Kids everywhere are heading back to school, and unless you are a student, a parent, or (like me) a teacher, you don’t really care, unless your morning commute is suddenly crowded with big yellow school buses. People everywhere are wondering where their summers went, why the sun is suddenly setting much earlier than it had been, and whether those 100 degree days are really behind us or if another major heat wave is still waiting to sneak up on us in the end of the month.
For the Cardinals, maybe they need a little back to school kick in the pants to remember all the things they need to keep doing (or start doing again) in order to be successful in life, October, and in the eyes of their fans. Let’s brainstorm, shall we?
Starting at the top, the team needs to trust their leaders. From John Mozeliak to Tony LaRussa to Dave Duncan, the team has some pretty stellar leaders. Critics claim that the Cardinals don’t really have a high standard set for teaching their ‘pupils’ for success. I point over to Cardinals GM, who wrote a post awhile back about how the Cardinals as a whole fail to teach their players the fundamentals (Click over and scroll down a bit to the post labeled ‘Teaching’ to see more). However, Tony and company have stated that the big leagues is not a place to ‘teach,’ so I hope the plan is to at least lead, or else we’re all in trouble.
|If a student would ever walk into my classroom
with one of these… automatic A.
Is mid-to-late August too late to get back to basics? Most likely yes, but that’s where the team is right now. It has felt like this all year – the team has not been putting everything together all at once. It felt like it a couple of times (see here and here if you need some reminders), but then things fell apart again. The start to any good school year has to include some review of the basics, so here are a few things the boys need to pack into their backpacks for the stretch run:
- Bats. Bats have to be number one on the supply list. Why? Because more often than not this year, when there have been problems, missing bats seem to be one of the culprits. Sometimes it feels like the big bats have fallen silent, since ‘the Machine’ has had a ‘down for maintenance’ sign hanging on his locker a few times this year and other big bats like Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwick have had slow starts, injuries, or (*sniff*) been traded. On the flip side, the big bats can’t do all the heavy lifting, and having the bottom 3-4 players in a lineup all have 0-for-the-game in the same evening doesn’t help either.
- Gloves. Some of the boys are pretty good about remembering to bring their glove to the game, but a few of them need a sticky note on their keys with a reminder from day to day. It doesn’t matter who is in the lineup and running around the diamond – they need to remember that Dave Duncan likes groundballs, and pitchers who get them frequently. No glove? No play (I made that point over at Baseball Digest a few weeks ago). There’s a reason that Johnny Mo and the team picked up Pedro Feliz yesterday… at least, I think there is. It’s not for his bat, so it must be for his glove. I honestly don’t care who they picked up, as long as it gives the horrendously slumping Felipe Lopez a breather, and will allow him to play again in a middle infield position, where he is both more comfortable and more capable of having solid play with the glove. Okay, lies, I do care. Inserting another .220 hitter into the lineup is obviously not great (sorry Brendan), and really, WHY do we keep upgrading other things at the expense of the lineup (see trade, Ryan Ludwick)?
- Brains. Mental lapses on the basepaths have been absolutely brutal this year. I would add more here, but it’s painful. Boys, bring your brain. Turn it on. We’re begging you.
- Arms. A note from the teacher to the pitchers:
Boys, thanks for all your stellar work this year. Yes, especially you, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and a good chunk of the bullpen. You have battled and gave the rest of the team a chance to win much more often than not. Please accept these gold stars as a token of my love (teachers don’t make enough money for anything better).
Now, the rest of the ‘arms’… Yadi’s arm most definitely made it into the ballpark every day, but like all those homework assignments eaten by all those dogs, excuses are not going to cut it come the stretch run as to why you missed the cut-off man, the plate, or Albert’s waiting glove.
|I wouldn’t put my children on this bus.
I don’t care how smart she is!
If only the boys had a Ms. Frizzle to do her thing and make everyone play better. Actually, no, she kind of creeps me out a little. But if the Cards are looking for a teacher, all they have to do is match my pittance of a salary and I’ll be there tomorrow (and trust me, I make way less than every rookie in the bigs)!
I’m tired of losing. How about we beat up some Giants over the weekend and make a climb back into this division race, okay?