MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Game 1: Exciting Stuff from Martinez, Grichuk

Opening Day at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals is always spectacular. The Clydesdales, the Red Jackets, the trophies … the high hopes of adding to that trophy collection.

The Cardinals got to do this on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball against the defending champions, the Chicago Cubs. And we certainly got a good game.

  • Carlos Martinez went 7.1 innings. He threw 10 strikeouts and gave up 6 hits. And no runs. It was an amazing performance from the young man who took the number one pitchers duty this season. A nice continuation of the good stuff we saw from him last season. He has grown and matured more. If you ignore the eyebrow raising Instagram stories, and see the work out stories, the young fella and put his work in for this new role. I look forward to seeing what all he does this year! It’s just really unfortunate that Carlos didn’t get the win in this one. He pitched a hell of a game.

  • Randal Grichuk. He got the walk off hit to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Prior to that he hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Pedro Strop. Thank goodness for him.
  • Seung Hwan Oh. He gave up the three run homer to Willson Contreras in the ninth inning. But he, thankfully, kept it at just that. Hopefully it’s just first game jitters for the pitching staff’s closer. Be the Final Boss, Oh!

Stephen Piscotty and the Cardinals got some good news on their off day as Piscotty signed a six-year extension with the club. According to MLB.com, the agreement could take Piscotty through an option for 2023 and guarantees him $33.5 million and could be worth $50.5 million. He went 1-3 with a couple of walks in Sunday’s opener. I really like this deal and what Piscotty brings to the team. Excellent news for Stephen and the team.

Tomorrow night, Adam Wainwright takes the mound against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs. Should be a good one! … Go Cards!

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Time to Put Up, Or Shut Up for Kolten Wong

Kolten can do the thing. He must prove he can, consistently.

For several seasons, we’ve been waiting on the edge of our collective seats for Kolten Wong to finally step up and be that second baseman we’ve been hoping he would be for the Cardinals.

When he signed the five-year $25 million deal last season, this was the club’s way of showing they want him to be this guy.

Instead we have gotten a terribly inconsistent hitter and a defender who has had moments of greatness and moments of falling flat on his face in the outfield. It got so bad, they even sent him to Memphis to get some work in.

Despite all of that, we were told this offseason that defense up the middle was a priority, and that Wong was going to be there guy.

Was there something we Cardinal fans weren’t aware of? Did Wong drink some sort of special potion that instantly made management think this way?

After several weeks of the same result in Spring, manager Mike Matheny said they would run a platoon at second base and Wong would be part of this platoon.

Kolten was not happy about this, at all.

In a story from Ben Frederickson of the STL Post-Dispatch, Wong said:

I just got mad at the fact, thinking, I’m over here trying to work on things, trying to get myself better. Not trying to go out here and have an amazing spring training. I’m trying to go out there and have an amazing season. To hear that (he might be platooned) was something that hit me out of left field. I didn’t mean it in a bad way. I didn’t mean it for me to come off  seeming like I wanted to be traded or wanted to get out of this organization. I love playing for the Cardinals. If that wasn’t the reason, then I never would have signed that extension. I wanted to be here for the long term. I still want to. Right now, I’m going through a rough stretch, trying to figure out my stuff. Eventually it will turn around.

Hey Kolten? Prove it!

I don’t want to give Manager Mike any credit, but maybe he is showing you some tough love so you will actually step up and be the player we have all hoped.

Instead of moping around and pouting, turn that rough patch around and focus … get timely hits and play better defense. Stop trying so hard. Have fun out there. Prove that you are capable of being an everyday player.

And Manager Mike. Play Kolten. If management signs this guy to a big deal, that means THEY want him in this situation for the team. So. Play the guy. Let him get some time to work on stuff.

It’s proven that consistently playing and working on stuff, will actually make you improve.

So. Allow Kolten the time to play. Let him get some time at second base. Let him get some time at bat. Let him prove that he can turn it around.

If he can not prove himself, the experiment of Kolten Wong can end. If he gets consistent time and still can not prove to Mike that he deserves to play everyday, it will be time for him to pay elsewhere.

Kolten’s little outburst Sunday could be a good thing. It could force the team to take a look at this player they have had so much hope in. For Kolten this little outburst means it is time for him to put up or shut up.

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Another Year, Another Pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals

As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals it almost seems certain. We enter Spring Training and one of the team’s starting pitchers has an injury that will take him out of the rotation for the next season.

Think about it. In 2011, it was Adam Wainwright. In 2012, Chris Carpenter. In 2013, Jaime Garcia. In 2014, we were without Waino again. In 2016, it was Lance Lynn. Plus. Throughout that time there were periods without Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake … and more!

That’s really frustrating.

When it was announced pitcher Alex Reyes was going to have Tommy John surgery, Reyes admitted to feeling the pain for a few weeks. He said that he was feeling it during his off-season program. It makes you wonder what the plans Pitching Coach Derek Lilliquist and the strength and conditioning/training folks are giving these guys in the off-season.

First off, I’m more than a little surprised that GM John Mozeliak didn’t act a little quicker to get his top pitching prospect checked out. This is a guy you’re planning the rotation around in future seasons. Maybe treat him like it. Maybe surround him with a coach that has the team and the players best interest at heart. It just seems absurd that every single season, the pitching staff has some sort of issue. Then again, I’m not a bit Derek Lilliquist fan as pitching coach. I’d be content with Chris Carpenter taking the reins. It would bring so much fire to the staff. Not to mention, a Cy Young winners perspective. But. Until that happens…

What will the Cardinals do? Who will join Carlos, Adam, Lance and Leake in the rotation?

Obvious choice? Michael Wacha. After several inconsistent starts … since 2014, Manager Mike decided to give the young arm a much needed break. There, the team found there is a shoulder issue that needed to be monitored. After one bullpen session this spring, Manager Mike says Wacha looks better than he has in sometime. That makes me nervous. What do you mean Mike!

Long shot? Luke Weaver. He looked impressive in his spot starts for the birds last summer. I think he seriously could use some more grooming in Memphis before rejoining the big club.

Even Longer Shot? Trevor Rosenthal. I’m sure you just rolled your eyes. Right? I know I did! This guy couldn’t give a solid ninth inning last season without a panic attack. It was so bad, Seung-Hwan Oh took over the close role. And thank goodness, he did. Knowing this, what on earth gives the impression this guy could become a starter? Why on earth more should he be given the shot. With Marco Gonzales or Tyler Lyons as possibilities, I don’t see why it would be a possibility.

… It just seems ridiculous. Therefore, he’s probably who Matheny will go with.

Finally, there is the possibility of signing one of the remaining free agents. That list includes Jake Peavy, Doug Fister, Colby Lewis or Jered Weaver. Then there is the possibility of trading for someone like White Sox lefty Jose Quintana. A guy with some pitching experience would be nice for this staff. So. Don’t count on any of these happening!

Yes, friends, I’m really skeptical of what this will bring to our beloved Birds on the Bat. Grab your popcorn, it’s going to be interesting!

NFL

Happy Championship Sunday

We have two really great games on tap today. But you know, I’ve not been really good at figuring out who will win these playoff games. … But, I’m going to discuss it anyway!

Packers v. Falcons. 

It appears both teams are on quite a roll right now.

I say appears, because if we’re honest – It’s Aaron Rodgers that is playing like a man on a mission.

giphy

A man with a rather large chip on his shoulder. A guy who has been getting ridiculed in the media for being aloof. Not having the greatest relationship with his family. And the only reason we know about that is because his brother was on The Bachelor. …

Good grief.

It would be a completely legit complaint about the quarterback … if it was adversely impacting his performance. Thing is … It’s not. He is playing much better than people who have seemingly better relationships with their family.

Atlanta on the other hand is a team that is playing with that same chip on their collective shoulders. Matt Ryan seems to want to lead this bunch of guys to a Super Bowl. Because … honestly? It’s about damn time he did!

matt-ryan-get-the-fuck-off-my-field-gif

Matt Ryan is an amazing quarterback. An amazing quarterback who should be an amazing Super Bowl champion quarterback.

This game is going to be high scoring and really freaking close. And it’s a complete toss up.

And then, there is tonight’s game …

Steelers vs. Patriots

They are playing at Foxboro but I still don’t think that is enough with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers playing so well.

roethlisberger-snake-tongue-slither-sports-tongues

And then there is the whole I don’t care much for the Patriots with Rob Gronkowski isn’t playing…

k9bhuzo

I’m pulling for the Steelers in this one…

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals Sweep Cubs … No, Really

On Sunday, St. Louis Cardinals nation was reeling after being swept at Busch Stadium by the Texas teams. Thursday morning, we’re elated after our beloved birds on the bat swept the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley on Wednesday afternoon. The first time they have done this since 1988.

To put that in context for myself, I was 8 or 9.

Kolton Wong raises his hands in celebration after scoring in the sixth inning. The Cards went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 7-2. ScreenGrab!
Kolton Wong raises his hands in celebration after scoring in the sixth inning. The Cards went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 7-2. ScreenGrab!

This little week and a half stretch could be considered quite the snapshot for the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals season.

Some games, they are on fire. Other games, it’s like they don’t care. But you know, deep down the do. It’s just… you know. Baseball.

It was a relief to see great starts from Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha. Wacha pitched with a confidence we haven’t seen in some time. Garcia is looking like we’ve hoped he would look for seasons now and Waino, while not completely bueno, was not bad at all.

The lineup put together great at-bats. And, dare I say it, they looked scrappy on the basepath and in the field.

Minus the dramatics of supposed-closer Trevor Rosenthal, it has been what we have been hoping to see from this team. And I couldn’t be happier this team showed up against the freakin’ Chicago Cubs. How sweep it is!

Here’s a little recap from MLB on the Cards 7-2 victory over the Cubs Wednesday.

Let’s hope they keep on this track of playing great baseball as they head to Seattle for a three-game set against the Mariners.

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Thoughts on the Cardinals Through 57

The St. Louis Cardinals are 57 games into the 2016 season. So let’s discuss how they have done thus far.

  • They are 10.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs and in third place, behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. We knew the Cubs were going to be good this season. And they are. The Cardinals have a series this weekend against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Our birds could gain some ground.

    Welcome back, Jhonny!
  • Kolten Wong optioned to Memphis. He’s been slumping and just not playing well. This is something we’ve become used to with Kolten. He’s gone through spats like this before where he will seemingly try too hard and his whole game stinks. He’ll get benched or sent to Memphis to work things out. I, for one, hoped the Cardinals extending Wong to a  5 year/$25.5 million deal would give him the assurance that the team trusts him and wants him to succeed at second base with them. Ease some of his anxiety. Thankfully, the team is in a decent position to allow Wong time to work through it all and get his confidence back at the plate. It will be great to have the player we know he can be out on the field.
  • This team isn’t what anyone expected! That’s baseball. And it’s awesome. The team is going to be taking an interesting turn in the next few days with Jhonny Peralta returning to the team … to play third base.
  • This opportunity happened with the amazingness that has been rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz. Holy crap is that kid amazing! Before this week, Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia and Wong have had chances at second. With Peralta back, Matt Carpenter is going to get a chance at second. He’s had some success there before!
  • And then, first base. Matt Adams has put together a nice little run that shows fans should have never really counted him out. He seems to just need some time to heal and get some reps at the position. He’s become one of the best hitters on the team. And then Brandon Moss. Who knew he’d be such an important part of this team. He leads the team in home runs, most of which come from pinch hitting appearances.  Matt Holliday has also gotten some time in at first base as the team has so many options in the outfield now.
  • Speaking of the outfield. Stephen Piscotty has become my favorite member of the team. He provides outstanding coverage in the outfield, a great arm and he’s pretty good with the bat. He flat out hustles. Love it. Randal Grichuk has been streaky this season … going through massive slumps at the plate and then coming along with a nice jolt of power every few days. He needs to get more consistent. And it seems to be something he’s working on. Jeremy Hazelbaker seemed to be the find of the offseason in April providing depth in the field and off the bench. He’s dipped a little bit and wouldn’t be surprised if we see him sent to Memphis soon to get some work in and allow Tommy Pham the opportunity to come back and make a difference.
  • Matt Holliday has been pretty awesome for an old guy this season! He’s done some great work in the outfield, has been a surprise option at first base and he’s been clutch with timely hits (Booming homers too!). For years, this fan base has given the team loads of crap for his 7 yrs/$120M deal. The team has an option for 2017 and they need to strongly consider using it.

Continue reading “Thoughts on the Cardinals Through 57”

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Pitchers And Catchers Report Day is Here

One of my favorite days of the year is finally here! It’s the day that signals spring and summer are just a little bit closer … it’s MLB’s Pitchers and Catchers Report Day!

I’m usually very excited in the lead up to this day. This year? Not so much. I think it has something to do with my beloved St. Louis Cardinals losing in the playoffs to the Chicago Cubs. Bleh.

And, the team was unusually vocal in their attempts to secure a desired free agent, in Jason Heyward, and said desired free agent goes to the Cubs.

It had this fan wondering what on earth is wrong with her team.

And, if you really sit down and think about things. There is not a lot wrong. In fact? There is a lot to be excited about.

  • The Cardinals didn’t fork over ALL the money to pay Heyward. Nor did they pay ALL the money to get David Price. More power to them for going out and getting all the money. The team now has more money at its disposal. And that has to be a good thing … Right?!
  • The bench is dramatically better from last season. No more Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, Tony Cruz or Pete Kozma. Or even Mark Reynolds – who I’ll actually miss.
  • They did get Jedd Gyorko and Brayan Pena. Jedd will give rest to several infielders. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even made Kolten Wong have to work a little harder. Wong is great but he has his moments … and if he has too many, the team has an option. Pena is an actual legit option to back up Yadier. Remember that feeling of OMG when Yadi was out because Tony Cruz was going to be exposed. Well. Whew! Brayan has some experience and can hit some too.
  • Greg Garcia and Tommy Pham will be other bench options. Both are such an exciting players. It will be fun to see them get chances.
  • Matt Adams will be back and has some competition. He could be a bench option too if Brandon Moss has a great spring. And both could end up bench options if Matt Holliday taking reps at first base becomes a more serious idea. And there is always Stephen Piscotty. Speaking of …
  • Oh my goodness, we’re going to have a full season of Stephen Piscotty! I’m beyond excited to see what this young man can do! The bat, the glove, some speed, the baseball IQ. The kid is great and it will be nice to watch. He gives you an outfield option and a first base option with a bat.
  •  A healthy Randal Grichuk. Yes, please! When he is healthy and he is on, he is amazing to watch.
  • A healthy Yadier Molina. He got his cast off and is looking to be ready for opening day. I hope he is ready for opening day. Having him behind the plate is just too important to this team.

We haven’t even gotten to pitching yet!

  • Adam Wainwright will be back after a good chunk of the season off recovering from a torn Achilles. He has a rested arm and a desire to prove the naysayers wrong regarding his abilities to come back better than ever. … Y’all. This is Waino we’re talking about.
  • Carlos Martinez. I enjoyed what I got to see last season from him. I felt sad when the team lost him to shoulder issues. If you watch his Instagram, he has been working all offseason to get better. I am looking forward to seeing what happens this season for him.
  • Michael Wacha. I think we all have really high expectations for him. Last season, he didn’t really meet them. Let’s hope he does so much better this year.
  • Jaime Garcia. Holy crap, I can’t even believe I’m excited to see what he does this season. Let’s just make sure we get him to his happy place before his starts and have some Sprite or Pepto ready. No more upset tummies for big games, Ok buddy.
  • Seung Hwan Oh. The Final Boss. Look. With this guy’s background as a top closer in Korean baseball, it’s hard to imagine he won’t give Trevor Rosenthal a run for the closer position. In fact? I hope he does. Sure Rosenthal gets me significantly angry with his Typical-Cardinal-Closer-Antics. It gets old. And that Manager Mike Matheny babies him. Well, enough is enough. Give Mike an actual option for once. Oh, I hope Oh has a great spring. … Yes, I am so looking forward to him pitching just for the puns!

And then there is the stuff about baseball that are unexpected and awesome! The players that come out of nowhere to become options.

Baseball starts today, you guys! Thank goodness.

 

NFL

NFL Wild Card Weekend Time

NFL Playoffs time, you guys!

It’s NFL Wild Card weekend and lots of fun games are on the slate. Let’s talk some football!

Saturday games first.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans – 3:35 p.m. Central on ESPN

Alex Smith versus Brian Hoyer? Goodness. It would be interesting to see Alex Smith actually step up in an important game and do better than mediocre. Probably harsh, but Smith is playing a Texans defense led by J.J. Watt.

And if DeAndre Hopkins get the ball, forget about it! He’s had 11 TDs this season. He’s been amazing and I see that continuing in this wild card match-up in Houston.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals 7:15 p.m. Central on CBS

Pittsburgh will be without running back DeAngelo Williams. But, I think they will be fine as long as Ben Roethlisberger connects with his other targets… Ok, Antonio Brown.

The Bengals will be playing without QB Andy Dalton. They are going with A.J. McCarron.

Yeah, I don’t know. The Bengals had been doing so well this season. Without Dalton, a win seems daunting. If McCarron steps up and hooks up with A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, et. al., Bengals fans may have nothing to worry about.

Either way, this game should be entertaining.

Let’s move on to the Sunday games.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings 12:05 p.m. Central on NBC

This game should be fun! Sure, it’s not going to be Adrian Peterson vs. Marshawn Lynch. That’s disappointing. But Teddy Bridgewater against Russell Wilson? Two of the hot young quarterbacks in the NFL going head to head? I love it!

Russell Wilson. Intimidating. Rawr.

The Vikings have been on fire lately. They could very well shock the world and move on in the playoffs. But. Wilson and the Seahawks have been in the Super Bowl the last couple of years. They have done well this season. And Wilson just seems to kick it into high gear once the postseason comes. Experience does matter. But being on fire at the right moment matter too.

This game should be great. The only bad spot is that it’s being broadcast on NBC and you have to listen to Cris Collinsworth. I, for one, can totally do without Cris Collinsworth. He is the worst. THE WORST!

Green Bay Packers vs. Washington D.C.’s NFL Team 3:40 p.m. Central on Fox

This game has all the makings of an upset that shouldn’t really be considered an upset. Washington is 9-7 while the Pack is 10-6. But. The Packers have not played well the past few weeks and Washington has played shockingly amazing.

Yes, Kirk. I like that!

So, I am pretty excited about the Sunday set of games! Should be awesome!

Which games are you looking forward to? Thoughts on Cris Collinsworth? 

Fun Randomness, MLB, NFL

My Sports Wish List For Santa

Dear Sporty Santa,

2015 has been a real meh year sports wise. Let’s see what we can do to make 2016 a little better.

First things first, I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I’m upset that Jason Heyward didn’t want to be with the team anymore, opting for the younger Chicago Cubs.

After failing to get Heyward and pitcher David Price, I’m just pleased the team was able to find a guy in Mike Leake that wants to be with the team.  It helps that he’ll be able to pitch a lot of innings and provide a decent bat. He is also looking forward to taking down the Cubs. Love that Santa.

So, we’re hearing that team could be looking to trade for one of the Colorado Rockies outfielders. Ok. Fine. Just make sure the person can also hit really well not a mile up!  Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez. Whomever. I look forward to seeing what happens.

And if that doesn’t pan out Santa … Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon, please!

And thanks for your part in the Jedd Gyorko for Jon Jay trade. A nice backup infielder that has a bat. Plus? No more Jon Jay hate debate! Woo!

Also, Santa:

  • A more consistent Memphis Grizzlies basketball team. Maybe add a little youth, too. That are frustrating this season. Stop it!
  • A St. Louis Blues team that can make it well past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • More amazingness from Cam Newton, please. He has had an awesome 2015 season. MVP worthy. We get to see him rack up passing yards, rushing yards and TDs every week. And then we get a fashion show during the post game presser.

Look at this Santa!

Postgame with @cameron1newton. #CARvsNYG 📷: Kathy Willens/AP

A post shared by NFL (@nfl) on

Those shoes, Santa. I hope we get more Cam!

  • And, if I could get a winning fantasy sports team … specifically football… that’d be awesome, Santa!
  • As many gold medals as possible for Team USA in the 2016 Olympic games at Rio! USA USA USA!
  • More soccer goodness. Men, Women, Man City, MLS… yeah!

Finally, the following can get a little sack of coal:

  • Jason Heyward
  • Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones, too.
  • Abhorrent fans
  • The San Francisco Giants for paying Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto those crazy contracts … and because it’s an even year.
  • The Chicago Cubs.

Merry Christmas! May all your sports Christmas dreams come true!

Love, M

MLB, St. Louis Cardinals

Quick Thoughts on St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Heyward

So this is what it’s like when someone leaves and it’s not for the money?

It’s way more frustrating than I even imagined! Jason Heyward has reportedly signed with the Chicago Cubs. And the Cubs were actually the low bidder. Behind the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals.

… I understand little one. I understand.

So what does this all mean?

1. The Cardinals made it known when they acquired Jason Heyward that they would do their best to woo him into becoming a Cardinal for years to come. It seemed to go well. He said he enjoyed his time with the team. The fans loved him. The Cardinals promised signing Heyward was the top goal this offseason.

2. Maybe they shouldn’t have made that known. Maybe it’s one of those situations where you let it be known how you feel, and it’s not really reciprocated but the target of your attention is nice and lets you think everything is great. But you present them with a long-term, multi-million dollar proposal … and they bolt! That’s more commitment than they were really seeking. It’s not you, it’s me… Yeah!

3. I am mad at no one. Jason Heyward obviously did what he felt best for him and you can’t fault him for that even if it does mean he goes to the Chicago Cubs. You can’t be mad at the Cardinals. They apparently made the top offer. They did their best to make him feel welcome. Heyward made his choice despite the team’s best efforts. More than anything it just makes you feel more upset about the situation that led to the Cardinals needing Heyward. Rest in peace, Oscar Tavares.

4. I made an unfortunate promise when the debate of where Jason Heyward would go started getting ridiculous…

I guess I have to keep that promise, huh?

5. Who cares who the Cardinals go after next? Granted, I am in a great state of disappointment. But. The team needs a bat and a starting pitcher. And probably some other pieces too. Anyone they get is just gonna be like Meh to me. Alex Gordon? Yoenis Cespedes? Sure that would be great. Probably won’t get them now. See? Meh. Just go ahead and sign Johnny Cueto why don’t you! See. That’s ridiculous. But really. The struggle is going to be real until the season gets underway. Everything just seems like it will be anger inducing or a let down now. Meh!

6. Please don’t sign Johnny Cueto. I mean really.

7. I still love the Cardinals. I’m just really let down.

8. I hope they do find some pieces that will pick my spirits up.

9. No. Really. Don’t sign Johnny Cueto.

10. Just. Win. Cardinals. Just do what you have to do to win and beat Heyward and the Cubbies. K? That’s all I ask!