Fact: There is something wrong with the 2010 Cardinals.
This season has gone horribly wrong. It is more than just bad luck, more than an injury-prone roster. Yet nowhere have I read a good enough explanation for this season’s unbelievable Redbird slump. My faith in this team is deep, but my concern is taking over. Call it woman’s intuition or just blame it on an imagination run wild, but even I am beginning to wonder what horrible secret could be at the root of this Cardinal demise.
Yesterday breaking news from the Cardinal clubhouse insinuated bad blood was again boiling as Felipe Lopez was given his ‘unconditional release’ from the Cardinals.
For being late.
I am well aware that the public is not (and should not) be privy to all team dynamics. However we are the ones left watching as the Cardinals systematically dismantle a team BEFORE the season has ended. The organization recently attempted (and failed) to sweep escalating troubles between Colby Rasmus and Tony LaRussa under the rug. Then last week management announced it was shutting down pitcher Jaime Garcia early, as a precaution. (The fact that Twitter found out before Jaime himself knew of the decision looks to be another symptom of a much larger illness plaguing the club.)
Sure, we lost some vital components in the Cardinal machinery through the season. However the ‘leftovers’ are hardly scrubs.
What is becoming more and more obvious is that this team is no longer having fun. The spark is gone. But why? I am certain every player has been through bad baseball seasons before. Most of these guys are experienced professionals. They know the ups and downs of a season. Afterall, baseball is a crazy game. Sometimes the ball drops in the gap and sometimes the hits just won’t come. Luck has something to do with it. Attitude has more.
Unlike some writers and bloggers I have read, I am not blaming the boys for giving up. I truly believe they care. The Cardinals are a GOOD group of GREAT guys, and I will defend (most) of them with every breath I have left. However, it saddens me to see these proud, talented guys struggling (and here is where the supposition starts…) under some invisible weight that seems larger than the sum of its parts.
Back to that intuition (aka: lack of facts, but saying it anyway). I get the feeling there is something larger looming in that clubhouse. It could be anything. Tempers may be flaring and the guys may be fussing. However I have to say I am worried it is something deeper. Bad calls and misfortune at the plate may have played a part in some hard luck losses, but I fear something else is eating at this team from the inside.
Have the players lost confidence or respect in their skipper for some yet unrevealed reason? Do the boys know Albert is on his way out the door? Are they too assuming that LaRussa will be calling it quits after this season? Would those rumors be enough to dismantle the dedication of an entire club of professionals? I would hope not.
I am trying to keep my imagination in check. But speaking as a fan who loves the players as much as the game, it is heartbreaking to see the joy leave the field.
I know the superstars are getting paid exorbitant amounts of money to do a job, but my baseball-loving heart wants to believe that ballplayers continue to go out there on the field every day, dedicated to a career they enjoy and a game they are still passionate about.
Wins are nice, but happy ballplayers are my ultimate viewing pleasure. I miss my energetic and fun-loving Cardinals. Something just isn’t right with the 2010 Cardinals and I hope – whatever it takes- that they cure the problem and get back to the love of the game.
To the Cardinals:
I am willing to help. Homemade cookies? A listening ear? I’m your gal! Just let me know! My heart is breaking here boys. Tell me how we can fix this! It isn’t about the playoffs anymore. I just miss true “play like a Cardinal” baseball and the sight of you having fun on the field.