my, but VEB was a snakepit over the weekend. friday night we had a disgraceful comment commending aaron miles for fouling a ball into en'cion's face. that poster has been told to take his insights elsewhere. on sunday we had somebody comparing an opinion about baseball to Holocaust denial; now there's someone with a sense of proportion. yesterday there was another tasteless joke about foul balls off the noggin, followed by a testy hours-long argument about whether or not it's ok to boo a hometown player. ah, pennant-race excitement; best time of year. throws all the little nuances of the game into high relief . . . . .
it's partly my fault that things got a bit out of hand; i was out of town and not paying much attention while all this stuff went down, didn't read through any of the threads until they were cold. and such edifying reading it was . . . . thankfully, a number of people intervened in my absence and spoke up for the community. i appreciate that. the vast majority of our posters don't need to be reminded that VEB doesn't welcome venomous barbs and insult-laced exchanges. that's not the sort of thing that attracted a large community to the site; on the contrary, it's the sort of thing that drives people away. there are guidelines in place to ensure that differences of opinion remain civil and the overall discussion is reasonably intelligent. those guidelines were written, in part, because things got so ugly around here last september and october; i guess tempers just naturally wear thin late in a long season. . . . . anyway, we've got the guidelines in place this year, and a Community Board to keep the peace; and i'm gonna try to stay more on top of things from here on out, because i won't let the tone of this place to sink to the level of the post-dispatch boards or worse. if a discussion starts to devolve into a pissing match, i'll try to intervene before it gets too far along; if i'm not on the thread, i hope others will speak up or send me an e-mail.
on a more positive note: if you have any get-well wishes you'd like to send juan encarnacion, post them in this diary by cardsfaninmass. i'll forward the thread to the front office, so it can be delivered to encarnacion. he heard his share of boos on the field; might do him some good (certainly can't do any harm) to know that a lot of card partisans are wishing him a speedy and complete recovery.
* * * * * * * * * * * *and now, a few words about baseball.
there was some discussion in yesterday's game thread about alternatives to maroth as the 6th starter, viz. keisler and brad thompson. thompson has made 13 starts for the st louis with a 4-3 and 5.02 era, which ain't great but still is better than reyes or wells (who remains in the rotation for some reason). despite having spent the last month in the bullpen and/or minors, thompson ranks 4th on the team in innings pitched --- yet he was not among the initial crop of guys added to the roster on september 1 (although, per the official site, he is expected to be activated soon). i think there's a simple reason thompson's not getting much love from laduncan: in his last appearance, on august 23, he beaned hanley ramirez in frustration immediately after yielding a homer to cody ross. the beaning flagrantly violated one of tony's rules --- and it wasn't the first time this season that thompson (aka puppy kicker) let his frustration get the better of him. thompson got sent down the next day. . . . . so that's one reason he's not under consideration. (i'm not saying i agree with tony on this, by the way; i'm just trying to understand the decision-making.) the other reason is probably that brad didn't pitch all that well as a starter. opposing hitters batted .308 and slugged .507 against him in his 13 starts; those figures rank 2d highest (avg) and 3d highest (slg) among all nl starters with more than a dozen starts. is he better than maroth? probably so --- but he's still not very good.
keisler (whose name surfaced here) put together a pretty good run at midyear; over a stretch of 10 starts lasting from july 1 through august 21 he posted a 3.48 era, lowering his season-long era (minors only) to 4.38. but he bombed in his last couple of starts, and even during the stretch of good pitching his peripherals were nothing to brag about. again, he might well be a better option than maroth, but that still doesn't mean he's a decent option.
couple of other mound-related notes:
- pedro martinez, who's coming back from the same injury as mark mulder, made a successful return to the mound yesterday --- 5 innings, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, 4 strikeouts. any performance of that type from mulder would be a big boost to this staff.
- kip wells wasn't the only pitcher booed off the mound yesterday. zambrano also heard the catcalls --- and he wasn't amused by it, essentially booing back. since august 1, when he left a start early with heat cramps, he's 0-5 with an era of 8.29; the cubs have lost all 6 of his starts since then.
- the Cardinal Clubhouse is celebrating its 5th anniversary by interviewing various Cardinal bloggers --- including yours truly. congrats to the clubhouse on 5 happy years.