There is nothing redeeming about this article. It has no message, no insights, and no element of originality. Which is why I read it and will now make you read it too.
Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and now the big one: Albert Pujols is on the St. Louis shelf, leaving the baseball picture looking through the Arch
leaving the baseball picture looking through the Arch
Let's just move on.
even muddier than the mighty Mississippi below it.
When a picture is described as muddied, that means it's unclear or difficult to discern. It's not difficult to discern what the picture is like for the Cardinals right now: it sucks big time elephant ass. If Pujols was struck by lightning, knocking him out of the lineup for two weeks but possibly leaving him with even more superhuman hitting skills, that would muddy the picture. Anyways.
As if there's not enough drama, pain and angst in this Cardinals hardball season,
I certainly hope those greedy cuntwads over in the NFL can figure things out so we don't miss this fall's pigskin season.
and as if there weren't already enough questions surrounding Pujols' future, now comes a left wrist fracture,
Which sort of brings up the same questions as an uncertain contract situation if you take a lot of meth and think on it for a while.
four-to-six weeks on ice and the biggest challenge yet for Tony La Russa's gritty club.
This was not the Monday news the Cardinals wanted to wake up to.
But it is the kind of news they've been waking up to all season.
Ah, the ol' Bill Plaschke sentence-paragraph.
That second single-paragraph sentence was made more dramatic by the blank space surrounding it, no?
That the Cardinals are tied for first place in the NL Central with Wainwright out, eight players on the disabled list and with Chris Carpenter having produced just one victory is crazy.
The NL Central: riding the short bus since 1995. Since realignment its teams have combined to win one World Series (Cardinals in '06) and two other pennants (Cardinals in '04, Astros in '05). They're home to baseball's all-time most pathetic franchise (hint: rhymes with “tubs”) and baseball's most pathetic franchise of the past 20 years (rhymes with “zirates”).
There were people who wrote off the entire Cardinals season when they lost starting right-hander Wainwright this spring.
A favorite technique of shitty sportswriters: talk condescendingly about a vague, unidentifiable mass of people who are being proven wrong. That's a Mariotti favorite. “Some people said Jay Cutler was a big game quarterback, BUT I KNEW BETTER! AND NOW LOOK WHERE WE ARE!!!!!” I don't think anyone with any fucking credibility at all said the Cardinals' season was "lost" when Wainwright's injury came to light. At most, people talked about how either the Brewers or the Reds might be the favorite at that point.
Then Holliday had an emergency appendectomy on April 1 and missed seven games, then landed on the disabled list with a quadriceps strain last month while he was leading the NL with a .342 batting average.
AND PEOPLE SAID THAT WOULD CAUSE THE FRANCHISE TO LIQUIDATE ITS ASSETS AND LITERALLY CEASE TO EXIST! LOTS OF PEOPLE! BUT THEY WERE WRONG!
The list of fallen Cardinals goes on, from third baseman David Freese (broken hand)
Oh my! THE David Freese? The 28 year old with 26 XBHs in 400 career PAs?
to backup catcher Gerald Laird (broken finger),
Not Gerald Laird! He's one of the top 60 catchers in the league!
but we'll skip all those gory details.
There are so many that, eventually, your eyes glaze over like when one of Grandpa's stories moves onto, "Then, my drive on the 14th hole ...."
Very apt comparison. Voluntarily reading about the 10-ish injuries sustained by Cardinals players this year = being forced to humor an elderly relative who is a bad storyteller.
What's important now is that the Cardinals are stuck without their middle-of-the-order rock just when Pujols was finally turning around his season.
During the slowest start of his career, Pujols went a career-high 105 at-bats without a homer from April 24-May 23. It was like watching Bruce Springsteen on stage singing with a dead microphone.
On May 4, Pujols was hitting .233. By May 29, his slugging percentage had dipped to .395. There was no sound, no power ... nothing.
Sound being one of the key elements of successful hitting, along with strike zone discipline, quick hands, and skin.
Everyone knew it would be only a matter of time until Pujols flexed, which is what makes the timing of this fractured wrist so miserable for the Cardinals.
Such a novel, profound perspective. Scott Miller is a fucking pro. How many baseball fans made that observation when news of the injury came out? The answer is probably somewhere between “a millionty billion” and “all of them.”
(a bunch of wasted words describing how Pujols was having a good June deleted because, well, no fucking shit he was having a good June)
Pujols has been on the disabled list just twice in his career, and the Cardinals are not accustomed to playing without him. Since 2006, Tony La Russa has only written 23 lineups that did not include Pujols' name.
But he was A GENIUS when he did so- AN ARTIST AT WORK when putting someone else at first and in Pujols's normal lineup spot. La Russa did it in a way that no other manager could have. Just ask some asshole baseball snob who knows about 5% as much as he thinks he knows and constantly puffs La Russa's penis, someone like George Will (if Will is unavailable ask Bob Costas). Tony La Russa and his No Country For Old Men haircut can't retire soon enough for me. I hope it happens as I'm writing this.
The bizarre thing is, this season started with visions of the Cardinals without Pujols, only not quite so soon. Entering the final year of his contract before free agency this winter, Pujols set an extension deadline of the day he reported to spring training.
Did he? I heard nothing of it. It was only the biggest story in all of baseball during spring training (placing it 45th on the list of biggest stories in all of sports at that time, just behind “Favre plays catch with Mississippi high school football players” and just ahead of “Rex Ryan promises media that impending lockout won't prevent him from eating a pound of bacon per day”).
When that didn't happen, Pujols spent 30 minutes talking with the media that February day about an uncertain future, vowing that would be the last time he spoke of his personal situation.
To which the media responded: “good luck with that!”
He's kept that promise, even following a much-celebrated pre-game hug with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry at Wrigley Field in May that fueled all kinds of Pujols-as-a-future-Cub speculation.
Giving Pujols a 10 year, $300 million contract so he can give them 3 or 4 years of the downside of his prime and then become a complete payroll anchor would be such a Cubs thing to do.
As La Russa told me in May, "He's very conscious that he doesn't want to distract from what we're trying to do. And that's a very honorable thing to do."
Brilliant gambit by La Russa to acknowledge his star player that way. You think any old garden-variety manager would have had the smarts to do that? Yes? Psh. You probably don't even realize that batting the pitcher 8th increases a team's expected runs per game by 0.00069 during night games on artificial turf when there's a full moon.
Measured against this, the Cardinals undoubtedly would take those distractions in a heartbeat.
Yeah, I imagine they'd rather have Pujols playing than not playing. Step 1: hire Scott Miller to write for your publication. Step 2: wait for the awards and $$$$ to start rolling in.
At best, Pujols will be back, sometime between July 20 and Aug. 1.
Commas, when overused, tend to break up, a sentence.
But beyond that, there are questions that right now cannot be answered.
Like “How much longer are teams going to pay Jeff Francouer to have a .290 OBP?” or “Which team has more zilcharoo meathead fans: the Mets or the Phillies?”
Wrist injuries can punish hitters long after they're again playable, especially someone with the quick wrists and bat speed of Pujols. Baltimore's Derrek Lee had his 2010 season ruined by one that still isn't right, and a bad wrist wrecked Vernon Wells' 2009 in Toronto.
And a year later the Angels stepped in and said WHAT? All we have to do is give up Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera and pay Wells's terrible contract for the next four years and we get him? There's gotta be a catch!
Once Pujols returns, can he again this summer be the same hitter he's been for the past month, or will he be hobbled?
The second one?
And at 31 (his listed age), what of his impending contract negotiations? Teams will consider his age and the fact that by today's post-Steroid Era standards, he probably doesn't have more than two or three more years left in his prime. And that's with two good wrists.
And some team run by dipshits, like the Cubs or the Angels or the Dodgers, will still offer him every penny he's asking for. Christ- MLB teams are the worst at not bidding against themselves. See: Holliday, Matt. And in this case there are actually going to be other bidders too.
That the Cardinals are tied for first place today is a credit to their resiliency, pluck
Double lunchpail alert. And this time with extra pluck.
and to Pujols' turnaround. Lance Berkman is a great insurance policy to plug into first, and the NL Central is still winnable even with Pujols out temporarily.
I dunno, the Pirates are still hovering around .500. There's a chance they get hot and end up with the 86 wins it's going to take to grab that crown.
But until he is back and swinging hard, there will be some very unsettling questions as background noise.
And Miller ends with a fittingly delightful mix of nothingness and DUHness.