In the wake of Cardinals World Series Title, Tony La Russa Retires

I started thinking the other day as the World Series began to wind down; Tony La Russa has been doing this an awfully long time. How many other guys realistically remain from my childhood? La Russa was the guy who was in the opposite dugout for my first World Series in 1990 when the Reds swept the Athletics. And that’s when it hit me–he’s probably ready to leave the game of baseball because really; how much more is there going to be for him to do unless he wants to come back and do it all again?

St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa retires [USA Today Daily Pitch]

 

Game Six in St. Louis was a classic for All-Time

Baseball fans will always remember where they were when they were watching this one. I think that’s how it is for a true watershed event that contains guys who will go on to reach legendary status in this great game we follow–especially when it’s on the biggest and brightest stage.

There was just so much excellence packed in those 11 innings last night, it’s hard to really cover it all.

I am the Editor-in-Chief over at Tomahawk Take on the FanSided Network now, and I decided to have my main scribes about this classic be over there.

I stayed up and watched the entire thing (with my puppy trying to use my arm as a teething toy). I’ll always remember where I was for this one; on the couch with Bentley. Watching David Freese become our era’s Carlton Fisk with still a chance to win it all.

And I thought I saw the at bat that was Pujols’ last as a Cardinal. Once. Twice. A third time. You mean it’s going to end on a measly ground out? Well that was anti-climactic. Well, wouldn’t you know that Pujols gets a huge hit in his possible last at-bat as a Cardinal. You mean they’re going to walk the Great Pujols here, in his last at-bat as a Cardinal? I almost thought Ron Washington would think about pitching to him just because of the situation. It turns out that moment is still out ahead of us.

I thought I saw destiny. Instead it was just a World Series home run by Josh Hamilton. And if the Rangers don’t find a way to win it tonight he’ll someday be going on television and talking about how he thought that was his moment; a defining moment of a career and a lifetime. But it has already been lessened. He can look into the other dugout and thank Lance Berkman for that.

When people talk about Game Six in St. Louis, you should forever know what they were talking about. And there is a part of me that can empathize in a big way with the Texas Rangers and their fans. I’ve been on that side a lot. And when I’ve been on that side in sports, my teams come out and lose tonight. There’s no doubt, they’re sunk and I would be shocked to see them find a way tonight.

Anyone who says baseball is boring is missing games like last night. Those 11 innings went by in a flash and look at the names I just threw out there in this post alone. There is so much star potential in this series that it’s not even funny. Joe Buck even got to honor his legendary father.

Tonight, we get a miraculous game seven to start off a weekend. My only wish is that my team was in this thing. I am so insanely jealous. If I was a Cardinals fan I wouldn’t have went to work today. I would have just soaked it all in.

Baseball; after all this time, really is still magical. This was the second time the nation has been captivated in about a month by something that can be called ‘one of the greatest nights in baseball history’.

Who knows what kind of high drama is even in store tonight. There is only one guarantee, and that is that a new champion will be crowned and the curtain will fall on yet another season in our lives. What a closing act it’s been.

Ken Griffey Jr. to receive MLB lifetime achievement award before World Series Game Four

When I think about Ken Griffey Jr., I get to feeling a little blue that he never even played in a World Series. When I think back on the career of Kenny Griff, I am pretty sure about one thing: he deserved to have a shot at a ring, but it never game in two decades. He’s still going to be honored by baseball and be in some pretty historic territory for having been selected for such an award.

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced that Ken Griffey Jr. will be honored with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. The presentation will be made at a press conference tonight prior to Game Four of the World Series.

This will mark only the 12th time ever that Major League Baseball has bestowed the Award, which was created in 1998 to recognize achievements and contributions of historical significance. Griffey is the first recipient of the Award since 2007, when Rachel Robinson was honored for continuing the legacy of her late husband, Jackie Robinson, and for her service to Major League Baseball.

Congratulations, Junior. See you in Cooperstown in a few short years where you’ll be getting some more hardware.

Griffey Jr. to Receive Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award [MLB.com]

Albert Pujols’ Ruthian Performance in World Series Game Three

[Box Score]

[ESPN] [CBS Sports] [Viva El Birdos] [Dallas Morning News]

It was if this moment was meant to be part of both time and reality all along and every day that Albert Pujols played and lived were all just unfolding until he got to this moment. When I heard that Pujols had homered three times in Arlington last night to give the Cardinals a 2 to 1 lead in the World Series I started to think about this player’s destiny and the Cardinals unlikely run and where this will place him in history. I also started thinking about all the unlikely events that took place in the Cardinals making this run and getting to this spot so that Pujols had the chance to do this in the first place.

He was already the greatest player of our generation and now again he has proven that he is one of the greatest of all time. He joins Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only men to homer three times in a Fall Classic game.

The performance says so much about this player. It was the Picasso that he’s been slaving over his entire life to paint. He re-instills my belief that all players have a destiny in their life to fulfill and they rightfully reach it be it good, bad, insignificant or legendary. Anyone who has watched The Great Pujols over the course of his transcendent career has to admit that of of course he found a way to etch this feat on his tombstone epitaph of what was already one of the most historic careers of all time.

This act also got me thinking that the Cardinals are going to do this. They’re going to win the World Series and this is going to be one of those years where I didn’t catch greatness or destiny as it was taking place. I turned my head and missed one of the most magical runs in recent history–a run that started when the summer was waning and the days were still longer.

Sometimes in sports it’s easy to miss something like this because we don’t believe in every player following a path he was meant to follow when he was created. I believe that this performance was coded into Pujols’ DNA and was meant to be one more glimpse into what is one of the most incredible careers we have witnessed across any sport.

World Series Game One

[Box Score]

[C70 At the Bat] [Dallas Morning News] [ESPN Dallas]

I turned the game on last night for a while because baseball history was being made. Everyone remembers a moment from game one of every World Series.

For me, that moment was finding out that Arthur Rhodes was being paid a measly $1,000 dollars by the St. Louis Cardinals and $1.1 million by the Texas Rangers. The same Arthur Rhodes who we hung with in the Diamond Club in Cincinnati. The same Arthur “Bad Man” Rhodes who I told you the Reds would suffer a swoon from the loss of.

Twenty year Major League career, and now here he protecting a one run lead with two down in the 8th inning and Josh Hamilton at the plate. His stuff looked the same to me as it always has–call me crazy but it did. He got Josh Hamilton to fist one into center and he walked off the field in a World Series game for the first time in his life. He would get credit for the hold and I would wonder exactly why the Rangers wouldn’t have hung onto a left-handed lethal weapon like this. Why is a guy like this expendable at any point on a team like the Rangers? Especially when think about the principle that you’re paying his salary to beat you.

The Cardinals kept rolling and I would like to say I was surprised. But I really wasn’t. They’re probably going to win this series and continue to wreck everything I have in the way of predictions this postseason. I would almost bet my life that the Rangers win tonight in St. Louis and even this series at 1-1 heading back to Texas.

I think we’re all having a hard time processing what these Cardinals are. They’re a team with one big time pitcher, a great bullpen, and guys like Allen Craig and Lance Berkman are getting big hits to win the game. They’re built around the greatest player of our generation and a lot of patient hitters who have been taught to let the game come to them instead of being built on trying to make something happen. And we’re talking about this because it’s really working.

Your 2011 World Series Prediction Post

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers

I will admit up front, these are two teams that leave me scrambling to find a reason to care about the Fall Classic. Other than the good old adage that “it’s baseball and I love it, and it’s American for me to be informed and watch” these are not two teams that captivate me all that much.

Along with the rest of America, these Cardinals slipped into the series after sliding past heavyweights like the Phillies and Brewers. It was about as unlikely of a situation as you could have ever asked for. But look at the 2006 Cardinals that won the whole damn thing under Tony LaRussa. They had 83 regular season wins. No one had them rolling through the postseason and into the playoffs either that year. By the time that World Series rolled around, I knew that Albert Pujols was destined to get his ring.

Everyone short-changed the Rangers in a similar fashion. They were the forgotten team in the American League playoffs, with me expecting the Yankees or Rays to be the chick pick that would shake out of that side of the bracket.

There is still one thing in this series that I am happy about; one thing that is sacred and will forever have my adulation as a baseball fan. Josh Hamilton. Our friends at The Golden Sombrero have him as the MVP of the series and they’re picking the Rangers in 7 on the strength of several Hamilton bombs.

I’ll say this, I would love to see Josh Hamilton get his ring. He’s 30 years old, still in his prime and he’s always been a Diamond Hoggers type of ballplayer. For that reason–and the fact that after this grand series we’ll have nothing but the cold, dark offseason until next March–we’re planning to tune in.

Plus let’s not forget that this is possibly the final series of Albert Pujols’ Cardinals career. Although we believe it’s a forgone conclusion that he’s ending his career in St. Louis and have said that all along. And we’ll get Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. McCarver is still of sound mind, yes? If you really want to focus on positives, there’s no more postseason baseball on TBS.

It is baseball. If you’re here we assume that this series is relevant to you in some manner.

Diamond Hoggers’ World Series Prediction: Texas Rangers over St. Louis Cardinals in 7

I’m actually pulling for the Yankees tonight

I’ve definitely got reason to root against the Yankees tonight. I mean, New Yorkers are really a loud, brash, cocky breed of fan. My roomate, teammate, and probably my best friend from early on in my college career; George, was a big Yankees fan. I watched the entire 2001 and 2002 postseason with him. He changed my mind about Yankees fans, at least for a short period in my life.

I was the best man in his wedding back in 2009. To the outsider–it was that postseason when A-Rod went off. In fact he hit a dramatic home run the night of his wedding. What a great feeling that must have been for my lucky friend huh?

Well shortly after his wedding–of which I delivered a best man speech at–my friend disowned me. For no reason at all. The true reason was his new wife didn’t really like me and he lost his damn mind. That’s really all I can figure. At that point, I figured that every time the Yankees lost it was a good night for me because I knew that somewhere in this world my fraud of a friend might be distraught about it out in his new whine & cheese lifestyle of a world in Connecticut. That’s if, he could ask for his wife for his nuts back long enough to check the box score the morning after. I assume he stopped watching baseball altogether. He probably spends his days and nights buying her flowers or fancy chocolates and disowning other friends she doesn’t like.

But if he’s out there and he has her permission to watch television on his own for a little bit tonight, he’ll be tuning in to the game. And as fun as the thought is of his agony if they get pounded tonight–he would get over it. Because baseball isn’t that important to him anymore. Things that were important to the friend and teammate I knew now play second fiddle to his mean wife and his bullshit house and pets.

Wouldn’t you know three years after I met George, I met the girl I would marry. And as my damned luck would have it–Yankees fan. First line she ever said to me was about the Yankees. Her brothers love the Yankees. They’ll be in New Yankee Stadium tonight. Her best friends mostly love the Yankees. Again–they’re going to the game tonight. My father-in-law? Asks me my thoughts on the Yankees in whatever series they’re in before he asks me how work is going. Or how his daugther is doing.

So I realize, there’s enough people I love in my life right now who love the Yankees that sure; I’ll pull for your damn Bronx Bombers. Whether it’s negative or positive interest that I have in them, there’s always interest. They interest me more than the Tigers–minus that little chain-smoking managerial ball of perfection that they have standing on the top stoop.

They’ve got Doug Fister opposing them tonight. He’s been lights out scary good since becoming a Tiger. Hell, I might even say this guy will contend for 20 wins next year. He was a scrub for the Mariners. He’s definitely figured it out. I have a feeling that he is the story of tonight’s game when the dust settles. Let’s just call it a gut feeling.

George if you’re out there and you see this post, I still have your shoes that I thought I would someday get to return to you when I saw you again. In fact I’m wearing them at work right now while I write this post. They look older now and are stretched out because my feet were always a half size bigger than yours. You missed my wedding, you missed the birth of my child (we bought a puppy but close enough), you didn’t call on my birthday. I know your wench of a wife hates me but I hope your Bombers win tonight old buddy. But it’s not because of you.

Go Yankees.

The D-Backs Win in a Wild One, Force Game Five

I haven’t taken the time to sit through an entire 9 innings yet this postseason. Things in life just seem to get in the way. Now relax, I’m not guilty like some of my peers that tell me they haven’t watched any playoff baseball. I would never be that guy. But life has been getting busy on me.

So last night I decided I wasn’t going to miss any of the Arizona/Milwaukee game. I grabbed my puppy and let the little tike sleep on my shoulder and watched nearly every pitch. After all, the D-backs are my playoff horse. I needed to will them on to victory. And the scrappy-ass little Arizona DiamondBacks came through for me by winning 10-6 in front of their home fans and forcing game five in Milwaukee on early Friday evening.

The game got off to a wild start with Joe Saunders giving up a run in the top of the first inning and then the D-backs responding back to put five on the Brewers in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Roberts hit a grand slam and then Chris Young got one to fly out.

I had worries that Arizona would take their foot off the gas. They’re young, and relatively inexperienced. But they didn’t stop grinding. Milwaukee would cut the lead to 5-3. But then a guy named Collin Cowgill would add a pinch-hit two run single to make the score 7-3.

The entire state of Arizona thought this game was going to be tied 7-7 when Corey Hart hit a ball to the track with the bases loaded that somehow Gerardo Parra ran down on the track in left center field. When Hart connected, I even said out loud “oh no, he got it”. He didn’t get it.

Arizona wouldn’t cast any doubt in our minds from that point on. The ball was flying out last night. The organ was magical. The D-backs were victorious. They’ll either go on to the NLCS or win their final game in front of their home fans.

Kirk Gibson’s boys delivered in giving us a third game five in the NLDS. The rest of America should realize that this roster set is a group of ‘guys’ that just seemed to gel and will never do this again. For that reason alone (and the incessant man-love for Justin Upton that I have) I want this team to knock off a seemingly loaded Milwaukee team on Friday night.

[Box Score]

Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen) Played on Chase Field Organ

Listen very closely here. The music being played by the organist at Chase Field during this first inning pitching visit in Game 4 of the NLDS is Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.

That’s as classic as classic can get right there. The Boss, played in Arizona during a playoff game; on an organ. If I didn’t have D-Back playoff fever before, I’ve definitely got it now.

Paul Goldschmidt is earning Quite a Reputation in these parts

Our boys over at the Golden Sombrero have created a nickname for the D-Backs first baseman that trumps our short lived “Big Hit” Goldschmidt that we gave him this morning while having coffee.

Ladies and gentleman of the free world, meet Paul Goldschmidt: Bear Jew.

It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever created on this planet. If Goldschmidt doesn’t hit the postseason granny last night, Bear Jew is probably never born. I don’t think these players realize how important it is to their legacies to reach the postseason.

Cubs seek permission to talk with Theo Epstein

The Chicago Cubs are craving a World Series title. There may be no better man than the guy who is credited with building the team who was able to lift the curse of the Bambino with two titles in Beantown.

Epstein is still under contract with the Red Sox, but we think this is a story.

The challenge of lifting two moribund franchises out of their World Series win-less veils that stretch longer than most lifetimes could be something that tempts a guy like Epstein. He’s been in Boston for nine year and despite consistent success, he would still be able to have a large payroll and one has to wonder if he feels like Boston is on the way down as a franchise.

If he stays in Boston his first order of business would be finding a new manager to replace Terry Francona. And there aren’t a lot of replacements out there who are going to do an admirable job. For instance, Pete Mackanin? No offense to Mack, but you have to know the thought of a clean slate in the Windy City probably tempts Epstein over being on the hook for hiring a guy like Mackanin in a pressure cooker like Boston.

If Epstein goes to Chicago, he sells tickets and is a new reason for hope. If he stays put in Boston–as much as there is to be said for loyalty in sports these days (the scene in Moneyball with Billy Beane and John Henry comes to mind)–there is a lot more upside to joining the Cubs for a man like Epstein.

Chicago Cubs ask to speak with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein [Baseball Nation]

National League Division Series Wednesday

Paul “Big Hit” Goldschmidt and the Arizona D-Backs got a big 8-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday in game three of the NLDS. The Cardinals dropped their game in St. Louis 3-2 to the Phillies. Both series are now at 2 game to 1 and we’ve got some big time baseball on television tonight and both will be ‘elimination games’ for Arizona and St. Louis.

If you’re a baseball fan outside of Philly or Milwaukee you’re pulling for a couple of game fives, I would think.

The Yankees did their part last night in giving us at least one game five of this first round–and now you we’ll have a chance for three. Now one thing to worry about is that these NLDS possible game 5’s would take place on Friday night. And my wife is really good at arranging plans on Fridays so there is a remote possibility that I would see absolutely none of either game. Or just the tail end of the second game when Philly is crushing St. Louis and Milwaukee has already won.

But let’s just worry about first things first here. We hope the D-Backs and Cardinals handle their business tonight and provide the sport with some fall drama beyond what will go down at New Yankee Stadium tomorrow evening.

The 2011 Cincinnati Reds Exit Interview Post

The 2011 Cincinnati Reds ended their disappointing season–the most disappointing that I have ever suffered through in my 28 years–with a 3-0 shutout (2-hit) loss to a 40 year old pitcher.

I didn’t write anything that day because I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I think that says a lot about the way this season went. It’s not that there wasn’t the given amount of happy moments and magic that any casual baseball season will bring out in a romantic. There was, but they were far and few between. It just always seemed that there wasn’t enough fire in the barrel to keep a homeless man warm through the night.

I felt this season end on a couple of blown saves during a four game series in Milwaukee just before the All-Star break. I wonder if the players felt it then, too. It was July 7th, July 8th, and an especially damning blow on July 10th. That’s when the wind came out of the sails. That’s when I said to myself that there are forces against us that these men on the roster are not going to be able to overcome. That’s when I started to realize that all the hopes and dreams we had coming into this season for the young Reds would someday be no more than just a silly memory in my imagination.

They scored 735 runs while allowing 720. But it obviously didn’t feel that way. They didn’t hit in the clutch and left small towns on base. They didn’t play defensively like the 2010 division championship team. They didn’t have a starting pitcher win more than 12 games and they didn’t have another other than him win double digits.

The season began with a walk-off grand slam against the team that would end up winning the division; and it pretty much went all downhill from there.

I didn’t expect this team to win the division. I had high hopes obviously, but I thought the mighty hangover would affect this group and that they would get their sea legs underneath them for a “we’re all in” campaign in 2012. I’ve felt that way since the 2010 ALDS Division Series sweep took place.

The best part about the 2011 Reds is that we do not have to watch them or talk about them again. This post was done purely for closure, and for the memory of the taste in our mouth that is nothing but bitter and solid disappointment.

In every way from management, to front office, to the talent on the field; the Reds version 2011 left you needing and craving something more that simply never came to us.