Friday, November 01, 2013

Wrapping Up

Some final thoughts on the 2013 baseball season.

- Was that a wacky World Series or what?

- Congratulations to the Red Sox.  As much as I hate to admit it, they played better than the Cardinals and deserved to win this World Series.

- Not that it wasn't there for the taking, though.  Up 2-1 in the series and leading Game 4, the Cardinals missed their chances to blow that game open early, and ended up losing it.  And for some reason never recovered from that.

- After the way Game 3 ended, there's been a lot of chatter about changing the obstruction rule.  Why?  It hardly ever happens, and the rule makes sense.  If you don't have the rule, the fielder can do whatever he wants.  Take it away and you'll have your middle infielders tackling guys.

- And I still think that play was no accident.

- If you are going to lose a World Series, and the Cardinals have lost 5 in my lifetime, losing it in 6 games is the best way to lose.  If you lose in 4 or 5, you feel completely beaten, like you didn't belong there to begin with.  Losing in 7 hurts the worst, because you came so close you could smell victory but not grasp it in your hand.  But if you lose in 6, you didn't get embarrassed and you also don't have your heart torn out when victory is in reach.

- Kolten Wong was not the reason for the Game 4 loss, although some have blamed him.  His miscue was just one of many that game.

- If you had told me in April, with Jason Motte, Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal all gone for the season with injuries, that the Cardinals were going to make it to Game 6 of the World Series, I would have taken that deal.  When you think about it, this season could only be looked at as a success, even with the loss.

- That said, I had forgotten how bad it feels to lose the World Series.  It sucks.

- David Freese has lost his mojo somewhere.  But I'll never say anything bad about him.  He's earned a lifetime of goodwill in my book.

- I will say something bad about the Cardinals apparent lack of leadership.  Maybe it is because they are so young.  But take note that the 2012 and 2013 post-seasons both ended with 3 straight losses due to an inability to score runs.  I don't think it is just a coincidence that that happened.  I think it is mental.  Someone needed to step up like David Ortiz did for the Red Sox during Game 4.  In other words, show some fire and heart.  But no one seemed to want to do that.  Sometimes the Cardinals seem almost robotic.   I see a characteristic and trend here developing that I don't like.

- And it's not just the post-season.  I noted the batting woes in the regular season also.  And I was impressed with the bullpen back on May 7th.

- I was a supporter of Mike Matheny's hire as manager two years ago.  His teams have had success, but you can't help but wonder, with the back to back 3 straight loss bow-outs in the post-season, if he can get this team to a championship.  And maybe he is the cause of their Vulcan-like approach.

- I have finally been won over by Busch Stadium III, after 8 seasons.  We got a chance to attend Game 1 of the NLCS, and it was terrific.  The views and atmosphere have always been incredible.  But I really, really like what's happening north of the stadium, with the Ballpark Village construction.  I hated the open concept of the new stadium when it first opened, but with the new building going up across the street and the seats going in on top, Busch Stadium III finally feels enclosed.  And finished.

Above is a panoramic of the stadium taken on my iPhone, and below a regular picture showing the construction and new rooftop seats.  Better viewed if you click on the photos.

It finally feels like home.  So now, when I see Busch II, it is the park that looks a little foreign.

- I revisited this post from when Albert Pujols left.  That was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to the Cardinals.  17 players on this year's World Series team were products of the farm system, and there's still a load more to come.  I honestly don't know where we'll put everybody.

- It turned out to be a regular season just like I hoped back on May 18th.

- Yadi is still my favorite player, but Carlos Beltran is my favorite player to watch.  Even with all the arms to behold.  And without him, the Cards don't even make the playoffs the past 2 years.  Hope he is back next year.

- I loved Pedro Martinez as a baseball analyst.  Loved his input on TBS pre- and post-game shows.  I didn't realize what a smart baseball mind he has.  He's very intelligent.  And I loved his "Wacha Wacha" slogan.

- Best moment of the year was blowing out the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS.  Winning the pennant is always great, but beating those guys was as good as beating the Cubs.

- You could smell Wacha coming of age that last start of the regular season, when he was quite literally a fingertip away from a no-hitter.

- Wasn't there a guy who used to play for the Cardinals...Shelby Miller, was his name...who won them 15 games as a rookie...and was overlooked in favor of...Lance Lynn?  How is that even possible to consider, let alone really happen?

- Matt Holliday earned his salary at bat and avoided making a bone-headed play this post-season.  Finally.

- Allen Craig is our best hitter.  Even on 1 foot.

- Never saw a closer dominate like Trevor Rosenthal in Game 2 of the NLCS and Game 2 of the World Series.  11 pitches with 3 strike outs?  Scary good.

- Even though we lost, I enjoyed this World Series.  It was tense, of course, but I tried to let myself enjoy it.  Because you never know if you'll live long enough to ever get to experience it again.

- It's really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard to win the World Series, especially in an age when you have to play 162 games, qualify (possibly in a play-in game), and then win 3 series.  Everything has to go right.  It just didn't fall our way this time.

- Baseball is the greatest game on earth.