It Finally Happened To Them
Let’s ge t a disclaimer out of the way right at the top here. This isn’t some post declaring last night, or yesterday’s doubleheader sweep, some kind of turning point in the Cubs’ and Cardinals’ season. The Cubs still are a $20 cab ride from the top of the division, they’re still not as complete at St. Louis, and there’s many miles to go before we sleep. But it was satisfying in one way.
I feel like Jim Deshaies and I would get along quite well. During last night’s broadcast, he tossed a fair amount of shade on the idea that “the Cardinals just know how to win.” Away from a hot mic, J.D. might go ahead and say it’s utter bullshit. What the Cards do is just toss out really good players up and down the lineup and really good pitchers in the rotation and in the bullpen. That certainly makes it look like you know how to win, because generally they’re doing everything better than the team they are playing because of that aforementioned glut of good players.
Breaking it down even further, what the Cards generally do is fill that lineup with hitters who don’t strike out a lot. They don’t always walk that much, but they’re usually very good at putting the ball in play. And even though this is the majors, not unlike the shitty high school league I was in amazing things happen when you just put the ball in play. Just this year, Grichuk and Reynolds are the only semi-regulars who strike out more than 20% of the time.
And yet, it always felt like there was something more at work, didn’t there? It always felt like that when without failure Yadier Molina would belch out some flare so soft it didn’t even bend the grass when it landed right behind the 2nd baseman driving in two runs, the second always being the go-ahead run or the one that just put the game out of reach. It felt like that when they’d run up some jamoke who either just was called up or was in some slump for weeks, and they’d quickly rap something into the gap. It felt like that when the pressure of having ABs constantly ground out and no easy outs forced a defense into a mistake. We need look no farther than Monday night when Bryant and Russell couldn’t connect on a force-out which opened that door to a loss. You can think of hundreds of examples like that if you wanted to, but it’ll end with your hand in broken glass of some kind.
So I know I wasn’t the only one pumping his fist with utter glee, and perhaps cackling maniacally, when we for once were on the other side of it. First Addison Russell comes up in a big spot. And you know Russell would be the exact kind of hitter to come to the plate where if he were a Cardinal you would say to yourself, “There’s no way a guy going like this should come through here but he’s going to anyway because CARDINAL REASONS and I’m going to vomit up several organs.” Not only did Russell come through, but he came through with one of those apologetic dribblers that somehow hugged the line long enough to cross over the base, if not defy physics. If it happened the other way, your coffee table would have been flying out into the street. That’s not skill, that’s just luck! That’s what you’d say. That’s not proof of anything!
Making it better? The Cardinals reacted in the same way we all would have reacted in our homes. They threw an utter shitfit, and Maness got himself ejected. Mike Matheny looked like he might cry. This is what it feels like when doves cry!
And of course, there was Siegrist missing second with a throw a few batters later. How many Cubs pitchers have we watched airmail a throw against them? 112? For once, just once, we got to experience the other side.
Again, not a turning or defining point. And yet… y’never know, right? Come September or October how we might view it? Y’never know. But for now, just going to enjoy the afterglow for a bit.