Good afternoon ladies and gents,
Bear with me and the title of this entry because I am going to try and walk a straight line as I run through this latest stream of consciousness. I happen to be watching the Kevin Costner baseball flick, and while it isn’t the tightest or most well made film about the game, it does put on fine display the emotional engagement that goes on every single season. It’s impossible to not get a little sentimental or romantic about the game of baseball. When I was watching Pedro Guerrero knock in 117 runners in 1989 and asking my dad absurdly long questions about the game, one of them happened to be about the length of the season. “Dad, why do they play so many games? 162 seems like an overlong poorly made movie.” My dad would smile and tell me for the 100th time. “It’s an endurance test. Some get off the boat before it reaches its end and some stay on for the long haul. It’s not supposed to be easy.” My dad and I were film addicts as well as sports nuts, so the two worlds worked hand in hand.
Imagine if directors stopped production 2/3 of the way through a shoot. No movie. No escape. No audience. The same adage goes for sports fans. You have to dig your feet in during a baseball season. The game truly is relentless and can pound you to the ground. Only the strong will survive a 7 month season.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard on social media, “Well, that’s it. This isn’t the Cardinals season We are done,” I wouldn’t have to work a full time job in addition to writing all of these articles. I could stay home and relax more while laying off the caffeine. Last night, when the Brewers used the benefit of two calls from the umpiring crew to tack on a big inning against Adam Wainwright, fans walked to the roof of their cyber nets, and threatened to jump off again. Their ace was getting beaten up by the rival this season. It didn’t matter if it was Ryan Braun getting meaningful hits or Jonathon Lucroy. It was a bad night, and a 7-4 loss. Sometimes, the game can make us forget the standings and the place the team is in. If you listened to social media, one would summarize that the Cards were 10 games out of first place and barely holding on. In reality, the Cards are 3 games out of first place(with more games to come against Milwaukee) and only a half game out of the second wild card spot. I swear the league could make 3 extra wild card spots and that wouldn’t cut down the ledge diaries. That’s baseball. I get it to a certain degree.
I never give up on this team until the end. I may pound on Allen Craig in a series of articles or ask for Shelby Miller to take a trip to Mexico to relax, but I never write, “THIS IS IT” and close the laptop. I wasn’t built that way or raised by my dad to close my eyes on a season. I hold out hope that this team can get a small whiff of the 2006 or 2011 team and turn it around in a month. History might not repeat itself that often, but it can serve as a faithful reminder. There is still time and room for an awakening. There could be an eruption at Busch Stadium tonight. Mike Matheny was tossed last night and ripped into the instant replay debacle in the post game. The players didn’t like failing to pick up their fallen ace pitcher. Waino probably didn’t sleep too well, replaying the pitch he threw to Lucroy for that bases clearing double. Baseball players never give up, so why should we as fans? Sure, they are making the big dollars to play the game, but we have given our heart and soul to the game for so many years one would think a little attention would be paid to the fact that the season is long and brutal. That ideology will never waver or change. Every season, 162 games will be played and a small group of teams will be selected to participate in a hunt for a World Championship trophy. When August 1st comes around, a lot of teams see their hopes and dreams start to fizzle. Realities come to light. Odds fall in someone else’s favor. Teams play to their projected skill set.
Then again, it’s still early if you are thinking like a well seasoned fan and not a hard boiled Vegas gambling junkie. The Cardinals are in this thing and have every chance to turn the ship around and make a serious run at #12. If Matheny asked Ron Burgundy what this team could use, the famous newscaster may suggest a new suit or an old wooden ship, but what the Cards need is their roster to wake up and compete. Fans can cry to John Mozeliak for a hitter to come in and save the day, but this offense needs a lot more than one stinking bat to stitch the wounds to the 29th ranked National League team in runs scored. A lot can change in a season(like going from 1st in runs to near last), but one thing will always remain constant.
It’s not over until the ballpark goes dark and the locker room stalls are emptied. There’s still time, Cardinal Nation. Chin up and believe it. In 2011, on August 25th, the team was 10.5 games out of first place and came back. That history bit has been worn down pretty well during the past three years, but it still works in my opinion. Whenever you want to spell doom for your local team, just remember, check the standings first. Be realistic. Remember the old rule. It’s not over until the 27th out of 162.
As Elliott Ness(Costner played him too) told Al Capone, “Never stop fighting until the fight is done.”