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Skip Goes to Eleven.

"Well, couldn't you have just won the game in the tenth?"

"Skip goes to eleven."

Wow.  That was an amazing game.  Mr. Schumaker, I'm very sorry I even briefly entertained the notion of trying to trade you while your value was highest in my post on Wednesday.  I see now that your value is currently at it's lowest ebb, and will not reach it's highest point until the day you are inducted into Cooperstown sometime in the late 2020s.  Then, though, the Cardinals should definitely consider pulling the trigger on any potential deal. 

I still hate that Brian Barton is struggling to find playing time.  Of course, I can't come up with any real way to get his bat in the lineup that wouldn't involve sitting a player deserving of any and all ABs, so I suppose I'll just have to live with it for now.  I'm a little frustrated by the perception that he's a poor defender in particular.  He doesn't have a great arm, true, but his range is excellent and his hands are great.  What I'm most upset by in this situation, though, is the fact that Tony insists on running through an extra bench player, even while carrying 12 pitchers, because he doesn't trust the kid yet.  Not a huge deal, I admit, but a little bothersome. 

What is a huge deal is the continued struggles of the Cardinals' closer, Mr. Jason Isringhausen.  Personally, I've only booed one Cardinal player in all my years as a fan, (and it doesn't matter who it was; suffice it to say he was involved in a divorce with a friend of our family, and conducted himself in a less than exemplary fashion) and I'm a little perturbed by the fan base's willingness to turn on Izzy again.  On the other hand, I also have a hard time truly faulting them; I know I'm getting awfully frustrated watching our bullpen struggle to put away games that should be comfortable victories. 

The Isringhausen story got a whole lot more interesting last night, when Tony LaRussa, responding to a question by a member of the St. Louis press, had this to say: 

(Referring to Isringhausen)- "I asked him, when he was leaving the mound, if he was okay, and he said he was fine.  He had trouble keeping the ball down tonight, though...usually, when he's had trouble getting down, he's been fighting some stiffness, or pain, or..."

That worries me.  A lot.  If Tony is openly questioning whether or not his warrior, his closer, is physically sound, it tells me that he and Duncan see something they don't like, beyond a few flat cutters. 

If we will all think back to the 2006 season, we will recall the problems that Izzy was having then.  His velocity was down, his location was atrocious, and there was one particular pitch he simply couldn't get working.  The pitch? 

His cutter, of course.  What pitch is he most having trouble with this season?  Again, the same.  I'm definitely not an expert on pitching, by any means, and maybe I don't understand what's going on here, but I see some definite parallels here that I don't like, not one bit. 

The thing that I find more than a bit confusing, though, is the pitch selection here.  The cutter has been the most problematic pitch for Izzy in his tough stretches; why does he continue to go to it with such regularity?  I understand it's a good pitch, but it's not as if he lacks other weapons.  He hasn't yet shown the huge loss of velocity that was so marked in that 2006 death march, and his curveball is still downright nasty most of the time.  Why, when he has options available, does he continue to throw the pitch that he seems to have the most trouble throwing at the moment? 

If this is really just a mechanical issue, then why don't Izzy and Molina just agree to go more with the fastball and curve for now, until Jason can get a better handle on what's going on. 

The other option, of course, is that he's hurt.  I sincerely hope this isn't the case, not only for the team, but for Izzy personally.  If that hip is going bad on him again, it's almost surely the end of his career, and I don't want to see his run end like that.  Too often we see the great laid low by physical failings; Izzy  has fought through so many already, I hope he is allowed to lay down his sword on his own terms, rather than those decreed by his body. 

Personally, I think it may be a little bit of both.  Something isn't right with Isringhausen at the moment; that's fairly certain.  What I think, though, isn't that we're dealing with an athlete whose body is just finally breaking down, but that we're seeing one who simply can't handle the same workload any longer.  He's not necessarily physically incapable of the job, but I don't know if he's capable of doing it every single day any more.  The Cardinals' early season winning ways have resulted in an inordinate number of appearances for both Izzy and Franklin; I think, more than anything, that Isringhausen is paying the price for pitching too many times on bloodied and battered legs. 

So what's the solution?  Well, I think this may be an excellent chance to bring up one of our young fireballers currently stowed away in Memphis, as Izzy insurance.  Both Chris Perez and Jason Motte are in the process of proving themselves too good for Triple A; Motte in particular is striking out over 15(!) batters per 9 innings on the young season.  We've seen teams having success in recent years with, young, untested closers.  I'm not even suggesting going to one of those other guys to close out games necessarily.  But I would feel a whole lot better if there was another overpowering arm down there in the pen that could  come in and blow away a couple of batters a time or two a week.  Of course, that would probably require moving Anthony Reyes somehow, but seeing as how he's being used strictly as a mop up guy at the moment, I don't see that as really hurting the team.  Personally, I'd like to see him used in a few more important situations, but them's the breaks.  Sorry, kid.  Better luck elsewhere; it's just not going to work here. 

I have one other thing I wanted to talk about, but I'll put it after the break, so you can avoid any more of my long windedness if you wish. 

Couple of notes:

Adam Ottavino, the Cards' first round pick in the 2006 draft, is heading to the DL .  Looks as if we may have another case of Hero Syndrome on our hands, as he's apparently been nursing a sore shoulder since Spring Training.

One of my own personal favourites in the Cards' system, RHP David Kopp, has been pitching very well this year.  He also has outstanding mechanics.  Don't believe me?  Check this out .  As if I needed any more reason to like the guy, he appears to have nearly the same delivery as one of the most durable and consistent pitchers of our time, Mariano Rivera.  By the way, if you've never checked out Pitching Clips, you really should.  It's one of my favourite wastes of time, to be perfectly honest.  Kopp doesn't keep his front shoulder closed quite as well as Rivera, which probably has something to do with Kopp's somewhat iffy command so far in his career, but the arm action and lower body mechanics are strikingly similar.  Again, Kopp is a little 'longer' in the back of his delivery, but that's still a thing of beauty to see together like that. 

Everyone here should go to iTunes, or whatever music service you prefer, and download Coheed and Cambria's "Feathers".  I literally cannot stop listening to this song.  I didn't much care for C and C when I first heard them, but my friend Travis kept hammering away at me that I was really missing the boat, and turns out he was right.  Amazing. 

Yovani Gallardo, the talented young Brewers ace, looks to have thrown his last pitch of the season.  This, to me, is really sad, because I love watching this kid pitch, even though it's for one of our chief rivals.  Of course, Gallardo basically appears to just be following in the tradition of talented young Brewers ace pitchers.  See also: Sheets, Ben, 2004-present.  

Kay.  After the break, the other thing.  I will warn you, if you're easily offended by language, there is a bit of it included.  It was necessary to make the point, I believe, but if you have a serious problem with that sort of thing, please consider yourself warned.  Thank you.

 

There's a very good discussion going on over in jealousblues' fanpost about the Buzz Bissinger/ Bob Costas attack on Will Leitch of Deadspin.  If you haven't stopped by over there and checked it out, you should. 

I just wanted to put in my .02 on the subject. 

First off, I thought it was ridiculous on the part of Bissinger, who's abilities as a storyteller I greatly respect, but who's overall journalistic resume is less than sparkling, to call out Leitch for reporting on things like athlete's bad behaviour and things like that.  For one thing, Deadspin is not a news site; it's an entertainment website.  Hell, it's essentially a big clearing house for things Leitch himself thinks are funny or entertaining.  The content generated by Will Leitch himself is in the same vein, ie primarily humorous, but occasionally tending toward the in depth analytical or poignant.  By no means is Deadspin the sort of site anyone is looking toward for hard hitting news.  I don't get my information on the political landscape from the Onion, no matter how well the satire there is done. 

The other problem that Bissinger had with Leitch, and apparently the blogosphere in general, was the language.  I have a serious problem with that.  Not only did Costas and Buzz deliberately pick out the most extreme, over the top example they could find, but the very point of the attack was poorly thought out.  The problem, of course, lies in the fact that, in this medium, there is instant feedback from people who are not, themselves, held to any kind of standards, even if only the self imposed ones that content generators put upon themselves.  And really, the language in the comment in question, while probably unsuitable for polite conversation, wasn't anything worse than what's been in Bissinger's books.  Which is more offensive to you? 

An unidentified, possibly inebriated, individual on a message board pasting the word cunt all over the page in question, or

The coach of a high school football team referring to his running back as a big dumb nigger? 

Both were printed, and both are offensive in their own way.  The thing is, though, is Bissinger would claim he was just quoting what someone said when he put that second statement in "Friday Night Lights", while the cunt comment somehow reflects directly on the material it was being hurled at. 

I remember the first time I read Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."  I was in seventh grade at the time, (yes, I was a very precocious child) and I recall being stunned, absolutely floored, by what I was reading.  Here was real, actual life, being chronicled for me, without the sanitization, without the filters, in all of it's horrible, awful majesty.  I fell in love with the darker side of life, (though, admittedly, it didn't take much of a push for me) and began to seek out the most honest, brutal depictions of reality I could find.  I fell in love with William S. Burroughs and his hallucinogenic depictions of a warped and terrible world, though I will admit, some of my affection for him was strictly to support my burgeoning cynicism and romanticise my burgeoning drug use. 

The point of all this is that there have always been methods of depicting reality that fall outside the norm.  I wonder, would it help Bissinger accept Leitch's writings if he were to look at them strictly as a Gonzo travellogue? 

The real problem, I feel, is the fear that certain members of the media have of the new communication paradigm we see emerging.  Go and read Al Gore's most recent book, "The Assault on Reason."  Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of Mr. Gore; I voted for the guy, and would again if given the chance.  Even putting that aside, though, it's an amazing read.  The point of the book is essentially this: we live in a society with an almost entirely one way communication line, in the form of television.  The messages go in one direction only, with the people sending them acting as the gatekeepers of all information; no feedback ever really reaches anyone important. 

The internet, of course, is almost the opposite of this.  Gore himself, (who, btw, does not claim to have invented the web in the book, so don't worry about that) holds up the Internet as the single greatest hope we have for returning a level of discoursive power to the people; the ideas can finally go both ways again, as they largely did in the early Printed Age. 

The problem, of course, for people like Bissinger and Costas, is that once the citizenry becomes able to both decide and generate for themselves what they believe and feel, what happens to those who formerly broadcast the information?  These are two men who see the writing on the wall, that the world, particularly in their field of expertise, is becoming much smarter much faster than what the old guard can adapt.  Hence, the aggression.  I actually think Bissinger had a couple of decent points, regarding the level of discourse, but his own actions were, I think, largely motivated by the fear and anger of someone who feels they are being listened to now, but who may very well soon become obsolete.

Of course, if your opinions and ideas are truly worthwhile, you'll never become obsolete.  There will always be a place in the world for those who are able to tell a story, able to illuminate life in a way that shows the rest of us something important.  Unfortunately, I don't think either Buzz or Costas himself sees this; I think they only see that a whole bunch of people who aren't qualified to create ideas and opinions are doing so at an alarming rate. 

I respect Mr. Bissinger's abilities as a writer immensely; he did a wonderful job of illuminating the methods of Tony LaRussa's madness, and I've always liked FNL.  But this stunt was far beneath someone who should know better.  Shame on you, Buzz. 

And as for Mr. Costas, shame on you too for being a party to this.  It was painfully obvious in watching the special that you were fully complicit in what was happening.  That was far beneath you, a journalist for whom I have always had the utmost respect, which, unfortunately, took a beating on this one.  I realise that your hands are largely tied; the lowest common denominator must be served, and the dumbing down of anything worthwhile must continue.  But Will Leitch has nothing to do with the pathetic state of reporting in this country today; in fact, men and women like him are the solution.  A populace that demands more will ultimately set you free. 

This is the new world, whether you like it or not.  The citizenry is no longer quite so in the dark; to rail against it is pointless.