Saulsbery: Cardinals' elimination day has come and gone

ST. LOUIS - Ahhh yes, thanks to those world beating AAA Iowa Cubs, it’s elimination day here in the STL. It comes earlier and earlier every year it seems. Must be climate change, or lack-of-big-bat syndrome. Perchance it is a mystery for the historians of the future to decide and prescribe upon this 2017 baseball season. But, alas, with elimination day comes so many reflections, memories, and thank yous.

I shall do my best not to leave any of you out, but I may, and please do forgive me in advance for my ineptitude.

Top 3 Memories

3. Trading Matt Adams for Juan Yepez. Really, that’s all our front office could get. In Mo’s defense, Mr. Yepez did hit an astounding .265 with 8 bombs and 62 rbi’s at AA this year, so that’s easily in the W column for the Redbirds. I smell Edgar Renteria part two!

2. All 20 appearances by Jonathan Broxton. I do love a good panic attack as much as the next fella, and ol’ J-Brox would never disappoint. 15.2 innings and 13 walks. I’m pretty sure it’s written into page three of his contract that he has to let the lead-off man on or face substantial fines and meal restrictions. So, I applaud him for being a man of his word and honoring his commitments.

1. Phenom Carson Kelly’s 9 hits.  How do you spell future? I spell it f-u-t-u-r-e. Talk about the next Ted Simmons. I’ve been hearing the lore of this kid for what seems like a decade now. Nine base knocks in 60 at-bats! I even heard tale that 3 of them were doubles. But, is one man even capable of such grandeur? Either way, time to send Molina out to pasture and bring in the cornerstone, hell, all four corner stones that are Carson Kelly! Side note, remember when the club signed Yadi for three more seasons and this kid still had actual value?

Top 3 Reflections

3. I truly miss Tony Larussa. This isn’t Matheny bashing. This is me truly missing a creative strategist and legend of the game. Players came here because of the fans, but also because their boss was Tony Larussa. Put yourself in a free-agent’s shoes. The Cubs can offer ungodly sums of money, and so can the Redbirds. But, all things being equal, who do you want your manager to be? Joe Maddon, or Mike Matheny? TLR had that sort of pull. No matter the situation, his players knew he was ready, and was always the smartest guy in the stadium. Love Mr. Handsome Mike Matheny as much as you want, but nobody feels he will truly inspire confidence or outsmart the likes of Hurdle, Maddon, Bochey, etc.

2. Tommy Pham is my favorite Redbird since Ray Lankford. If you’ve read any of my work, or know me at all, you are aware this is the greatest praise I can ever heap on a ball player. Lankford was my baseball god as a kid. Now Mr. Pham is near his equal on the field of play. Pham has gone 20-20 this year, the first Card since Reggie Sanders in 2004 to do so. He also leads the team in average, OPS, SBs, total bases, second in hits. In short, the team MVP. He plays Gold Glove level D, and possesses a “with us or against us” attitude much lacking in our current everybody love everybody sports world.

1. Paul DeJong’s bat… and glove almost saved the season. Neither Pham nor DeJong were on the opening day roster. DeJong’s first at-bat didn’t come until May 28th. (Pham’s May 5th) That’s nearly two full months of baseball! As the Redbirds wind down the final three games of this season and fall a few games short of the playoffs, imagine if Paul and Tommy (Nod to the Replacements) had actually played the entire first two months. Could they have helped win 3-5 more games? My gut says yes. And as TLR once told me in person, over a glass of red, “Trust your gut, don’t cover your butt.”

Top 3 Thank You’s

3. Thank you, Yadier Molina, for being a true legend of the game. You are the face of this organization and have been since 2012. Your professionalism and near maniacal study of the game is what we all wish we could do, but know we never really could. You led this team on and off the field. You made every pitcher far better than they ever would be without you behind the dish. Also, you showed us all that no matter the number of neck tats a man gets, he can still make straight bank.

2. Thank you, Luke Weaver, for hope in the future. As the pitching coach in Bull Durham said, “This kid has some serious….” I was lucky to catch Weaver in person, and wow, electric doesn’t even begin to describe it. Paper thin, all arms and legs. His command of the zone, velo, movement, and just nodding yes to whatever Molina put down has this kid set up for a fantastic career. With Martinez, Wacha, Weaver, and Waino, the rotation is one man short of a solid 5. Maybe Flaherty, maybe Lynn? Either way, every 5 days when Weaver takes the bump will be must see baseball.

1. Thank you, St. Louis summer, for another season of baseball. I yell, I scream at the TV and the insanely incomprehensible bullpen decisions, I lament the loses, and don’t savor the wins, but I always come back to the trough for more. I’m a baseball junkie and I’m lucky enough to be in and from a city where my drug of choice is always relevant, available, and compelling.

Well, friends, that’s the ball game. The season is done for meaningful ball, but we should all sit and savor the final 27 innings of the 2017 campaign. We won’t see it again until April, so will have to suffer until then. For now, to quote the great New York Knight Roy Hobbs, “God I love baseball.” 

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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