Sometimes fans of other sports are confused when I tell them I enjoy how long the baseball season is and, indeed, enjoy it more than the playoffs. I would like to show them Yadier Molina's ground-rule double—and the way, particularly, my face changed in the time between it falling between two outfielders and landing in the stands—and ask them whether they'd rather brood over that for a week, or a month, or a season, or one boring off-day. (And it will be boring. Don't ask me how I know.)
Part of the reason Matt Holliday's unfortunate demonstration of athletic cups was so heartbreaking is that it doesn't happen every single year, over the course of the playoffs and most of the regular season. Baseball offers an astounding numbers of chances at redemption. A team can look as terrible as the Cardinals-sans-Ludwick-and-Carpenter did for three games against the Dodgers, but it's not going to cost them a tenth of their season like a bad week would in football. They won't have to bench Albert Pujols or fire Tony La Russa (though they will, for some reason, have to play Aaron Miles on a team with a shortstop who [for all his faults this year] hits as well as Aaron Miles and another who hits and fields shortstop like a third baseman.)
We can still pass the blame around, though—why not? I loved, as someone who enjoys a good hackneyed film plot, to see Albert just barely take the same slider with which Jonathan Broxton had retired him the night before. I mentioned this in the game thread—at that moment in Baseball Movie we get a close-up of Albert's face doing the creepy Nike mask commercial smirk, then a matching shot of Broxton widening his eyes and gulping theatrically, and then the Cardinals avenge their defeat with a long homer or a run manufactured out of melted-down outs and teamwork. But that was Albert's only hit in the series, and the Cardinals could have used the newly unslumped version in the games that were close.
As for the games that weren't close, that is in part on the team's worst pitchers—P.J. Walters is not here to be kicked around, anymore, so the onus is on longtime getupbaby hero Blake Hawksworth—but this series's bizarre bullpen start is also the fault of the guy who called for it. Tony La Russa had other options, namely the pitcher on his list who was actually stretched out to be a starter, and if he did anything to attempt to ameliorate the Cardinals' short term lack of a fifth starter it made an unlikely win less likely still.
His decision yesterday to start Aaron Miles at third, Felipe Lopez at short, and Skip Schumaker at second—against Clayton Kershaw, Brendan Ryan on the bench et cetera—was just wrong. That's what it comes down to: playing Aaron Miles is incorrect, and Tony La Russa should stop doing things that are so clearly incorrect.
The Cardinals' terrible performance—managerially, offensively, defensively—was frustrating, but it wasn't heartstopping. That's why I'm glad they play every day for months.
As for the Cardinals' second day decision to take a flier on Austin Wilson—fantastic. When he doesn't sign I will be disappointed, and that will suck, but nearly as I can in the tradition of the thing I said one jump ago, it will just be one day of hurt feelings and misdirected Stanford anger in exchange for a season's worth of good feelings about the Cardinals braintrust. These guys are willing to take chances, and the chances they take are pretty good when they aren't Kyle Lohse-shaped.
I like to see the Cardinals take big swings on international signings; I like to see them take a twelfth round pick (admittedly one round removed from the one that turned into Albert Pujols) of dubious value and turn it into a bargaining chit with their first round pick and a lottery ticket with outstanding power potential. I'm not going to say that this is necessarily the right way to look at the draft; in fact, I think that my viewpoint is distorted significantly by how little I know about amateur baseball players. But having admitted my ignorance, all there is for me to say is that the braintrust's occasional trips outside of established draft protocol make me a happy Cardinals fan.
So SIGN AUSTIN WILSON, or don't. It was the principle of the thing, anyway.