I endured the game Sunday evening between the Brewers-Cardinals as I began to write this blog. I will apologize in advance at the rambling nature of this post but such is the nature of a fan without a home. As the night progressed and the Cardinals piled atrocity on top of atrocity in their lopsided battle against Brewers pitching, I referenced my own interest in these series. Playoff baseball without the Reds struggles to hold interest for me. I love baseball but every other team that held even the slightest fascination for me are gone or in the Brewers case last night, on the way out. I am now left with the Rangers who at least have Josh Hamilton and thus become my default cheering option.
I was raised in an environment where you always cheer for you own. If the Reds lose, cheer for their noble opponent. Back in 1974 that was the Los Angeles Dodgers who were the only team in all of baseball to post a better record than the Reds, and in lieu of the Wildcard, still managed to knock them out of contention.
The Cincinnati Reds are the team of my youth and the team of my childhood, they are my first love. I was accused as a young boy of only liking championship teams as at the tender age of seven my favorite teams were the Reds in baseball and the Cowboys in football in 1972. So over the next couple of years I accumulated other teams that I liked for a variety of reasons. My best friend loved Kansas City so around 74-75 I started following a young third baseman who played with enthusiasm and grit named George Brett.
The Dodgers were the enemy in those days, Yeager, Garvey, Lopes and Lasorda. But in the end the public persona was a likeable one. This brings me to my current frustration. I do not like the Cardinals. They have a few likeable players, Pujols for all of his surly demeanor is an artist in the batters box, Jon Jay and David Freese both are appealing young talents. Adam Wainwright seems to be a genuinely good guy. Matt Holliday gets a pass because he was awesome on my fantasy team. Even Lance Berkman who has long reserved for the Reds his most fearsome abuse.
But not withstanding this fine gentlemen, their are 4 players/coaches in the Cardinals organization that for me cast the entire franchise in a bad light. I like players who lose as men, head held high, accept defeat and vow to fight another day. Never in all of my years of watching any sport has a single franchise embodied excuses and whining.
First, Yadier Molina. Of all the players I dislike he is the one that probably is least deserving but I love @DatDudeBP and Yadier really got in his face. Yes, I am petty too.
Second, Dave Duncan. If once a year he complained about the strike zone I would not even think about him. But like those that follow, Duncan is convinced he is the smartest guy in any argument and I have always been confused by the idea that a coach in the dugout has any idea where a pitch crossed the plate from that angle. Be quiet and sit down Mr. Duncan.
Third, Chris Carpenter. A friend of mine on Twitter calls him Chris Crypenter for obvious reasons. Never in my years of watching the game has their been a more insufferable pitcher. I loved Bob Gibson, the stories of Don Drysdale mesmerize me, Steve Carlton abused the Reds but was an master at his craft. Carpenter is a talented pitcher with excellent stamina. But does it help his game to constantly moan? All it does for me is provide a headache.
And finally there is the ringleader of this clown circus. Tony LaRussa. I have never heard LaRussa congratulate a victorious opponent since he was quoted following the 1990 Reds sweep of his Oakland A’s “It was almost enjoyable to see.” I have never heard him claim responsibility for a mistake. Maybe he has but I have not been witness to it. There is a line between righteous competitor and crybaby and in my mind TLR crosses it most every day in recent years.
LaRussa accomplished what I thought impossible this year he took a team with an anemic bullpen, and an even weaker defense and taken them to the World Series. I did not think it possible but I tip my cap at the accomplishment…And pray the Rangers sweep them in 4!
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PS: An old friend of mine, who suffered the unenviable distinction of being my teammate on a little league team that defined bad, mailed me a copy of Joe Posnanski’s book “The Machine”. To Matt I salute you and yours in South Dakota and I offer my thanks. Memories of our childhood diamond dreams still echo in our minds, and the memories of the Big Red Machine are those that a 10 year old could never forget…