It HAD to be done by Bob Ryan

With the Cards floundering, fan interest….even the Cards devout fans…..beginning to fray, the team playing some horrendous baseball games in the past 3 weeks, the Cards ownership pulled the trigger on Saturday night….no it wasn’t a Saturday night massacre…but the Cards dumped Mike Matheny.

….after the bad loss to Cincinnati on Saturday….for one of the rare times…watched the post-game interview with Matheny….”we’re not out”, “we have good pieces”, “we have the ability for multiple long runs”… I couldn’t determine if he was delusional, in denial, reading off a mental script, or confused as to which team had won the game…or what…some reasons…

1) Continued “blow out” games……it HAD been another really bad loss….8-2 — seemingly overmatched by the opponent, coming on top of other “stinkers”that the team appear to be inferior to several other teams…11-3 shellacking to Brewers on June 21, the 11-4 beating on June 30 to Atlanta, 13-8 loss to SF on July—close game but very, very poor play

2) Look around at what change can do……maybe it was coincidental…but …Cincinnati…after dumping their manager….has been a vastly improved team over the last month….and in fact…right now…the Cards are closer to Cincy (last place) -5 games than the Cubs in 1st  place-7 games away

3) of  course….MONEY…..I’ve always thought that the DeWitt’s would only make a “move” if their bulging pocketbook began to feel the impact…..well…last night….and I know it had long rain delays….for the last couple innings, the most striking part of Busch II was the thousands of empty seats.  It had been a sellout….most seats probably purchased long ago but the in-game profits….consider this…if a person averages $20/game in concessions (rather modest probably)….45000 fans = $900000 in concession sales for each game…so we’re talking…in general terms of $1m/game on concession sales with either more than 45000 fans or fans spending more than a $20/average.  That income was “taking a hit”.

4) Clubhouse environment eroding….the Bud Norris-Jordan Hicks spat….much more on that below… written prior to the scalping

5) Had players lost confidence in his “moves”?….questioning the “when’s” and “why’s”…. when that happens ….you’ve lost the team….could you imagine Cardinal players doing that under TLR?

…I’ll be surprised if Jose Oquendo isn’t named the manager

…I do wonder why the hitting coaches were dumped…..I suspect that the players “couldn’t relate” to them…or maybe viewed as Matheny’s “guys”.

…Whoever assumes the reins to drive this RED wagon is inheriting a roster that plays poor fundamental baseball, bullpen is shallow in quality, defense & base running seem below winning teams standards. …Lucky….I hope so….right after the break the Cards have a plethora of games against the Cubbies…the Cards could reemerge from this hole and pop right back into the race with a strong 2 weeks…or… they could be looking more behind them than in front of them.

 

Does this sound like an exhibition game in Florida?  Starting Pitchers pitch 2-3 innings, new relievers are employed almost each inning…not due to ineffectiveness…. but they’ve done their job.  Most starting field players are out of the game by the 4 or 5th inning….they got their work in.   Managers seldom use bunts, hit-run, pickoff attempts because it’s not the regular season….the winner of game is saluted but not much more….no one cares an iota about  who wins the game….Well….it COULD describe an exhibition game in March but it also describes the current All-Star game to a tee.

 

The MLB showcase event…the All-Star game… has become an exhibition…..not an actual game.   Players and the Manager could really care less who wins the game. The MLB has attempted to bring some significance to the game in a variety of ways….but as time rolls along….it become more and more an exhibition… ….how did we get here?

….back in 1933, it was the idea of several NON-baseball people who “drove the deal”. How did it begin in Chicago?  Chicago mayor Edward Kelly …who was leading the drive to make the World’s Fair that was being held in Chicago in 1933 a huge success to help raise the hopes of the common person coming through & out of the depression…wanted to add a major athletic event in conjunction with the World’s Fair. He approached Robert McCormick the publisher of the Chicago Tribune with the idea. McCormick turned it over to the sports editor, Arch Ward. Ward knew that attendance in the MLB had skyrocketed in the 20’s but dropped off severely between1930-33 (depression related no doubt). He wanted to call it the “Game of the Century”! He also recognized that the man who had built baseball, Babe Ruth wouldn’t be around much longer….he had turned 38 in February of 1933..so they had to start this type of thing quickly. He was so sure that it’d be a success that he told McCormick to take any losses out of Ward’s own paycheck. With his boss on board, the Chicago contingent had to convince MLB commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. One of the convincing points …but not the major point….was that all of the money generated would be  donated to a charity for retired players, he argued, they could show the country that Major League Baseball was not, as some had suggested, embracing a culture of “decadence” while ordinary Americans suffered financial ruin. Eventually, Landis agreed and it was decided to try this idea in Chicago on July 6, 1933. There were 25 players on each team.   As the date approached, Ward wrote one story after another in the Tribune, hyping the game and encouraging the public to participate by voting for the actual teams..yes…fan voting back in 1933!! Ballots were printed in 55 newspapers across the country, and fans cast several hundred thousand votes for their favorite players, with Babe Ruth drawing 100,000 leading the way. In addition to the Bambino, fans elected stars like Lefty Grove, Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin to AL roster.  The NL had Pepper Martin, Frankie Frisch, Chic Hafey on NL roster. On July 6, 47,595 fans packed into Comiskey Park I, where some of baseball’s most historic moments had taken place. This would be another. The game, which ended in a 4-2 victory by the American League, did not disappoint, thrilling the crowd with its star-studded roster and the drama of excellent baseball players competing at the highest level against each other. Indeed, for many of the players, this was their first chance to meet and compete against some of the players from the other league.  Arch Ward’s All-Star Game proved so popular that its organizers held another “midsummer classic” the following year. Since then, it has become an annual fixture of the baseball season, bringing together the sport’s most talented and beloved players every year with the exception of 1945, when it was cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions to compete against each other. You probably won’t recognize too many names…especially National League names….here was the lineup and batting spot for the NL:

1  Pepper Martin-3B

2  Frankie Frisch-2B

3  Chuck Klein- RF

4 Chick Hafey-LF

5   Bill Terry-1B

6   Wally Berger-CF

7   Dick Bartell-SS

8  Jimmie Wilson-C

9  Bill Hallahan-P

The AL batting order (and spot) looked like this:

1  Ben Chapman-LF

2 Charlie Gehringer-2B

3  Babe Ruth  RF – fittingly– hit 1st HR –bottom of 3rd inn

4   Lou Gehrig-1B

5  Al Simmons-CF

6  Jimmy Dykes-3B

7   Joe Cronin-SS

8 Rick Ferrell-C

9  Lefty Gomez-P

It’s more going on ever since…but the “battle” for winning the game has taken a major dip.Why? How?

…..TV– MLB games allows baseball fans to watch 1st hand many …if not all… the major stars in action on a daily basis on cable TV.

…..Interleague play now permits fans to see players from both teams in person

…free agency which began in the early 1970’s open the gates to players jumping leagues to a new set of fans

… trading players across league lines…which happens frequently now… w/o anyone blinking an eye….in the 30’s-40’s most trades were players from the same league…the guys that you saw all the time.

….So….the competition between the leagues really doesn’t exist any longer. Neither league…or the players…give 2 hoots about demonstrating that they are the “better” league. The game itself is an exhibition….. Meanwhile, starting players …it seems to me …are more intent on ducking out to see who can get the earliest flight out… after…or during the game.

How about these changes…..

…first of all …with the current 33 man roster (instead of the original 25) there are 50% more substitutes sitting on the bench …the total of subs has risen from 16 subs in 1933 to 24 subs currently.  The silly, inane idea that all of the 33 players need to play ??!! Play the best players…the starters a minimum of 6 innings.  Don’t flood the field with the 2nd or 3rd guy voted into that position.

….with the magnificent salaries that the players command these days($545,000+ minimum)….is it really necessary to supplement the “players” pension fund?  Don’t they have ample opportunity to provide for themselves after their career?  Why not give  ALL the money to charity?…I mean real charity…heck, make that an event on TV….for example…..draw out names or spin a wheel…. of the winning charitable organizations of the money….Maybe divide it up so many organizations will benefit….e.g.   the winner of 25% of the proceeds is “need it now” organization;  spinning the wheel again….do we need Vanna White to do it? The winner of the 15% of the proceeds is “it looks bleak” organization…etc.  until all 100% is donated to charity. If players refuse to play, they MUST donate 5%(or some other %) of their salary. Period.

….more ideas for actually playing the game..

…cut the rosters back to 25 players and remove the requirement that each team be represented. Are you really upset if you don’t see a Chicago White Sox , or Tampa Bay, or Kansas City player? Go ahead..give me the best player on each of those teams……I can’t!!

….Pitchers are not scheduled to bat …..This is the perfect game for a DH .

…if a pitcher enters the game, they must face a minimum of 4 or 5  batters.

…have the voting end 2 weeks prior to game, instruct managers that they are NOT permitted to use an All-Star pitcher on the Sunday prior to the game.

…NO more of this ridiculous …”last man in”voting rule…..

….voting should be by the players…… do the fans REALLY know the skills of the players as well as the actual players do? Do YOUR customers indicate which employees should receive recognition? ……Sooo…..it’s assumed that the fans won’t watch the game because THEY didn’t pick the rosters?…come on….this voting is …for the most part ….a real farce. Most don’t vote at all while some fans vote multiple times. Now I could understand that style if we played in Chicago every year.

…if a player claims injury or indicates that he can’t/won’t play in the game, then ….he may not play any regular season games after the all-star game for 10 days or 2 weeks after All-Star game

…if you really want the players to give maximum effort….give the winning team a financial prize  for winning and the losing team nothing!

The weekly review of our Cardinals….outside of the firing…..

….How did Ozuna win a gold glove last year?  He frequently seems to misjudge fly balls and his accuracy at throwing to the bases…any of them, even 3B…..is woeful.

….When you look at these salaries, you realize that young players are looking at these players making millions while the youngsters…in some cases…carry the load:  Yadier Molina $20m;  Jed Gyorko  $9m, Dexter Fowler $16.5m,  Greg Holland $14m—4 players earning $60m meanwhile, 11 players are earning less than $600, 000. On the successful teams, the players earning the highest salary ARE the best performers. This rests on MO for his acquisitions of these overpriced, underperforming players.

…Wong & Bader make the Cardinals SO MUCH better defensively….they must be played…we’ve given away far too many games due to our defense this season.

….Tommy Pham looks “shaken” to me in the batters box….I don’t think that he’s EVER experienced this type of plunge in the batters box….the All-Star break should really benefit him.

…I would suggest that the Cards give Luke Weaver 5-6 days off between starts…in an attempt to keep his arm fresh in the 2nd half….his production has dropped significantly after mid-May.

What were We thinking?…..

…Soooo….following up on an idea mentioned above….I’m giving Matheny a break here…..He had a veteran, Bud Norris helping him “mature” a young, talented, undisciplined player—Jordan Hicks….just has he had done in 2017 for the LA Angels.  This is a common practice on all major sports teams. However, It clearly came across …on 1st read… at least to me….that Norris was hassling Hicks.  What were we thinking….I’m thinking now that at least one of the Cardinals…maybe more…. provided this info to the sports writer to shed bad light on Matheny, Norris and/or the Cardinals.  I would surmise that it’s a disgruntled player(s).

….What were we thinking when we thought bringing in two top level coaches would change the inept play of our MLB team…..the players made…and or still making ..the mental and physical mistakes that lead to poor play. Frankly….I don’t think that we have a good roster…too many holes across the board.

….What were we thinking when we thought Jose Martinez would be an All-Star?   He began his career in 2006 in the Venezuelan league..has played on 15 minor league teams and in the Venezuelan league 9 years…does a guy with those credentials suddenly become a MLB All-Star?

….What was Kolton Wong thinking?….in Saturday night’s game….a ground ball up the middle on SS side….DeJong gets to the ball…but Wong isn’t covering the base???  He was chasing the ball….even Danny Mac had to say,”one has to wonder what Wong was thinking on that play”

…What were you thinking when you thought that this was a short blog?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. For the record, I agree with letting Matheny go. But…. ain’t nobody winning with this roster.

    If Oquendo wasn’t good enough to be the interim, what in the world makes you think he’ll get hired later? Go Get em Shildtie. He already has a hockey nick name.

    I say “Bring Back Tony!!!!! Wait, Get Torre, he got a back shake while he was here….

    I truly believe that Norris and Hicks was WAY overblown (and admittedly so by many in the local media). I guess bullying is the word of the day when you are disciplined by someone older or in higher authority. C’mon….

    From what I am seeing, Ozuna, and Fowler just go through the motions…. What a disappointment Ozuna has been.

    How long would Red Schoendienst been allowed to manage the Cardinals during his reign in the 70’s with today’s social media and sports talk radio? He had a few seasons, dare I say below.500. The nerve. The natives would have been saying he stuck with the same lineup everyday, never used his bench and his starting pitchers should have been better. And his bullpen usage was horrific! blah, bla, blah

    But again, for the record, Dewitt had little choice.

    And what about Mo?

    Goodness Gracious that was a long blog this week!

    JP

    • No doubt that the Dewitts, Mo and Girsch read the paper & listen to sports talk radio( they say they don’t, but we know better) As they say, you can’t fire 25 Guys, so Mgrs & Coaches Take the heat.

      The dismal play & increasing fan apathy gave mgmt no choice.

      Although I agree Matheny’s game mgmt was weak, this roster lacks legit star power. I’ve never felt a hitting coach makes much difference, but the Matheny-Mabry relationship spelled doom for Mabry.

      If Oquendo was to ever get a look, this Interim situation was the chance. Don’t think they wanted to have to dismiss Jose at season end if things don’t improve/ work out. Plus, I honestly think he’s a teacher of the game, and is better suited in his current role.

      KMOX’s Mike Claireborne suggested an interesting point…. why haven’t key Free Agents chosen StL?
      Cards have shown they will spend on certain FA’s.
      David Price, Jason Heyward, Giancarlo Stanton…all chose other teams. . Remember, Pujols choice LA the winter Matheny was hired.
      Coincidence???City of St Louis reputation?

      The love for Mike Shildt was flowing from the press conference to in game commentary. Baseball lifer, no ego, disciple of Geo Kissel Mo can control this rookie mgr, whereas more experienced mgrs don’t feel obliged to ( LaRusso)
      Joe Girardi has the name/ star power , but without a Yankee payroll, how good is he? League is going through a Managerial overhaul…. they are getting younger
      If it’s true that decision to change mgr was made Friday, they had no choice than to stay in house.

      Net , successful Cards mgr will have to have respect / handle established stars, while nurturing the young kids.

      I’d like to see a hard worker like Shildt succeed, but think if BIG name is available at seasons end, Cards will look to make a splash.
      JP#2

  2. I have not followed the Cards for second year now. My BP is down and I have more time to do things like read. BUT I keep up with stuff via your blog which I often read. Great job. Keep up the great job.
    FS

  3. Bob I agree with you 100% on the firing of Matheny. 100% on the All-Star game. Players should vote period.

    Ozuna can hardly get the ball to 2nd base. Not a big fan. He needs to be more disciplined at the plate. He swings at EVERYTHING. If he ever puts the barrel on the ball look out. I would never throw him a fast ball. He fishes for the junk. He can hit anything you throw at him. Where it goes is another subject.

    And by the way if you didn’t know……… This is how to spell short. Keep up the good work my friend.

    MB

  4. As well as for your story – I’m not disagreeing with anything, but having made a living out of coaching and teaching coaching courses, let me give you some points to think about – which you may already have. All sports have the basic same components – fitness, technique, tactics, and the psychological dimensions, which includes personality. Soccer, volleyball, and a few other sports have highly evolved coaching schemes throughout the rest of the world. If you’re not certified – licensed, you don’t coach. Licensing certification is difficult because many of the coaches that attend, especially the upper level licenses, go into it with the idea that – oh yeah – I know all about this sport. After a day or two into the classes, coaches become overwhelmed with the information, and realize that being a couch quarterback is not being a coach. Anybody can say, this needs to happen, that needs to happen, yadda, yadda, yadda. Training to prepare athletes is something different that few have any clue about. Case in point – anybody can coach a HS team – pretty much college as well. Trial and error – if this guy don’t work out, we’ll go to the next. About right? Club coaching is worse – moms and pops coaching, all under the auspices that we’re developing good sportsmanship or whatever the heck somebody’s delusional idea is. The family that coaches together – stays together – LOL. Why does almost everybody think they can coach a sport when few have any idea of how to progress from simple to complex and then put athletes in a training-playing environment that prepares them for competition. I’ve been doing this my whole life and coach more practices and games in one year than most will do in a lifetime. I am realizing how complex this can all be and I’m supposed to be good at it – yet I struggle in finding ways to meet the criteria of training – and that training has to carry over into the field of play. When everybody operates in the same way, you get the same outcomes in the long run – and for most professional sports it means getting fired or finding the best players and paying for them. Never mind that almost anybody can be developed to play not only well, but play well in a group format and eventually a team format. Knowing how to use the components of play gives coaching the freedom and creativity to go where ever a coach wants to go – instead, coaches copy what their mentors did and most of the time it’s about the same silly cliche’s that Matheny and all of the other coaches blurt out. Coaching is very complex, and the coaching courses offered in colleges make little to no sense because they deal with motivation, sportsmanship, mentality, etc. Sure – these are all an important aspect of coaching – but it’s only the psychological component – what happened to the other 3 components – they isolate them and it’s good luck, auf wiedersehen, goodbye – let’s put some fresh blood into this. Matheny isn’t any better and probably not any worse than any other coach because it’s talent based, not development based. When I hear about getting players ready in the minors I cringe at the thought about what does that mean. Who’s qualified to do that – who understands the kinetics of hitting – the anatomical mechanics of throwing, catching, etc. – and why are players so not adept when going into the minors that they need continued development – so….let’s get back to the mom and pop coach – it starts there. Prime development years for athletes begins at the youngest of ages and has to be guided correctly at the youngest of ages. This goes against exactly what we preach – that sports is just a learning experience and it’s fun – and yes, it should be that as well. If that’s the case, why aren’t we all taking piano lessons, that’s a learning experience – and how come mom and pops aren’t teaching piano, but pay somebody to give lessons. Ahh – something not right here – yes?? When I listen to announcers I cringe when they talk about the fundamentals of baseball – and then they proceed to address something that’s not fundamental at all – confusing skills and technique with the tactics of a play. There’s a flaw in American sports as to how we look at coaching, development, progressions, and playing the game. I swear we’ve gone backwards in our mentality and heading towards the Roman gladiator mentality in one way, while being the nice sportman when competing. It’s a game! It’s a duel – it’s competition – etc. – y/n? Builds character? Does it? Our sense of what competitions are is somewhat warped but we see it for what it is at the highest levels – it’s a clash between two entities. I’m not saying that’s what it’s about with 7 or 8 year olds – but if you’re doing a good coaching job, the progression to be competitive starts here. The natural occurrence of developing ball players happened in the alleys and sandlots years ago – those days are gone – and admittedly those days were more fun because of why kids played and the natural progression of who kept playing, who improved, and why. Now we have to actually find a way to mimic this and licensing classes in a couple of key sports are addressing it and soccer is at the forefront and volleyball not far behind. Why for soccer?? Money!!! Lots of it! You can’t imagine. It’s lost its way as well. Teams must now produce or coaches get fired despite how good they may be. I’ve coached with three world class legend coaches, and the one coach – Rinus Michels, was voted coach of the 20th century. What an honor! His theories of training and play were proclaimed revolutionary and everybody threw his buzz words around. Unfortunately, few if any coaches really understood or cared to understand how to engage his thinking about the game and to make it practical. The last time I spoke with him before dying on the operating room table, he admitted that no one pays attention to what he preached and how to play the game the best way possible. It was a depressing conversation – best coach of all time and nobody pays any attention to him – go figure!! So…what does all of this have to do with Matheny? Will Carpenter be a better hitter now? Will the pitchers throw different? Will they now throw more strikes because there’s a new guy running the show? Will Fowler be more aware – more motivated? If all this is true, why were the players they have now signed on to begin with? This is supposed to be professionals – right?? Training sessions are supposed to stimulate improvement – stimulate development – stimulate competitiveness – is this happening? Firing Matheny shows a lack of understanding at the top – why did they rehire him to begin with. Does Matheny really do a bad job in actually managing – or is the training and developmental phase the real issue. Girsch and Mozeliak and anyone else at the level has to share the blame. Systems can cover and hide a lot of mistakes – the McGwire’s of the world – the Mays and the Mantles – they can hide a lot of bad playing and make everyone else look good; but eventually the consistency will become lost because of the base line ideas about the role of coaching and development versus winning games. I don’t know if Matheny has any clue about coaching or managing – but neither does their upper management – and the problem is, they think they do know what their doing and take little responsibility for the players being developed, brought up, and flopping in the majors. How many times have you heard the term “seasoning”. As long as I’ve been coaching, I’m amazed at the complexity of coaching the full spectrum of being a coach – teaching, training, managing – at all levels. Some days I think I’m great – other days I feel that I’ve let my mentor Rinus and Dettmar Cramer down – and that I should probably go back to playing music or teaching PE – LOL. Consistency means having a sound, solid system of training, coaching, and managing. Having it versus portraying it are two different things, and I think most professional franchises couldn’t tell the difference if it hit them in the head. When the bottom line is the dollar because the dollar is in the results, people lose site of the long range goal of being consistent, competitive, creative, and exciting – and that winning comes from that consistency. Will this new coach be any better? What new ideas will he bring? I can’t imagine what will be different quite honestly – this transition is passing the buck from the bad decisions made at the top. In its most simplified terms – the game is about throwing, hitting, catching, and running and the tactical application of those skills. Matheny knew what he was getting in to – and so does the new guy. They all bide their time because somebody at the top wants to keep their job. Does this game of so much fun have to be such a shitty business? I always wish that the Cardinals will be the best – but my definition of how to be the best is much different than what I see – but…in the end, does anybody really care in the long run as long we get a shot to the title? LOL

    TK

  5. Yes, Matheny probably had to be axed…. I have a question. It has seemed in recent years that some players have been eager to get away. I believe Matheny is a good, good person, but sometimes that rubs people the wrong way. Matheny has always been fairly outspoken about his Christian faith, and I know there have been many other players like this (Wainwright, et. al). But I’ve often wondered how this goes down with all the non-evangelical types in the locker room. I know this divide exists in pro locker rooms everywhere (maybe especially college/pro football teams—e.g. Kurt Warner), but I don’t know how it affects a team—especially when it’s not winning and players are underperforming. Have you ever heard rumblings about this with the Cardinals.
    JM

  6. It was LONG overdue. He wanted to manage like his idol TL to a tee
    8 pitchers in a game. Wow!
    He lost the clubhouse & he had his favorites which were very obvious
    Heard McGuire is in the mix with Girardi & Wallach…See what happens
    All Star game I missed but 10 dongs wow but 25 K’s ouch!!
    Machado great player but LA Is renting him for 3 months
    Have a good evening!

    MB

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