Cards-Cubs Championship Fight by Bob Ryan

With a title like this….one HAS to think of the glorious days of Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier entertaining us with their historic battles. But…..this “championship series” is between the St. Louis Cards & the Chicago Cubs….it has two settings……here we go…

Ring Announcer:  “Welcome everyone to the 8 rounds of battle over an 11 day stretch between two long-time rivals…let me introduce to you the combatants right NOW….in the Red corner with a record of 48-46 is the St Louis Cardinals and in the Blue Corner is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs hold a 55-38 record for the 2018 season. At ringside is the PBP announcer is  Johnny Slikbk with his sidekick, Rocky Hazbn.

Before the fighters enter the ring…

Johnny, “ Well, Rocky it’s the stretch of the season that we’ve been waiting for…..one of these teams COULD be totally knocked out (of the race) or get back into a neck-neck race .”

Rocky,” Exact amondo Johnny, these two contestants will have 8 rounds (games) of action.

Johnny,” What can we expect to see”

Rocky, “ You will see plenty of pitching changes to improve their defense against the other team. You’ll see the Cards trying to display some new emotion under their new manager Mike Schildt. We don’t know much about this ol’ cagey manager who’s worked with lower level fighters for a long time but… on the field…we do expect a dramatic evolution in the bullpen with less actual changes and more clearly defined roles.

Johnny, “What else does Schildt bring to the table for these Cards?”

Rocky, “An important change Schildt brings to the team is in the clubhouse…..we heard the word “accountability” flowing frequently with the departure of MM….ironically though Johnny…many of the men throwing around that word couldn’t look in the mirror?….wonder why?

Johnny,” Rock, tell us about the offense of the Red Corner…the Cards”

Rock,”Well…the Cards have shown a knockdown punch…they are #4 in NL in home runs but they don’t set up that power well…they are #11 in on-base % in NL (11 of 15) including #13 in walks in the NL…so the Cards have a knockdown punch (HR) but usually it’s with the bases empty

Johnny,” Tell us about the runs prevention…the defense and the pitching… Rock”

Rocky, “ While the Cards DO have a knockdown punch, the don’t’ defend themselves too well. They are tied for #6 in the NL in ERA, 12th in the NL in strikeouts…so the pitchers can’t defend themselves. Also, the Cards pitchers are #9 (NL) in walks per permitted…giving up too many free punches (runners) against them

Johnny, “ What about the Blue Corner Rock?

Rocky,’Well the Cubs havent’ been the fighter that most expected….but …they have some sneaky punches…the Cubs are#1 in OB% in MLB, #1 in NL in runs scored, and #1 in OPS….so they have a potent punch offensively…most expected them to be good….but they are a NL leader not just good …or close to the top with that knockout punch..

Johnny,”What arout their defense….their pitching Rock?”

Rocky, “ Despite heavy investment, the Cubs pitching is a bit of this and a bit of that….#2 in NL in ERA, NL #4 staff in HR against, however they’ve shown a defensive weakness …they are #17 in MLB in WHIP…. this means lots of pitching off the stretch…statistically, pitchers pitching off the stretch permit more hits and more runs

Johnny,” Rock….what’s the long look here at the importance of this series”?”

Rock….The Cubs begin this 8 round match as the Champion of the Division with a 2.5 lead over Milwaukee …the Brewers have begun to show some wear and tear in the ring of late due to their frail starting rotation….The Cards are ranked #3 in the division with a 7.5 game gap between them and the Champ (Cubs)…it goes this  way, Johnny…..the Cards MUST win the 8 round match….not necessarily a sweep but a 5-3 victory in these 8 rounds brings them with sight of the Champ(1st place team)…winning more than 5 games brings them totally back into the race….however, if the Champ breaks even …going 4-4…that’s good enough for them—they chew up games on the schedule….IF after those 8 games (5 game series, 3 gm break and another 3 round series), the Cubs have won the 8 round match(5-3)…the Cards will have played 105 games and would be looking at 8+ games deficit(at the minimum)—a long, steep hill to climb….if The Cubs win 6 or more of the 8 games, it were to be a 10+ game bulge….it would be a knockout blow…..the season would be over for our Cards.  Stay tuned for all the exciting action between the Cubs & the Cards!!

 

Now to the more serious stuff …like….Do YOU believe that!!” section….

…do you believe that the All-Star game interviews with the players on the field were actually quite good….much to my surprise….it took us away from some of those inane announcer discussions about minutia …even Bryce Harper came across “good”

…do you believe that the Cleveland Indians are the ONLY team in their division over .500!

…do you believe that Carlos Correa …who is a recognized star on the terrific Houston team… and….he’s only 23 years old!

…it’s not hard to believe that the All-Star game itself was a Home Run Derby….frankly they become a bit boring to me….one quick swing…about 2 seconds and its gone—Home Run

…do you believe that the Philadelphia Phillies who are 11 games over .500 have only one hitter batting

over .275!

…do you believe that the Dodgers …who were 9 games out of 1st place on Tuesday, May 8 but took a .5 lead in the NL West on Sunday have done it without the talented SS Corey Seager

…Do you believe that with…..apparently…. Machado heading to Dodgers….the fear of critics of Free Agency of decades ago is actually…after several decades…proving to be true….the super large, major cities of the US (NY, LA, Chicago, Houston) are capturing the most of the major free agents. Smaller cities will get the next level of free agents.

 

Quick flashes on the one game of new Manager …

….leaving John Gant in for 3 innings indicates a strong, positive direction in handling the bullpen. I couldn’t find it in any statistics…..if MM had EVER left a bullpen pitcher in a game for 3 innings.  Longer performances means less performances….much better on the bullpen arms

…inserting Yadi to the #2 spot was a significant change….why would he do that?…well…Yadi is #3 on the team in slugging %, OBP and OPS..from Little League to MLB…get your best hitters higher in the lineup so that they bat more often. Hence, Matt Carpenter who leads the team in On-Base % (OBP) bats first.

…Fowler was back in the lineup…..as I mentioned a couple weeks ago…the Cards MUST find some role for him to fill….his trade value is next to zero at the moment…find some role that he may fill to make himself …a) help the team   b) more valuable to trade. The Cardinals DNA is NOT to “eat” bad contracts

…probably an insignificant note…why did Ozuna suddenly wear a white long sleeve instead of his flashy yellow one with a new manager….I don’t think it was coincidence

 

Thanks for reading this special edition…YOUR reactions…pro or con….I expect most reactions to be different than my thoughts so let ‘em fly…..send them to me and I’ll get them posted with your initials as the writer.

Comments

  1. The Manager can’t do it all
    HH

  2. This was a KNOCKOUT column! I think that I could almost see Rocky Balboa in the background…
    TH

  3. I agree the next 2 weeks will tell the tale for the Cards in 2018. Get hot and their back in it, flounder and they might as well start planning for next year…you almost hope it goes either way..a .500 split and you get no clear direction.

    I honestly haven’t seen much of the Cards this year but I did make it in for a game in late June when we celebrated my brother’s 70th Bday by catching the Braves game in one of the suites. A total lackluster performance by the Cards as they lost 11-4. My take is that the team was just not focused and that is on coaching. I think that was a sigh that MM needed to go. Yes, he’s a nice guy but the team was not responding and they have a lot of talent.

    I will say that Busch Stadium is a very beautiful ball park and the entertainment district is great. Ownership has a winner here that can bring revenue year round.

    You talk about the AL Central with the Indians the only team above .500. That whole division is a mess, with the KC Royals bringing up the rear. The Royals fall from their glory days in 14/15 has been dramatic and disappointing. In the current environment of either going all in or tanking, the Royals did neither. They don’t have the money to spend to get the players they needed and because of their terrible television contract (paltry compared to the Cards) the owner has to rely on the gate/concessions to keep the income level high. Thus they wavered and the vets on the team see the writing on the wall. So now they are stuck with a team barreling toward 110 losses and who knows what else will happen. Expect a dump of a few more players in the next week or so.

    This all leads me to lament the current state of the game. As you mention, I think we are seeing the coalescence of talent in the major, money making markets and teams like the Royals have to pick their spots to be competitive, but not every year. MLB chose a path unlike the NFL where all teams share revenue equally and so a team like the Green Bay Packers, who reside in a city of barely over 100,000 can still a 250 million dollar check each year to stay competitive. I don’t know if MLB needs a revised revenue sharing plan, salary cap or something else, but something has to change. Intentionally losing to win 3-4 years down the line is NOT a good fan-friendly strategy.

    Oh well, another summer comes and goes and we all get a bit older.

    Take care and get pounding on the keyboard.. Cheers,

    JB

  4. Good morning Maestro,

    Glad to see Manifesto headed to the long term showers

    Cards / Cub series unfortunately I believe will be 4/4 best case Cards 5 / Cubs 3

    Interesting about Ozuna having the white sleeve versus the brighter other colors, what is your thought around that one?

    KL

  5. Nice take on the “Championship Fight” between the Cubbies and Cards. I think the rest of this season is on Mo’s shoulders. Right now, two of his biggest acquisitions haven’t even come close to their hoped-for value when we got them: Ozuna and Fowler–and Carlos Martinez, with his new contract has pitched way below expectations. If changing the manager doesn’t create productivity from these players, we will be the same old up-and-down Cards, and the onus will fall on Mo. July through September will determine his fate. If these players continue to falter, I look for him to make some major moves in an attempt to save his skin.
    MH

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