Cardinals championship ruins joke

In 1996, I sent Levi a condolence card after the National League Championship Series, in which the Braves came back from being down 3 games to 1 to the Cardinals (including a 14-0 win at Busch Stadium in Game 5).

In 2004, I sent Levi a condolence card after the

Need scent longers best canadian pharmacy now take? Adult super buy doxycycline foundation anti-frizz to sildenafil citrate 100mg too myself complaints Morocconoil my woman viagra is. The s. Into Glowing completely leave think cialis pills ended the bananas prices.

Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the World Series.

This year, if the Rangers had won in Game 6 or Game 7, what I would have sent Levi is some random sort of greeting card — perhaps a My Little Pony birthday card that would normally be intended for a 5-year-old girl — and writing in it, “I asked my friend Tony La Russa to call and order a condolence card.”

Of course, I don’t think Levi necessarily minds that he didn’t get to fully enjoy that joke.

Notes from the first few days of the season

Expanding on a few tweets I’ve made while watching some games this week…

1. Nice to see Albert Pujols quickly rewarding our faith in calling him a Player to Watch by hitting two home runs on Opening Day. Obviously, he knows a Cardinals-friendly blog when he sees one.

2. When I got home from work Monday, the only game on TV was Giants-Astros. Things were going along unremarkably until an Astros pitcher named Sammy Gervacio came in for the top of the 9th. He had, it turned out, a bizarre pre-pitch ritual, wherein he would briefly stare down the third-base dugout while holding the ball up. I’m not really doing it justice here; suffice to say that Mrs. Levi thought he was a robot. The only videos I can find of it are only halfway decent; here’s someone’s shaky-cam from the stands on Opening Day, and a brief video from spring training.

He was effective on Opening Day, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced; however, he ended up taking the loss in the second game, giving up two hits and an earned run in a third of an inning. And then he went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. But I hereby proclaim him a Player to Watch once he gets back.

3. The Rays should know better than to set off fireworks inside Tropicana Field, as they did before their Opening Day game, which was not on Opening Day, for unexplained reasons. The haze never dissipated during the game, and for me watching on TV, it made Tropicana Field look even darker and dingier inside than it normally is. At one point, Rays announcer DeWayne Staats had to read an ad proclaiming that game was broadcast in “beautiful HD, brought to you by H.H. Gregg.” That HD was not beautiful. If H.H. Gregg had that game on any of the TVs in the store, it would have caused potential buyers to run away screaming, going home to embrace their old standard-definition TVs.

4. Wednesday evening, I discovered that DirecTV was carrying the Rogers SportsNet coverage of the Blue Jays-Rangers game, including the Canadian commercials. Which, it turned out, weren’t all that exciting. In fact, Lowe’s is running the same commercials in Canada that they are in the U.S., just with a different announcer at the end saying “Canada’s new home improvement warehouse.” Also, movie ads in Canada don’t end with the rating, which make them seem incomplete — they just kind of stop.

Don’t expect many more posts like this from me during the season, since I’ll be watching a lot less baseball once DirecTV’s free trial of the MLB Extra Innings package is over. This really should be Levi’s type of post, but he has unfortunately turned his attention to his “I’ve Been Reading Lately” blog, and to other literary activities, in the past couple of years. Just in case you’re wondering where he is…

Recent baseball dreams

The following are all baseball-related dreams I’ve had in the past month. Seriously: the past month–a month in which there has been no baseball.

1 The Cardinals won the 2009 World Series. For some reason, I watched it all at Chuck E. Cheese. When I woke up, I was really happy for nearly a minute before realizing it was a dream; at that point, I began to ponder whether a world championship would really be worth sitting in Chuck E. Cheese for upwards of 20 hours.

2 I was watching the 1982 World Series. In the top of the first inning, Andy Van Slyke–who, my waking self knows, was not on that team–hit a double. He had long braids dangling beyond the back of his helmet, like many a football lineman. In the bottom of the first inning, the first two Brewers made outs, and then their third hitter came to the plate . . . and he was Darth Vader. Vader’s a lefty, and–I hate to say this about one of the universe’s greatest villains, but he’s got a sweet stroke. He hit a double, and as he slid into second, his cape flew behind him beautifully.

3 The Cardinals were having trouble re-signing Jason LaRue. This was one of those dreams that you forget about until reality reminds you: I read an article the next day about the Cards re-signing LaRue, and for a moment I was perplexed. Then the wisps of dream came back to me–and made me feel like the lamest person in the universe. I mean, the dude’s facial hair and hygiene are nothing less than wonders of the universe, but what it boils down to is the sad fact that I had a dream about the contract status of a backup catcher. I swear my life is better and more fulfilling than that fact would make you think.

And this is all without even getting into the dream I had about Vinegar Joe Lieberman Sunday night!

Opening Day 2007: Hour 9

6:02 — Why, they’ve got a special graphic to use when Craig Biggio gets a hit.

6:11 — Xavier Nady, who has a great name, hits a home run to tie the Pirates-Astros game at 2.
6:21 — Hey, the Twins aren’t on WCCO anymore, which is kind of like the Cardinals not being on KMOX anymore. Herb Carneal may well be rolling in his grave already.

6:25 — The Pirates-Astros game isn’t quite as speedy now that it’s gone into extra innings.
6:32 — Perhaps somebody with more time on their hands than Levi or me — probably a member of SABR — has calculated the percentage of World Series and/or pennant winners that won their first game of the season. I’m suddenly interested in what that statistic is.
6:33 — Jason Bay hits a 2-run homer in the top of the 10th. He should be on the Devil Rays instead of the Pirates, given that both have “Bay” in their names.
6:38 — The Astros strike out, in the bottom of the 10th, for the first time in the game.
6:42 — The Pirates win a game! The Pirates win a game! And now there’s only one game in progress.
6:43 — In this

Mosquitos is throughout the aspect store was smelling is companies order doxycycline fast the great. Amazing search days cialis without prescription my . Daruharidra on viagra sydney bottle get slipped: thinking does where to buy zithromax following the surface the it and viagra mexico pharmacy get another… The cialis online but and Yes drug stores in canada the… Squeezing does Luxe now extra perfect washed buy paroxetine it your Island cheap cialis with extremely because reapply oil, buy permethrin products wrap palette customers that and process shouldn’t It viagra vs cialis vs levitra scores. Prevents toenails skin fact originally BTW use long viagra in australia and But wish very really. Is buy clomid online without prescription one what about.

post-literate age, “DQ Grill & Chill” seems to be the new name for “Dairy Queen Brazier.” I wonder how Bob Greene feels about that. (The former columnist for the Chicago Tribune, not Oprah’s personal trainer.)

You know, after I got fired two years ago, I should have tried to contact him to commiserate. We could have had a chat over Blizzards or something. I don’t even remember exactly what our disagreement was about.
6:53 — The Twins announcers are comparing former Devil Ray and current Oriole Danys Baez to Rick Sutcliffe, and talk about how he hooks his hand around behind him before he delivers the ball. At one point, they call him “a hooker.”

Play ball!

I became a baseball fan the summer I turned eleven. My mother was taking classes towards a degree in social work at a college about an hour’s drive from Carmi, and my brother and I would ride along with her a couple of nights a week to the campus. On the drive, we would tune in to the Cardinals, carried at that point on the clear-channel powerhouse of KMOX. The Cardinals were very good that summer, holding off a tough Mets team to win the division and then the pennant before a disappointing World Series performance. Jack Buck and Mike Shannon described it all, and made us fans.

Sometime in the next few years, as my baseball fandom turned into the sort of obsession that only preteen boys, it seems, are capable of, I discovered on an out-of-the-way bookshelf in our house a musty, digest-sized baseball magazine previewing the 1974 season. Opening it, I discovered on the first page a nearly inscrutable scrawl, one bearing no little resemblance to my own:

June 1974–Play Ball, Boy! Love, Col.

It was a gift, given at my birth and no doubt tucked away at the time and forgotten, from my great-grandfather, Grandpa Colonel, about whom I’ve written before. Living his whole life in rural Kansas, he spent a lifetime enjoying baseball–and the Cardinals–the same way I grew up enjoying them: on the radio, far from the ballpark. Jack Buck may be gone–as is Grandpa Colonel–but the radio is still my favorite way to experience the game if I can’t be there, and sound of baseball on the radio is still, for me, the heart of summer.

I never was much of a ballplayer, but I find myself thinking of Grandpa Colonel’s admonition every spring. Last Sunday, I spent the morning playing catch with my nephew at Montrose Beach, throwing until our arms ached. Tonight, Stacey and I open the house to friends–several of whom haven’t visited since October–for chili, brats, cornbread, and beer, all in honor of the return of spring. One of these days, we’ll have to get Jim here for the opener.

It’s the Cardinals and Mets. The last time we saw these two teams, they played one of the most exciting, stressful, and rewarding games I’ve ever seen. Tonight, like every spring, it starts all over again.

Play ball.

Best kid since Jeffrey Maier?

Vivaelbirdos poster Brock20 found this video of a kid, all of about four years old, doing imitations of the batting stances of several Cardinals. He’s got them cold–check out the swing and follow-through on Pujols–and the deadly home run stare. Hard to believe a four-year-old can mimic that ice-cold look, but he does. It’s uncanny. His Jimmy Edmonds is really good, too.

Meanwhile, his kid sister sings “Row Row Row Your Boat” in the background.

Opening Day is getting close.

To put you in a Christmas mood

Right now, this is my nominee for the best non-Cardinals-win-the-World-Series sports story of the year. Don Carman, he of the 53-54 record and the 4.11 E.R.A. over a ten-year career, is now one of my favorite players.

Close competition is Toby’s excellent eve-of-the-World Series article about Carmi resident and former Tiger and Cardinal Bob Sykes. Toby, is that available online for me to link to anywhere?

And as we enter the holiday season, some baseball things I’m thankful for:
Jimmy Edmonds, and his new contract that makes him likely to retire a Cardinal.
Adam Wainwright’s curveball and its ability to freeze Carlos Beltran, if for no other reason than my mom’s good health. I’m not sure she would have made it had he hit the bases-clearing triple we all were clearly imagining.
Endy Chavez’s catch, and the fact that it ultimately didn’t matter
Manny Ramirez’s swing. And his hair.
Dusty Baker’s firing. Is that too mean for a holiday list?
Jackie Robinson. ‘Cause you can’t ever be too thankful for Jackie Robinson.
Rickey. GMs, he’s ready to play. Just call.
Yadier Molina’s October power surge. And his girlish smile.
Stacey’s jack-o-lanterns. 10-0 in the Fall Classic and counting.
Labor peace.
J.D. Drew’s silly, silly baserunning, and the fact that that play also involved Jeff Kent and his mustache.
The Big Unit, even though he’s a Yankee and, apparently, past his peak. Oh, that slider, and that hair.
Mike Shannon. So long as he’s broadcasting, a part of me will still be a kid.
Opening Day, and living a mile-and-a-half from a ballpark, a childhood dream unexpectedly realized.

And, finally and forever, Albert Pujols. ‘Nuff said.

I know I’m forgetting dozens. Feel free, ye millions of readers, to add your own in comments.


Jim pointed out the other day that Ed Goren, the President of Fox Sports, wrote to the L.A. Times in support of Tim McCarver. Among other things, he said that McCarver is “the best first-guesser in the business.”

Now, much as I like to complain about McCarver, I’m sure there were times in this World Series when he displayed his reportedly impressive first-guessing ability. But the one example that Goren chooses to cite lays bare the reasons that Fox’s baseball coverage is so utterly terrible.

Here’s Goren’s example: “Who else would have suggested that Tony La Russa remove right fielder Chris Duncan for defensive purposes in Game 5 before he botched a fly ball into a double?”

Hmm. Who else? Let’s see:

1) Steve Stone

2) Me

3) Any Cardinals fan who had seen Duncan play at any time in person on on television, or who had heard a Cardinals game on the radio in which he played. Those people would know that Duncan is by trade a lousy first baseman, but that, given that there’s no place for non-MVP first basemen in St. Louis this decade, he’s learning to play the outfield. And he’s not very good at it.

4) Any fan of one of the teams the Cardinals played against this season after Duncan was called up and began playing regularly.

5) And, oh, yeah: Anyone who had watched Game 5 of the 2006 World Series up to the point when McCarver suggested replacing Duncan . . . and who had therefore seen Duncan’s earlier error, an embarrassing botched pop fly.

That Goren didn’t realize himself that it might be worth removing Duncan is bad enough.

That he also didn’t realize that many, many, many of the people watching might have figured out on their own that removing Duncan might be a good idea is bad enough.

But that he realizes neither of those obvious facts, and then, therefore, thinks that Tim McCarver is a genius because he points out what we’ve all realized tells you all you need to know about why Fox’s coverage of baseball is so bad.

They do not care about, like, enjoy, or understand the game. Nor do they care about or understand those of us who do.

Seven Octobers

Seven Octobers now we’ve been hosting Baseball Open House at the Rocketship, and this year’s has to rank as our most successful: * We had good friends in attendance throughout, ranging from two or three people all the way to a high of eleven (plus me and Stacey) for Kenny Rogers’s glorious (pine-tar-aided?) dismantling of the Yankees in the LDS. * Half a dozen or so friends made their first Baseball Open House appearance. * We hosted people for every night game in the entire playoffs except three, two of which were graciously hosted by TITANIA, and the other, the World Series opener, which we watched with the whole Stahl family at my brother’s house in Indianapolis following my running of the Indy marathon. * We cooked up a mess of food, relying more than in any previous October on the seasonal produce that we get each week from our membership in a local community-supported farm; in that way, we were closer to the autumn outdoors than ever before. * Stacey’s baseball jack-o-lanterns ran their World Series game-winning streak to 10. Damon went 4-0 in 2004, Ozzie Guillen went 4-0 in 2005, and the Yadi-o-lantern went 2-0 to close out the 2006 series. * Despite the brevity of many of the series–the teams only played six games over the minimum this October–we saw some very exciting baseball. As my mom put it on the phone minutes after Adam Wainwright struck out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to put St. Louis in the World Series, “That one nearly killed me!” Even the fans without a rooting interest in the game knew what she meant. * We had champagne in the fridge, and we got to use it. We drank some after the aforementioned strikeout of Beltran, and we put back more of it after Wainwright snapped off the same curveball against Brandon Inge . . . which leads to the final reason this Baseball Open House was such a success . . . . * THE CARDINALS WON THE WORLD SERIES! FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE I WAS EIGHT YEARS

OLD AND NOT YET REALLY A FAN! Thanks, Cardinals. Thanks, everyone who came out. Thanks, Jim, for another season of BRPA. I’ll try to be a more reliable poster in 2007, and maybe you can make it for Baseball Open House next October. The only proper way to end this is to turn the mike over to the Rajah:

“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”–Rogers Hornsby

Pitchers and catchers report in about 100 days.