March 21, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) heads into the dugout in the second inning against the New York Mets during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
So: Chris Carpenter will miss his opening day start—at least—after all. I'd like to introduce the St. Louis Cardinals' medical staff to the concept of under-promising. Instead of suggesting that Chris Carpenter's neck is stiff and there's no timetable for his return, try, "Chris Carpenter's neck is immobile—but to be honest, it's a wonder he has a neck at all, after what happened."
Nothing they've done so far has been dishonest or excessively optimistic; from the beginning they were doing a slight variation on the progressing nicely, more of a, "Oh, he's progressing _______. You know, _______," and then movement to another subject or a reiteration of the words "stiffness" and "bulging." (Yes, I know she said it.)
But it turns out that offering no timetable at all, as things lurch from not-throwing to throwing to bullpen-session, as he moves from mound to not-mound, is exactly as weird and confusing as overly optimistic timetables. So from now on I'm going to take every injury to its worst-case scenario, for my own benefit. Chris Carpenter's neck is in 20 pieces on the floor of John Mozeliak's apartment. His Wal-Mart tool kit stripped all the screws and now he's kind of freaking out, because all of the pieces are much heavier and weirder than they felt at Ikea. He's just going to kind of leave them there, like, until people come over, and then maybe he'll buy another neck.
Is what's happening.
Last year Chris Carpenter threw 43 innings more than anybody else in the rotation. That's 10 more than Lance Lynn or Eduardo Sanchez threw last year. In a rotation with Kyle McClellan in it for half the season, only four starts were made outside the regular rotation. Carpenter had a lot to do with that.
I think Lance Lynn will be fine in the rotation, and with Shelby Miller behind him the Cardinals are in good position to weather the temporary loss of a starter. But Carpenter's inexplicable return to the top of the innings-pitched tables over the last two years saved both of those rotations, and if he's going to be day-to-day or week-to-week for a while the Cardinals are suddenly much more reliant on Kyle Lohse and skinny-Jake-Westbrook than they were a month ago.
Fangraphs is rating the Cardinals' radio broadcasters. You should rate them. Do it for Mike Shannon.
I gave them a five for charisma and a two for analysis, for the record, but then I wonder—as I did when Fangraphs covered TV broadcasters—what the scale for analysis should rightly be, when it comes to broadcasters. Very few of them are likely to, say, see their own scores on Fangraphs, but I'm fine with that.
It's all a matter of tone, I think. In the voice of Al Hraboksy or Ricky Horton that hyper-traditionalism can sound shrill and defensive and inspire angry tweets and require lengthy defenses of Tyler Greene against Aaron Miles. With Shannon and Rooney it just appeals to the part of my baseball fandom in which the ur-image of radio baseball, something I've never actually experienced but had passed down to me, over time, by the general hum of baseball culture, took up residence a long time ago—some transistor radio wasting D batteries, a humid screened-in porch I probably saw in a Land's End catalogue when I was nine, dinner an hour ago and no responsibilities and people whose company I enjoy inside, refilling their drinks and just about to come back out.
On the radio, during the game, I'm not looking for analysis so much as a picture of the game that sounds like I remember it. For me, baseball's never been shrill, or defensive, or especially well-enunciated. It has its own language and its own small pleasures and it's exciting, but it's not a life-or-death matter. It's goofy, and a little irrelevant, and it's capable of a weird nobility when, a few times a game, all its moving parts get jumbled and hectic.
(So I gave them a five overall, too.)
Also, while I'm plugging things, I have a book out, still. (It's the same one.) You might like it!