I didn't think I had much of a rooting interest in the Dodgers-Cardinals NLDS until I noticed a fan at Busch Stadium in a MOLINA 4 All-Star jersey. I still didn't think I would glean a lot of satisfaction from this Division Series until Yadier Molina attempted to cross from second to third on a one-out ground ball clearly in front of him and was tagged out with ease.
“HA!” I said.
“HA!” I said yet again. That kills the Cardinals. That kills Yadier Molina.
You can't kill Yadier Molina enough for my tastes.
Figuratively speaking…I guess.
Of course the Cardinals lost in embarrassing/heartbreaking fashion Thursday night when Matt Holliday couldn't handle a simple fly ball, yet it didn't really register with me as Cardenfreude. Matt Holliday wasn't a Cardinal in 2006 and the game took place in Los Angeles. Most of the Cardinals of today weren't the Cardinals of three years ago. Their presence in red doesn't necessarily set off insecurity alarms in my head.
But Yadier Molina? The last postseason villain Shea Stadium ever knew? Him making a vital mistake and burying his team's faint chances all at once? And doing it front of the home folks so the Dodgers could celebrate — or modestly shake hands, in their case — on their turf?
Outstanding. Bleeping outstanding.
From April to the first weekend of October, I hadn't given much thought to the St. Louis Cardinals when we weren't playing them. The biggest villains in the Mets' 2009 season were the Mets themselves. The last time I truly hated a Cardinal was at the end of the 2007 season when the Redbirds, long decimated as defending champs, flew in to Shea on the wings of Joel Piñeiro for a makeup game. Piñeiro infamously shut the Mets down and facilitated the greatest c-word in baseball history. Yet Saturday night I couldn't get my animus on for eventual losing pitcher Piñeiro or Skip Schumaker or Ryan Ludwick or Brendan Ryan or Colby Rasmus — who sounds like he was made up by Mark Twain — or even legendary Brave tormentor John Smoltz in his special guest appearance (I actually caught myself admiring the old goat's brief spurt of effectiveness in the middle innings). Those are Cardinals come lately in my baseball perceptions.
But the 2006 Cardinals who persevere? Enough bad things can't happen. So glad Chris Carpenter was outpitched in Game One (even if he was technically beaten by Jeff Weaver, a 2006 Cardinals who did us more damage three years ago than Carpenter). So glad Adam Wainwright and is blankety-blank breaking pitches went for naught once defense took a Holliday. So glad Albert Pujols picked now for the first slump of his career. And bitterly, cravenly, spectacularly thrilled that Yadier Molina was not only on the losing team in the playoffs last night, but that his boneheaded baserunning helped seal his team's doom.
This was the Cardinals' first postseason appearance since 2006, therefore their first series loss since then. We know it did us no good. We know the loss that mattered happened three years ago and it didn't happen to the Cardinals. We know the Mets couldn't have less impact on the 2009 postseason if they were Chip Caray's broadcasting coaches.
We know, but we have so little else to enjoy right now. So what the hell? Yadier Molina isn't a playoff hero this time around. The Cardinals are October goats this time around. The red-clad masses were forced to endure the sight of a visiting team's victory lap in their midst.
In context, I couldn't be happier.
I don't like the Dodgers either, mind you, but we beat them in 2006, so they get a pass, at least until the Torre @ Skanks storyline takes off in earnest (and by then we'll love Joe Torre all over again for not wearing his old getup). I don't watch them much either since we only play them two series a year. I have to confess I instinctively blurred Loney, Kemp and Ethier all into one player prior to the '06 NLDS and I still kind of do. But they beat Yadier Molina in St. Louis, so good for them. What I don't get is what Dick Stockton of TBS kept pushing across Game Three. He said if the Dodgers win, it will be their sixth consecutive series clinching win on the road.
Let's do the math: Last night was a Dodger road game — that's one. The last series they clinched was in October 2008 at home against the Cubs. So there goes that theory. And for that matter, the last series they clinched before last year was the 1988 World Series, in Oakland. But before that? As we remember too well, Game Seven, '88 NLCS, Orel Hershiser striking out Howard Johnson to complete a five-hit shutout over the Mets for the pennant…at Dodger Stadium. So if I'm doing the math correctly, the Dodgers have clinched two of their previous four series wins on the road, which is quite different from whatever TBS's befuddled research department threw up.
Does everything get dumber when Major League Baseball should be putting on its best face? Chip “Line Drive Base Hit” Caray is the single worst lead announcer ever employed by any network in any postseason situation. The only game Phil Cuzzi should be allowed to officiate is Prison Parchessi. Our old buddy Carlos Gomez brought his essential Metness to bear on the basepaths Friday night (as the Twinkies dutifully played their assigned role as American League tomato cans). And SNY's SportsNite, never a bastion of intellect, has plumbed new depths, even for them. Anchor Michelle Yu introduced her Twins-Yankees postgame report by noting A.J. Burnett “seeked” his first playoff win.
“Seeked?” As in past tense of seek? That would be sought, dear SportsNite, a program that is too dumb for the likes of Chip Caray, Phil Cuzzi or Carlos Gomez to watch. I watched more SportsNite than most discerning humans would in 2009 because it followed the Mets' postgame show throughout the season, and there was almost never a night when I didn't question why I felt the need to stay tuned. It was usually ostensibly because one of their unctuous hosts (Wu, Gary Apple, the particularly grating Kirk Gimenez) promised some small bit of unfinished business from the Mets game: “Coming up: Mike Pelfrey…and you're not gonna believe what he has to say about his latest outing.” Inevitably I would believe it, because it was usually “Yeah, I didn't pitch well tonight.”
I hate SportsNite. I hate its warmed-over SportsCenter clichés. I hate its dimwitted debate segments between two put-on know-nothings. I hate the recurring misspellings in its news crawl (it's “completely,” not “completley”). I hate that Mets scores that have gone final — thus SportsNite being broadcast at that very moment — are reported as in the eighth inning on the crawl. I hate that whole tacky “you're not gonna believe…” shtick when I know exactly the story they're teasing and that it was reported ten hours earlier everywhere else and that there was nothing unbelievable about it. I hate that standards in the media have fallen so low as to allow this crap on the air night after night. And I hate that I watch it. It's a New York sports show and I'm a New York sports fan who will fall for anything sometimes.
This doesn't have anything to do with Yadier Molina, but once one thinks of him, one tends to go into full froth and wishes to steamroll all else that is wrong with the world.
Some more well-placed hate here from the new and shiny Home Run Apple blog.