November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for…

My parents (they were there first!)
My wife
All the rest of my extended family
My mother- and father-in-law
My friends
My cat and dog
My job
My health

And so very much more.

May you all have a wonderful, safe, relaxing holiday.

-M.

NL MVP

Settle down, everybody. Yes, Ryan Howard won the MVP. No, it’s not a "travesty." Pujols didn’t get "cheated" or "robbed" or "jobbed" — all terms I’ve seen in my email today.

This is not like if Weekend at Bernie’s II had won a Best Picture Oscar. It’s not like Pat Buchanan getting 50 percent of the votes in Palm Beach County. It’s not a case of East Coast Bias, or idiocy, or anything other than honest disagreement.

Would I have voted for Albert Pujols if I had a vote? Yep, absolutely. But it would have been very, very close; honestly, a tough decision. Pujols has the edge in some significant categories (OBP and SLG come to my mind, though both those edges were fairly small). But Howard had the edge in one major one that a lot of Cardinals fans seem to be ignoring — games played. He played in 159 games, Pujols 143. That’s a big deal. That’s 16 games where Howard was providing value to his team and Pujols was not.

I know Pujols has never been on the DL before. I know he plays through a lot of pain. I know it’s not his fault he was on the DL. But the fact remains, he was. And that matters.

Currently playing on the speakers: Wilco, Kicking Television

-M.

Edmonds re-signed

New two-year deal for Edmonds, more details to follow.

-M.

Lucky Seven

1. Which free agent from another team would you most like to see the Cardinals sign? Money no object. Just, who’s the most appealing player out there in FA?

2. Among the names who have been frequently mentioned in trade rumors — Sheffield, Willis, Marcus Giles, Vernon Wells, etc., you know who they are — which one would you most like to see the Cardinals acquire?

3. Name one player in the hot stove rumor mill that you want the Cards to stay AWAY from. And let’s make it a challenge — don’t say Barry Bonds. Give me somebody else, and a reason for it.

4. How important is it to have a left-hander in the rotation next season?

5. Every major US sport but baseball is under way right now. Which one interests you most?

6. From all those various "other" sports, which team do you follow most closely, college or professional?

7. What’s your favorite technogadget that you own?

Currently playing on iTunes: Jimmy Buffett, Take the Weather With You.
-M.

Leach's Top-10

Top 3 are easy…

1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Louisville

For what it’s worth, I don’t think there should be an OSU-UMich rematch, basically no matter what. It’s not fair to the winner — shouldn’t have to beat the same team twice in a row.

4. Florida — The best résumé of the pack of 1-loss teams, but tough to put here for two reasons. I think Texas is a better team, and Auburn, who’s also in this mix, beat them.

5. Cal — A bad loss at Neyland, but since then they’ve been incredible. Maybe playing as well as anyone right now. If they win out and UL loses, they’ll have a really strong case .

6. Auburn — I know they lost to Arkansas, but even with that, I think their body of work is stronger.

7. Texas — Head to head, I think they’d beat Florida or Auburn, maybe even Cal (though wouldn’t that be a great bowl matchup?), but they don’t have the quality wins of those teams. And they were thumped on their home field, even if it was by the No. 1 team in the country.

8. USC — I had Arkansas here, but you just can’t ignore 50-14 on somebody’s home field. SC can rise or fall quickly. Beat Cal and ND, and their case is arguably the strongest save a 1-loss SEC champ. Lose to Cal and ND, they’re a non-factor. Huge stretch for them.

9. Arkansas — Like SC, they can climb or fall a lot. Tennessee and LSU both come to their house, so they have a legit shot at 11-1 and an SEC title game trip.

10. LSU — Yup, SEC bias here. Their two losses are on the road against outstanding teams, and they have a great win at Neyland Stadium. If you think ND should be in this spot, I have no problem with that. Wisconsin and WVU are a step down to me.

Other teams to watch: Rutgers of course; that’ll be a fun game tomorrow night… Oregon; can’t wait for the late game vs. SC… Maryland… Texas A&M.

Still shuffling iTunes,
-M.

My Lucky Seven/PLEASE VOTE

OK, second thing first. Please, please, please vote today. If the people representing us think that we don’t care enough to even step out of the house for a few minutes once every two years, then what motivation do they have to do right by us? Seriously. My politics are probably fairly easy to guess, but even if you don’t agree, please vote. It’s in all of our best interest.

End of sermon. Now, my answers for last week’s Lucky Seven. I’m shuffling iTunes at the moment, just had New Order, Moby, Flanders, Journey and Imogen Heap come up. Not a bad run. Anyway.

1. I think Edmonds should be the highest priority, because as I’ve written elsewhere, I don’t think you can upgrade on him for the $7 million marginal cost.

2. I’m not crazy about Ray Durham’s defense, but I love his bat. He’d be a perfect fit in the 2 spot in the lineup. I’m not as high on Kennedy and Loretta as a lot of people are. Counsell’s a nice defender, very nice, but he’s had pretty low OBPs three of the past four years. All things being equal, I think I’d go with Durham, because this team could use the offensive upgrade.

3. I got a LOT of stuff for other people. For myself, I got one of the official baseballs. I collect baseballs. Could never find a WS cap I liked — one with just the series logo, no team logos. Ah well. I have no shortage of baseball caps.

4. I guess what I was getting at here was, for y’all as fans, is the sting of the 2004 WS loss any less now that the core won a title? Personally, I’m one of those heretics who think that there’s a huge amount of randomness and weirdness in the postseason, so I still view 2004 as a truly elite team, one of the best teams I’ve ever seen play.

5. I think I’ll remember Molina’s home run. But really, the entirety of Game 7 in NY was truly spectacular baseball. Maybe the best 9-inning game I’ve ever seen in person.

6. I’ll go with Michigan and Louisville, and I think it’d be a really fun game. I’ve been on the UL bandwagon all year. If they’re 12-0, I’d have zero problem with them playing for it over a one-loss team from the SEC or Big 10.

7. I’m with y’all, haven’t gotten to any recently. But I’m dying to see The Departed. Hopefully this week.

-M.

Looking ahead… to Saturday

Hello, all…
I’ll be blogging about hot stove stuff this winter, for sure, but the absence of baseball games means that the topics here at OYNAG will turn more to my other interests — other sports, music, travel, etc. So consider yourselves warned. Anyway…

It would be cheating to do my top-10 when a big game has already been played this week, but a look ahead to the weekend’s games is at least in order.

Thursday night observation: West Virginia probably had the two best players on the field last night (though Brohm was outstanding), but the reason I’ve liked Louisville more all year long is that they are just a more complete team. They have legitimate talent all over the field, while WVU is more like a two-man team. A really entertaining two-man team with a great scheme, but they just don’t have the same kind of roster UL does.

Game of the week: LSU-Tennessee. The Vols are at home, but a beat-up Erik Ainge against a frightening defense makes me think that LSU has a better chance than most people are giving them. It’s been unwise to pick against Tennessee this year, but something in my gut says that LSU defense pounds Ainge and salvages the season. Usually, the team with one loss has more to play for than the team with two losses, but I don’t think that’s the case in this game. Tennessee has virtually no chance of making the SEC title game, while a third loss would really change the whole light in which this LSU season is viewed. I’ll say LSU by something like 20-17.

Under-the-radar game of the week: Mizzou-Nebraska. The season is starting to slip away from both teams, but this is a great chance to right themselves — the winner is all but a lock to go to the Big XII championship. I actually think Mizzou is the better team, and I’d pick them at home or on a neutral site. In Lincoln, though, it’s very tough to pick against NU. I’m going to, though. You can throw on Nebraska, so I’ll go with Mizzou in a wild one, something like 35-30.

Gratuitous FSU observation: The problem, for the first time in years, isn’t the offense. They’ve been playing good enough offense to win games. They’re showing some balance, Xavier Lee is really exciting, Greg Carr is back to being a factor and Antone Smith looks to have a very bright future. They just don’t have any healthy bodies on defense, so they’re getting physically handled by teams whose offenses they should be wrecking. It’s sad to see.

Now playing on the computer speakers: Babybird, Ugly Beautiful

-M.

Lucky Seven returns

1. Which one Cardinals free agent or potential free agent should be the highest priority for the team to retain?

2. Who should play second base for the Cards next year? Consider any and all options in play.

3. What have you bought in the way of World Series stuff this year?

4. How differently do you view 2004, now that the ’04 core won a ring in ’06?

5. What was the single, most memorable, signature highlight moment of the Cardinals’ 2006 season?

6. What two teams are going to play for the college football national title this year? Obviously this equation will change a lot tonight, but give it a shot either way.

7. This is the time of year when movies with Oscar hopes come out. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in recent weeks?

-M.

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