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Every Cardinals/Cubs series preview I guest wrote at Bleed Cubbie Blue this season

A retrospective series preview

Dizzy Dean Speaking with Lon Warneke

Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue has this really fun way of doing previews where he invites site managers from the SBNation site of the Cubs’ opponents to write a little bit about their team. When he first asked me to contribute, the Cardinals’ record was foul and I did not really want to write about them, so... I did something a little different. I had so much fun with that, I had to keep writing them that way. This is upcoming series is the Cardinals and Cubs last series of the season. These two teams just played each other four days ago, so it doesn’t feel like there will be much to preview that we didn’t just go over. So instead I thought maybe I would share with you the four previews I guest wrote at Bleed Cubbie Blue this season (with links in the series numbers) . I hope you like them!

Series 1, May 8 through May 10
Cardinals record: 12-24

It was a dark and stormy night, the night of March 29, 2023. The St. Louis Cardinals were all tucked neatly into their bunk beds in the room that all of them share. Visions of homeruns and Clydesdales and swing and miss curveballs danced in their heads. They of course missed Yaider Molina, but he also snored, so it was nice to have the quiet.

That’s when the lightening struck.

It was a powerful blast in the middle of the room, illuminating all thirteen bunkbeds. Those on the top bunk did all they could just to keep from falling. The players looked around the room in confusion and disbelief. As quick as the lightening struck it had vanished without a trace.

Tommy Edman leaned over the top bunk to look at Paul Goldschmidt.

“Paul... go look,” he whispered.

“Look at what? There’s nothing there, Tommy,” he replied, closing his eyes to attempt to get back to sleep. Paul Goldschmidt always gets his full eight.

“Just make sure there’s nothing weird.”


“Here,” Edman said handing him a Louisville Slugger, “Take this with you.”

Goldschmidt rolled his eyes, but complied, slowly approaching the spot where the lightening struck.

“See, there’s nothing there” he started to say, but before he could finish his sentence a light, furious and red, surrounded by foreboding black smoke began to shoot forth from the place of impact. “Get down!” Goldy shouted out, hitting the deck. It shot above him, hitting each person in the bunkbeds one after the other. The usually dexterous Edman fell from the top bunk, the normally quick Tyler O’Neill seemed to move at half-speed trying to push Lars Nootbaar out of the way. But they were hit. Every single one them. Goldschmidt looked on in horror as his teammates collapsed in their beds. The light shot back towards the spot on the floor, a little brighter, a little more wicked-looking. The impact flung him back with huge force and the room darkened around him before he too, lost consciousness.

The Cardinals are cursed. When you watch them play this series, you will see it. You will see the untimely and costly defensive mistakes from normally sure-handed fielders, the back-breaking home runs off pitchers that don’t normally surrender homers, and bloop singles and wild pitches sequenced perfectly to score runs against them. Has the starting pitching been great? Not necessarily. But has it been “worst team in the league” bad? It has not. The bullpen has been pretty good, but then gives up devastating runs in close games. The offense has been a top offense — only recently dropping to about middling — but leaves runner after runner on base. We just keep waiting for things to turn around, but it keeps getting worse.

Except for Paul Goldschmidt. He is in the 98th percentile in average exit velocity and the 90th percentile in outs above average. He has been the team’s rock in a vast ocean of unpleasantness. Unless something has changed since I wrote this — maybe they sage’d the clubhouse — this should be a fun series for Cubs fans!

Series 2, June 24 - June 25
Cardinals record: 34-45

SCENE I. A cavern under London Stadium. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.

Thunder. Enter the three Witches

When shall we three meet again?
In strikeout, groundout, or pop fly?

When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the game is lost and won.

That will be ere the set of sun
Play begins at midday and in the morn.

Where the place?

The Cardinals locker room.

There to meet with Mozeliak.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair
A flyball through fog and humid air.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the cursed baseballs throw.
Glove, under mattress shoved
Days and nights, about two or three
To break it in adequately
Boiled first i’ th’ pot, it must be.

The Witches circle the cauldron. Enter Mozeliak.

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of belt from Steven Matz
In the cauldron with Walker’s hat.
Cleat of Noot and Waino’s socks
Willson’s bat and Donovan’s locks.

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with some Gatorade
Then the charm is fully made.

O, well done! I commend your pains,
And the players shall share i’ th’ gains.
And now about the cauldron sing
Like fans after a World Series ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

In honor of the Cardinals and Cubs playing in London, I thought why not use some lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth to write about the Cardinals trying to rid themselves of their curse? (That worked out alright for Macbeth, right?) I know last time you read from me that the Cardinals were were cursed, they went on to have a pretty good turn of fortune. I can assure you, though, as of my writing this, they still seem pretty cursed. They are 8-16 in one-run games. The relievers have 15 blown saves — second most in baseball after the Washington Nationals 16 — despite being eighth in the league in FIP at 3.84.

As for starters, I am guessing Adam Wainwright will toe the rubber for one game. Waino in his age-41 season obviously isn’t the same pitcher he was in his peak, but even with diminished velocity, he is able to find a way to get outs and, of course, he still has that big 12-6 curveball. In the rotation the next pitcher has been Matthew Liberatore, but it looks like the Cardinals are using the off days as a chance to change the rotation around and save some innings off the 23-year-old’s arm. The probable listed for Sunday is now Jack Flaherty. After some years of injury trouble, Flaherty has struggled to find consistency this season. His 4-seamer was once his best pitch, but it does not move as it once did and he often seems to struggle with locating it, leading to a lot of deep counts and free bases.

Paul Goldschmidt is still the team’s top hitter and overall best player, but a few other players have improved around him now. In the Cards and Cubs’ previous meeting Nolan Arenado was slashing .232/.282/.326 with a 68 wRC+. He is now at a much more respectable .276/.322/.493 with a 120 wRC+. The Cardinals highly-touted prospect Jordan Walker had been sent down after a middling start to his career with 101 wRC+ in his first 78 plate appearances and some shaky outfield defense. In the 60 plate appearances after he was called back on up June 2 he has slashed .327/.417/.615 with 4 home runs for a 183 wRC+.

All this is to say, I have no idea what to expect from this team at any point. This season is confusing and weird. Might as well be confusing and weird in London, right?

Series 3, July 20 - July 23
Cardinals record: 44-53
Hours of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild played: 125

“Open your eyes...”

There was a loud ringing in his ear — that was what he noticed first. What he noticed next was the coolness. It was a coolness his brain did not recognize immediately, but as more senses returned he soon remembered the sensation of being in water.

“Open your eyes.”

He definitely heard that. That was clear and unmistakable. A brilliant, blinding light moved into his field of vision as his eyelids slowly parted autonomously. They focused ahead at ceiling he did not recognize.

“Wake up, Nolan.”

The water drained away. He sat up gingerly, half-expecting pain, but was without effort. His muscles felt weak and his energy was drained, but he seemed able to move without too much restriction. He appraised the room before climbing out of the basin he had been lying in. Glowing embers of cobalt blue glowed in a way he did not know was possible. It was a room he had certainly never entered before.

He made his way through the room, searching for the exit. He was not sure how he came to be in this room — he was not sure of anything really — but something told him he needed to leave. He walked down the tunnel and eventually reached the bright, unmistakable light of the outside. The voice spoke to him again.

“Nolan... You are the light — our light — that must shine upon St. Louis once again. Now go.”

He didn’t recognize the voice, but deep inside he knew he could trust it. In a wave of determination he ran towards the light.

This is what happens when you play too much Legend of Zelda, my Bleed Cubbie Blue friends. If you know, you know that I just ripped off the beginning of the Breath of the Wild to use for an analogy for Nolan Arenado's season thus far. It started out, well, real bad, but the healing water must have done its job. He has 21 home runs, is slashing .286/.336/.529 for a 131 wRC+. He’s back and maybe next series preview he will acquire the Bat that seals the Darkness.

Are the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals back, though? Well... The Calamity was severe and devastating. Paul Goldschmidt had cooled off, but still remains the Cardinals best hitter. As a team they rank sixth in baseball in wRC+ at 110. The pitching has been the biggest question mark for the Cardinals and I honestly never know what to expect from any pitcher on any given day. Jordan Montgomery has been the top starter. Miles Mikolas has had some shaky starts, but overall his season has been fine. Jack Flaherty walks way too many batters, but if he can get that under control, the rest of his stats look good. As a staff, they don’t really give up a lot of homers, though anecdotally — and this goes back to the curse — it feels like when they do, the timing is devastating.

Basically this preview is a big IDK, which really kind of fits in with Breath of the Wild, right? What I do know is the National League Central is — well the Brewers are not exactly running away with it. The Cubs are 7.5 back, the Cardinals are 10 games back. With a push, it isn’t out of reach for either of them, which makes this series pretty important for both of them and therefore, us! The hope is a little dim, but there is still something to play for and with how this season has gone so far for the Cardinals, that is really all I can ask for.

Series 4, July 27 - July 30
Cardinals record: 46-57
Hours of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild played: 125
Hours of Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom played: 25

While his memories had began to return, he still did not remember everything. He certainly couldn’t remember the way through Lost Woods in Forest Park. The fog suddenly enveloped him and everything around him turned to nothing. When his senses returned, he was back at the beginning.

But he couldn’t give up. So he continued on. That’s when he noticed it, noticed the wind changing directions. He followed the wind.

After a while he entered a clearing. Forest Park was no longer dark. A pleasant, warm light bathed the area and in the center stood a massive tree with a Louisville Slugger wedged into the ground beneath it. Nolan Arenado approached the bat and reached to pull it from its resting place.

The tree awoke.

“Well, well. It’s you,” the tree said, his low, ancient voice vibrating throughout the forest. “You finally decided to return. Better late than never. After 100 games I had nearly given up hope on seeing you again. Even my patience has limits, you know... This is a bat created by the ancient goddess, taken from my branches and crafted for the chosen hitter. The Bat that Seals the Darkness, a bat that heals itself when broken. Believe it or not, it was actually you who wielded that bat last season. But I must warn you to take extreme caution. The bat stands as a test to anyone who would dare attempt to possess it. As you are now, I cannot say weather or not you are worthy. If you sought to free the bat in any weakened state, you would surely pull a hamstring where you stand. Something that would take weeks to heal and never be the same again — every time you sprinted you would wonder if it would hold up.”

The great tree chuckled like a grandpa laughing at his own joke. “Best of luck, young one.”

Nolan Arenado took a deep breath and pulled the bat.

It is probably too late for the Cardinals to turn this season around, but since the All Star Break they have played more like the team people expected to see coming into this season. Since the break they are 9-5, which probably isn’t good enough to make up a significant amount of ground, but they are at least an enjoyable team to watch most nights.

Not much has changed since these two teams last played four days ago. Paul Goldschmidt is still the team’s best hitter and Nolan Arenado has continued his hot streak — he now leads the team with 22 homers. Brendan Donovan has steadily been the third best hitter. Donovan along with Lars Nootbar and Goldschmidt have been getting on base above a .370 clip.

The real thorn for the Cardinals has been and remains the starting pitching and its inconsistency. The two best starters for the Cardinals in Miles Mikolas and Jordan Montgomery will go in game one and two of this series. Adam Wainwright returned to the team on Monday and will pitch game three — he went 5 innings and gave up two runs in first game back. Steven Matz will wrap things up in the final game of the series. He has struggled with issuing walks, though in his last game his went six scoreless with six strikeouts and only one walk.

All this is to say, it is Cardinals versus Cubs for the last time this season. I never know what to expect from these Cardinals, but I do know that I am going to miss writing these up! It has been a treat! May you all have a lovely rest of the baseball season and hey, I’ll catch ya next season!

How this story ends I cannot say, but it was fun to look back on some of the things I thought along the way! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Thursday, July 27 at 6:45 pm CT: Justin Steele vs. Miles Mikolas
Friday, July 28 at 7:15 pm CT: TBD vs. Jordan Montogomery
Saturday, July 29 at 6:15 pm CT: Jameson Taillon vs. Adam Wainwright
Sunday, July 30 at 1:15 pm CT: Kyle Hendricks vs. Steven Matz