Looking at Ourselves in the Mirror

Many people…maybe most.. don’t like to look at themselves in the mirror.  You see your “real” self…not our own ideas of how we really “think” we look. That same mirror principle holds true in business & the sports world. If the Cards, and others,  looked at the mirror, some areas would really be prominent.  Some are worthy of accolades, while others may make one shudder. 
….as the Cards looked in the mirror…right off the bat, the mirror got a bit darker….the top 3 batters at this point in 2021 for the Cards are Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill. NONE of these batters were drafted or developed by the Cards. Sure…the Cards traded some prospects to obtain these batters but nonetheless, they weren’t drafted or developed by the Cards farm system.  Where would we be today without these 3 batters?  Tommy Edman began ’21 with 2 strong months averaging .270+ but now has settled into the .260 range. Thus far, he’s batting .300+ only against the weaker staffs outside the NL Central—Arizona, Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, Mets. Dylan Carlson, designated as the next star by many, currently holds a .261 batting mark in his 410+ AB’s. He may develop into a solid MLB batter but until he actually does it…. He’s a PROSPECT.  
…as we stand in front of the mirror…we look skinny, not thin…..skinny. Maybe the mirror is sending StL the message that most of our power-hitters aren’t strong enough? But…there  hasn’t been home grown slugger since Stan (who retired in 1963-60 years ago) other than Albert Pujols. Coming in from the outside…Mark McGwire jumps out…he played his last 4+ years (after 11 in Oakland) in the Lou. His 70 HR in 1998 followed by 65 the next year rejuvenated interest in baseball in StL.  Another short-stint @ 1b for a power hitter was Jack Clark (just 3 years). In 1987 when we were in the midst of Whitey-ball (speed—not power). Clark’s 35 home runs was just 1 short of the entire TOTAL of  home runs by the other 7 starting field players that year. Another power hitting acquisition was Jim Edmonds—currently 4th in all-time Cards Home runs. Edmonds brought a big bat and flashy defense during those wonderful Cardinal years. Coming over from Philly,3B Scott Rolen banged out over 100 HR in his first 5 years as a Cardinal in the early 2000’s.  In 2021?
…..While looking at the mirror closely, I appeared to be getting grey whiskers…ya know, the kind that you look like an ol’ man….like Adam Wainwright.  Wainwright is having a truly unbelievable season at any age but he’s 39 years old!  He’s in double-digit win column for the 11th time of his career. He’s tied his career lowest Hit/9 Inn – 7.3 (this would be the 3rd time with that same exact number). His WHIP (walk & hits per Inn pitched) of 1.051  is exactly the same as his career best! Around the league, Waino’s name pops up in several TOP 10 categories—Wins (tied for 4th)-12; games started-25 (tied for 5th) just 1 start behind the top spot!; batters faced-2nd in NL with 654 batters; ERA%-10th @3.10;  9th place in WHIP. Amazing! I don’t think Waino has a “shot” for the Cy Young Award (as I heard kicked around on TV) but these are truly remarkable numbers.
….as the grey left, my arm appeared to be getting longer and longer in the mirror!! The current situation of 5 inn-starter followed by 4 relief hurlers taking care of 1 inning each is trickier than it sounds. If one assumes that relief pitchers have a good outing 9 of 10 pitching appearances and with 4 different relief hurlers in most every game, you only have a 65% chance of ALL of the receivers being good in any 1 game.  No wonder there are so many “come from behind” wins. Solution—Let starting pitchers go 6..or even 7..innings and half of the bullpen guys should be looking to go 2 innings. That’d cut down appearances AND bolster our performances in the long run.
….still standing in front of the mirror, this time my arm muscles began looking larger…like a slugger…man…I cold flex ’em now!! That led me to the Cards powerful, strong sluggers. & at what cost.  Acquiring Paul Goldschmidt was essential for the Birds. He’s provided a consistent HR batter. But…his acquisition did HAVE some “ripple” effects. Cards traded catcher Carson Kelly as the center-piece to the D-Backs and has been outstanding. Kelly currently ranks 2nd amongst all catchers in 2021 (min 100 PA)  in total offensive production with a 150 wRC+. Further, the Cards were pushed to move Luke Voit (1b) when Goldy was acquired. Voit, in a NYY uni, blossomed in the shortened 2020 season as he led the AL with 22 HR ! Not surprising…you have to give up talent to get talent.  The Nolan Arnenado steal was larceny!  It was a totally one-sided deal except…for the big money to pay him.  
….as I looked at the mirror….I began to look experienced…mature… old…call it what you want….. currently there are 2 MLB managers over 70 years of age and both are in 1st Place. Of course, Tony LaRussa (CWS) leads the way @ 76 years young followed by a chipper 72 year old-Dusty Baker who guides Houston to 1st place w/o using any trash can signals for the ol’ Asstroes.
….all of sudden, the mirror began showing me wearing different shirts/hats & all kinds of stuff. It reminded me of all the Cardinal “give-aways”. They do it just about every game. It led me back to our pastor talking about bingo’s. He indicated that someone got the idea to give away something to increase interest. Then, the next year, it was a bit bigger gift, then bigger again, .etc, etc, etc.   Just like the Cards are doing….there are so many giveaways, who knows…and who cares. Why not give “special” prices for decent seats for unique groups—e.g.  teens, or Senior Citizen, high school baseball/softball players, perfect attendance @ school/work for the last year? Anyone in their 30’s? 
…suddenly, my image began fading away…just like the Cardinal post-season hopes did when Flaherty came up lame. Much more on suggestions to improve this .500 team at another time.
…regrettably, the mirror then went back to my own image…and I saw myself..ugh! I urge all…or any of you…to send reactions through email to me(without looking in the mirror)..pro or con..or post on Bob Ryan Facebook or on http://www.bobryansportsblog.com . Thanks for the read!

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