That seems to be the question lately on everyone’s mind. What do the Cardinals need to make a run at this season?
The one common theme I see out there seems to be confusion. No one is real sure what this team needs or what it will take to put things over the top. Fans say that the team needs to shake up the roster, but then complain when Ryan Ludwick gets traded. This team needs a table setter who can cause havoc at the top of the order, but fans are not ready to embrace Jon Jay. The team needs the veterans to step up and be leaders and, well, that leads us to our discussion today…
In Monday’s game against the Reds, the Cardinals took the field and prepared to play one of the biggest games put before this team this season. I will not say this game or series falls in a “must win” category, but winning the series and walking away with a tighter division race would definitely not hurt any fan’s feelings for sure. As Carpenter finished his warm up pitches and prepared to start the game, Brendan Ryan was not in position on the field. When he arrived, he then called timeout and exchanged his glove with one from the dugout, thus delaying the start of the inning further and disturbing the star pitcher’s rhythm.
After the bottom of the inning concluded and the Cardinals came into their dugout, ESPN cameras caught Carpenter leading Brendan Ryan down the corridor towards the clubhouse. While Carpenter was obscured from view, it was obvious that he was talking very sternly to the often distracted and playful Brendan Ryan. Ryan listened very intently, nodding occasionally, and the two emerged and went back to the game at hand.
Many fans saw this as over the top, flamboyant, “diva like” behavior from one of the team’s top stars. Talking with fans during the game through Twitter, I heard many voice their opinion about how it was wrong of Carpenter to do this and how it was a case of a star player putting his needs before that of the team. I am sorry, but I have to disagree.
First of all, I do not think we have anything to talk about if this is not a nationally televised game. With ESPN on hand, there are more cameras and more angles to capture the game. Due to this, the cameras caught the conversation that, in my opinion, was being conducted in an area that the players involved felt was private. This was not a manager and player coming to blows in the dugout for all to see. This was not the superstar player physically attacking the lackadaisical play of a mediocre teammate. This was a conversation had between a veteran and a young player in an area out of the public eye.
It is also important to note that Brendan Ryan, during all of his struggles, has consistently been on the filed during games that Chris Carpenter pitches. Becoming known around the Cardinal fan base as Carpenter’s “personal shortstop,” Ryan’s glove is highly valuable to the veteran groundball pitcher and has been said to have the complete support of Carpenter for a spot on the field during those games.
As fans we like to second guess our favorite players and managers. As writers, we like to dig for something more to talk about that gives us some controversy to discuss. Sometimes, however, we have to step back and realize we cannot have it both ways. If you think a roster shake up is what this team needs, then do not second guess the trading of a star outfielder. If you feel the team needs to run more, generate runs, and be more aggressive, expect the young, talented outfielder to get his chance. If you want to see someone on this teams step up and be the leader that it needs, do not be surprised when someone gets pulled aside and told to straighten up during important games.
Move along, folks, there is nothing to see here but a team that is starting to act like they want to win.