
It’s almost here, and I want to make sure we fill the field. It’s the insideSTL.com Poker Tournament Sunday October 18th at noon at Harrah’s. $130 buy-in. 100 person field. And, if you elect to do so, you can play in all five our upcoming tournaments (for details…click HERE) and qualify for the final tournament in January…at which Harrah’s will give away World Series of Poker Circuit Event seats to the upcoming WSOP at Harrah’s in April 2010…along with monster cash prizes. First prize of the Final Event in January will win a Main Event seat ($5,000 value) and nearly $4,000 in cash if we fill the field for all of our tournaments.
So, if you’re interested in participating…or if you have some degenerate poker player friends like myself…spread the word and have them email me at email@example.com to register.
After 4 weeks, I’m at 13-7 and Producer Joe is at 10-10. I’m disappointed my Lock didn’t hit on the Titans, but after being in Nashville last week and having a chance to watch them on TV, I now see why they haven’t won a game. We’ll try and bounce back this week, but even with the loss on the Lock, I went 3-2 as did Producer Joe.
So, here we go on Week 5:
Alabama -5 @ Ole Miss
Producer Joe: I am back to .500 (10-10) after last week going 3-2. Not real good, still losing people money, but 50% would make me an All-Star in the Big Leagues. Anyway, Alabama is a solid football team that has beaten another good team at a neutral site this season, along with being 2-0 in the SEC. Ole Miss has only one blemish on their record this season with a loss 2 weeks ago at South Carolina, but they haven’t lived up to expectations this season. I really like the Tide in this one especially considering that they are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 as a road favorite, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 conference games, and 9-2 ATS in their last 11 as a favorite. Nick Saban’s boys will be ready on Saturday. Alabama -5
McKernan: I think Alabama may be the best team in the country…especially with the question marks surrounding Tim Tebow’s health and then the Big 12 this year. I’ll go with Alabama minus the points. Alabama -5
Florida -7.5 @ LSU
Producer Joe: I still don’t believe that LSU is a good football team. If not for some dumbass referee’s flag on AJ Green after he scored the go ahead TD in Athens, I firmly believe that LSU would have lost that game last weekend. Sure there are questions surrounding Tim Tebow and whether or not he will play against the Bayou Bengals this weekend, but I don’t think that is going to matter. The Gators come in 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games as a road favorite of 3.5-10.0 points, 9-0 ATS in their last 9 games as a road favorite, and 11-1 ATS in their last 12 road games. Geaux against LSU this weekend, their luck has run out after back-to-back weeks of just getting by with some help…. Florida -7.5
McKernan: It’s going to be insane in Baton Rouge Saturday. And, even if Tebow plays, he won’t be the same. I’ll take the Tigers +7.5
Minnesota Vikings -10 @ St. Louis Rams
Producer Joe: Short week after a huge division win for the Vikings…..who f’ing cares. The Vikings are the best team the Rams will have played in 2009 and that says a lot considering they have been outscored 63-0 in two games and 108-24 overall. Brett Favre may not even have to play the second half this week and the Vikings will still cover the number. This could be the perfect storm of weeks for the Rams–Rush Limbaugh talk all week leading up to the game & Jared Allan killing a Quarterback on Sunday. Need some numbers? It won’t matter, but here ya go: the Rams are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games as a home underdog, 5-14 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, & for good measure the Vikings are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games. Vikings -10
McKernan: I’m done with this charade. They won’t win…but they’ll play hard…and we’ll jack ourselves off over effort. Vikings -10
New England Patriots -3 @ Denver Broncos
Producer Joe: Last week it was knocking off the undefeated Ravens at home, and this week it is knocking off the undefeated Broncos on the road. Tom Brady is working his way back to being Tom Brady, Wes Welker got back into action last week, and Randy Moss finally had his first TD catch of the season against the Ravens D. The Broncos have been a surprise this season, but lets look a bit closer at their 4-0 start: freak catch to win Week 1 (Bengals), beat two shitty teams (Browns & Raiders), and knock of another team that has a lot of questions still to be answered (Cowboys). The Patriots are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games in Week 5, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a road favorite of 0.5-3.0, and 17-6 ATS in their last 23 games as a road favorite..oh and for good measure at least we get to see if Belichick will slap around another former assistant coach of his this week.
McKernan: I don’t believe in the Broncos, but there’s something about 3 point underdogs at home. I got to go with Denver. Broncos +3
LOCK OF THE WEEK
Houston +2.5 @ Mississippi State
Producer Joe: Mississippi State is known for being the first school in the SEC to hire an African-American Head Coach (current Rams running backs coach Sylvester Croom), for being the doormat of the SEC West, and for having the ugly girls that Ole Miss didn’t want. They aren’t much better this year in football, but hell they almost beat an overrated LSU team 2 weeks ago. Houston on the other hand is coming off their first loss of the season to UTEP last week, but I know that they are capable of doing something that LSU is not, and that is score points. That is all its going to take this week. Houston gets healthy and gets a another “quality” win over an SEC school to go with the two they have over Big 12 teams this year. Oh, and Houston is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as an underdog while Mississippi State is 0-6 in their last 6 as a home favorite….something they won’t have to worry about for the rest of the season after this week. Houston +2.5
McKernan: I have three games I’m looking at. I like Iowa at home against Michigan. I like Dallas on the road against the Chiefs. And, I really like the Giants -15.5 against the Rams of the AFC…the Raiders. But, Eli Manning’s status is up in the air, so I’m going to go the college route and take the Hawkeyes. I just don’t buy into Michigan. Iowa -8
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