Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Cards Just Don't Have It This Year

I got tickets to the Cards-Giants game last night. Here are a few stray observations:

-I have never seen a team collectively hit the ball harder than the Giants did last night. When Pat Burrell came up and ringed an 89-mph Jake Westbrook fastball off of the upper deck fa├žade foul in the first inning, we should’ve known the potential for things to get very ugly in a hurry. Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff hit absolute bombs to left. Buster Posey hit a couple of ringing line-drive doubles. It just was unreal.

-Speaking of Westbrook, it’s always good to get a guy that might give you 2/3 of a game every five games for your third best hitter. I mean, what exactly is Westbrook doing for the team that Jeff Suppan wasn’t doing earlier this season? The guy has no leg drive—he might as well be tossing a wiffleball out there. Great trade.

-Meanwhile, the Cards are forced to trot Allen Craig out to play RF against lefties. All of the statheads were raving about Craig all through the minors. In fact, for a while this year, he was leading the Pacific Coast League in HR and RBI. I bought into the hype big time. Then I saw him take a swing. He has the longest swing I’ve ever seen at the major league level. It is Drew Henson long. There is no way he’s going to be able to catch up to anything 94 and above, and he simply cannot adjust to off-speed pitches because his swing is so complicated. He never walks and is hitting something like .170 now. Good prospect, though.

-This is shaping up to be the year sabermetrics died. The biggest evidence of this is up in Boston, where Theo Epstein’s advanced defensive metrics were supposed to revolutionize player values. No one probably even bothered to look at video of Mike Cameron playing the game. If they had, maybe the fact that he needed a cane out in CF would’ve been a giveaway. Of course, the Bosox have suffered a lot of key injuries this year, but even before those guys went down, the defensive metrics weren’t winning them shit.

-Back to the game. I think Tony LaRussa has lost his fastball. In the second inning last night, the Cards had the bases loaded with one out and the eighth spot in the order coming up. For most teams, this would be a middle infielder or the catcher or something. For the Cardinals, it’s the pitcher. Westbrook flailed at three pitches in a row (why he didn’t just watch 3 go by, I have no idea. At least then he may have walked), and then Brendan Ryan came up with the bases loaded and two outs. That Ryan was able to reach base on an error is beside the point—the probability of getting at least one run home that inning is much higher with Ryan hitting eighth and the pitcher ninth. I am sick of all of these mind games LaRussa plays with the lineup and young players generally. I think it’s time for him to move on.

-I think I knew the game was over when I saw the Cards’ lineup card. I think we could’ve predicted the outcome of this one based on one lineup entry:

“5. Feliz 3B.”

I mean, I don’t want to say Pedro Feliz looks old, but I’m pretty sure he came after Teddy Roosevelt with a bayonet in the Spanish-American War. Also, does anyone know if a .243 OBP is good or not? I don’t know. I’m not trying to be a smart-ass or anything. Just asking.

-John Mozeliak has quickly gone from “competent, promising young GM” to “Dear God, what do I do? WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO!?!” This season he has made moves that reek of desperation. The Westbrook deal. Bringing in Randy Winn and Aaron Miles. Not being able to find another infielder that can hit. It’s just ridiculous. I mean, it does seem like TLR is calling the shots on some of these things. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that there was an incident the night before Ludwick was traded involving Ludwick’s complaint that he was not viewed as a “core” player on the team. If this is true, then what kind of a message does it send to ship the guy out the next day? It was much better when Mo was sending the coach’s son away and trading for silver sluggers, not trading them away. Oh well. What can you do?

-Other than Pujols and Holliday on days that he decides to try, and Colby Rasmus when he is not injured or benched for undisclosed reasons, this lineup is pathetic. You can’t have three of your infielders be unable to hit. It just doesn’t work. I don’t care if you have the best pitcher and hitter in the league on your team—there’s only so much they can do. This team reminds me of the frustrating 2003 edition of the Cardinals. We went to a game down the stretch that year, and even with Rolen and Edmonds on the team, it just seemed like we had nobody except for Pujols in the lineup. It’s just a shitty feeling to go to a game and know that you’re playing from behind before it even starts. Normally, I’d write something like, “if these guys don’t get their shit together soon, they’ll be on the outside of the playoffs looking in,” but I think it’s just too late. Unless the Cards somehow trade for Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman, they might just be fucked. And if that leads the team to shake things up a little bit (or better yet, a lot) this offseason, then I think the team will be all the better for it.

Questions? Comments? Wondering when the NFL Power Rankings column will go up? E-mail the Blogmogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Current TV Power Rankings 8-11-10

I sprained my ankle this past weekend. It’s doing a little bit better now, but it still stiffens up after I’ve been sitting down for a while, so when I get up to use the john or get a drink of water, it takes me a while to get going. I like to pretend like I’m Verbal Kint at the end of the Usual Suspects. I slowly limp at first, then confidently morph into a faster gait. Somewhere a secretary drops a coffee cup and it shatters. I get a smug look on my face. “IF ONLY YOU POOR BASTARDS KNEW MY SECRET!!! MWA HA HA HA HA!!!”

At any rate, my usually active lifestyle has been reduced to a lot of hours in front of the ol’ idiot box recently. Even though Lost is over, there are still plenty of good shows on TV. Mostly it’s cable networks like AMC and FX that have reinvented themselves as top-notch purveyeors of high-quality content. Since Lost is now off the air, I figured I would do a quick run-down of what the best shows on TV are at this moment. A Power Rankings of TV, if you will.

1. Breaking Bad

What if I told you that there was a show that involved a down-on-his luck high school chemistry teacher who gets cancer and decides to cook meth to help support his family? Is that something you might be interested in? This was an incredibly tough decision between Breaking Bad and Mad Men. At the end of the day, it was just that when I caught up with Mad Men on iTunes, I went a long stretch without watching any episodes. When I caught up with Breaking Bad, I just could not put it down.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the show is about a guy who sort of “layed up” on life. It is fascinating and oftentimes hilarious to watch his transformation from Guy-Who-Just-Takes-Shit-From-Everyone to Badass drug dealer. Bryan Cranston turns in an amazing performance as Walt White, and Aaron Paul is great as his loser sidekick Jesse Pinkman. And, speaking from experience, Bob Odenkirk is both hilarious and right on the money as shyster lawyer Saul Goodman, who is good for at least one one-liner per episode (Example: Walt: “So what you’re saying is that you think we should cook more meth?” Saul: “Yeah, that’s my legal advice.”) It’s just a well-made show with excellent writing.

2. Mad Men

This is the clear number 2. When I first wrote about Mad Men, I was very early into the first season. Over time, this show has become such a great exploration of life in the 60s and (I’m sure) an accurate portrayal of how business was done back then. I mean, these guys were just getting shitfaced all the time at work, downing 6, 7 glasses of whiskey by noon. Things have sure changed. Now if I get to 3 drinks by noon I at least feel somewhat guilty about it.

All kidding aside, true Blues fan Jon Hamm is amazing as Don Draper, and John Slattery is great as Roger Sterling. Watching the episodes so far this season, it’s tough to remember how much these two characters hated each other pretty much up until the end of Season 3. And this last episode, with it’s crazy swing from depressing as hell out in California to Don and Layne’s excellent adventure, was fantastic. If you haven’t seen this show, try your best to catch up by the end of this season.

3. Archer

I have watched (I think) every episode of South Park and Family Guy. I have watched most episodes of The Simpsons. I think I can fairly confidently say that Archer is the funniest animated show I have ever seen. It follows a real asshole, kind of douchey prep-school type(Sterling Archer, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) that works for his mother’s Spy Agency as a field agent. It is offensive (to most people), but hilarious as hell. I don’t really want to give away any lines, but it’s refreshing to see a comedy work in so many running jokes that carry over from episode to episode. Also, as a plus, it is currently available through Netflix streaming, which has revolutionized my life. I mean, seriously, if I didn’t give a shit about sports, it would be so easy to get by without cable. Netflix and iTunes would be plenty. Damn you baseball! My sad devotion to that ancient religion has not given me clairvoyance enough to…can’t…finish…choking…

Let’s move on…

4. Spartacus

I have not watched 300. I watched the pilot of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I absolutely hated it. It was too crazy—who was this wild barbarian? Why was he fighting the Romans? Why was it so dark and stormy out? I had a few drinks and gave it a rest for the night. The next day, I had nothing better to do, so I figured, “What the hell?” and gave it another shot. Well goddamn am I happy I did.

Maybe I should reset. Do you like violence? Do you like sex? Do you like surprisingly clever writing and good acting? Well, if so, this is the show for you. It’s about a bunch of gladiators and slaves that work for their witty-yet-ruthless master Batiatus, who’s political ambition is aided by Spartacus’ prowess in the gladiatorial ring. Plus he added an all-time great curse phrase (“Jupiter’s cock!”) into the lexicon. Unfortunately the show is on extended hiatus because star Andy Whitfield is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fortunately, Starz is making the most out of a bad situation by making season 2 a prequel to the events in Season 1. Works for me.

5. Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!

Another Netflix streaming find. The idea is that the eponymous magicians go around using scientific evidence and common sense to poke fun at and debunk a lot of popular movements, constitutional issues, and just people that need to be put in their place. I guess when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound that exciting. But somehow Penn always makes it funny and Teller does some good stuff in the little skits between segments. You may not always agree with their positions, but if you keep an open mind, you can actually learn a lot. Yeah, yeah, if you wanted a lecture, you would’ve gone to class. Fuck me. Still, good show…

This is running long so I think I’ll break it up into two parts. Until next time…

Questions? Comments? Wondering why all of these shows are on AMC or Netflix watch instantly? E-mail the Blogmogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com.