Editor’s note: A few weeks ago, an anonymous reader e-mailed me to submit this post for consideration for publication on St. Louis Bullpen. This isn’t normally how our writing process works, but this was too interesting to simply ignore. Some of the information is out of date, because of when it was written. The writer simply referred to him/her self as Birds Fanman, and I kept everything as originally written, including referring to the Cardinals’ current manager as “Mike Schildt”.
Matt Adams hit an important home run for The St. Louis Cardinals tonight, which sounds untrue. Here’s some bigger picture cool moments that have kept my Baseball Brain Juices in proper circulation.
Harrison Bader Made His Weird Pre-AB Swing Routine a Big League Routine for a Long Time
At the beginning of the season, I assumed Pham, Fowler and Ozuna were the near-daily outfield combination. My poor, broken brain! Fowler was either severely injured the whole time or he simply played that way. Pham struggled in surprising ways (especially when compared to MLB ’17 Pham The Show) before getting traded to a team that should probably be relegated. Ozuna had half of his baby duckwing broken by an overly playful Labrador puppy.
Needless to say, there were opportunities. Harrison Bader, who is the prototypical player that Matheny would have tried to adopt and share a hat with on his first huntin’ trip, took those opportunities and turned them into SBs (“ess bees”), runs, hits, fun, etc. Dare I say his Fun Cause stats are as high as Jose Martinez’ pre-pitch wiggles and post-inside-pitch screams.
This is true: When I saw Bader up-close at AAA Memphis last year, I hated his pre-AB ritual, his overuse of sticky spray, his hair, and that look on his face. But then I watched him play baseball and I felt as though, perhaps, I should cool it and enjoy his professional baseball energy™. His defense has been exciting and his speed on the bases has been a real hook. Hook them, Harrison! Hook them all. The baseball world is your fish.
The Bullpen Got USS Maine’d
A lot of the pitching guys we knew about to start the year are gone, whether by injury or pink slip. And a lot of guys you didn’t know existed have either done fine for us orWHAT, who is Preston Guilmet?? Greg Holland was an unfortunate 2018 statistical catastrophe comparable to only Dexter Fowler.
The WAR ship was brought to port, changes were made, and now weird realities creep in: Carlos Martinez is probably a Closer and it actually makes sense for his long-term health. None of this is particularly notable in modern baseball except, anecdotally, I’ve seen a lot of pitchers I was meh on (Mike Mayers, for example) put together important stretches of clearly good pitching that held the season together just enough.
Adam Wainwright Planted A Tree In Matt Carpenter’s Yard
With Matt Carpenter famously slumping to start the season, legend has it that Adam Wainwright waited until Carpenter was gone for a road trip (“Sky trip”? They don’t drive across the country, friends.) and broke into his house. Wainwright then broke the back window out and planted a Salsa Tree in Carpenter’s back yard. The yield was high, the salsa was good and of adequate smell (source: Alex Rodriguez, local cable reporter for ESPN). The rest is history.
The incident became a source of minor controversy in August, with Carpenter admitting to a writer for The Athletic that his children and wife were horrified by the break in. No police reports were filed and it was seen as a positive– a source of needed team publicity as local Baseball Awareness Polls had hit a 9-year low the day before.
Matheny Left to Work in The Private Sector
Sweaty Hair Grease sales bottomed out and the World Chess Hall of Fame packed up and left for Texas. Mike Matheny, who had his sight set on things far beyond baseball (adopting adult baseball players as his literal children, losing money, loudly exclaiming his strict adherence to Buddhist principles), is no longer a big league manager. July 14th was a day to remember.
The replacement?: Mike Schildt, who is probably a better manager. Mike Schildt, who is undoubtedly more capable of explaining in-game decisions to reporters and fans without being guarded and insecure. Mike Schildt, who knows that pitchers struggle the third time through the lineup and responds to that truth as much as his bullpen will allow.
Are we in heaven now? Are the Cardinals definitely making the playoffs? No, (take a look around you, you idiot) but I’ve been glued to my damn television during Cardinals games since late July, which I did not expect in early July. It’s going to be a weird few weeks. Go baseball go.