Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday A.M. Quickie:
Cards Chokery, Cont'd

Cards epic choke continues: I'm reading "The Echoing Green" right now, the full story about the 1951 "Shot Heard Round the World," which capped a wild fall comeback by the Giants to catch the Dodgers and force a playoff.

Right now, the Cards could use a little of the Giants sign-stealing-style cheating to fend off the Astros and avoid MLB's biggest regular-season division-title choke in the last decade.

If it meant the difference between winning and losing the playoffs, would Cards fans approve of a move like stealing signs? (After all, this is the same fan base that made Mark McGwire a god even though he turned out to be the poster guy for the Steroids Era.)

More on this story at the end of the post, because I want to get to the other storylines of the day.

Bonds to play in '07: Based on his 26 HR this season, Hank Aaron's record is as good as broken. (Bonds only needs 22 to do it.)

The BIG question, though, is WHERE? Will he stay in San Francisco? Will he move to the American League to DH?

Here's the upshot: All but a handful of teams would be CRAZY not to make a play for him: He'll be the biggest draw in MLB next season.

Wait: How about Bonds in BOSTON? That's Big Papi's idea, if the Red Sox are stupid enough to trade Manny during the offseason.

Ortiz tacitly approved shipping Manny out of town, but only if the team got someone to protect Papi's prodigious backside. (He ain't hitting 54 HR without a bodyguard.)

The name Ortiz threw out? Bonds.

(Barry in Boston? That year-long frenzy would be worth paying to see.)

Schilling drops "IF"-bomb: As in, "If I come back next year..." Boston media went appropriately bat-shit over this.

Schilling insists it was a rhetorical slip, but he's WAY too media-savvy for that to happen. Maybe he realized he and his team are off the MLB radar and wanted to do something to get back onto it.

A's clinch AL West: "Moneyball" is back, baby. Just in time to make a run to the World Series (as predicted in my Quickie preview in April).

The Tigers are the anti-Cards: Win yesterday holds off Twins (who also won), keeping DET 1 GA of MIN. (Meanwhile, the Tigers are playing for the playoffs; they're going to pull Verlander from his next start to get him ready for the ALDS.)

Dusty Baker wants an answer: "Sooner rather than later." OK, let me make things easy: You're fired. Now, where's Girardi's phone number...?

Hold on: Girardi lobbying to SAVE his job? Sure, you could see it that way, or you could simply see it as public posturing to continue to make him look like the victim in his battle with the owner.

T.O. hospitalized for allergic reaction: What, did his body finally reject the bullshit flowing through his veins?

J'ag-cuse! Are the Colts dirty? That's what Jags coach Jack Del Rio says. Sour grapes? Hey, I'm a Jags fan: I'm on Del Rio's side here.

Warner still Cards starting QB: Well, that "Leinart-to-start" rumor was as baseless as a degree from an online "university."

Chargers' Kiel arrested: San Diego is lining up as the Bengals of the AFC West. If the Chargers and Bengals meet in the AFC title game, will there be enough probation officers to cover the need?

Vinny Testaverde to the Pats? They're looking at him. He's so old, he makes Brad Johnson look spry. This has to happen.

"Hoops Academy" update: There was a huge summit in LA yesterday to talk about some sort of national hoops academy. I have a lot of opinions about this, which I'll try to put together for an item later today.

Dirk signs extension through 2011: Here's a prediction: The Mavs will never do better than last season, but Dirk ends this new deal in the Hall of Fame.

World's Strongest Man Update: The first American in 24 years won the most recent World's Strongest Man competition.

(Shout out to Magnus Magnussen: Holla!)

Notice how no one has ever suggested we institute drug-testing for Strongest Man. And, yet, we praise its champion and flock to watch its tractor-pulling, keg-tossing glories.

Maybe the Olympics should switch to the "Strongest Man" attitude: Hey, do what you gotta do.

Byron Nelson dead at 94: Be honest, how many of you didn't even know the golf legend was still alive as of yesterday?

If you're under 40, you never saw him play – the closest thing was watching the "Byron Nelson Classic."

MNF: Highest. Rating. Ever. At least, for an ESPN show. And it's the second-highest-rated show on cable ever, still trailing the unstoppable Gore-Perot NAFTA debate.

(The true amazingness of these TV-ratings stories is that a public-policy debate was the highest-rated show on cable of all time. Will it EVER be topped? If the Saints homecoming game can't do it -- and it almost did -- I'm not sure what can.)

Still, this most recent MNF rating is pretty amazing. But will it represent the high point?

Undoubtedly, it was the result of an unprecedented combo of ESPN's promotion skills plus the biggest human-interest story the NFL has seen in decades. As the season goes on, it remains to be seen whether the football-related (as opposed to human-interest) match-ups will be as compelling (or, more specifically, as widely watched).

Meanwhile, don't think that the executives over at NBC weren't tracking those MNF-in-N.O. ratings:

I am sure that NBC will take advantage of the new "flex" scheduling for Sunday night, even if it means PASSING on a more intriguing playoff-implicating match-up in exchange for more human interest from New Orleans.

(Though, at this rate, the Saints will be involved in late-season playoff-implication games, too.)

More on today's top story: The Cards have lost 7 straight; the Astros have won 7 straight, leaving them just 1.5 GB.

The Astros have 5 to play: 2 more at Pittsburgh and 3 at Atlanta. Both teams should absolutely roll over to Houston to make things as brutal as possible on the Cards. Hey, why not?

Meanwhile, the Cards play the final 5 games at home – one more against playoff-contending San Diego and 4 against the play-the-spoiler Brewers.

St. Louis has the 4th-best home record in the NL, but with the new stadium, you never know if it's got the mystical powers to help the team power through.

I can't help but wonder if die-hard Cards fans are quite sure that ending the season at OLD Busch would have assured a division title. NEW Busch? Who knows?

Here's the Cards' fans problem: They're alone. Every other baseball fan across the country -- and you could otherwise not give a crap about the Astros -- is rooting for Houston to complete the chokery.

-- D.S.


Christian Thoma said...

Dan, you didn't address the most important question:

If the Cards do blow it, and the Phils don't make the playoffs either, who gets the MVP*? Do we need to go back to looking at one of the Mets?

And don't anyone say Nomar. He was lousy from like June to early September. His OPS still ranks in the 20s in the NL.

*Presuming the MVP only goes to a playoff team

Christian Thoma said...

WFAA-TV in Dallas is reporting that Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens attempted to commit suicide Tuesday night.

According to a Dallas Police report obtained by the station, Owens was depressed and reportedly took prescription pain pills


Brave Sir Robin said...

I hate National League Baseball, but I also hate teh Cardinals. As such, I'm really hoping the Astros it on.
This would even surpass the Angel's collapse back in 1995. They gave up 10 games in the final month. The Cards are about to do that in 2 weeks.
Besides, I like the Astros more than the other teams in the playoffs in the NL. I'd love to see them be the NL's representative to be swept in the World Series.

Brave Sir Robin said...

What do you know? Apparently Dan was right about TO's body rejecting his bullshit.

Christian Thoma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jake C said...

Have to admit, I was one of those people who said, "Nelson was still alive?"

As for the Red Sox...are you serious? Do we really care about ANY storyline out of them? Every year it's who's leaving, will Manny be gone, blah blah blah. I was a huge supporter of the Sawx in '04 and still like them since my father's a fan...but at this point, I'm turning sour on them.

I have been rooting for the Astros this whole time because I love to see records broken and history made. THEN, today I realized that the Astros in the playoffs would mean a likely matchup with Clemens, Oswalt, and Pettite in the NLCS for my, I changed my mind...go BIRDS!!!

As for the point chrth brought up...again, the MVP should not HAVE to go to a player on a playoff team, just like the Heisman SHOULD not have to go to a player on a national contender. (3 best Heisman candidates right NOW - Wolfe, Manningham and C Johnson). And in the NL, again, how about some respect for the amazing numbers, defense, and run creation from Reyes!

jason said...

Bonds WILL be the biggest story, only because it's going to be awkward to see how baseball responds to the most important record in the game being broken by a cheater. Will Selig call for a celebration? How will Hank Aaron or Willie Mays react?

Christian Thoma said...

So TO tries to kill himself, they rush him to the hospital for a stomach pump, and his publicist claims it was an allergic reaction to the painkiller. Nice coverup.

However, I can't help but think this is the media's fault.

Christian Thoma said...

The difference between the Heisman and the MVP is that the Heisman is given to the BEST player* in college football while the MVP goes to the Most Valuable player. There's a huge difference; the former is a general ranking, while the latter is relative. And someone who assists their team with getting to the playoffs is more valuable than someone who doesn't, regardless of raw stats. Maybe back in the day when only 4 teams made the playoffs it shouldn't have been a criterion, but at this point it should be a major factor.

*Since we're speaking Heisman, that really should say 'BEST QB-RB-WR Player' since lord knows they'd never give it to a lineman.

Christian Thoma said...

@cody: the links in blogger look different based on how you approach the post, so I thought the first one I posted was cut off. Thanks for giving a shortcut.

Jake C said...

It's one in the same for the awards for the fact it should not matter if your team is a top contender (i.e. ARod in Texas). MVP does not mean MVP on one of the best teams...simply most valuable player - plain and simple. Plus, you have to take into account more than just offensive stats as well (i.e. Ryan Howard). As Neyer says, CF's deserve more consideration simply because of the defense required. All that said...who does the most valuable work? Not which player on a playoff team did great.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...


Do you seem to forget that the Reds are only 2.5 back? Just a tidbit for ya.

t-bone said...

the T.O. story... WOW!

Brian in Oxford said...

And of course, there are still the Cincy Reds just 2.5 out, one behind Houston. How about a 3-way tie just for the fun of 2 play-out games?

Bonds won't come to Boston....he's already dissed the city in the past, plus....right field is huge beyond the'd think he'd want to go somewhere with a shorter, oh....(cue the Imperial March)

Brave Sir Robin, is that name a Muppets reference?

If the Astros do make it in, can you see the Mets begging not to face them in the first round? Desperate for the Phillies to lose so that they can play an NL West wild card, instead? Of course, we've been hearing "Clemens, Petitte, Oswalt" for a couple of years now....

Will Drew Rosenhaus have a comment on TO?

Brave Sir Robin said...

But how can you say that anyone on a non-playoff team is more valuable than a player on a playoff team?

The point of baseball is to win the World Series. You can't do that without making the playoffs. Therefore, the best players on teams that make the playoffs matter more than number guys on teams that don't make it.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Monty Python reference

Kurt said...

"I was a huge supporter of the Sawx in '04...but at this point, I'm turning sour on them.

"I have been rooting for the Astros this whole time"

"would mean a likely matchup with Clemens, Oswalt, and Pettite in the NLCS for my Mets"

Can we say bandwagon fan? Rooting for the Red Sox in 2004, Mets in 2006 and jumping on the Astros bandwagon in late September. Pick a team and stick with them through thick and thin.

Lee S. Kowarski said...

I hate to be so cynical, but I have to wonder whether T.O. is pulling a publicity stunt to gain sympathy or if he was earnest in his suicide attempt. If the latter, then I wish him all the best, but I'm not sure that we will ever know for sure

Christian Thoma said...

Value is a relative measure, not a general one. Ryan Howard has no value to the Mets. Manny Ramirez, in all honesty, is probably more valuable to the Red Sox than David Ortiz is because not only does MR have his own set of stats, he makes Big Papi a better player by batting behind him.

When it comes to the playoffs, value is augmented by getting there. Let's take the Phillies. If the Phillies don't make the playoffs, then Ryan Howard is less valuable. Why? Because without Ryan Howard the Phillies still don't make the playoffs. Now let's look at Derek Jeter: when the Yankees were struggling with injuries and a wounded A-Rod, Jeter stepped up his game both on the field and in the clubhouse and helped the team get through that patch. If you remove Jeter from the Yankees, it's arguable that they go into a tailspin at that time and don't make the playoffs. (BTW, you have no idea how much it pains me to make the case for Jeter)

Of course, that's a literal rendering of the term 'valuable'. Considering those that vote for MVP are idiots (ditto those the Heisman) I don't expect them to be aware of such subtleties.

Anonymous said...

Dan, call it home-town bias, but if you're really looking for an underdog to root for, if you're really looking to get behind the long-shot, remember, the Cincinnati Reds are now only 2.5 back of the Cards. Hell, with the slide St. Louis is pulling here, the Reds have as good a chance as any.

Woah, how about this one: the best of both worlds: Reds V. Astros in a one game playoff.

You know what, let's root for that! I won't care who wins (although, let's face it, Astors vs. Mets in the NLDS would be much more interesting than Reds/Mets.)

TJ said...

This is the same fan base that made Mark McGwire a god even though he turned out to be the poster guy for the Steroids Era.

Is it just me, or are you a little more biting when ESPN isn't around to edit you? I think actually Dan that baseball fans in general--and all human media as well--made Big Mac a god for his heroics.

I'm having a hard time rooting for the Astros. As a Cubs fan I'm required by law to despise the Cards, but as a Cubs fan raised in teh 90's, I have probably more hate for the Astros (see: 1998, 2004 especially). So while it would be great to see the Cards choke in such epic fashion, I'm not sure I could handle the Astros pulling this coming-from-nowhere act to make the playoffs three fucking years in a row.

Jingoist said...

Something tells me this is not the way Roger Clemens envisioned making 1 last title shot run back in May and June. But that's not to say he won't take it if it happens.

TJ said...

TO: Consensus reaction around me in class seems to be "oh god, now we have to hear about this, and nothing but this, for at least the next week."

Perks said...

[setting: Parcells' beautiful office. 7:30 am. Dallas, TX. His only visible clothing is a polo shirt that is navy blue except for a silver 5-pointed star over his left breast. He is talking with several assistants, each of whom admire every word he says, mostly because he adds a lot of emphasis.]

Parcells: We need to find ways to get more out of Drew. I know he can't run for shit, but he's going to leave here with a ring. And DAMNIT, SO AM I. AND SO ARE ALL OF YOU!

Assistant 1: Should we call for more plays that involve Owens? He hasn't been an 'x' factor yet.

Assistant 2 (ovbviously battling with #1 for Parcells' good graces): Coach, we're still not sure what T.O. can do. I mean it's been pretty good so far with him, all things considered, but he is still not 100%.

Parcells: Yeah, we have dodged a few bullets. There was plenty of room for things to get bad with him.

Ass.1: Then let's give him a shot at some serious catches.

Parcells: Ok, let's give him some plays that challenge his abilities. I'll take care of talking to Drew about it.
MARY! (Parcells calls his secretary) CALL DREW IN HERE FOR 10 THIS MORNING.

Mary (enters office): Yes, coach. I couldn't help but overhear you mentioning how Mr. Owens has been somewhat tame.

Parcells: Yes, a lot of media coverage, as was expected, but the man can play. That's what matters most.

Mary: Sir, Mr. Owens tried to kill himself this morning.

Parcells: .....

Mary: Should I still call Mr. Bledsoe?

Parcells: Shit.

CorrND said...

yeah, ryan g is correct. TO said he had only taken 5 BEFORE this incident. That means he had taken the remaining 35 in the bottle.

Anonymous said...

Considering the Cards remaining sked...they might only win 1 or 2.

Houston should have a bit of an easier time.

The Reds, if they can sweep the Marlins, only have Pittsburgh...but Pittsburgh has played Cincy tough this season.

Jake C said...

Hey Kurt (numbnuts)...

Just because I am rooting for a team to do something doesn't make me a fan. I root for any and every team to beat the Redskins...doesn't make me their fan. Pay attention to the explanation next time.

chrth - good point, which backs in part my point. It's all about value. But, where does it says value is determined by best one of the best teams. If Carlos Zambrano went 30-0 this year (which would STILL leave the Cubs out of it), how could anyone say he wasn't MVP - he contributed to 30 wins. Same goes for positional players - why I enjoy the win-shares stats.

Christian Thoma said...


He took 5 before last night. What he took last night was the remainder of the bottle, minus 2 which he took when the posse arrived. The prescription had 40 pills, so he took 33 at first, and then 2 more last night.

33, huh? There's a chat question for Bill Simmons at noon...

TBender said...

Timeout Dan. Card fans weren't the only ones putting McGwire on a pedestal. The entirety of the baseball public and media was too (probably you included).

And as it turns out...we all we were wrong. Hindsight is a bitch.

And regarding the Cardinal Choke, is it really a choke job if they're 45-55 in their last 100? The Cards also have a makeup game against San Francisco, if necessary.

Worse thing is one bad team is going to get in, be it Houston or St. Louis. And because of it, that team's management will be deluded into not making the necessary big changes for 2007.

Brien said...

Two things:

1) Did I see someone rank Garrett Wolfe (the nation's leading rusher) as the top Heisman candidate? Whoever it was ... thank you for not sipping the "only the big boys win the Heisman" kool-aid!!

2) Phils fans are pulling, in a weird way, for the Astros. Why? Because blowing an 8-1/2 game lead with two weeks to go trumps blowing a 6-1/2 game lead with two weeks to go. A Cardinal collapse would erase the '64 Phils as the Biggest. Choke. Ever.