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kids row

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bernie miklasz posted a list of all the ex-cardinals who will take part in the postgame ceremonies immediately following the last reg'lar season game at busch. lotta stars (hernandez, tudor, carlton, gibson, brock, whitey, etc), lotta footnotes (brummer, lawless, ricketts), lotta widows (carole buck, ginger briles, judy flood, darlene hoerner). prominently missing from the list -- and not, as far as i know, working in another major league ballpark that day -- are george hendrick, cha-cha cepeda, dal maxvill, garry templeton, lonnie smith, todd zeile, and obie oberkfell.

the list was also missing this one pitcher, name escapes me, who went on this incredible run one season; forever and a day ago, seems like. this guy had 21, 22 quality starts in a row, some incredible number like that, and an era of about one and a half for about three months. people were even comparing him to gibson; that's how good he pitched that year.

anybody know what ever happened to that guy? it'd be nice to see him back at busch again . . . . . .

. . . . . [silence] . . . . .

ok, not funny. just in time for the playoffs, the can't-get-em-out fever has finally made its way to st louis' ace. first it got mulder, then marquis, then morris; we thought carp was immune, but we thought wrong. he's got all the symptoms: an opposition obp near .400, a slugging pct well over .500, a rash of big innings, and worried fans pacing back and forth at the foot of his sickbed. last night the astros, perhaps sensing weakness, went right after carpenter on the 1st pitch; of the 30 batters he faced, 20 saw a first-pitch strike, and 15 of them -- 75 percent -- swung the bat. if you read my treatise on first-pitch swinging sev'l weeks back, you know that percentage is off the charts. seven of the hack-aways put the ball in play, and four got base hits, a .571 average -- again, off the charts.

what to think; what to do? cardnilly's got an excellent idea (see the illustration), and bellyitcher offers another appropriate suggestion. sev'l constructive coping methods are described at this site. you could buy one of these. you could strike this pose . . . . or this one . . . . .

. . . . . [silence] . . . . .

or, if you're the what-me-worry type, i guess you could read the game log of carp's main competitor for the cy young award, dontrelle willis. at the season's halfway point (17 starts) willis stood 13-3 with a 1.89 era, a 1.00 whip, and four shutouts. then, for god knows why, he lobbed BP for three starts: 13 innings, 23 earned runs, a 15.92 era, a 2.31 whip, and three losses. can't-get-em-out fever alright. his era rose a run and a half, his whip shot to 1.20; fantasy-league owners across america traded him for the resurgent kerry wood. but once the disease passed out of his system, dontrelle returned to form, actually pitching better than he had before getting sick: 9-3 with a 1.22 era and a 0.91 whip.

i don't think for a moment that carpenter will make a similar recovery, but at least there's a recent, relevant precedent. for that matter, carp doesn't have to exhibit the freakish excellence of june and july; a 2.50 playoff era would be fine. . . . . hell, i'd take 4.50 at this point.

we call baseball a kid's game, but i never really understood why until i had kids of my own. kids are impulsive, amorphic, kaleidoscopic; prone to violent, random changes in shape, mood, and aspect. they do things for no reason and submit to no control; nobody, not even they, can predict their next move. who they are at a given moment often bears scant resemblance to who they were yesterday, or ten minutes ago. kids addle your thoughts; they injure your heart; they shorten your life.

and they're what you live for.

if that ain't baseball, then i don't understand this game at all. so bring it on -- the tantrums, the spills, the lousy sleep, the soiled underpants, the maddening illogic. it's october; baseball never gets any kiddier.