May 2006

Theme Music

Over at his always-fun MLBlog, Jesse Sanchez posed a fun question. And because I’m an utter music geek, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. Jesse went with the new Chili Peppers single. Can’t say I’m surprised. He seems more like the Jim Edmonds type, a guy who’d have a new song every few months. I think I’d be more in the vein of having one and sticking with it, but I don’t know.

Coming up to bat, I think I might want the introduction to New Order’s "Touched By the Hand of God." But if I were a pitcher, I suspect it would be the start of the Jay-Z/Linkin Park version of "99 Problems" — I forget which LP tunes are mixed with it, but if you have Collision Course, you know what I’m talking about. Soundgarden’s "Outshined" would also be a great call either way.

What about y’all?

-M.

And now for something completely different…

…a man with three buttocks!

OK, not really. Actually, let’s break down a couple of points in tonight’s game, shall we?

Issue 1: I touched on this briefly in my gamer, but I was thoroughly perplexed by the choice to go with Gary Bennett rather than John Gall for the last at-bat of the game. Not that Gall would necessarily have come through, but isn’t that the reason he’s on the team?

I asked the manager this very question, and I gave him the easy out if he wanted it — because if they’d gone to Gall, they still had to use Bennett, because Molina had already been pinch-hit for. So they would have been out of position players. But instead, he simply said Bennett was the guy he wanted up.

I quote: "I thought he was the best chance. What’s Gall done here thathe gives us a better chance?"

Yeah, Gall is 2-for-10 with five Ks, and that’s not real good. And he didn’t have a good AB the other night with the game on the line in Cincy. But it’s hard to see why he’s here if you’re not going to use him as a pinch-hitter there. I dunno. As usual, the manager has more than 2,000 wins, and I have zero, but I think I might have played that one differently.

Issue 2: Also touched on in my gamer, but to my eyes it appeared Encarnacion should have gotten to the Jason Lane single that delivered the (ultimately) game-winning run. He was charging in, while Pujols and Luna were racing out. There’s a runner on third, and it wasn’t a terribly shallow ball. It seems to me that in those circumstances, that has to be the RF’s play, because if the runner DOES break, he’s the only guy with a chance to throw him out at the plate.

Encarnacion explained that he didn’t want to dive for the ball with two guys coming at him, and that makes sense. But from my seat, it seems he should have called off the other two guys. For what it’s worth, La Russa said in his mind it was not a catchable ball. Quoting again: "No chance. Perfectly placed. They caught a break. That ball
was placed perfectly."

Issue 3: The offense overall.

I’ve said many times before, and I still feel it — no player determines the offensive fortunes of this team more than Jim Edmonds. The gulf between when he’s good — the guy had a .381/.475/.952 month in 2004 — and when he’s not (.205/.297/.386 so far this year) is just so mammoth. Then you factor in his importance these days as one of very few left-handers in the lineup. This offense cannot be as good as it needs to be without Edmonds returning to at least his 2005 form.

So that’s one place where there’s room for improvement. Another, I’d put John Rodriguez and his spiffy OBP in the 2 spot against every right-hander for the foreseeable future. Bump Encarnacion down to 6th once Rolen gets right, where he can drive in the big boys. Take what you can get from Molina in the 7 position and enjoy how surprisingly good the two second basemen have been at No. 8.

Anyway, just a few disjointed thoughts. Please discuss.

Now playing on the iPod: shockingly, 15 minutes later, I’m still listening to the same thing, the new Pearl Jam album. OK, one more rant while I’m here — it’s really irritating me to hear one person after another say not only that this is PJ’s best output in 10 years, but the first thing worthwhile from them in 10 years. That’s ridiculous. Yield was treeeemendous, and that was, what, 2000? Sure, Binaural was a little bit of a miss, but Riot Act was unfortunately ignored. The songs on there were really strong. Go back and give it a listen. Seriously. Good stuff.

-M.

Hail the Juice Box

I know, Cardinals fans, that this was not a fun series to watch. The club is not hitting like it ought to, for a variety of reasons.

I can tell you, though, this was a tremendous series to attend. First, Minute Maid Park is simply the best place to work in the National League. In every aspect that matters to someone covering a game, it’s top-flight. Well, they’ve started cranking the music up WAY too loud (I know, if it’s too loud, I’m too old. Whatever.), but aside from that, zero complaints.

But more than that, there’s a charge at this place when the Cardinals come to town. With no insult intended to the intensity of Cardinals fans, I believe this is true: beating the Cards means more to Astros fans than beating the Astros means to Cards fans. This place has a near-playoff atmosphere for every regular-season game between these two teams.

It’s great fun. If you’re a Cardinals fan, and you’ve never been to an STL-HOU game at Minute Maid Park, you owe it to yourself to make the trip sometime. It’s a great experience.

Currently playing on the iPod: Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam

-M.

Quick updates: Rolen arrives, Pujols in lineup

As usual, check back on the site later for more info, but here’s the vitals:

  • Scott Rolen rejoined the team today. He’s obviously still weakened, but said he’s making progress and he does seem to be in better shape than before. The expectation is that he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.
  • Albert Pujols is in the lineup, just posted a few minutes ago. We were initially told that it would depend on how he came through batting practice. It’s still possible that he could be scratched if he comes up feeling bad in the next couple of hours, but TLR hates to have to make out a new lineup card.

-M, always happy to be at Minute Maid Park.

Quick update: Pujols out, Falkenborg up, Schumaker down

I’ll have more in my notebook later this afternoon, but there were a couple of bits of news in the clubhouse this morning:

1. Pujols gets a day out of the lineup as a result of a stiff back, something he apparently sustained on a play at first base at some point over the homestand. Doesn’t seem to be anything too serious, but obviously it’s worth watching.

2. Brian Falkenborg was called up from Memphis, where he was just dominating, and Skip Schumaker was sent out.

-M.

Here and there

I just finished some extra work I had. It’s 1:something am and there’s a day game coming in 11 hours. But anyway, here are a few thoughts…

* Something to watch Tuesday, and going forward, will be whether Sidney Ponson can continue to be this successful with so few strikeouts. According to my math, he has the third-lowest K/9 rate of any NL pitcher with at least 20 innings this year. Likely that will climb some, but it will have to if he’s going to keep an ERA in the 3s.

* My first reaction to the new Pearl Jam disc is very positive. However, the beautiful bride (hi, Erin!) raises an excellent point about it — Man, has Eddie become hard to understand. Thankfully the lyrics are included with the CD.

* I am a big Family Guy fan. But after South Park did a number on them, I’ll never be able to watch that show the same way. Cold, and dead-on.

* In 180 big league at-bats, John Rodriguez now has a career line of .317/.400/.461. Just throwing that out there.

Currently playing on the iPod: Pearl Jam, Live in NYC 12/31/92. It was included when I ordered the new album from the fan club. Good stuff. I like bands that take care of their fan clubs (PJ and U2 both come to mind).

-M.

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