The First Annual Cardinal Blogger Awards

The votes have been cast. Now let’s see who won!

First off, a comment from Kujo at Rockin’ the Red for a new title for the group:

How about Cardinals Bloggers United, in the likeness of the soccer hooligan firms in England?

That’s not bad. Those involved, what do you think? Or perhaps United Cardinal Bloggers would be more your style? If we are going to keep doing projects, we gotta find a name. And I do hope we keep doing projects.

OK, to the awards. I’ll post some quotes from those bloggers that elaborated on their selections.

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Down, But Never Out

We’ve discussed the TLR “hard 9” principle before, but last night might have been one of the greatest examples of that philosophy. If LaRussa does decide to hang it up or leave St. Louis after this year, I hope either the next manager (whether it be Oquendo, who seems to be groomed for it, or not) or the players (like Pujols) remember this philosophy and keep it around. Because it sure makes for exciting baseball.

I wasn’t able to watch much of the game, being away from home, but turned on the static-filled radio on my way home, trying to piece together what the score was and what was happening. When I finally heard that Philly had been up 12-0 and it was now 12-10, it got me more excited about a game than I’ve been in a while. (Losing streaks will do that to you.) Then it was 12-11 with Pujols at the plate. You knew he wasn’t going to get anything to hit, though they did challenge him more than I expected in that situation.

I got home in time to see Ludwick’s drive to the outfield. Watching it, I really thought it was going to be down and the game was going to be at least tied. Rowand made a nice catch, and you figured that was the end of that. Momentum gone, big bats gone, etc.

When Izzy gave up one in the ninth, you really didn’t think there’d be much more than three outs in the bottom, but again, credit the team. One out (those were some pretty tough pitches to Ankiel) and you get the go-ahead run to the plate before a pop out and a strike out. Still, that was a more “satisfying” loss than you’d expect down 12-0 in the sixth. You expect to come to the message boards and read a lot of doom and gloom, but after one like that, at least you respect the team and I think, if there was anything to be fired up about, a game like that could turn around a team.

In the rest of the NL Central, Chicago rallied–again–and beat the Reds, keeping their one-game edge on Milwaukee. I don’t know about you, but when I see a team continually winning late to keep their lead, it makes me think that it’s meant to be. I hate seeing the Cubs in the playoffs, but I’m afraid that’s what’s going to happen.

Cardinals and Phillies tangle again today. Wainwright goes for the Cards, Hamels for the Phillies so there shouldn’t be any replay of last night’s high scoring game. You’d expect a 2-1 type game tonight, so it could be fun to watch.

EDIT: OK, that’s what the P-D’s site said this morning, but apparently it’s Hamels vs. Wellemeyer.  That doesn’t bode as well for a pitching duel, at least on the Cardinal end of things.  Stranger things have happened, of course, and with Hamels just coming off the DL, the Cards should get into the Philly bullpen fairly early, which is where you can do some damage, apparently.

Seven Reasons The Losing Streak Isn’t So Bad

Really not a lot to say about yesterday.  Kip Wells danced around trouble for a while, but if you run through the raindrops long enough, you are going to get wet.  Albert (it sounded like, since I listened to the game via XM) had a number of balls hit to the wall.  A completely healthy Pujols might have had another three home run game instead of two sac flies and an out.  The team continued to battle, even if they did fall short once again.

So it’s seven in a row at the worst possible time (and they are on a nine game road skid).  But things could be worse.  Here are seven reasons this streak isn’t the end of the world.

1) This means that, odds are, the Cardinals will do well this weekend.  If they got swept, they’d be on an 11-game streak and that doesn’t happen in baseball all that often.  Granted the fact that they are fielding half of a AAA lineup and rotation may skew things a little, but in the way of baseball, long streaks are often followed up with some good wins.  I’d say that, in the flow of a baseball season, this means at least a split this weekend.

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So Close

Going into the game, you know that the Cubs are getting beat and the Brewers are getting pounded. First place is there for the taking, if you can just win. To not get it done is frustrating, but at least no ground is lost.

And you have to give the Cards credit. A lot of times in that situation, they’ve come out and just laid a total egg, getting routed. Last night, they took a lead on Brandon Webb, which is hard enough to do, before Wainwright just wasn’t able to hold it. If Miles doesn’t stumble trying to get the double play, maybe it’s different, but Chris Young was running and it was a high chopper, so I’m not sure they’d have been able to get it anyway.

The biggest question in the game, in my mind, was LaRussa sending up Branyan in the eighth with runners on the corners and one out. Branyan is a Three True Outcomes type of guy (walk, strikeout, home run–outcomes that have nothing to do with the fielders), which can be good in certain situations. If the Cards had been down by two or more, he’s a good fit there. You need the long ball possibility and one run might not be enough. In this situation, though, his propensity to strike out hurts you much more than his potential power. All you need is a sac fly to the outfield, though a hit would be nice as well.

Seems to me that you send up either Ludwick, if you want to retain the power possibility, or Brendan Ryan in that slot. Ryan would have to come into the game anyway to play third, plus he’s more likely to put the ball in play and should have enough speed to stay out of the double play. I think that’s where I’d have gone, but I’m sure TLR had his reasons. The man has managed a game before, as you know.

More on l’affaire Ankiel and today’s game after the jump.

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