The Cardinals are going to need some magic if they think they can pull a comeback tonight. Yes, Cardinals fans, another comeback in 2012. Another comeback for the resilient and frustrating St. Louis Cardinals. It’s their brand of poison. A drug that runs through our systems, performing a dreary diagnostic check of the facilities heading into another round of action. Guess what? Tonight is it. Winner take all. Loser goes home. Both teams are fighters. Both can throw a punch and take one while understanding what it takes to climb off the floor to fight again. I bet this is a hard one in Vegas to score. Do you throw money on the Giants, who have won 2 in a row, are at home(where they previously sucked before Game 6), and seem to carry all the momentum? Or do you place your bet on the Cardinals, the unbreakable force of nature that stormed back from being down 6-0 in Game 5 against the Nats only to fire a game saving megaton bullet at Washington’s ankles with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th inning? The team that pushed back the Texas Rangers while on their knees in last year’s World Series, beat Roy Halladay in a one game winner take all to get there and the club that has won six straight winner take all games. What do you do? It’s a good thing I don’t bet nor do I have the money to bet. All I see is a devoted fan’s painful view of an old western showdown. Two gunslingers who refuse to fall standing at the corners of a street asking each other, “Say when?” It all ends tonight my friends.
The Cardinals blew up their cushion comfort lead by scoring a single run in two games and getting schooled by Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong, two journeyman arms who have seen the bottom of the barrel. Zito the former Oakland A with the big contract(18 million per year) who flunked big time and was left off the playoff roster two years ago when the Giants won the World Series. Vogelsong is the forgotten brother of Jason Simontacchi, who found a team he could do well on after so many teams dumped him and years passed him by. Two guys who made the Cardinals life a living hell. Save me the praise for the Giants bullpen because it doesn’t stick. They haven’t put in as many innings as the Cardinals because their starters can go more than 5.2 innings on a regular basis. Take out Adam Wainwright’s stellar Game 4 outing and the other 6 games can only find the Game 3 outing by Kyle Lohse that marks a start that could qualify for a win. Lance Lynn has blown up twice, Waino got blasted in Washington, and Chris Carpenter has given 8 innings in two starts. The Cardinals rotation work has been awful in the postseason. If the Cards find a way to win tonight, snap the MVP award into a dozen pieces and hand it to the bullpen arms. They are the true heroes of this series and postseason and the ONLY reason we are alive today. Think about how fucking hard it has been to follow this team in 2012, and be amazed we are playing a Game 7 in the NLCS. The injuries, the inconsistency and madness. It’s pretty special but doesn’t mean shit. Game 7 means everything.
Chris Carpenter is in April mode my friends. That isn’t an excuse. It’s a fact. He has made 6 starts in 2012. He isn’t right, and won’t be until the start of the 2013 season. His stuff is off every game and he has to grit out innings. In Game 2, his defense betrayed him as well as his fastball being misplaced. That defensive letdown included himself, when he threw an errant toss towards first base that opened the gates for a huge inning. Last night, in Game 6, Carpenter wasn’t right again. His fastball couldn’t be tamed again, as it laid out and over the plate to be crushed. His defense let him again. Pete Kozma couldn’t field a Vogelsong swinging bunt and that opened up the gates for a big inning. Marco Scutaro, otherwise known as the obsession of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver’s dreams, had two more hits which included a back breaking 2 run double in the 2nd. Before we could all settle down and enjoy the game, the score was 5-0 Giants. Carpenter only gave up 2 earned runs and was in full possession of his curveball(6 strikeouts) but he was still hit hard and often. The Giants are in attack mode and the Cardinals are in a prevent defense. They attack with base runners, solid starting, and an extremely loud wannabe in love with their baseball team home crowd and the Cardinals just seem unready to march forward. What happened to that swagger that we obtained in beating the shit out of Tim Lincecum aka “The Kid” in Game 4? Misplaced on the so called “happy flight” or lost elsewhere over the better part of our country? I won’t watch a minute of the MLB network today or indulge in anything more than the quiet words on twitter because I don’t want to hear it be said over and over again. Don’t count out the Cardinals because they have won 6 straight sudden death games. Watch out for those Giants, they came back from 2-0 against the Reds to take the NLDS? My feeling is the networks deep down want a Cardinals-Tigers rematch from 2006. However, FOX is already putting together Giants-Tigers clips as the two teams who…uhhh…thought they….ummm….fuck I have no clue there. They will figure something out. A slow motion reel of Scutaro wincing in pain after Matt Holliday ran him over, followed by Vogelsong’s rested choke necklace and finishing with Hunter Pence’s crazy hick Gideon speech in the dugout which we heard about 34 times in the first two games of this series.
Here are some quick definite thoughts about Game 7-
*Tim McCarver needs to get ran over by a horse carriage. Twice. He is worse than Al Hrabosky. Oh yes he is. Challenge him to a spelling bee or a pronunciation contest if you don’t believe me. He also dresses like a former movie theater manager I happen to despise. If you ever wanted to know what happened to that couch cover you used to own, it’s sitting on Tim’s shoulders masquerading as a suit. He is just bad. Drags Joe Buck down with him, who I am sure ridicules him off camera, especially when he is drunk, because we all know alcohol is the best(and cheapest) truth serum.
*If Matt Holliday’s back isn’t right, sit him. Let’s not play tough guy right now. I know back pain from working out for 14 years and when its bad you can’t really do much of anything. Keep Holliday on the bench for that late power source and insert the more than reliable Matt Carpenter, who bombed a two run homer off Game 7 starter Matt Cain, which held up as the winning score in Game 3. Holliday had a solid year and is the toughest bastard on the roster but when he is off at the plate, it doesn’t help the club. He jumps at pitches, doesn’t know the strike zone and looks like The Rock playing left field. Sit him.
*Don’t let Fernando Salas or Marc Rzepcynzski pitch in this game. No matter what. Lock them up somewhere. I suggest Alcatraz, which is technically closed but open on occasion for shitty pitchers.
*Don’t let Edward Mujica pitch in this game. He gave up an RBI single to Ryan Theriot last night, and that is a federal offense. Any man who looks like that and barely ever plays gets a hit against Mujica and something needs to be locked down. Or the fact that Eddie’s pitches are contact pitches and they are being revealed just like Ryan Franklin’s were late in his career. Let Trevor Rosenthal handle the 7th inning if a STL Cards lead exists. Pull out all the stops and don’t think about the World Series yet Mr. Matheny. Worry about leaving the West Coast with a win and coming home Wednesday to host…oops there I go thinking about it.
*Do it for Tony La Russa’s dogs. I had to say it.
*Do it for Scott Speizo. He just sold the chin hair from his rally cry 2006 facial hair on eBay for six dollars and 20 cents. Man needs a lift.
*It wouldn’t be out of the question for all the Cardinals to wear a little sex panther cologne tonight. Smelling like pure gasoline sends a message to the other team. Back down or else you can also smell like big foot’s dick. Sorry, I watched Anchorman the other night. Force of habit.
*The last Game 7 I witnessed with this team was in last year’s World Series. The Rangers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead but then Carpenter shut them down and we scored 6 runs to win 6-2. Easy. So easy. That was at home after a life changing stranger humping Game 6 comeback win. Tonight’s game comes after a earth shattering 6-1 loss. You figure it out. It’s hard to determine a future result with past statistics. That’s my biggest issue with sabermetrics. They are useful but add up to shit in actuality.
*If Allen Craig shows up and gets some hits, we can win this game. Craig hasn’t done much of anything this series. He is due. There’s my stat of the day. Allen Craig has hit like crap and is due for a hit. Slice that up Billy Beane while you watch from home.
*UPDATE(2:35pm)-Matt Holliday is starting, according to Twitter and Team Stream. Hours after reporting the back discomfort increased during last night’s game and it appeared unlikely he would start, now the Oklahoma State football grunt is in there. Let’s hope that morphine runs deep and allows him to fire one more deadly lumberjack crack of the bat. Other than that, you know how I feel about this.
What else is there to say here? I can go on and on about theories, stats, funny notes and still get nowhere. Give me another 1,000 words(we are currently at 1700) and all I can promise is entertainment. Sometimes you just need to stop and watch your team go…somewhere. Up or down. Home for good or home for more action. That’s the beauty of Game 7. Sooner rather than later, we will get closure tonight on what the Cardinals have left in 2012. I do know Lance Lynn shouldn’t be allowed to start another game if we advance(insert Jake Westbrook) but that doesn’t matter right now. Tonight matters.
I’m not promising anything. I wouldn’t expect a blog tomorrow. If one does come forth, it may be a one word message. FUCK. That can mean, fuck we lost, blew a 3-1 lead for the first time sine 1996 and the Braves, and we are done playing baseball. It could also mean FUCK we are going to play more baseball and go up against the Tigers again. Either way, we’re refilling the medication tomorrow.
Tonight, I will be in a 3 hour movie screening of the new Tom Hanks film Cloud Atlas, which looks like a mind bending science fiction fuck bash but right now it sounds less painful than watching my Cardinals die and leave their hearts in San Francisco.
Only time will tell. Ask yourself this. What does this team have in store for us?
Goodnight and good luck,
Dan L. Buffa
*1,900 words in 35 minutes. I’m getting good at this.