Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Alphabet soup: UCB CBA

In my last post, I mentioned the UCB Cardinal Blogger Awards (CBA), and how you were invited to participate by casting your vote in the categories on the ballot.  What I failed to disclose what the way I cast MY ballot.  Shoptaw was kind enough to remind me in a way that allowed me to keep both kneecaps in tact, and still live to write today's blog.

Since you've surely been on the edge of your seat wondering how I voted, wait no more.  A couple of the questions on the ballot I left blank intentionally.  Just throwin' that out there.  (Lookin' at you, 2011)  So, without further ado...

Refrained from voting 

  • Voted: Yadier Molina 

  • Voted: Kyle Lohse

  • Voted: NLDS Game 5

  • Voted: Wainwright's SHO

  • Voted: Jon Jay

  • Voted: Marc Rzepczynski

  • Voted: Trevor Rosenthal

  • Voted: Carlos Beltran

  • Voted: Oscar Tavares

Refrained from voting

Refrained from voting

Voted: Bird Land
Refrained from voting
Voted: Wrote in, Pitchers Hit 8th - Top 5 Iconic Moments
Voted: Top 5 Iconic Moments
Refrained from voting
UCB Radio Hour
Refrained from voting

If there's any one thing I'd add, it's that you should go read the Pitchers Hit 8th piece, if you haven't.  If you have, go back and read it again--you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2012 UCB Awards - Deadline approaching

Each year, the UCB conducts an award ceremony, and at the end of the year, the votes are tallied to see who walks away with the hardware*.   The deadline for vote submission is fast approaching (Friday, Nov 30), and we've now opened the voting up to anyone among our readers who wishes to participate.

The categories are self-explanatory, and involve either the Cardinals organization, a player or member of the organization, or a member of the members of the UCB.

We'd love to have your input on these few questions...whole thing probably takes four minutes to complete.  And you might even be entered in the drawing for the UCB grand prize**!

To get started, just click here.

*   There's no actual hardware or physical award of any kind.
**  There's also no drawing, and subsequently no grand prize.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nov 15 - UCB Roundtable QOTD

I'm not much of an expert on up-and-coming kids in the farm system.  Prospects have never really been my thing.  I mean, I know about Oscar Tavares, and the obvious Billy Hamiltons and Profars of the world, but for the most part, unproven kids don't float my boat.

For that reason, in part anyway, when it was my day to ask the UCB Roundtable my question for the day, I went a little different route.  It's no secret that I'm a fan of visiting MLB ballparks far & wide, and eventually want to check them all off my list.  Given that, I sought the input of the group as to how they'd compare the current Busch Stadium to other parks they've experienced and asked what changes, if any, they thought should be made to Busch.

I've been to my share of other stadiums and seen baseball games in all but one of them.  Mother nature & the baseball gods weren't seeing eye to eye that night, and my only shot at seeing a game at Shea was rained out.  I've liked many of the other parks I've visited, some more than others.  I'd rank Busch III right up there with many of them in most categories, but I wouldn't say it's the best stadium I've ever been to.  Better in some areas than other parks, and not as good in other areas.

There have already been numerous changes made to the park since it opened.  The left field wall used to be plain--just a flat green with no retired numbers or images representing people in Cardinals history.  Same for the walkway outside of gate 3, the Musial pavers weren't always there.  Not sure if you'll recall this one or not, but the original right field foul pole had a striking similarity to the fuselage of a 747, only painted yellow--it stood about, oh, Arch high, and had the circumference of about 11 Prince Fielders.  It was replaced rather quickly.  My two favorite changes are those two flags flying over the out-of-town scoreboard in right field that weren't there on the day the park opened.  There are other modifications & enhancements that have come along over the past few years, but you get the point I'm trying to make.

At any rate, if I were going to make any changes to the current Busch, they'd not be anything too drastic.  But two things do come to mind:

1)  Upgrade the video board to HD.  A lot of other ballparks have already done this, and you'd have to go back further than you might think to find an offseason where no team upgraded their scoreboard (jumbotron, whatever).  I'd say, especially given the Cardinals organization being so "green" and at the leading edge in baseball of being environmentally friendly, an upgrade could save a lot of energy while improving the fan experience.

2)  Grab a bucket of yellow paint, and get your ass to the outfield wall.  This is long overdue (Busch III has never had a yellow stripe), and has come into play a few times since the park opened, including recent umpire review sessions to rule whether a ball was a homerun or not.  Paint the stripe.  It's easy, inexpensive, and though I really have tried, I can't think of a good reason not to do it.  I'm open to thoughts if I'm missing something--drop a comment below.

As for my UCB colleagues, here's how they responded...

Daniel Solzman:
I went to a game in the Redbird Club this past August and I have to say that it was awesome.  I have an open invite to stop by the broadcast booth and visit with Dan.  Of course, he was on vacation during the game that I went to.

I’ve only been to about half of the ballparks as of now, give or take a few, but Busch is top notch.  The only change I would make would probably be to move the press box to the same level as the broadcasters as is the case in other stadiums.

Daniel Shoptaw:
I have been to only six MLB stadiums in my life (only two of which are still standing) and given that I've still not actually paid to enter Busch III, I'm completely unqualified to give any opinion on the stadium experience.  Luckily, I'm a blogger and have lots of ability to give unqualified opinions.

One thing that was nice in Cincinnati (the only other standing stadium I've attended) was that their Hall of Fame was right there on the same plot of land as the stadium.  I know that once Ballpark Village gets underway, the Cards are planning to put their HOF over there and that'll be great.  It's good to be able to absorb some history before going in to see the current incarnation of the team.

Other than that, I don't know what Busch could improve on, though I look forward to those that have more trips to the park under their belt weighing in!

Wes Keene:
Having been to only a limited number of parks, I should probably refrain from answering this. There are much more qualified people in this group. I will say that 'modern' seems to win out over heritage most of the time. The charm of an old and crumbling park is limited. More food and beverage locations, more shopping, and more entertainment are all tangible things fans can enjoy and clubs can profit from. There is little advantage to living in the stone age and doing without those conveniences. The latest incarnation of Busch does have all the modern amenities and is easy to get in and out of. We could definitely do a lot worse. 

Tom Knuppel:
Nothing real special about Busch. I have been to probably 50% of the stadiums and all are unique for various reasons. Some have better "views" while some have better ""in and out" access. Then there are those with outstanding history lessons surrounding it and some are "historic". 
To me, Pittsburgh is really nice and Wrigley is really terrible. Yankees and Mets, being in NY are just too many things going on while Boston does a great job of the neighborhood concept. San Diego is pristine and Dodger Stadium is unique as to it location. 
So I am trying to say that all have some qualities that make it special and probably more-so to their fans.

Busch III is in line with many of them but I don't feel "in awe" entering the stadium.

Dennis Lawson:
Busch III seems incredibly nice in terms of its updates and upgrades which are pretty much standard issue in the newer ballparks.  Many practical concerns are addressed, so the vendor spaces, restrooms, and areas to congregate are extremely nice.  That said, it doesn't have quite the same "personality" as AT&T, Camden Yards, or even the Nationals Stadium.  However, you really can't beat the view from home plate at sunset with the Arch still in view.  It's spectacular and might be one of the most beautiful panoramic shots in a stadium anywhere.  

Our seats last season were right in front of the Bowtie Bar below Big Mac Land, and I can't complain one bit about the view.  The sea of red created by a full stadium of Cardinal fans makes it magical.  You could pack 40,000 members of Cardinal Nation into a huge parking lot, and it would still be awesome.  That's really what makes Busch special.  It's the baseball gathering place and a destination.  It represents so much more than just a bunch of bricks and a field.  The ability to transplant the that magic from one stadium to the next via the fans means provides the element that makes Busch III different than most ballparks.

Chris Mallonee:
Here's my list of parks I have been to. 

Arlington Stadium
The Ballpark at Arlington
Enron/Minute Maid
Coors Field
Kauffman Stadium
Wrigley Field
Whatever the Angels call their field
Whatever the Diamondbacks call their field (Chase field?)

I too, like Dathan, have a great appreciation for the history of ballparks and have been to a decent number over the years. A group of buddies from high school and I have decided to visit one new park a year...last year was Wrigley, this coming season we are going to Miami. With this week's trade, they may be selling tickets for 5 bucks to sit in the dugout during games. 

How does Busch compare to other parks? I can't think of another place where the stadium is more of a civic centerpiece than Busch III. Wrigley is in a sense, but there is another team in the city, and the field is not in the heart of downtown. So I appreciate the longstanding tradition of the name being carried on from park to park and the new park was built in the same location as the old one. What I love about going to Busch is that the fan experience is geared around what is happening on the field, Busch doesn't need roller coasters and crazy in-game gimmicks to get people to come and be entertained. I think the "look and feel" has been done very well to tie in the classic look with the modern amenities. Things like the Bowtie Bar that have wireless charging stations and variety of beer and liquors, as well as free shade during the hot summer, was a great touch.

So, because of my preference for stadium experience that is about the game, and not the frills, the next best place I have been is Wrigley. It's a totally unique experience that everyone should have on their bucket list. 

Because of growing up going to so many games at Busch, I"m biased to the point that no other stadium experience compares for me. However, the last couple of years, I've gotten to sit in different party suites a couple of times, and that is top notch. The champions club last summer was awesome...they had several of the World Series trophies on display, and service second to none.

What could Busch do better? I wish they would better incorporate the history of the team out on the main concourses. Yes, they have the scoreboard from final game at Busch II and name the concession stands after various things from Cardinals past, but maybe a few banners along the walkway with great moments of Cardinal history, and perhaps even a place in authentic team store with more Jack Buck stuff. I would like to see more about him in the stadium.

The last thing I will mention, is that I believe the Cards fan base has as much an appreciation of baseball history as any other...I think it would be awesome if the team did more throwback uniforms. The '82 weekend was great, but I'd like to see them throw on the Baby Blues more often, and even throw on the 40's unis that Musial wore. I think the fans would really like that.

Spencer Hendricks: 
I think I'm echoing others here, but I do feel like Busch is a nice enough modern stadium, albeit one that errs on the boring side. I like how it plays very neutral, but sometimes the quirky parks are the ones that are truly memorable. I never got to go there, but my favorite ever park has to be Olympic Stadium in Montreal. So ugly, and so empty. If the Expos still existed I don't see how I could avoid moving to Canada and having UEB Roundtable questions in my inbox every morning instead.

Mark Tomasik:
Busch Stadium III is a good, not great, ballpark. The ballparks in Baltimore and Pittsburgh have better settings, better seating, better sightlines, better ambiance. The ballparks in Cincinnati and Cleveland are as good as the one in St. Lous. The Cardinals need Ballpark Village _ and they need it to be a grand-slam fan experience _ in order to elevate this ballpark over most others.

Matt Whitener:
Let me start this off by saying I am still horribly in love with Busch
II and I don't like change. So, now that we've gotten that out the

I dig Busch III, finally. I went to 25 games this year, and sat
everywhere from the fourth row to the top of the left field stands.
It's got nice sight lines that don't make you feel like you're going
to die if somebody fouls one off the wrong way.

It's aesthetics are with the times, that modern, yet vintage vibe that
Camden Yards put into play 20 years ago so effectively that there have
been copycats ever since. And the visuals around the park are great.
But the amenties in it are low. And while I don't EVER want to see the
swimming pools and BS that other parks have, Ballpark Village will be
great for the enviroment and visual outside the park. The inside will
stay simple, but the ambiance will change.

Of the parks I've been too, which isn't as plentiful as it will be by
this time next year, it's strong. But I'd say overall it's upper
middle of the pack. Which isn't bad really, because there are some
awesome ballparks in this era of baseball.

Christine Coleman:
What a great question! Although the subject isn't a surprise, coming from you ...

I've been to 15 MLB stadiums overall, although two -- old Yankee Stadium and Shea -- are no longer there.  (In the case of Shea, thankfully.) 

Several of you have mentioned Camden Yards, and I've been there twice. The first time was over for a couple innings of a game, though. It was opening day 2005 and I was in town for a conference -- the convention center is right across the street. Once I got done in the late afternoon, it was about the sixth inning or so. I walked over, went to the first gate I saw, said I was from out of town at a convention and just asked the ticket taker if I could come in. What the heck? He said not then, but I was welcome to come back once the game ended and he'd let me in to look around. After seeing tons of people leaving, I tried again at a different gate; no. I saw a woman ticket taker at one gate so I thought she'd be more sympathetic. Her initial response was "Do you know how many people have told me that today?" so I started rummaging through my bag for my convention badge. She just shook her head and said I could go in, but I couldn't sit. Ever the rule-follower, I didn't ... even though there were plenty of seats everywhere. Instead, I stood behind home plate a few sections up from the field. (I could even see Cal Ripken in some great seats right by the dugout -- and he spoke at the conference the next day.) From that vantage point, awesome view. Terrific atmosphere, with what was left of a sell-out opening day crowd. In 2008, I was there for a full game. Our seats were about midway down the left field line. They faced directly forward, meaning you had to turn to the right to see home plate. The heads of the people in the row in front of me blocked my view. The rows in our section were very crowded too. I was not happy that such a terrific looking -- and so much praised -- ballpark was actually not quite as great from those seats anyway. There was plenty of space elsewhere in the stadium, though, so we moved up and weren't as uncomfortable having to turn to face home plate. But the food was terrific and Boog Powell was even at Boog's Barbecue -- he threw out the first pitch that day.

That trip in 2008 was part of a bus tour, so I got to see (and compare) all the East Coast ballparks within 10 days. And, through the course of the trip -- and my visits to Busch Stadium also -- I've discovered that what makes a trip to the ballpark most enjoyable to me is the crowd. If it's a sell-out or if it's a large crowd, that's so much more appealing than a half-empty or worse stadium. PNC was lovely -- the views are gorgeous, the variety of food and beer was great, the area outside it with statues was very nice, the parrot running all over was fun, the pierogy race was interesting. But there were maybe 12,000 people, and they were mostly quiet all game. It was as scenic as anticipated, but overall not a top memory from the trip. One that surprisingly was: Citizens Bank Park. I had no expectations going there, so was very pleasantly surprised. Wide variety of food, great seating areas to eat at beyond left-center field, seats down the left field line (since we were in that area again) that actually faced home plate, and a sell-out Fox Saturday afternoon baseball crowd that booed a marriage proposal on the big screen, cheered wildly for an elderly couple on the kiss-cam and went nuts when Brad Lidge came into the game. Nationals Park was our final destination, and it was the first year it was open. Absolutely terrific -- every detail, as far as seating and the concourse and sight lines and food and drinks, all so well thought out. No one was there. All I remember about the game itself was they played the Reds. And I had steak nachos.

So the people are why Busch is so great to me. Probably the case why, despite my best efforts to hate it, I loved Fenway too. Knowledgeable, pleasant fans. Great amenities and atmosphere too, for sure -- they've really made a lot of improvements and added modern touches in areas where they can to a 100-year old stadium. And Wrigley has, in some small ways, improved a bit (although there's plenty more they can do). I still have been to far more games at Wrigley than Busch, but I hadn't been there for a couple of years until this September. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the upgrades, even though minor, inside and out.

Amenities will vary from park to park, as will food and beverage selections (and I definitely have to scout out those in advance before going to any ballpark now to see what's available that's gluten-free. Wrigley tops Busch there by far, sadly.) But it's the energy and the excitement that comes from the people in the stands that really makes the ballpark experience for me. That's why going to games at Busch, being part of that sea of red, will forever be more enjoyable than being among a capacity crowd at Wrigley where only half the people are even aware there's a baseball game going on and the other half are wondering when Sammy Sosa will be up. It was a trip to Busch II in 2000 -- when I was still weighing whether I could finish the leap to being a Cardinals fan and give up the Cubs completely -- that convinced me yes. Smart, engaging and friendly fans sitting around us did the trick, even though I liked the ballpark too.

I have no idea if I answered your question, but it's certainly been pleasant to think about the ballparks I've been to and jot down some baseball thoughts on this November night!

Dustin McClure:
In regards to Busch III it was designed with one thing in mind, watching a baseball game. That was the main objective and it does that extremely well. Now I don’t want to get into a BFIB debate, but I’d venture to say most Cardinals fans that take in a game or 80 during the season are probably just fine with the simple approach of the current Busch Stadium and don’t need swimming pools or night clubs in the stadium to occupy their time.

As far as comparing it to some other parks I’ve visited and what I’d change my list is pretty short. First, and I think I’ve mentioned this to you a time or two Dathan, is I’d love to see improved scoreboards. Now it doesn’t have to be like the 100,000 sq ft monster they’re putting up in Seattle but it would be nice if they’d at least upgrade to HD screens at the very least on both boards. I’m getting old and my eyes are going so this would be a benefit.  And the other thing is something they’ve continued to try and address and that’s atmosphere around the park. The new restaurant and bar that’s slated to open in 2014 in Ballpark Village will definitely help along with finally getting the Cardinals Hall of Fame up and running. A franchise with as rich of a history as the Cardinals absolutely needs a HOF. That’s pretty much it. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Next time, give me Old Yeller

I took last week off from writing, as I didn't really want to spew emotion all over the page.  I try to maintain some sense of decorum, albeit weakly at times.

The Cardinals were eliminated from the NLCS last Monday night, in spectacular fashion, at the hands of the (now World Champion) San Francisco Giants.  It reminded me of the '96 team that lost to the Braves, that I referenced a couple weeks ago.


Up 3 games to 1, at home, facing Barry Zito, and the Cards couldn't pull it off?  It seems taking either of the next two would be just as tough (read: impossible) as well.  I guess the baseball gods had plans that were different from mine for the 2012 redbirds.

For what it's worth, it was hard to watch.  I mean, really hard to watch.  Knowing the ability that this team has, and the way they've never given up & continued to fight for everything they'd done over the past couple of years, made it that much harder to sit there and watch those last few grueling games.  A big part of me didn't want to watch, but a lot of people gave up on this team a few times last year, and will kick themselves forever.  I spoke to one guy last year who was at the Trop for the Rays/Yankees game (#162) last year, and left in the 7th when it was 7-0 Yankees.  He'll never forget doing that.  Hundreds (or thousands) of people left game 6 of the World Series early last year, though something tells me you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who openly admits doing so today.  So, I couldn't not watch, but man it sucked doing so.

I've described it to a few people as being like watching your puppy take 4 days to die.  It was gut-wrenching, and in all honesty, you'd rather just take Old Yeller out behind the barn with a shotgun, and...well, put everyone out of their misery.  Though at least "12 in '12" died too.  Then "12 in '13" popped up almost immediately.  Ugh.

Either way, congratulations to the Giants--I sincerely mean that.  And not in the "at least the team that beat us won it all" kind of way.  That's what people say when their team loses, but often its something that's forgotten by game 3 of the next series.

Oh, well.  On to the off-season, which, I've said numerous times, I find just as exciting as the regular season, only in different ways.  I guess we'll just count down the 16 weeks until pitchers & catchers report to spring training, then count down until April 5th, 2013.  You see, that's when the Cards will be in San Francisco to take on the Giants, and watch* them get their rings...just like they did in April of 2011.

*If you've not read this, you should.  I love garlic fries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Uphill both ways in the snow

I'm concerned about the future of the nation.

Cardinal nation.

I've got four kids: two boys and two girls.  The boys are 11 and 6; The girls are 7 & 8, and we are, without a doubt, a "baseball family".  Those of you who keep up with me via social media have seen evidence of this from time to time.  The kids are all Cardinals fans, and even at six, the youngest includes, "Well, you like the cubs!" in his modest arsenal of insults for his siblings.

But these kids today don't know how good they have it.  They've seen their Cardinals get to the World Series in '04, '06, and '11, including winning it twice.  When I was a kid  you didn't win the World Series every few years.  Getting there in '82, '85, and '87 was a rarity...and we were taught to show respect and reverence for that.

In my day, if you were down to your last strike ONCE, you didn't come back and tie the game, let alone win.  And you sure didn't come back if you had gotten down to your last strike twice.  You lost those kinds of games when I was their age.  But today's kids don't know any better.  With their new-fangled At-Bat apps, and their pitch trax.

When I was growing up, we had to suffer through those 1990's teams.  Those were lean years, only making the playoffs in the '96 season, and the way that one ended against the Braves would leave the worst of bad tastes in our collective mouths for years.  If you don't remember it, you can google it or just take this summary to heart--The Cards were up 3 games to 1 on the Braves, and lost the NLCS by being outscored 3,100 to 2 over the last 3 games.

From the time the Cardinals walked dejectedly off the field in Minneapolis, after having lost game 7 of the World Series to the Twins to the time they made the 2000 playoffs, that 1996 postseason appearance was all we had as Cardinals fans.  And we might not have been happy about it, but that's the way it was.

Kids today have grown up seeing the Cards make the postseason in 2000, '01, '02, '04, '05, '06, '09, '11, and now '12.  That's 9 playoff appearances.  Counting backwards, starting before this run, you don't get to the 9th playoff appearance until 1943.  Now, I realize there are more rounds, more divisions, more opportunities...etc.  But that doesn't change my point.

My dad was lucky enough to see the '64, '67, and '68 teams get there.  But, as I understand it, he had to save his nickels and get a ride to see a game at Sportsman's Park.  His alternative was to listen on the radio, or maybe watch it on television, though he'd do so on a black-and-white set, and be glad to have it that way.  Color TV wasn't nearly as common in households, and this may come as a surprise, but HD wasn't even a thought yet.   His dad before him saw Cardinals teams in '42, '44, and '46 win the World Series, but only after walking up hill in the snow both ways.

Of course, dad had to suffer through those sucky 70's teams, which never made a single postseason appearance.  Which, incidentally, was the first time the team went an entire decade without advancing beyond the regular season since...well, since grandpa endured the lousy decade of the 1950's.

So, Grandpa saw the teams of the 1940's win over and over, then had to watch those 50's teams get stomped on a regular basis.  Dad saw the franchise turn it around, and go on an absolute tear in the 60's and win multiple times again, before suffering through the lousy teams of the 70's.  I grew up enjoying the success of the 80's teams that Whitey ran, but endured the painful 1990s.  Kids today have seen the teams of the 2000's get off to a great start, and I'm hopeful their passion & loyalty to the team is being built strong enough today to stick with them, in the event of some down years ahead.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Please help me understand

I'm as lost as Ryan Theriot in Cooperstown, NY.

Look, it's election season, and a lot of people tend to get a bit testy this time of year when it comes to politics. 99% (by my non-scientific conservative estimates) of us are biased in these conversations. Let's say a candidate sticks his or her foot in their mouth and says something stupid. (Not the usual stupid stuff, but the stuff they meant or thought was legit.)

When my guy says it, it's excusable for this reason or that. When your guy makes the exact same mistake, I light him up for being a huge imbecile. Your guy breaks an egg, and he's making a huge mess; my guy breaks an egg, and he's feeding homeless children. THIS candidate's Facebook page has this many likes, and posted a *really* clever picture that's actually a saying. THAT candidate just tweeted some pretty amazing stuff in less than 140 characters. Huge double-standard. Drives me nuts, but that's life in politics.

And in sports.

Like baseball...like Cardinals baseball. And their manager.

It's no secret, I'm a fan of TLR. Hell, this blog's name was inspired by one of his many LaRussa-isms. I like what he did for this franchise, and while I didn't always agree with his decisions, I like the two flags that are flying over right field at Busch right now that weren't there before he came to town.

Lefty-righty match ups, late-inning defensive substitutions, "overmanaging", being curt at times with the media...etc, etc. All true. Also true? Tony LaRussa won. He pissed a lot of fans off along the way, but the number of complaining fans dwindled quickly with each passing October win each time it happened. But TLR spent his fair share of time being crucified, there's no denying that.

Enter Mike Matheny. Now, let me just say, I like Mike Matheny, and think he was a good choice to manage this Cardinals team. (Uh-oh, he started by saying he likes him...here it comes)

Where's the "overmanaging" outrage today? I've not heard one person talk about how MM just *has* to put his fingerprints on every game. Not a single talking head on ESPN, MLBNetwork, Fox, or any national outlet calling him out for lefty/righty match ups late in the game. No local radio stations (and there are plenty), newspapers or television channels really ripping Matheny for late defensive substitutions. The saturation of bunting lately? Ok, I'll give ya that one-he's had (earned) his share of criticism for that from plenty of people, myself included.

But, dude. Other than that? This guy can do no wrong. What's up with that?Again, I like the guy, but come on.

What really got me tonight was the decision in the 7th for Carlos Beltran to try to steal third base. I didn't see Matheny get in his ear about it upon his return to the dugout, nor did Oquendo seem to make much of the matter when Beltran was CS. For those reasons, I believe this was not something that Beltran decided to do on his own.

You guys ever heard of Allen Craig? Yeah, he's pretty good. Put a duck or two on the pond, and the guy's sick. Here's a guy who missed all of April, and when he did come back, Matheny put him right into the cleanup spot for 2 weeks. Then, unfortunately, Craig went back to the DL and missed another 14 games. In spite of that, he came into Monday night's night game batting .405 w RISP, 92 RBI (ranking 14th in the NL, 26th in all of MLB), and he ranked 4th in some other RBI/RISP typed stat that I heard earlier, but forgot, so whatever that was...throw that in the mix, and remember he missed six weeks.

Now, file all of it under "Reasons why you would not want to tell Carlos Beltran to attempt a steal of third base in the bottom of the 7th, in a 4-2 October game, with playoff implications, when Allen friggin' Craig is standing in the batters box with one out and runners at first & second". Or just abbreviate to save space. (#RWYWNWTTCBTAASOTBITBOT7IA42OGWPIWAFCISITBBWOOARAFAS)

I watched the post game "Mic'ed up" segment on FSMW after the game. Then, I rewound it, and watched it a second time, just to be sure that's didn't miss one of the reporters asking him about that play. Aaaaaand it would seem that I didn't. No one even asked him about it. (Unless I totally missed it)

Whatever. Like I said, I like the guy, and am not saying he isn't a good manager. I'm just saying that it sure is hard to imagine TLR doing the same thing, and not (at the VERY LEAST) being asked about it. Can't you just hear it?

Some reporter not named Calvin May:
"Tony, what about sending Beltran there in the 7th?"
Tony LaRussa: "What do you...?"
NCM: "In the 7th inning. You had Allen Craig up with one out and two on. He absolutely kills it with runners on, and Beltran gets gunned down trying to steal third, effectively taking you guys out of that inning."
TLR: *scoffs* "I mean...you've gotta watch the game."
NCM: "It just seemed like..."
TLR: Goes off on a diatribe for 6 minutes about all the things he was thinking, and the scenarios he'd played out in his mind.

Instead, we got:
NCM: "Nice win tonight, Mike."
MM: "Thanks."

I know that's just how it goes, and be it sports or politics or whatever, it's not going anywhere. Just saying, I'd like to see the same set of rules applied across the board.  I'm openly a fan of LaRussa, and while I appreciate what he accomplished in his time here, I never gave him a blank check.  If I thought he did something out of line, I'd say something about it.

My point is that Matheny doesn't get a blank check either, or at least he shouldn't.  First year manager, I get it.  What I don't get is why that seems to be an acceptable reason not to question bonehead decisions, whether real or perceived.  I don't pretend to know everything he does, or have access to data/insight that he does, but man oh man, it sure did seem egregious.  I guess if the Cards weren't at least guaranteed a shot at a game 163 at this point as a worst-case scenario, things would be different.  Maybe.

Or maybe he's "your guy" and can do no wrong in your eyes. 

...and don't even get me started on the bullpen & the number of appearances some of those guys have racked up. That's a topic for another day.