A note about our, um, colleagues…

So far, I’ve only found one other baseball trip similar to ours going on this year, and Andrew and Ben’s trip starts tonight in L.A. They’re doing 9 games in 6 cities in 11 days, including — and here’s where Levi starts drooling — all three Cardinals-Royals games in Kansas City from June 25-27. Also, their web site looks nicer than this one, and they even have an actual logo. So, Levi, if you’d rather go on their trip than the one we have planned, I guess I’ll understand.

Original comments…

Jason: They seem like a couple of Normal guys.

But on their web site, it looks like fog is rolling into Bank One Ballpark. Or maybe it’s smoke from all the peyote Arizona folks do.

thatbob: There site *looks* good, but is lacking in content. And, more importantly, places for me to comment. So far they are no threat to you for my readership/commentship.

Non-baseball vacation. It’s sad, but such things do exist.

Stacey and I are off on vacation with her family for a week, starting tomorrow. So I will be away from the Internet (Unless one of Stacey’s sisters has one of those magic internet phone-watch-missile-defense-system-thingies, which would probably terrify me so much that I couldn’t use it even if I wanted to do so.) and not posting to BRPA2004.

In my absence, I hope Jim will at least impersonate me for a post or two. It’s not like it’s that hard. You mention Johnny Damon, lament a Cardinals loss or cheer a Cardinals victory.

Or you could post something about Raul Mondesiwhose nickname is “The Buffalo”— and Operation Shutdown: The Sequel, which he pulled in Pittsburgh, the home of the original, unmatchable Operation Shutdown.

And you could link to this silly picture, from the game where Mondesi, now an Angel, tore his quadriceps.

There. Now Jim will be able to impersonate me with ease. See you all when we return.

Original comments…

thatbob: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Twice the baseball?

I’m surprised Levi didn’t mention this in the previous entry: that Cardinals-Pirates game that was rained out on Tuesday is most likely going to be made up as part of a doubleheader when the Pirates next visit St. Louis…which happens to be August 19th through 22nd, coinciding with our planned visit on the 22nd. So what are the odds they’ll choose to do a Sunday doubleheader, and we’ll get to see two games?

Original comments…

Levi: Have you worked up a doubleheader itinerary, in case every game we see ends up being a doubleheader? Can we make all the games if that happens?

And, on a side note, you do have a passport, right? Because I don’t think they let you into Canadia without one these days.

Jim: If every game ends up being a doubleheader? I don’t think that’s going to happen unless we get some “Day After Tomorrow”-style weather within the next couple of months but things clear up by mid-August. For now, the doubleheader plan involves getting up earlier and/or driving faster.

Yes, I have a passport. Don’t you have every post on this blog memorized?

Levi: I know it’s unlikely that every game would end up a doubleheader, but do you want to be caught short if that happens? What’s the only thing more impressive than ten games in ten cities in ten days? Why, it’s 20 games in 20 cities in ten days!

Jim: I think you mean 20 games in 10 cities in 10 days, unless you’re thinking the doubleheaders are going to be long enough that the home team is going to relocate between the two games. Which is a possibility for the Expos, I guess.

Lost weekend

Well, as you might have suspected, it was a sad weekend at the old ballpark for me, though not for 120,000 Cubs fans, puffed up with the arrogance that two playoff appearances in five years can bring.

Somehow, the Cardinals and Cubs managed to play three games in three days with no rain delays, despite strong thunderstorms and heavy rain all weekend. And somehow, the Cardinals managed to turn Glendon Rusch into the pitcher who pitched pretty well for the Mets in 2000, rather than the pitcher who was cut from the Brewers earlier this year. And the Cardinals managed three runs on only three hits against the remarkably good Matt Clement. Impressive, but it wasn’t enough. So despair reigns, at least for a few days.

But there was one fully redeeming moment for me–a moment that was a huge highlight even for my Clement-fan wife and for Cubs-fan Luke–in Sunday night’s game. The Cardinals were down 4-1, and with Albert Pujols at the plate, a chant arose. It began oddly–almost as if it had been planned in advance–with what seemed a whole section above and behind us shouting “Pujols sucks!” without any of the slow build that such chants usually require.

So as the first pitch comes in as a ball, the chant grows until most of the stadium is into it. “Pujols sucks! Pujols sucks! Pujols sucks!” The next pitch came in, and then it went out. And it kept going out, onto Waveland, or maybe Irving Park Road. The crowd fell silent, except for those of us who were giggling.

Wendell Berry
, in a story I read Saturday, described a driver showing “the extended middle finger that contradicts all contradiction.” It’s hard to imagine a way in which Pujols could have more clearly demonstrated that he manifestly does not suck. Maybe if he had hit that home run, then taken the mound the next inning and set down the Cubs in order with three strikeouts on nine pitches. But that’s asking a lot even of Pujols.

Original comments…

Luke: Who you calling arrogant? I should point out, Levi, that I cheered Pujols’ home run almost as much as you did. It was more than worth giving up the run to see him shut the fans up.

Every time I get to Wrigley I’m more dismayed by the boorishness of the fans. I don’t know whether I’m getting older and crankier or they’re getting more boorish, or both. My money is on “both.”

Levi: No, no, Luke. I’m not calling you out on that–in fact, I mentioned that you seemed to enjoy the moment. I know your fandom doesn’t allow for absurd slander.

And I’m not saying Cardinals fans are perfect. I’m sure plenty of them are complete tools. But I haven’t ever heard a chant like that one at Busch Stadium, and I’m not used to hearing the regular booing that the opposing team’s best player has frequently been getting at Wrigley Field lately.

Jim: Glendon Rusch was already turned into a good pitcher by the Padres a week ago Sunday. Opposing pitcher David Wells was so distraught about the situation that he went home, threw a bottle against the wall, and ended up cutting himself on the broken glass (or at least that’s what I assume happened).

Does Barry Bonds get booed at Busch?

Levi: I haven’t seen Bonds play at Busch, so I don’t know. I don’t think he does, but I could be wrong.

And the Wells story was great because the story in the San Diego paper about his injury actually included, in the subhead, “Padres GM believes Wells’s account.” Imagine being viewed as so untrustworthy that your believablity merits mention in a headline.

Luke, hanger-on: Sorry, Levi, I scanned past that. Didn’t mean to slanderously accuse you of slanderously accusing me of absurdly slandering Pujols, the second-best player in baseball. (Though, admittedly, I have in the past slandered his funny name, stonethrowing-in-a-glass-house notwithstanding.)

sandor: I tuned in for a little of the game (it was one of those rare times when my cable company decided to give me free ESPN), though I missed the impressive first inning rally. But how about that weather system? That must have been impressive to see from the stadium. When they came back from a commercial break early on, the cameraman was pulling pack to show the bizarrely shaped cloud formations out in the distance. It was so striking that Sarah and I felt compelled to take a walk around the neighborhood and witness it ourselves. I figured I’d the be the only person intrigued enough in clouds to notice, but no, everyone we passed was looking up in amazement.

thatbob: Re: strange clouds and weather systems. I haven’t even told you all about the ghost boat.

Levi: According to people who watched the game at home, Pujols made a shushing motion sometime after the home run. I’m unclear on whether it was during the trot or after crossing the plate. It’s the sort of thing that would ordinarily get you knocked on your ass the next time up, but in this case, I think even the opposing pitcher would understand.

The Designated Hitter

Steven Goldman, writer of The Pinstriped Bible, a Yankees site worth reading–despite not being a Yankee-hating site–today calls the Designated Hitter “the Free Parking of baseball.”

Aside from the fact that the DH sucks all the time, whereas Free Parking only sucks when your opponent lands on it, I think he’s right on. Finding a good DH should be the easiest thing in the world for a team. That’s why, when the Cardinals (in interleague play) batted Miguel Cairo there a few times, or when the Yankees, this season, have batted Ruben Sierra there against lefties, it has brought sorrow and joy, respectively.

Jim Edmonds

Redbird Nation, the best Cardinals site on the web, describes Jim Edmonds’s approach at the plate perfectly today:

That’s the way Jim Edmonds plays baseball. It’s like someone took a film strip of Will Clark swinging a bat, crumpled it up, cut out a few frames, reassembled them out of order, ran it back through a film projector, then used it to teach Jedmonds how to swing a bat. But the results — those high, majestic home runs — would be as if Thrill had hit them himself.

Side note: I miss Will Clark. Back in the late 80s, I would never have thought that possible, but watching him as a Cardinal the last two months of 2000 secured him a place on my team of all-time favorites.

Move over, Wayne and Mike!

A coworker who is also a Cardinals fan has a twelve-year-old son with whom he watches most Cardinals games with the MLB Extra Innings package.

Recently, the feed was down for a few days, but my coworker and his son still wanted to see the game. So they did the next-to-next-best thing (The next-best thing being, of course, radio): they watched the pitch-by-pitch ticker online, and they announced the game as if they were broadcasting it.

All that was really just a long preamble so I can tell you this: my coworker’s six-year-old daughter said, “You guys need announcer names. Dad, your name is Bob. Ethan, your name is Aladdin.”

Which gave my coworker plenty of chances to say things like, “Matt Morris sure is pitching well tonight, isn’t he, Aladdin.”

Raised on radio

Well, no wonder, considering the fact that the Cardinals have a gargantuan number of radio affiliates. I’m thinking you wouldn’t have had the same luck if you were driving through Florida trying to listen to the Devil Rays game, although I can’t imagine a situation where that would come up.

Next time your iPod freezes up, Levi, try resetting it, by flipping the hold switch back and forth, and then hold down the “play/pause” and “menu” buttons simultaneously for about 10 seconds, until the Apple logo displays on the screen.

(P.S.: I see there’s a show on WXRU that has a city in the title, but in reality has nothing whatsoever to do with that city. Where would they have ever gotten that idea? I’m not sure if I should be flattered, or join with WXLO-FM in their lawsuit. They ripped off those call letters from the former WOR-FM in New York anyway. Go to the link and scroll down for some info on that.)

Original comments…

Levi: I’ve been able to reset my iPod before by toggling the hold switch, then holding down the middle button, but I’ve not tried the menu/play button thing. Thanks.

Radio notes

First radio note from the weekend:

On the way to my parents’ house, on Friday night, we listened to the Cardinals game. We first picked it up just north of Champaign-Urbana on a previously unknown AM station. When that signal faded, Stacey hit the scan button, and the next AM station the radio found had the Cardinals game on. When that signal began to fade, she did it again, and again the next station the radio found was carrying the Cardinals. The fourth time, we got a station carrying some other programming, but the fifth time, we got the Cardinals again. We eventually switched to KMOX, once night had fallen, but later, when we had problems with KMOX, we were able to find an FM station carrying the game. We ended our night with a Cardinals win heard on AM 1460 WROY, Carmi, which only seemed right.

Now that’s broadcasting in the public interest! I don’t understand why the FCC’s so worried about the state of radio.

Second radio note from the weekend:

Stacey and I drove back from a visit to my parents on Sunday. We listened to the end of the Cardinals game on KMOX. My iPod had frozen up strangely earlier in the day, so after the Cardinals lost, we were stuck trolling central Illinois radio, which is a desert that would even the Old Testament God wouldn’t be willing to force on the ancient Israelites. A lot of bad religious programming, even more Nashville crap, and not much else.

Then, as we were sitting in a ten-mile bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go mess of a merge, we hit upon WHOW AM 1520, Clinton, Illinois. And there we stayed, because their programming was like a gauntlet thrown down, a chip being knocked off our shoulders, a triple-dog dare: could we bring ourselves to keep listening until they went out of range?

What, you ask, was their programming? They were playing “The Superbowl Shuffle”. Over and over. Every couple of times through, a recording played of a guy imitating Harry Caray, saying that starting Monday, WHOW would be sports programming. “But now, let’s get back to ‘The Superbowl Shuffle!'”

So we listened to “The Superbowl Shuffle” at least fifteen times. We couldn’t turn the dial. Eventually, we got through the traffic and the signal faded. But Monday as I was bicycling to work, I kept thinking of Walter Payton informing us that “We aren’t doing this because we’re greedy./The Bears are doing it to feed the needy.”

Third radio note from the weekend:

This will be of interest only to those of you who lived in the Communications Residential College at Northwestern University. I saw a bumper sticker for WCRC FM 95.7, Fairfield, Illinois. That reminded me that the dorm’s station changed its name to WXRU a few years ago after getting a complaint from 104.5 FM WXLO, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Original comments…

Steve: How awesome that Bob is the face of CRC even today!

Levi: Yeah, I decided not to point that out just to see who was interested enough to click on the link.

Toby Brown: What Levi didn’t tell you is he used to engineer Cardinal games at WROY as a teen-ager.

The Knuckler

I was able to see a couple of Cody McKay’s pitches on ESPN last night. The knuckler was a thing of beauty, floating up there all wobbly, whispering seductively to the hitter, “C’mon. Take a hack. Pound me into the ground.” And the hitter did.

The “fastball” on the other hand, was lacking not just most of what is best known as the “gitty,” but it was also a little short on the “up” and the “go.”

Still, two scoreless innings, right now, are enough to put McKay in the running for our fifth starter job.

Oh, and Hector Luna deserves some attention for hitting a long home run in his first major-league at-bat. The last Cardinal to do that? Gene Stechschulte, a relief pitcher, whose baseball-reference web page is sponsored by www.firequipmentpics.com, with the tag line, “Large fire truck picture website that recognizes Gene for the great pitcher he is.”