This may very well be the last Tony La Russa picture I ever pick out of the Getty library for this site. I can't help but feel a little bit wistful.
So there was a game, of the All-Star variety last night, and the National League just beat the everloving crap out of the American League. It was kind of fun. I also think Matt Harrison probably has nightmares about Cardinal uniforms by this point.
It's also nice that the break actually came so close to the real midpoint of the season this year; plenty of years we're stuck talking about the first half coming to an end somewhere around game 92. By comparison, having played just 86 games in the first half doesn't seem nearly as foolish.
Anyhow, given the first halfiness of the feeling right now, of a dividing line between what was and what is still to be, I thought I would do a very quick little piece looking back, a Retrospecticus of sorts, in which the Author attempts to look only at the good stuff. All the best things about the first half of this here season we will shortly embark upon once again are what I'm going to talk about, right after the jump. Four things, in fact; I like nice even numbers when I'm doing lists if at all possible. It keeps the voices in my head relatively quiet. This has been an immensely frustrating season in a lot of ways, but we're going to kind of put that stuff on the back burner for this moment. Problems can always be talked about. Sometimes you need an occasion to be nice, you know?
So here they are, in no particular order. The things I've really enjoyed about this season so far.
Watching Another Killer Bee
Oh, Carlos Beltran. Once so very feared as an Astro. An object of terror in a Mets uniform for what seemed like the longest three-pitch strikeout in Cardinal history. And then, once that curveball had dropped in for strike three, the admiration came back. We didn't have to be scared of him anymore. We could just admire what he was.
Last year we had Lance Berkman finally making his way to St. Louis, wearing the Birds on the Bat after years of us admiring him on the other side of the rivalry. The Puma's first season in Cardinal red was magical. Beltran's has been much the same. Never mind the brilliant production; just watching Carlos Beltran, the Carlos Beltran, wearing a Cardinal jersey, has been everything I always thought it would be.
The two big signings for the Cardinals this past offseason consisted of one free agent from outside the organisation -- Beltran -- and one who was already on the payroll in Rafael Furcal. Both have looked like strokes of genius to this point.
I was impressed with Furcal last season after the Cards picked him up from the Dodgers, mostly for his glovework at short. Having watched Ryan Theriot try to play the position for most of the 2011 season, Furcal's ability to actually play the position was startlingly, stunningly, stupefyingly awesome. This year he's actually hit, too.
He hasn't been quite the force he looked to be the first month of the season, when he was the best leadoff hitter in baseball, but Furcal has still be very good. And every once in awhile he makes a throw you just can't believe.
All The Young Dudes (In the Rotation)
Lance Lynn has been a godsend for this team. Hell, I barely even miss Chris Carpenter. That's some impressive work. And Joe Kelly, well, he hasn't been effective to the same degree as Lynn, necessarily, but he's done well filling in for Jaime, and the kid is just fun to watch. For me, at least.
Kyle Lohse has been great this season, and Adam Wainwright seems to be coming back around, slowly but surely. And hey, Jake Westbrook is going to do Nutrisystem commercials with Dan Marino soon! (This may or may not be true.) But for me it's been Lynn and Kelly that have provided the real interest on the pitching side of things.
Enough said, right?
The Cardinals had two high-profile situations trying to sign players to long-term deals this past offseason. Albert Pujols left
for the money because his god told him to, and lit out for the coast. Yadier Molina hitched his wagon to the Cards' star for what will likely be the rest of the good part of his career.
Seeing Albert Pujols do DirecTV (which, by the way, needs to fucking get this shit with Viacom fixed right the fuck now; I will not live without Spongebob, you sons of bitches), advertisements is still kind of irritating, but you know what? I've moved on, and I think the rest of the fanbase pretty much has too. And I think Yadier Molina has a lot to do with that.
So that's my little list of good stuff. There have been other things, moments mostly, that have tickled my fancy quite nicely this season, but these are the longish storylines I've really enjoyed. Tomorrow I'll be back to bitching about the bullpen and hating on Mike Matheny for sending the runners in yet another stupid situation, but for today I'm enjoying the good things.
What about you?