Tag Archives: cardinals

Schadenfreuders Unanimous: World Series Game 1

So just before the playoffs started, I announced my intentions to do some recaps of the games and whatnot. Before doing so, I did not remember/calculate exactly how effin’ busy I’d be over those weeks. And so I was forced to not deliver on my promise for the first two rounds. I regret not being able to do this for the LDSes, all of which turned out to be pretty amazing, though I’m a bit relieved I couldn’t make it up in the LCSes, which, apart from a few games, were snooze fests.

Am I excited about this World Series matchup? Not exactly. Or not at all, actually. I’d hoped for a Detroit-Milwaukee series, for reasons that escape me now. Rust versus Cheese! Alas, t’was not to be, and so I have to decide between my generalized dislike for Texas (or maybe just the idea of Texas) and my specific dislike of Tony LaRussa. The Cardinals’ unlikely road to the Fall Classic has more annoyed me than intrigued me, even if they picked off the Phillies along the way, while the Rangers are one of those teams I was once happy to go years without thinking about.

But, since I went through the trouble of announcing this dumb feature and even made a blog category for it and everything, I present to you my in-time observations of this historic game one (in that it is technically part of history). All of the carnage after the jump.

Continue reading Schadenfreuders Unanimous: World Series Game 1

Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: NL Central

CHICAGO CUBS

2010 record: 75-87

Biggest offseason acquisition: Matt Garza, who, along with Carlos Zambrano, could give the Cubs the angriest 1-2 pitchers in baseball.

Biggest offseason loss: Tom Gorzellany, on purely technical grounds.

Is this the year that the Cubs…: Whatever you were going to say, no.

Best name on 40-man roster: Welington Castillo, Dominican duke.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Kerry Wood, whose presence here seems more weird than it should.

Spring standout: Last year’s star callup Starlin Castro has 12 RBIs and 4 home runs, which can only mean his untimely demise is imminent.

Probable Opening Day starter: I’m sure Zambrano has already made it abundantly clear to Mike Quade that he will start on Opening Day.

Biggest question for 2011: Has Alfonso Soriano been so underwhelming for so long he’s come all the way back around to being underrated?

Strengths: Idyllic ballpark with laissez faire attitude toward the wearing of shirts

Weaknesses: The oppressive weight of history

Semi-serious assessment: The Cubs are a little better than I first thought before taking a closer look at their lineup. Carlos Pena is a good fit for Wrigley, and Garza should fare well in the National League. I don’t know if it adds up to contending per se, but I think they’ll enjoy a solid season of not completely sucking.

Continue reading Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: NL Central

2010 NFC West Preview, by Mike Francesa

With the NFL season about to kickoff, Scratchbomb has asked a few luminaries to give us their takes on the upcoming football season. Next up, WFAN drive-time personality Mike Francesa.

francesa.jpgUgh, I gotta do my ovah/undahs again? Jeez. Okay. Hey Bill, Frank, Tommy, whatevah my producah’s name is, how come you didn’t tell me soonah about the NFL season startin? That’s how we’re runnin things now, huh? Okay.

/drums fingers for 30 seconds

Alright, let’s look at the NFC West. You sure I gotta do the NFC West? I couldn’t do the AFC East? I wanted to tweak the Jets and Rex Ryan some more. Okay, fine, whatevah.

Boy, dis is a rough division. Not a lotta contendahs in dis one. Don’t think a Supah Bowl champ is gonna come outta this division. If you ask me, these are four teams that aren’t very good at football, if you get what I’m sayin. Where to begin?

/exhales loudly for four minutes

I guess by default you gotta pick the 49ers. A good team. Not a great team, but a good team. Can’t trust Alex Smith, but they’re the best of a bad field.

Not in love with Arizona. Not anymore. Not a lot to love with this team. They had Kurt Warner, he’s gone. Leinart, goodbye. What a losah. What a uttah disgrace. Not the same team that went to the Supah Bowl. Lotta changes. Lotta turnovah. Lotta people used to be here who aren’t here now, and vice versa, and also the opposite.

/reads aloud from Daily News for 15 minutes

Seahawks, oh brothah. There’s anothah team with nothin. You got Pete Carroll and the whole USC mess followin him up there. You got Matt Hasselbeck, he’s a disastah. And you got, what else? I don’t even know. I guess I could look up the rostah, or have my intern read it to me, but I’m too busy tryin to keep that kid from eating my egg roll.

And the Rams? Good Lawd, they are terrible. Awful. Awwwful. Horrible. Almost as bad as the Mets, who I will now abuse for 20 straight minutes apropos of nothing. You know who this team could use? Brandon Inge. Or maybe Bronson Arroyo. Very undahrated playahs. I like them both. I like them both a lot. A huge amount. A metric ton of like.

Alright, let’s go to the phones. We got Tony in Bayside.

Thanks for taking my call, Mike. I gotta say, the 5 hours you’re on the air every week are the happiest minutes of my life.

Go on.

You were wondering about the Seahwaks, and while I agree they’re not gonna be good this year, they did add Leon Washington, who might be…

Where’d you get that from, the innernets?

I looked it up on the Seahawks’ Web site. It’s just that, you couldn’t think of any players Seattle acquired, and I wanted to help. Please don’t hang up on me, Mike. I’ll die without you!

How dare you give me information from a reputable sawce?! Get outta my sight?

/handwave

Alright, coming up we got Phil Simms in studio. I’ll ask him questions about the NFL playoff picture and answer them before he has a chance to speak.

The Parallel Universe Fake Mets: Games 10-12

pufm_010.pngGame 10: Cardinals 4, Mets 2 (10)
Fake Jason Bay and Fake Ryan Ludwick each hit two solo homers to account for all the scoring in regulation, and Fake Carols Beltran made a leaping catch at the center field wall to rob Fake Albert Pujols of a round tripper. But Fake Kelvim Escobar surrendered a walkoff two-run dinger to Fake Colby Rasmus in the bottom of the tenth.

In real life: Oliver Perez turned in a stunningly good performance (given his history and the opponent), shutting out the Cardinals through six-plus innings. But when he walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, Jerry Manuel inexplicably turned to Fernando Nieve and Raul Valdes to protect the lead. One Felipe Lopez grand slam later, St. Louis had all the runs they needed. The Mets scratched out two runs in the ninth to make things interesting, but fell short.

Game 11: Cardinals 2, Mets 1 (12)
Fake Johan Santana limited the Fake Cardinals to one run in seven innings, while Fake Chris Carpenter took a no hitter into the seventh before surrendering leadoff single to Fake Jose Reyes and an RBI hit to Fake Carlos Beltran. The Fake Mets almost went ahead on a Fake Jason Bay double in the top of the tenth, but somehow Fake Beltran was thrown out trying to score from first (again, every opposing outfielder in this game has a cannon for an arm). For the second straight game, the fake Cardinals won on a walkoff hit, this time a Fake Jason LaRue RBI single.

In real life: In a game that may have set back baseball 100 years, a pitcher’s duel between Johan Santana and Jaime Garcia devolved into a hitter’s fail-off. The game remained scoreless for 18 innings, as the Cardinals turned aside numerous opportunities and the Mets failed to mount any. New York took a brief lead in the 19th inning on a Jeff Francoeur sac fly off of Joe Mather (a position player pulling a Matt Franco), then saw Frankie Rodriguez give it back up on a Yadier Molina RBI single (to be fair to K-Rod, he’d already thrown 100 (!) warmup pitches over the course of 10 innings). A Jose Reyes sac fly in the 20th gave the Mets another lead, and emergency closer Mike Pelfrey made it stand up. And for as much as I dislike Jerry Manuel, I have to concede I’ve never seen him commit managerial errors half as dumb as the crimes perpetrated by Tony “LOOK AT ME MANAGE” LaRussa in this game. (Although even he would not dare hit Matt Holliday in the leadoff spot, as his fake doppelganger does for some reason.)

Game 12: Cardinals 3, Mets 2 (12)
The Fake Mets broke through against Fake Adam Wainwright, thanks to RBI hist from Fake Jeff Francoeur and Fake Josh Thole. Fake Mike Pelfrey was masterful through the first 7 innings, striking out 11, until faltering in the eighth and giving up a run. Fake Francisco Rodriguez got the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth, then gave up three hits in a row to knot the game at 2. More futility followed on both sides, until some more two-out magic occurred in the bottom of the twelfth. Two singles were followed by a game-winning hit by fake Albert Pujols (his first in the series), and the Fake Mets had been swept in Fake St. Louis by three walkoff losses in a row.

In real life: The Mets somehow managed three runs off of Adam Wainwright, thanks to a bases loaded bloop and a throwing error. But John Maine labored through five torturous innings before giving up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus, and Ryota Igarashi gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Ludwick on the first pitch he threw. Wainwright finished what he started, pitching a complete game on approximately 17 pitches.

Parallel Universe Fake Mets record: 2-10

Real Mets record: 4-8

Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: NL Central

harrycaray.jpgCHICAGO CUBS

2009 record: 83-78

Local weather: If you don’t like it, just wait a minute!* (* joke stolen from your grampa)

Namesake: The smaller partner in a “bear” relationship

Has it really been 102 years since they won a World Series?: Yes, but some days it only feels like 75.

Perpetually overused team-related headline: Lovable Losers. How many losers have you known that were lovable? Most losers are bitter, sour human beings.

Best name on 40-man roster: Esmailin Caridad, because when you’re Esmailin, the whole world esmailes with you.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Kevin Millar. Or as he used to be known by guys named Sully, MILLAHHHHHH!

Spring standout: Youngster Tyler Colvin, who’s not only batting .468, but is also not a pitcher, so he can’t have a Kerry Wood/Mark Prior-style flameout.

Probable Opening Day starter: Carlos Zambrano, provided he doesn’t get into a scrape with a Gatorade cooler first.

Biggest question for 2010: In what ways will the fates cruelly toy with this team this season?

Advantage to start the season: Arctic conditions will adversely affect visiting teams who have not brought their own Sherpas.

Semi-serious assessment: Only the total shitshow that was the 2009 Mets prevented the Cubs from being the most disappointing team in baseball last season. I would expect them to improve, but they’re also relying on a number of players who’ve been hurt off and on the past few seasons (Zambrano, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez). I could see the Cubs finishing anywhere on the continuum of success. Except winning the World Series, of course. That will never, ever happen. Ever.
Continue reading Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: NL Central

1999 Project: Games 123-128

Click here for an intro/manifesto on The 1999 Project.

mcgwire_milk.jpgAugust 21, 1999: Mets 7, Cardinals 4

A six-game homestand for the Mets began with a rainout, which necessitated a doubleheader against the Cardinals. The inclement weather prompted Bobby Valentine to reorder his starting rotation. Orel Hershiser was set to start the series opener, but after warming up before a game that was never played, he would instead pitch in game two of the twinbill.

Meanwhile, the Braves won both of their games while the Mets were idle, meaning the two teams were once again tied for first. That made this a big homestand for the Mets, and not just because The Mark McGwire Show was in town.

Kenny Rogers started the first game of the series and did not fare well. He loaded the bases in the top of the first on two singles and a walk, then gave up a two-RBI single to future Met Fernando Tatis. Mike Piazza responded with a three-run homer in the bottom half, but Rogers couldn’t hold on to the lead, giving up three straight hits and a sac fly in the top of the third to put the Cards back on top, 4-3. Rogers was done after three innings, and was later revealed to be suffering from back spasms.

Once again, long man Pat Mahomes came to the rescue, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings that allowed the Mets to come back. They scratched out a run in the bottom of the third on a Shawon Dunston groundout to tie the game, then went ahead on a Rickey Henderson RBI single in the sixth. Two runs in the eighth (coming on another Dunston RBI groundout and a Benny Agbayani RBI single) padded their lead.

After Mahomes issued a one-out walk to J.D. Drew in the top of the seventh, Valentine turned to Turk Wendell to get McGwire out. No one seemed to know why, but Wendell was kryptonite for McGwire; he’d faced Big Mac six previous times and retired him in each instance. Despite a wild pitch that moved Drew to second, Wendell struck out McGwire to extend his history of inexplicable success against him.

He also worked around a one-out single to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. Armando Benitez closed out the game in style by striking out the side in order. The victory helped the Mets keep pace with Atlanta, who beat the Padres that day.

Continue reading 1999 Project: Games 123-128

1999 Project: Games 66-69

Click here for an intro/manifesto on The 1999 Project.

mcgwiremets.jpgJune 17, 1999: Mets 4, Cardinals 3

Bruce Benedict piloted the Mets for the second and final game of Bobby Valentine’s suspension. This outing in St. Louis was a bit more of a nail-biter than his first one.

It didn’t look that way at first. Al Leiter threw seven great innings, giving up only one run, three hits, and striking out nine. The Cardinals strung together two hits and a sac fly to plate a run against Leiter in the second, but the lefty was otherwise perfect.

The Mets scratched out one run each in the fourth and fifth innings, then got a two-run homer from Robin Ventura in the sixth to go up 4-1. Armando Benitez pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to set up things nicely for John Franco.

But as he so often did, Franco made things difficult. A single by future Met Joe McEwing and a double by Edgar Renteria put runners on second and third for Mark McGwire. Franco got a comebacker from McGwire, but inexplicably threw to third to try and tag out McEwing. The attempt failed, thus loading the bases with no outs. Another future Met, Fernando Tatis, followed with a two-RBI single to cut the lead to one slim run.

Benedict yanked Franco in favor of Dennis Cook, who warmed up quickly in the midst of his fellow lefty’s meltdown. Cook got a strikeout, flyout, and pop-up to strand the tying and winning runs on base and make Benedict a perfect 2-0 in his brief managerial stint.

June 18, 1999: Mets 6, Cardinals 2

With Bobby Valentine back in the driver’s seat, the Mets got some more excellent pitching performances, with a dash of aches and pains. Starter Orel Hershiser gave up only one hit but had to leave after five innings with back spasms. Turk Wendell took over and set the Cards down in order in the sixth and seventh. Two RBIs for both Edgardo Alfonzo and Rickey Henderson, plus a run-scoring single from Rey Ordonez, gave the Mets a 5-0 lead.

Wendell began to tire in the bottom of the eighth, walking the first two batters he faced. He induced a double play, but then gave up a two-run homer to Thomas Howard and single to McEwing. Valentine turned to Benitez to stop the bleeding, but he walked Renteria to bring McGwire to the plate as the tying run.

In all of their previous confrontations, Benitez had either walked or struck out McGwire. It looked like the result would be the former when he quickly went 3-0 on the slugger. But Benitez followed with three called strikes to retire McGwire and end the inning. The last called strike was knee high, in Benitez’s opinion, or lower, as Tony LaRussa saw it. The St. Louis manager argued the called third strike and was ejected for his trouble.

Mike Piazza hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth to give the Mets some insurance. Wanting to stay away from John Franco after his struggles in the previous game, Valentine left Benitez in for the bottom of the ninth, and he retired the Cards with little incident to preserve the victory.

On the transaction front, the Mets made a trade, though not the expected one. Many thought they’d try to deal Bobby Bonilla, who’d contributed little but headaches up to that point in the season.

Instead, the Mets dealt Queens native Allen Watson, who’d made a few starts earlier in the season, to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Mac Suzuki. Watson was out of minor league options and would’ve had to pass through waivers, had the Mets tried to send him down again. Steve Phillips cited Pat Mahomes’ effectiveness as a long reliever as the main impetus behind the deal.

Bonilla was apparently still on the trading block, however. The last whispers said the Red Sox might be interested in the grumbling former slugger.

June 19, 1999: Cardinals 7, Mets 6

Both starters were ineffective in this excruciating, nearly-four-hour affair, the longest nine-inning game in Mets history. After a few encouraging outings, Jason Isringhausen was tattooed for six runs in only 2 2/3 innings of work, including a three-run bomb from McGwire in the first. But Cardinals starter/future Met Darren Oliver fared no better, giving up six runs of his own and two homers (Henderson and Piazza) in four innings of work. Reliever Pat Mahomes gave up an RBI double to Willie McGee (serving his last tour of duty in the bigs that year) in the fourth inning that proved to be the difference.

The Mets almost tied the game in the top of the fifth. With Bonilla on third and Henderson on first, Cards reliever Manny Aybar tried the seldom successful fake-to-third-throw-to-first gambit. As he did, Henderson took off for second, then Bonilla broke home. But McGwire fired a throw home and Bonilla was called out on a close play at the plate. Replays seemed to confirm Valentine’s insistence that Bonilla was safe, but home plate umpire Charlie Williams did not agree.

If it was any consolation, Williams was rough on both teams. His tight strike zone resulted in a ridiculous number of full counts and drove up pitch totals for all hurlers. Oliver, who was unhappy with Williams’ strike zone, threw 121 pitches in only four innings.

June 20, 1999: Mets 9, Cardinals 6

Rick Reed did not fare well in this outing, giving up two homers (including yet another McGwire blast, his 21st of the year) and five runs. But his offense picked him up, paced by Rey Ordonez, of all people.

The normally lumber-allergic shortstop went 3-for-4, and showed some hustle by scoring from second on an infield single–twice. In the top of the third, he plated the Mets’ first run when he ran all the way home on a slow Roger Cedeno groundout. McGwire had his back to the plate, and by the time he realized what was happening, he had no play.

Then in the top of the sixth, Ordonez helped the Mets rally from a four-run deficit to tie and then take the lead. After RBI hits from Robin Ventura and Benny Agbayani cut the Cards’ lead to two, Ordonez hit a two-RBI single to knot the score at 6. He then put the Mets in front on a bizarre play.

St. Louis reliever Rick Croushore attempted to field another Cedeno grounder, but fell down on the field and had no play. Ordonez crossed from second to third on the play, so Croushore–in a sitting position–looked him back before turning his attention to the umpire, for some reason. Ordonez took one step back toward third, then dashed for home. Croushore could not throw him out from his knees, and the Mets had a 7-6 lead.

A sac fly from Luis Lopez and a Piazza RBI single in the top of the ninth padded the Mets’ lead. John Franco allowed a one-out double to McEwing in the ninth, but got a groundout and struck out McGwire to end any further threat.

Ordonez credited his resurgence to either his still-mysterious benching earlier in the season (a knee injury was the professed reason, though many doubted this explanation) or the blond highlights he’d added earlier in June.

Thank You, Third-Hand Schadenfreude

I know I said that my New Year’s resolution was to stop listening to WFAN, but consarnit, I’m a weak man. Last week, as I was dropping off laundry, I turned on my car radio and tuned into The Sports Leader. I will note, however, that it was Steve Somers, who is totally allowed under the parameters of my resolution.

However, even The Schmooze gets terrible callers, and on this occasion I heard a real doozy. I can’t remember the guy’s name. Let’s call him Joey from Riverhead. First thing he says to Schmooze is that he’s a huge Cowboys fan–despite having the thickest Lawn Guy Land accent you’ve ever heard. Strike one.

This baffles me. Whenever you listen to WFAN during football season, you will hear guys call in who have clearly never been further west than Weehawken in their entire lives, and yet root for teams that are over the map. I don’t know what’s crazier: that, or the fact that the hosts never call them on it. “Wait, you’re from Yonkers but you call yourself ‘a die-hard’ Dolphins fan. How the hell did that happen?”

Next, he says that he can’t get into the Super Bowl since the ‘Boys aren’t in it, so he can’t wait for pitchers and catchers in a few weeks so he can “start watching god’s other team, the Yankees.” Strike two (pause to vomit before making the call).

I guess that explains his Cowboy fandom. He figures his favorite baseball team is the richest one in its sport with the most entitled, spoiled, arrogant fans. So obviously, he figures he’d pick the football team that fit the same bill.

The capper: he says he’s rooting for the Cardinals because he doesn’t want Pittsburgh to “steal” the crown of having the most Super Bowl rings, a distinction they used to share with the Cowboys before winning Super Bowl XLIII.

Strike three, you are the worst human being ever.

So while I had no vested interest in the outcome of this year’s Big Game (c) (r), other than wanting it to be a good game for once, part of me rooted for the Steelers. Because with a Pittsburgh win, I could imagine this guy slumped in his rec room chair, crying bitter, bitter tears, then flying into a rage and tearing down all of his Cowboy memorabilia that says MOST RINGS EVER. Because you know he had like five posters that said that. And 6 commemorative plates. And several sets of Franklin Mint coins and Liberian-issued stamps with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman on them.

So thank you, Steelers, for making that dream a reality.

Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: The Keys to the Keystone State

Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know him as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may also have read his best-selling book I Liked It Better When Home Run Hitters Drank Like Fish. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show 4th and Forever. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

Within the week, we could witness something truly historic. Something that people have been waiting for, hoping for, some even praying for, for years. Centuries, even. And when that moment happens, I will stand and applaud with my fellow Americans, maybe choke back a tear, and wonder what wonders the future holds for all of us.

Of course, I’m speaking of the possibility of an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

Some people like to think of how far we’ve come, but I wonder why it’s taken us this long. Do you realize that before this weekend, two Pennsylvania teams had never even made the semifinals of any major professional sport at the same time? That is a shame our nation must live with.

Continue reading Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: The Keys to the Keystone State

Playoff Preview: Cardinals at Panthers with Matt Leinart

Today, we preview this weekend’s playoff games with a whole buncha celebrity guests. To discuss the exciting Carolina-Arizona matchup, here’s Cardinals backup QB, Matt Leinart.

leinart.jpg

Last weekend, the Cardinals played their first home playoff game in over 60 years. It must have been exciting to be a part of that historic event.

Yeah, whatevs. Mind if I burn one? Coach was really ridin’ my ass in practice today. I’m like, “Sheesh, it’s not like I’m gonna play,” and he’s all like, “blah blah what if something happens to Warner?” Total buzzkill.

Um, okay. After enjoying so much success at USC, is it hard to sit on the sidelines and watch Kurt Warner take charge, or are you just happy to be along for the ride?

Bro, the only thing that’s hard is me, when I’m checkin’ out the primo babeage in the crowd. Runnin’ slant routes in my pants, if you know what I mean.

Eww…So what does Arizona need to do take care of business in Carolina this weekend?

An experienced wingman and endless Jagerbombs for the ladies. Keep ’em comin’!

I was talking about the game.

So was I bro–the game of ‘tang. And when you play that game with the Lein-man, you always win. You just strap in for three minutes of pure adrenaline.

Ick. Wow, you really are a factory-wrapped douche, aren’t you?

Got a Sonic ’round here? I could drink like a hundred of them cheesecake shakes.

SB prediction: Panthers 28, Cardinals 10.