The problem with being one of those bloggers who blogs virtually every day is when you take a little trip and decide you're not going to blog that you still think like a blogger. You hear stuff, you see stuff and it is your impulse to post stuff. But you don't 'cause you can't or you won't.
Honestly, it's not so much the substance that went wanting. That's what a two-man operation is for (thanks bro). It's all those headlines that zip through your brain as perfect to the occasion, but the occasion slips away and it's too soon to treat it like nostalgia.
Hence, in the interest of satisfying my own needs, I will share with whoever wants them, my slightly stale, possibly irrelevant headlines and accompanying explanations to make them somewhat useful.
Aw, Hail No!
A cab? A pitcher and a fucking cab? AGAIN?
Nady of Shea I Adored You
I have to admit I've had this one simmering for the right spot — walkoff hit, something like that — since April, albeit in the present tense. All you many accordion fans should get it without prompting. (Sometimes I think I should be writing for Joe Franklin.)
He Was The X-Man, Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo
Some weeks ago, my partner advised not falling in love with players to the point you can't bear to trade them if it's for the good of the team. As a practitioner traditionally guilty of just such sentiment, I nodded and thought, “Nady would be like that.” I could see myself, if he were ever swapped out, trying to balance the “he was really important to our big start” instinct with “in the big picture, he's an OK rightfielder and a No. 7 hitter”. But we weren't going to trade Xavier Nady this year, so it was going to be moot.
He's His Own Grandpa
Given an evening to reflect on the events of Monday — Sanchez freakishly (or perhaps flukily) injured, R. Hernandez repurposed, Oliver Perez not traded for Scott Linebrink despite what ESPNews kept reporting over and over and over again — this is what I came up with: We traded Mike Cameron and got a reliever we already had. That thinking is so 2005 and ignores a dozen variables, but it is the bottom line on which I landed. Also, as ever, I blame Heath Bell.
King of the N-Men
What bugs me the most (given that little bugs me with a 13-game lead) is that while the rest of the world dwelled on the X in Xavier, I was quite proud of noticing how few Mets there were with a last name that began with N, and Nady was about to trump the lot of them. He left with, what, 14 homers? Well, eleven previous Mets, including pitchers, had last names beginning with the letter N. Those N-Men combined to hit 25 homers in 1,357 Met at-bats. Before Nady 'nocked one out (vs. the Nats) on 4/3/06, no N-Met had gone deep since Jon Nunnally took Russ Ortiz into McCovey Cove on 5/3/00. If Xavier had hit 15 Met HRs, he would have surpassed Charlie Neal's lifetime team N-mark, set at Crosley Field on 6/15/63. Instead, like Marcus Giles and Atlanta's Wild Card aspirations, Nady and Neal will forever be kissing their sisters until we trade for Albert Nujols.
It's Like One Million Degrees
Speaking of whom, I was in St. Louis for the last three days. You think it's hot here? Well, it probably is, but St. Louis took the hot cake.
It's Like One Billion Degrees
How hot was it? I don't have a swift reply. It was too darn hot for that sort of thing (the Post-Dispatch ran a front-page story this morning about how nobody in town was in the mood for “hot enough for ya?” repartee). Every time we got into our hotel elevator, it posted the outdoor temperature and every time we looked, it was 102. That's not a temperature. That's a fever.
It's Like One Trillion Degrees
If it's the searing middle of summer and I've dragged my wife to a mid-sized American city, it can mean only one thing: Somebody opened a new ballpark. Stephanie agreed to visit Busch Stadium II — or III, depending on how you take your Sportsman's Park — in early May when it sounded charming. Then came that nasty heartland hurricane followed by bulletins of power outages followed by forecasts for like one trillion degrees. My wife has the prettiest eyes, but that's not to say they're not capable of transmitting the stare of death.
It Sure Holds The Heat Well
We conserved energy in St. Louis. No, we blasted the hotel AC at will (while allowing our home to rise to a WLIR-high of 92.7 degrees while we were away). I mean we left the midday sun, which was straight out of that Twilight Zone episode in which the earth is heading the wrong way, to mad dogs, Englishmen and Cardinal Nation. If I wanted Stephanie's company for the Wednesday night game, she insisted on the joys of room service and demurred my bright ideas about going over to the park and taking many looks around.
I See Red People
Fortunately, our hotel was directly across the street from Busch. By paying through the beak for the desired view, we could watch Tuesday night's game go on in virtual luxury box isolation. And what a view! We could see just about everything one needed to see, augmenting the silent tableau with the folksy radio call of Mike Shannon (whose classy eatery we visited and enjoyed if not as much as the pilgrimage we made to The Greatest Restaurant Chain Ever) and the professional pipes of John Rooney. Almost as good was the chance to stand sentry, peek out the curtain at odd hours and make sure nobody stole the stadium. We could see life go on from climate-controlled comfort. What Stephanie and I couldn't help but notice was how red everybody was. Not from the burn of Ol' Sol but in homage to their lord god bird. We knew this from watching St. Louis games on television for many years, but it really strikes you being in the heart of it. As Stephanie noted, for all the ballparks we've been to (30 for me, 22 for her…all with, uh, me), it's an unmatched phenomenon. Not wanting to fire the ire of the locals, she requested an evening's blue and orange amnesty to purchase a red shirt with a red bird. Sportsman that I am, I went out into the heat and bought it for her with the caveat that come a potential Met-Cardinal LDS/LCS, it is hidden deep in the closet along with that one snapshot she took of a baseball-related tickertape parade that passed beneath her office window in the late 1990s.
For those of you itching to plant yourself inside Sheabbets Field in three years and partake of all that retro goodness you've seen elsewhere, I'm here to report it's overrated if not delivered correctly. Though I found Cardinals fans' self-ballyhooment as the best in baseball to be as laughable as Jeff Weaver's pitching — they boo bad things, they cheer good things, they say lame things, they wear red things — I'm willing to concede the franchise's historical track record…or as Stephanie observed as we listened to Shannon, “Do you think he brings up Stan the Man every game?” For all its brickiness and Musial statuary, I didn't feel very much Cardinalogy in the new building. Busch II/III only has four months in the books and it's perfectly fair to assume you can't manufacture ballpark lore like Whitey's Rats could manufacture runs. Maybe it takes time, but they got it right in Baltimore and Pittsburgh and even Philadelphia. Something's missing in St. Louis. Something needs to happen in that stadium before it can truly be their home field; God forbid it's a pennant in 2006. Until then, it will remain a very nice piece from the retro catalogue and not a lot more. Keep that in mind as you kiss Bill Shea's playpen goodbye. Our current facility may not be objectively gorgeous, but like the round Busch that's not there anymore, its team's fans spent four decades imbuing it with soul to spare.
No News Is Good News
It was a good trip and perhaps more details will seep out should they seem pertinent to our ongoing discussions, but after three days of the oppressive Missouri suns (surely there was more than one) and monitoring Tony LaRussa's moods (they're not good) and keeping up with a trickle of crooked numbers from Miami (we're still in first by a ton, right?) and discovering that our prime setup man and starting rightfielder are now, respectively, a Pirate and a patient, home is the place to be: Pedro and Dontrelle, me and the couch, the remote and Snigh. Long-term, any baseball that isn't the Mets is for the birds.