Coming into the season, every National baseball pundit had the St. Louis Cardinals running away with the National League pennant. There was virtually no need to play the 162 games because on paper, the season was over. The Cards had newly acquired power in Jhonny Peralta, Allen Craig’s nonstop RBI ability and a seamless merry go round of run producers and on base monsters. The rotation was stacked and contained a waiting line for younger talent. What could stop this team from supremacy?
Look at that glorious bullpen. It’s so packed with power arms and deadly potential. There were at least 2 pitchers in the bullpen who wanted to be starters yet had a 1-2 anchor tied to their feet. Trevor Rosenthal blew away the Boston Red Sox every chance he got in October. Kevin Siegrist was deadly against righties and lefties. Carlos Martinez had untapped potential. Mike Matheny could manage from the Hilton across the street and via instant replay and a strong bench, sip a cold lager from the bar while his teams ran away to victory. It seemed just about that easy.
Instead, the Cardinals start today’s 12:05 game with the Milwaukee Brewers sitting with a record of 14-14. The radio lines and social media are getting crowded with ledge jumpers. Never mind the rest of the season, the Cardinals are a bust and I am done. That’s what they say. Fans can be frustrated and even a little worried.
On back to back home games, the Cards have blown 3-0 leads and lost the battle of the bullpens to the rival Milwaukee, who have come into Busch Stadium without Ryan Braun and Jean Segura to win the first two games of the series. It’s gotten ugly the last two games. The bats aren’t that swift early on and the home runs come in batches and the runs aren’t being spread out. The Cards stand 6.5 games behind Milwaukee in the division and last night, I was greeted with many texts frankly saying it was time to get angry.
My reaction….nah. Let me provide a little history to back my pledge up. This comes from a fellow Cards fan, Todd Johnson, one of the cool kids on Twitter. In 2004, the Cards won 105 games. 105 games out of 162 played is where the team finished. Care to know how they fared in April? They were 12-11. The team didn’t get hot until May concluded. After two months of uninspired and uneven play that sent Cardinal Nation into the deep end, the team went 40-14 in June and July. The Cards went to the World Series and without their fearless leader, Chris Carpenter, were swept by the Boston Red Sox. The idea here is folks, it’s only APRIL. Calm down.
There are tons of games left. Plenty of time to get nervous, blow up stress levels and generally become unhinged. You shouldn’t be talking to yourself in April. Muttering outside your house up and down the street. Those days come in August, September and October. They are born in July, when it truly starts to get hot. The rule of thumb for baseball fans is get serious when the temperatures rise. The season lasts six to seven months, depending on your team’s playoff appearances.
It’s okay to be disappointed right now. It is not okay to share a table with St. Louis Blues fans, who have seen their team fall for good and have months to overcome the pain. Freaking out right now is horribly premature. The Cards may not win 40 games in June and July this year but they will heat up and improve. The Brewers are 6.5 games ahead of us but there is a lot of time to make that up. The Cards took 2 of 3 from them in Milwaukee with their full lineup and bullpen, so it isn’t like they are pounding us. If we lost the last two games 7-0, there would be ample room to stomp. The last two games were extra inning nail biters and closely fought affairs. A little overtime if you will.
Mark Ellis has come into the lineup but can’t find his bat. That could signal a few starts for new Cardinal Greg Garcia. Allen Craig had another RBI last night and is finding his stroke. He is still horribly fooled by breaking pitches right now but he will smash his way out of that. Randall Grichuk got his first hit last night and played center field like he had rubber legs, sprinting around and catching just about everything. Matt Holliday and Craig could have checked their stocks in the field last night while Grichuk flew around. He isn’t even the most highly touted Cards prospect but he was mashing minor league pitching and got the call. The younger blood will only flow better energy through the clubhouse.
Some things may never change my friends. Matheny will make questionable calls. Rosenthal will get wild. Shelby Miller will throw a lot of pitches. Lance Lynn will allow big innings and show his frustration by finishing delivery with his right leg flying off the mound. This team will frustrate because they are human and baseball predictions are useless.
Lynn mumbled and whisked his way through the post game interview last night and look genuinely frustrated because that’s what most major league pitchers do. They don’t want to talk about what went wrong yet only look ahead to the next start. The best thing about baseball is there will be a game tomorrow. Coaching staffs don’t need a ton of bandages for nothing. Teams play frequently and on their days off go through the game in their head while running on the treadmill.
Look at the bright side. The Cards can win today and flip the mood. They can also lose and continue the despair. The only thing I ask is this baseball fans. The grass is starting to grow and it’s getting warmer(or it was getting warmer). Things are growing. That’s because baseball has arrived. Nothing is dying yet or completely failing. The Cards rotation has pitched extremely well and should get help from the lineup sooner or later. The odds are in the Cardinals favor. Fans just need to remain calm, enjoy the game and not freak out…..yet. Save that for later.