You know, I have to tell you, I'm having a really tough time with this particular post. It's not the execution, exactly; while I freely admit there are plenty of times when the outline of what I had in my head as a vast sunken ship in clear coastal waters, its frame and weight roughly perceived, has turned out, once surfaced, to bear little resemblance to the original notion, today, that's not really the case.
To be completely honest, I am somewhat at a loss for the right thing to say today. It's not that the idea well has dried up, necessarily; I've thought of half a dozen things I could write about today. It's just that none of them really seem quite right. I thought about writing up 2004, the unceremonious death of the dream, one of the strongest Cardinal teams of my life bounced in the most depressing way possible, but that's been done before. We all know 2004; I don't want to delve into the past again.
I thought to write about the offense, and why runs have been so tough to come by for the Redbirds of late. Of course, it isn't as if the Cards have stopped scoring entirely; it just feels that way when Jon Lester is on the mound getting strikes called in the left-handed batters' box. Many of us were afraid of this team's reliance on hitting with runners in scoring position; the 2013 Cardinals' paradigm of stringing together long runs of singles and doubles doesn't play as well when a) the opposition is doing a good job limiting the overall number of baserunners and b) you have four basically empty slots in your lineup.
Then again, when I think about this offense, I can't help but head down the road of what I would do to fix it. All the changes I think should be made to this club before the 2014 season begins, and what I see as the way forward to capitalise on what the Cards currently have in excess in order to set up next year's squad to potentially outdo this year's. But that's the future. I have that post mapped out in my head already, and am saving it for a hotstove-y sort of winter day, I think. I don't really want to talk about the future (at least not the far-off variety), anymore than I want to rehash the near-decade old past.
I also thought I would maybe tell you about my playoff shoes, a pair of black and red patent Nike hyperdunk high-tops from 2010 which have, over the past couple years, become one of my magic talismans, and how utterly ridiculous the mind of a rational, adult man can become when trying to decide how often he can go to the magic playoff shoes before their magic becomes exhausted. (Games 2 and 3 of this series represented the first time I've ever worn my playoff shoes in consecutive games, and I took the bizarre ending of Game 3 as an indicator of what happens when there is just barely enough magic available to pull out a win. It seemed prudent to give the shoes time to regenerate some MP before breaking them out again.)
Or about the chinese takeout my friend Travis and I order in potential clinching games, and the quite measured, rational, and utterly ridiculous conversation we had the other day about whether or not getting Hunan Yu sesame chicken in a non-clinching situation would work or not. Even more worrisome, whether using the chinese food in a non-clinching game would then rob it of its power to finish off a series should we get there. The argument is a lot like the question of when a manager should use his closer, I suppose; in hindisght, I now fear we'll never get into a sesame chicken opportunity because of the ultimate decision to save it for the situation we know it works. That's right; two adult men with a combined IQ somewhat north of 300 debating whether or not it would ruin our team's chances of winning the World Series if we ate chinese food during the wrong game. Seems kind of silly when you say it out loud, doesn't it?
The problem with going down the magic road (which is an excellent sexual euphemism I think we need to come up with a meaning for), is that at some point I'm going to use the word superstition, which will then call to mind those horrible Budweiser commercials about fan superstitions that have proven empirically it actually is possible to ruin a Stevie Wonder song for me, and I refuse to give said advertisements validity by admitting they do stick in my head. So magic hour is out, too.
I also thought about telling you how I screwed up the pistachio pudding (which might be my favourite thing in the world), I made last night and had for breakfast today by beating in too much air, over-whisking to the point the texture is a shade too fluffy, sort of like that whipped yogurt Yoplait puts out. The problem there, of course, is that a) admitting I messed up boxed pudding mix makes me sound like an incompetent kitchen bumbler, some sort of comically inept romantic comedy character, when I'm actually quite a good cook, and b) why would any of you fucking care about the pistachio pudding I had for breakfast today? Not that a lack of audience interest in my stores has ever stopped me before, but, you know. Maybe I'll talk about how much I like red Jell-O and vanilla ice cream together one of these days, and about the old girlfriend the combination usually makes me think of, and really piss everybody off.
I suppose, really, the problem isn't that I don't have any ideas for today's post; it's just that none of them seem quite right in light of the situation. Banal topics seem excessively so when there is a World Series elimination game looming, and to talk of baseball not directly focused on said game seems...I don't know, disrespectful, perhaps? I could fire up Aaron's patented Tortured Metaphor Machine and suggest it feels a little like waiting for a family member to die, in that there seems to be nothing to say when the reality of the situation is so overwhelming, but I suppose I'm hoping things aren't quite so grim and hopeless as all that right now. After all, there is usually little chance your chronically ill grandmother is going to suddenly spring phoenix-like from her hospital bed and beginning to run through the halls, screaming, "And we will see you (slight hesitation) tomorrow night!" In other words, I suppose I'm hoping our team doesn't have a terminal case of the Red Sox, and that this thing might still be beaten. I can't say I feel great about that, but hey, stranger things have happened in the history of time and space than a baseball team winning two games in a row.
We've already heaped praise at the feet of Michael Wacha; tonight we'll see if he can add another chapter to his growing legend. But for now, what else is there to say?
The Cardinals failed to take care of business at home, which is immensely disappointing. But there are no more games at Busch Stadium, only a two-game sprint in Fenway. Hopefully a two-game sprint, anyway.
I have days worth of complaints about Mike Matheny, but this bile can wait for the offseason; besides, I have a feeling my fellow authors probably have plenty of angry diatribes they would like to express regarding Mr. Manager too.
So what do I say? What do we talk about? Do I tell you Of Montreal's new record is really, really great, and the early bird vinyl edition I ordered is an incredibly cool shade of sea green that I want colour-matched for my car? Or do I keep it all to myself, respecting the gravity of the moment, of the day, of what this point in time means?
Maybe that tortured metaphor wasn't so off-base after all. Like people waiting for a passing or a birth, sitting and keeping the watch for death or life, maybe it doesn't matter what we talk about. Maybe it really only matters we're here, together, at this moment, sharing in some experience that, for good or for ill, we'll all remember forever. There isn't anything particularly meaningful or useful to say, but here we are all the same.
And for the record, I will most definitely be wearing my playoff shoes tonight. So if the Cardinals lose, just to be clear, it isn't my fault.