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putting it into words

at times like these, i often turn to the online etymology dictionary for guidance and comfort. here's what i find there this morning:

stink (v.): O.E. stincan "emit a smell of any kind" (class III strong verb; past tense stonc), from W.Gmc. *stenkwanan (cf. O.S. stincan, O.H.G. stinkan, Du. stinken), from the root of stench. O.E. swote stincan "to smell sweet," but offensive sense began O.E. and was primary by c.1250; smell now tends the same way. Fig. meaning "be offensive" is from 1225; meaning "be inept" is recorded from 1924.
and in 1924 the cardinals' record was . . . . . gulp --- 65-89. they finished 6th in the 8-team national league. no help there; let's try another one:
feeble (adj.): c.1175, from O.Fr. feible, by dissimilation from L. flebilis "lamentable," lit. "that is to be wept over," from flere "weep." The first -l- was dropped in O.Fr. by dissimilation.
which leads us to
lamentation (n.): 1375, from L. lamentationem (nom. lamentatio) "wailing, moaning, weeping," from lamentatus, pp. of lamentari, from lamentum "a wailing," from PIE base *la- "to shout, cry," probably ultimately imitative.
sob (v.): c.1200, probably of imitative origin, related to O.E. seofian "to lament," O.H.G. sufan "to draw breath," W.Fris. sobje "to suck." The noun is attested from c.1374.
and so, inevitably, we arrive at
suck (v.): O.E. sucan, from PIE root *sug-/*suk- of imitative origin (cf. O.S., O.H.G. sugan, O.N. suga, M.Du. sughen, Du. zuigen, Ger. saugen "to suck;" L. sugere "to suck," succus "juice, sap;" O.Ir. sugim, Welsh sugno "to suck"). Meaning "do fellatio" is first recorded 1928. Slang sense of "be contemptible" first attested 1971 (the underlying notion is of fellatio). Suck eggs is from 1906. Suck hind tit "be inferior" is Amer.Eng. slang first recorded 1940.
in 1940, i'd like to point out, the cardinals did not suck hind tit. the greatest team in franchise history was coming together; they finished 3d at 84-69, which over a 162-game schedule translates into 89-73. in 1928 they won their second nl pennant, and in 1971 they tied for the league's second-best record at 90-72. under the current playoff format, all 3 of those teams would have games scheduled in october.

ahhh, the wisdom in words. i feel much better now; you?

i actually do feel better, slightly, about carpenter's elbow. why, it's downright loose and limber. this joint may yet star in its own season-long drama, but for the moment it remains off-stage. stay right there.

interesting launch for the looper experiment. the mets, perhaps as curious as all the rest of us, took a good long look at him the first time through the order, taking a strike nearly as many times as they swung at one --- 10 takes, 12 swings. that's highly unusual. second time through, with the sense of sheer spectacle having abated, the mets became somewhat more active, taking only 7 strikes and swinging at 12; and by the third time around, they had him pretty well pegged --- only took 3 strikes and took a cut at 10. not coincidentally, they were 2 for 9 off him in each of the first two cycles, but 4 for 7 with a walk the final time through. so while it was, officially, a "quality" start --- and unofficially a pretty good one --- it tended to underscore the original doubts about this enterprise. one big question was does he have a broad enough repertoire to manage three trips through a batting order? by the 3d trip, as i've just suggested, the mets had begun to see ball hit ball, so it remains to be proven that loop can keep guys off-balance over 3 or 4 at-bats. the second major question was will he have the stamina? he was at 65 pitches as the 6th inning opened; i haven't looked at to see whether his velocity took a dip. this question, too, awaits its first affirmative evidence.

had the game not gotten so far out of hand, there might have been a lot of discussion about la russa's decision to stick with looper against two lefties --- shawn green and jose valentin --- in the 6th with two on, two out and the score still only 2-0, mets. looper has struggled vs lh batters his whole career; more to the point he was at 85 pitches, far and away his career high, and had retired only 1 of the previous 5 hitters, yielding two singles, a homer, and a walk within that span. the next 7 batters included 5 lefties, plus the pitcher.

tyler johnson, where art thou? (or should it be "wert thou?")

couple possibilities: one, if tony had gone to a lh reliever there, randolph could always have countered with a right-handed bat (franco or milledge) off the bench; maybe tony liked the looper-green matchup better than the putative johnson-milledge confrontation. a second possible consideration is that la russa was simply gathering information about his new starting pitcher. he'll do that sometimes early in a season --- challenge a guy, see how he reacts, find out how far a certain player can be trusted. at this particular point in the game, looper had retired 11 of 13 left-handed batters; perhaps tony wanted to see if he could ride him one more batter down the line.

i'd accept either of the foregoing explanations. if it were me i'dve gone to the bullpen, but (as is usually the case) there's more than one side to the argument. however, if the prime consideration was simply that looper was due to lead off the next inning --- well, that i wouldn't accept. that's a lousy reason. there's an off-day tomorrow, and none of the relievers had thrown more than a handful of pitches since sunday. if that's all you're worried about, pull the double switch and take the guy out.

in the end it mattered not; the cards were already down 2-0, and it might as well have been 20-0 for the way they're swinging that bats. i'd like to shrug it off as only 3 games, but the fact is that the bats have looked weak for more than a month. change is necessary. a final word from etymonline:

slump (v.): 1677, "fall or sink into a muddy place," probably from a Scand. source, cf. Norw. and Dan. slumpe "fall upon," Swed. slumpa; perhaps ultimately of imitative origin. The noun meaning "heavy decline in prices on the stock exchange" is from 1888; generalized to "sharp decline in trade or business," 1922.
and in 1922? the cardinals finished 3d at 85-69, which adjusts to 90-72 on a 162-game scale; led the league in slugging, and finished 2d in runs scored at 863 (or 908 runs / 162 games). rogers hornsby had 250 hits and 450 total bases that year, both still franchise standards; the latter figure remains the all-time national league record. hornsby's 1922 total of 206 runs created stood as a national league record for nearly 80 years; barry bonds broke it in 2001.

so hell, i'm not worried about the cardinals' offense. hornsby'll save them.