Through a truly momentous confluence of summery road-trips, today is the first day I'll have been able to watch the Cardinals on TV in two weeks. Momentous and portentous, in a boon for whoever eventually writes an epic poem about my summer—because it just so happens that tomorrow's game involves the Cardinals attempting the first-place slingshot against their increasingly clingy new arch-nemeses.
Not watching the games on TV—or even hearing them on the radio—offers maybe 25% of the enjoyment it's possible to get with live reports but none of the moment-to-moment frustration at all, which is to say that my last several posts from the second leg of my vacation have been delivered from a kind of bland zen state that's been pretty nice, all things considered.
But now I'm back, and after tomorrow's game I think I'll be fully able to get angry about baseball results again. Before I do that, I think it's worth taking a look at the things I'll probably be less sanguine about tomorrow morning:
The Jake Westbrook trade. Right now I think this was a middling move made from reasonable assumptions about the team; Allen Craig and Jon Jay are much better than Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth, after all, even though Jake Westbrook isn't better than Ryan Ludwick.
But the first time I watch Jon Jay—hitting just .341/.370/.432 since the beginning of my trip, doncha know—flail through a slump while Jake Westbrook improves the rotation to the tune of five innings pitched and three earned runs all bets are off. Ryan Ludwick was awesome; his at-bat music was "Brass Monkey", he emerged from the scrap heap to turn in an outstanding season, and his name could easily be turned into infinite nicknames. Jake Westbrook—well, he went 15-15 once, and earning 30 decisions in a season is always kind of impressive when it happens, I guess.
Tony La Russa double-switching players for Colby Rasmus. Here's the thing: I love Tony La Russa. He's a fascinating manager, one with an outstanding record and a history of exerting an outsized influence on the way baseball is played, and the Cardinals will be considerably more boring and probably worse when he finally decides to give way. I think consistent La Russa skeptics will be disappointed when that Jose Oquendo, the strangely consensus replacement-of-choice for something like 10 years now, plays His Guys as much as La Russa or any other manager.
But the angry nuance that's most completely lost in translation when checking scores on a RAZR is weird roster management. Anger can be easily transmitted when I see Aaron Miles is getting playing time, but anything subtler than that is lost when the postgame box scores have to be word-wrapped to fit on screen. That first time Colby Rasmus is removed from a game to keep Jason LaRue's glove on the field at first base is going to be a rude reawakening.
Ryan Franklin. I know intellectually that he's at least an average reliever, and probably a better-than-average reliever, but the further away I get from watching his junkballing antics the safer that thought is in my head. I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to take this if he begins his fourth annual post-ASB slide this month; this year he's had a considerably lower high to fall from.
Come back soon, Jason Motte. Please come back soon.