Talk baseball all season long with SI.com's Jacob Luft in Baseball Chatter, a journal for hot topic debates, Sabermetric ramblings and reader-driven discussions.
9/26/2006 02:44:00 PM
Phillies ace Jim Bunning started twice on two days' rest in September 1964, losing both times.
There are collapses, and then there are collapses. In the pantheon of late-season choke jobs, one stands above all the rest: the 1964 Phillies. They held a 6.5-game lead with 12 games remaining. Fans were buying World Series tickets already. Players were, too. As author Dave Anderson noted in his book Pennant Races, Phillies shortstop Ruben Amaro had bought $1,800 worth of tickets for his family, whom he was flying up from Mexico. But the Phillies lost 10 in a row to allow the Cardinals and Reds back into the race, and despite winning their final two games, Philly ended up tied for second with Cincinnati, a game behind St. Louis.
In a stunning bit of karmic role reversal, Tony La Russa's Cardinals appear primed to pull a '64 Phillies of their own. On Sept. 17, the Cardinals' division lead swelled to a season-high seven games with 14 games remaining. Since then they have lost seven out of eight, including six in a row as their lead has shrunk to a meager two and a half games (three in the loss column) over the streaking Astros, who are somehow in it despite sleepwalking for five and a half months.
As unlikely as it would be, even now, for the Cardinals to not finish the job, I could see it happening. The Cardinals haven't been a good team in a while -- they have had one winning month since May -- and have relied more on the weakness of their own division than their own strengths. They never did find a suitable replacement for the injured and ineffective Mark Mulder. To wit: The Cardinals are 20-11 when ace Chris Carpenter starts, 60-64 when he doesn't. (They are 16-15 when Jeff Suppan starts.)
The St. Louis bullpen isn't horrible, but due to Jason Isringhausen's struggles and subsequent injury it has lacked a centerpiece all season. With Braden Looper now leading the way, it doesn't have the power arms to scare anybody in the postseason, if they get there. The lineup has featured too many punchless bats for much of the season, including catchers Yadier Molina and Gary Bennett, second baseman Ronnie Belliard, infielder Aaron Miles and outfielders Preston Wilson and So Taguchi. The surprise return of Jim Edmonds this week from post-concussion syndrome should help, but they also need David Eckstein, who has been banged up, to come back at full strength this weekend.
I've thought the Astros were the best team in the division all season but only now, with Luke Scott raking (1.153 OPS) and the closer-by-committee hitting on all cylinders, is this team playing with a purpose. Phil Garner, to his credit, is managing every game like it's Game 7, because that's how desperate this club needs to be. The Astros are used to overcoming black holes in their lineup (Brad Ausmus, Adam Everett), but Morgan Ensberg's bat is finally coming on this month and, more important, they have the starting pitching depth the Cardinals lack.
Here is how the last week of the season looks for each club:
Cardinals' remaining slate, all at home
Two vs. Padres
Four vs. Brewers
Carpenter is slated to go twice, including tonight against San Diego's Woody Williams. Suppan only has one more start left.
Astros' remaining slate, all on the road
Three at Pittsburgh
Three at Atlanta Andy Pettitte (2.82 second-half ERA) is going twice, Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens only once.
The biggest factor going in St. Louis' favor is the lack of road games -- they are 34-47 in away games. And the Astros have been awful on the road, too, 34-41. But the Astros do get three freebies against the Pirates, so that should act as a counterbalance.
If the Cardinals do collapse, will it be as epic as the '64 Phillies? It can't be. You have to consider the era: There were no playoffs in 1964. All the Phillies had to do was clinch the pennant and they were in the World Series. I've heard it said that the '64 collapse was so devastating that not even the 1980 World Series title could make up for it in the minds of diehard Phillies fans. The Cardinals, even if they hold on to first in the NL Central, might be the biggest underdog heading into the NL playoffs.
The Cardinals' woes continued on Tuesday night as they lost 7-5 to the Padres despite a gutsy effort from Carpenter. The Astros' 7-4 win over the Pirates behind Pettitte moves them within 1.5 games of the NL Central lead. St. Louis has six games remaining, the Astros five. Judging by some of the comments below, some Cardinals fans are resigned to a collapse, if not an early playoff exit in any case. How do the rest of you feel? And what about Astros' fans? Do you dare to believe yet?
I'd put the Astro's odds at about 15%. I expect the Padres to play the Cardinals hard, but I suspect the Brewers may roll over. At this point I believe Atlanta is playing for pride and will give the Astros trouble.
What I'm more curious about is that Saint Louis may have to play 162 games after all, right? Won't they have to fly out from St Louis, play San Fran, and if neccessary fly to Houston to play the Astros? Is that fair?
The Cardinals would play San Fran in St. Louis, the rainout was at home. And since they lost the coin toss, yes, they would have to go to Houston. Hopefully this won't be necessary, as they have 4 games with Milwaukee and should be able to win them...
I wouldn't consider the Pirates series a gimme. The Pirates are the same team that swept the Mets and took 2 of 3 from LA. They dropped three at San Diego, but they're at home and Sanchez is chasing a batting title.
Neither Houston nor St. Louis has any "freebies"; I don't know that Milwaukee "rolls over". The Brew Crew is 11-8 since three straight sweeps closed August and opened September AND they have won six of their last seven, including two of three from the Deadbirds. I know the Astros haven't shown a lot of intestinal fortitude this season and are on the road, but they don't have to face a playoff contender - San Diego's games with St. Louis mean A LOT to the Friars - and wouldn't YOU rather be Phil Garner writing Clemens, Oswalt, Pettitte into the lineup card for huge games as opposed to Chris Carpenter and the BP Boys?
I think the Astros have better then a 15% chance..maybe somewhere around 30 but it all comes down to today. If the astros can get a win in pittsburg and carpenter loses then that makes it 1 1/2 games without the cards having their only pitcher worth anything goin g for the next 4 days and the astros have 3 top pitchers to come through with wins
I am a huge Cards fan, but this team simply isn't built to go deep into the postseason. As noted, the starting pitching beyond Carpenter is nondescript, the bullpen is abysmal, and the bench lacks the depth of recent Cardinals teams. That said, they need to play with a sense of urgency and win a game. The magic number has been stuck on 5 for a week. Scott Rolen has been an utter disappointment, as well. He's a great player but hasn't had a meaningful RBI in some time. He went 0-for-5 last night and struck out to end the game.
I'd prefer to see the Astros sneak into the playoffs. The Cards have been mailing it in for months, and they don't have anything close to enough pitching to make an impact in the playoffs. Houston, on the other, has a decent shot to do the same thing they did last year if they make it (which is still a long shot). As of right now, I'd say it's either St. L going out feebly in the first round, or the Astros making things interesting in a wide open NL. I hope it works out that way. Plus, huge collapses are memorable, and I'd to see the irritating Tony LaRussa with something like that on his record (that's just me being petty, though).
I agree that even if the Cards pull this off, they will go with a whimper in the first round -- maybe 0-3. What is ironic is that, with the Astros on a roll, if they make it that far, they will probably go to the 'Series.
There are obviously a lot of other teams with better records than the 'Stros, but if the season started today, they are on top. Is it really in the best interest of baseball to go 162 games, and then put the teams in the series that played the best in the last two weeks?
I've been a Houston fan all my life, but would like to see things changed somehow so this doesn't happen.
Don't deserve it? I thought all the games counted equally? If you talk about whether teams deserve it or not, perhaps we should get rid of the wild card...after all, if you can't win your own division do you really deserve to be in the playoffs?
We are talkin of the astros and cardinals because the REDS were ahead of the astros and have been falling off that is why we arent talking about the reds. The reds are not hot they are barely hanging on whereas the astros are battling and winning games in the late innings and cruising right now which gives them the shot over the sorriest team in the race (reds)
The Cards will squeek in, somehow. Tony La russa is a witch at managing, and other teams cannot overlook that fact. Sure they're thin at starting & relief pitching, the bench is so-so and bad timing to key players' injuries. Someone still has to pitch the ball, and somebody else gets the at bats. Anything can happen....recent memory of any wildcard teams winning rings....hmmm?
I'm a Cards fan but have to say this isnt the end of May anymore and we have stunk it up since then...we dont deserve to be anywhere near a ball diamond come October...and I agree with a prior writer: I would love to see Larussa with this monumental collapse on his (overrated) resume.
If the season standings hold out, St. Louis would travel to San Diego for the first round of the playoffs (The Mets would get the wild card if its LA). St. Louis swept a laughable San Diego team last year in the first round. Could the reverse happen this time?
Im a diehard Cardinals fan and can tell you this team just isnt very good at all. Pujols' furious start to the season masked a lot of the holes this team had. By Memorial Day this teams holes have shown and have not improved. I lay much of the blame at the feet of ownership. They never replaced the players who left and seemed okay with that. If Chris Duncan wasnt doing his Pujols impersonation and they werent playing in Comedy Central they'd be out of it already. Frustrating as a fan of the team for sure. Despite having only one hitter who scares anyone, to me the Astros are a more complete team. Ahh... the power of pitching.
Actually, I think if the season ended today, the Phillies and Dodgers would be playing a play-in game tomorrow, and only then would we know whether Stl was going to be a sacrificial lamb on the west coast (SD) or the east coast (NYM). Actually, i wish the season would end today; then Clemens' career would be over, since I doubt the Stro's, or anyone, would pony up another 20 mil for half a Clemens season which doesn't even end in paydirt.
It's ridiculous that nobody here gives the Phillies any credit. Astros this, Cardinals that, Padres this, Dodgers that. It has been 42 years since the Phillies had the choke of last century, but I must emphasize... last century. This is a new era in baseball; parity has been increased and steroids are being weeded out of the sport. With hitters like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Chris Coste, the Fightins deserve some consideration.
The Cardinals' struggles are due in large part to injury. The fact is that they lost a star starting pitcher (who was never right this season),the club's all-time saves leader (who was never right this season), and their Gold Glove center fielder and shorstop midway through the season. If they win the division for the third year in the row, that's to La Russa's credit, even if the division is weak and even if they are swept in the playoffs. And I wouldn't count them out in the postseason, because they have the best hitter and best starting pitcher in the NL (which can make a big difference in a short series).
I was 8 years old in 1964 and a Phillies fan; why does everyone have to bring up 1964? It is just as painful today as it was in 1964 and although 1980 erased some of the pain, 1977 and 1978 contributed more pain and all the poor seasons from 1983 through 2006 have pretty much erased 1980.
Yes this Cardinals collapse would be epic. But what about the possibility of an A's collapse. After last night's heartbreaker in Seattle, this series may come down to the final 4 in LA, and as an A's fan I know it is possible to get swept with that LA pitching.
underestimation blah blah... no one though the astros would make it last year and look, they went all the way to the world series. So what they got swept, they got swept by a team that was flat out unstoppable. The reason baseball is such a great sport, (in my mind the best to watch) is becuase you never know what is going to happen, especially when you get world series hungry players giving it all in the last few weeks, for that ever promising ring! Props to the astros for being able to drive in thier runs! More power to Phil Garner for being able to drive his team not to give up. Long shots and unprobability makes the hunt for october even better! go 'stros
as a diehard cardinals fan i think it's best that the cardinals don't make it to the playoffs. our crap ownership think they can get by with subpar players. this will show them that they can't get to the playoffs without spending all that new revenue they promised. and maybe they will get theirs butts in gear and spend the money they promised.
Astros are making the playoffs and then they are beating the Mets. I can NOT wait, as all its been all season is "Mets are going to the Series" etc. etc. etc. I really think the Astros are the one team the Mets fear facing in October.
I am a diehard cardinals fan and I can barely stand to watch what is happening right now. But no matter what.... there is no way in hell I want the stros to go to the playoffs. I don't give damn if my cards are playing like crap. I still want to see them make the playoffs. Hey each series is 0-0. Anything can happen. I mean we have the best player in the league and Duncan has been doing a mini Albert impression for 3 months now. Go cards. I'll never bail on you guys.
Oh, please give me a break. The Astros have the worst manager in baseball, and a team that hasn't endured 1/10 of the trials that the Cards have this year. Wanna test me on that worst manager statement? Try this year's All-Star game, talk about mismanagement! The NL had it in the bag, but Garner decided to leave Rolen on the bench, for the sure-handed super defensive stud Cabrera when defense was all that was needed. Brilliant! That was the worst in a series of unbelievable gaffs. The Astros will not make the playoffs, the Cards will hang on, and they'll make for an interesting October, guaranteed. Give Garner the team that had all of the horrible luck that the Cards had to endure this year and they finish behind the woeful Cubbies.
You know, two weeks ago I thought I'd have my first late September/October in a few years where I wouldn't be an absolute wreck over the Astros. Guess I was wrong, but I'm not complaining at all. They've clinched on the last day of the season for the last two years, I don't think they know how to do it otherwise. They've got the pitching to compete wioth any team out there and they're finally starting to hit, so I'm starting to believe they can do it again. GO 'STROS!
La Russa didn't look so great leaving Carpenter in tonite. Esp. since he didn't look as sharp as he usu. does (for at least two starts straight now). I know it's popular to say what a genius Tony is, but he didn't look like it tonite. Love it or hate it, Garner knows his players and makes decisions based on that knowledge, not just playing the averages and playing the "WhatWouldTonyDo" averages game. Sometimes he comes out with egg on his face, but sometimes (like it seems every game in this streak) he makes moves that are just paying off big time. Regardless of any other point, the results are what really matter...and Garner has owned LaRussa going on two years now in that department.
The rest of this week should be interesting. If this plays out into an Astros Div. Title, the Oilers can finally get that "Biggest Choke In Sports History" monkey off their backs.
what have the cardinals had to endure? edmonds goin down? ill give you that....mulder goin down? i wont give you that he sucked it up so bad that you have done better without him in your rotation. if it wasnt for lidge having the worse year of his career early on then the astros would be ahead of the cardinals right now. and ensberg. and oswalt goin down for a little bit. not having clemens half the year. backe (cardinals killer) out for the year. but still we have managed to hang on and la russa cant even win 1 game when it matters. oh ya we have just about the same team that beat the cardinals last year in the playoffs
You can't deny the threat of Luke Scott. He is doing, in the second half, what Berkman has been doing all season. Plus, with the 'Stros starting pitching, and if the bats can keep up the run support, they will go to the Series. Mark it dude.
Sorry guys it doesn't matter whether it's the Astros or Cardinals...when they face the Mets or Padres it's over. Ultimately pitching and defense will win out and though they get absolutely NO respect in the national media, the PADRES will represent the NL in the world series. You heard it here first.
Im a huge cards fan, and it makes me sick to see the ownership give the city of St.Louis a crap show like this. They replaced Larry Walker with Larry Walker, they replaced Matt Morris with Anthony Reyes (anyone not a Card fan doesnt know either of these guys). Start spending money if you want to win. Im afraid for the time comes and Albert Pujols leaves casue he still hasn't won a World Series. Dont let Albert be Barry and go down as the greatest never to win!! You need two more bats and one better be a huge bat. You need one more pitcher and make mulder your 3 then your rotation would be unreal, Carpenter, Number 2?, Mulder, Suppan, and then you can have a guy like Jeff fricken Weaver in there
I am a huge hard Astro fan and I live in Houston; but I would never have predicted the Astros to be in the position they are today after the way they have performed in the past few months. That said; I have always had confidence and "BELIEVED". What I find most interesting is that noone has ever taken the Astros team seriously. Everyone has always seen the Astros as the team that always plays the spoiler. We're not the Mets, Yankees, Cardinals, etc. Our players are big to us...but not to the baseball fans. We had a World Series and we tripped! But we had a World Series! What I see in the Astros right now (and I think others do too) is that since they lost the pressure of being a play-off team..they have relaxed, and played good fun baseball. The way they are used to playing. On the other end....look at the Cards...they are trying so hard they are hampering themselves. Just like the Astros have done in the past few months trying to be a playoff team. What I also see is the Astros playing how they really play. Funny how noone else takes into consideration the DL's like they do with other teams. Astros play bad..it's because they are the Astros. Other teams play bad.....let's see, it's because so and so is on DL or something else. There is always some logical excuse. I know it's a long shot that the Astros make it into Post Season and into another World Series....but hey...it seems to be the way that they play ball. Either way..it's exciting as an Astros fan..and I hope we are the "Seabiscuit" of baseball this year. Go Astros! I don't care how you do it.......just do it!
Two years ago, it was a fantastic feat for the Astros to make it to the playoffs with their deficit at the time, but then the Cardinals struck them down. Last year it was incredible, and the Astros were even futher back and this time without Beltran. The sought revenge on the Cardinals and made it to the world series. This year...I see a trend growing and the odds are against them. But come on, how many times are you going to doubt and reject them. Is anyone not convinced that they may just needed to play like underdogs all along?
I was 13 when the Phillies lost in '64, and that knocked me out as a baseball fan for 36 years, until my son got me interested in the A's (the other (formerly) Philadelphia team) in 2000. Of course, their post-seasons series have been repeated deja vus. This year, we'll just have to see.
I have been a baseball fan for over 40 years now, I love the Astros and respect the Cards. The way these two teams have played over the last month I feel that Houston is the better team. I do not think that St. Louis is in position to represent the division and Houston is by far a better representitive. While others who have posted thoughts I am not talking from my heart about either team, instead about the game I love. It has always been my opinion that the best team should make the play-offs and all others stay hope and watch.
Call me crazy, but I am convinced the Astros are going to the playoffs. It all started on 9/20 in a "meaningless" game against the Reds with everyone attending to witness possibly the last outing ever at Minute Maid Park for hometown hero and future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens. I was there and I'm telling you, the feeling of that game was very emotional and had every bit the same feel of any playoff game the Astros were involved in the past two years. The players fed off the fans' emotions and they all seemed to be playing for something. I didn't believe at the end of the game that they were going to sweep the Cards in four, but now that we are at this point I strongly believe the Cards meltdown is inevitable opening the door for a third straight improbable run for an Astros playoff appearance.
Maybe, maybe not, but it seems keep for scoreboard watching. The Astros, if they make it, have a better chance going deep in the playoffs than the Cards. Obviously because of their pitching. One has to wonder what this does to the MVP and CY Young awards also, does Pujols and Carpenter really deserve it? Howard and Oswalt would be my picks respectively.
I fully expect that the Cardinals will finish in second place. It may be just the collapse the organization needs to take a hard look at the team, including the manager. Tony has done a fine a job in St. Louis, but the time may have come to go in a different direction.
The Cards need a Florida Marlins type purge and rebuild. Speaking of Marlins, Girardi would be welcome as manager and give the Cards some fire that they have missed.
Let's forget for a moment about the Cardinals monumental collapse taking place -- isnt' anyone else tired of the Astros taking at least 4 months of the season off and still making the playoffs every year? Play a complete season for once.
The wild card is a double-edged sword. Good for keeping "fans" interested in their teams late in the season, but it has reduced the epic 162-game season to a 3-4 week sprint by the hottest teams. Ick. Reminds me of the NBA and its 50% playoff participation format.
Cards fan here. The Deadbirds don't deserve to win it. And won't. They have no bullpen. Besides Carpenter, no starting pitching. LaRussa left his best pitcher in the game last night and the Friars put up a 4-spot in the 7th. Carp had to come out, but La Russa has even less confidence in anyone in his bullpen, which gives up about 45% of inherited runners.
I've been to more than 60 home games this year in Houston. I was there for all 4 heart-stopping games this last weekend against the Cards. Being an Astros fan since I was 9, I have now endured 20 years of the ups and downs of this team, and have been to A LOT of games in that span. But, I've never been to a game, not even when I was at the 18 inning playoff against the Bravos last year, where I have had the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Being in that stadium on Sunday, hearing the crowd chant "Roger! Roger!". Watching Aubrey's ball leave the yard. Seeing the worry and concern in every single Cardinal fans' eyes. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for the Cards and their fans, but do the Central Division a favor and step aside. You are at your lowest and you are not going to make it anywhere against either the Friars or the Mutts.
The Astros have a date with destiny to avenge the NL Title loss against the Mutts that happened 20 years ago. Wouldn't that be something. GO STROS!! BEE-LIEVE!!!!
I was 13 in '64 too. I will never forget Jim Bunning on June 4, Father's Day, as he pitched his perfect game against the Mets at Shea. I was there to see it with my Dad, a diehard phillies fan, and my grandfather. Too bad about the season, but what a great memory.
For the poster above, I think his name was John Roe, the Astros are going to win the division not the wild card. They have the pitching to beat any team put in front of them in the playoffs. Astros vs. Twins in the series. America will love it. Well at least I will.
Astros taking 4 months off? Ummm...No Clemens for half the season, Lidge's confidence destroyed by Pujols last year, Backe out for the season, Pettite's early struggles, Morgan Ensberg's inablility to hit, Brad Ausmus/Adam Everett batting under .240, Jason Lane hitting .200 all season... and the Cards fans are complaining about an Edmond's concussion and a mediocre starter being finished.
Either way it's gonna be close. What an exciting race. And to the person complaining about the Wild Card in baseball...this is for the division!!!
Cardinal fans are also some of the largest critics of the Cardinals. WE hold high standards for our team, and expect a good product on the field. It's why St. Louis teams do not stay bad for long.
Saying that, I say they lose every single game and spare themselves more embarrassment. The pitching will not hold up in the post-season. There will be no miracles. If they make round one, they will be swept going for the pennant. Take a break, Cards, rest up, get some decent players nad come back next year.
That's what they get for tearing down a beautiful stadium and for leaving KMOX and alienating their fanbase. But I'm not mad enough at them to be a cubs fan.
I have to agree with a comment above - pitching and defense ultimately win championships. While I think the Cardinals will find a way to squeak into the playoffs and the Dodgers ultimately end up with the wild card, it's really the San Diego Padres who have impressed me with...pitching and defense. Another person said that the Astros were the one team the Mets didn't want to play in the playoffs. A member of the Mets front office is on record saying that it's actually the Padres who scare them the most. Last years team was a joke - a national punchline. This year, I think that punchline is on the rest of the NL. I honestly think the Padres are going to get the NL Pennant.
the cards deserve to lose this lead and be a big choke job. larussa is over rated and after pujols, rolen and carpenter youhave nothing. it's the beginning of a big slide for the franchise. the fans there are so naive they will applaud even the most mediocre cards play. stl would have been swept anyway in the playoffs so may be this will cause some real off seasonmoves
As a Cardinals fan, I am expecting them to lose the division. Pitching has been awful all year (can we get rid of David Duncan, already??), and LaRussa has forgotten how to play small ball. He ought to watch Joe Torre sometime -- maybe during the playoffs he'll have his chance, while he's sitting at home. They strand way too many players on base -- how about a steal once in awhile, or a well-placed bunt? You see these things at least once per every Yankees game, which is why the Yanks have the best record in baseball. The Cards' downward spiral is a real shame for Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and David Eckstein, who all work their fannies off, but the blame can be laid at the feet of LaRussa and Duncan.
an Astros fan, I gotta realistically hope (?) for a 4-1 record, with Smoltz putting a stick in us like it was any old normal Atlanta October. And the Giants can't be counted on to even play Barry, so I would think that the Cards win that one. For the Astros to tie and force a one-game playoff, St. Louis goes 3-3, and 2-3 in the next 5 games: one against the Pads and 4 against the Brewers. Count me pessimistic.
Regarding St. Louis' woes this season, it's laughable that noone notes the Astros': an injured Ensberg, Lane hitting only .200, Pettite fighting his way all season only to be playing fairly good, at best, and a bullpen that hasn't gathered itself until August with Lidge, Qualls and Wheels getting slow starts (and we all know that Lidge just isn't to be counted on). Backe was gone all season except for a few week stint that turned into TommyJohn surgery. Burke is slated for shoulder surgery the first day after the season ends. Biggio just isn't what he used to be, and has dropped off even from last year. And, does anybody remember Bagwell and the $15 mil he still gets paid? So, let's just not talk anymore about a team's woes--we inevitably begin to forget that every team must fight its way through 162 games.
Slow going, but now the Astros now have a tight bullpen and a regular lineup. Huff has been slow to adjust, but his addition and the arrival of Luke Scott give Berkman the protection he deserves.
If they make it, the Astros might get their revenge on the Mets ('86).
I'm a lifelong 'Stros fan, but have always respected the Cards and their knowledgeable fans. Of course I want the Astros to complete this improbable comeback, but if they don't make it the Card fans need to cut out the "We would be better not making it" line of thinking. The White Sox nearly gagged a big lead last year to the Tribe, but re-grouped and won it all. (Unfortunately for the Cards their pitching staff is in disarray unlike the Sox was). Also, Garner is not the best manager, nor the worst manager in the league and his IQ goes up and down on how his choices work out. Even Tony the "Genius" has his ups and downs. The critical point in the season may well be when the "Genius" did not learn from Garner's failed choices in pitching to Pujols in the clutch and saw Berkman ram a game winner in the 8th inning last Thursday. If he had gone against the book and walked the go-ahead run in Berkman - the Cards might be cleaning champagne out of their ears today. Anyways, that started the snowball rolling. It will be fun to see what happens next - or torture.
This dude waaay up there is an idiot. astros wont win it bc the padres will with pitching and defense? we have the big 3 and for some reason (espn) i seem to think we have the number 1 defense in the majors..but i only heard that from the experts so it doesnt count. but ya we have better pitching AND defense then the padres so what makes them better then us?
Have to agree with the latest guy to point out the injury problems the Astros have had to suffer. Been a fan of theirs since '68, and would love nothing more than to watch the Cards and the Mets sit at home during the World Series.
But two games out in the loss column? I'll believe it when I see it.
I'd like to think the Reds, 2.5 games back with 5 to go (including 3 against the Pirates) are about ready for one of the small sample size runs. Plus, the Reds tend to be better without Junior Griffey in the lineup.
Where is some talk about Berkman for MVP. I know his numbers are just slighly less then pujols and howard, but if the 'stros make the playoffs and the cards and phillies are sitting at home, then Berkman should get some serious consideration over the others. If pujols can't get his team out of this hole they are in and into the playoffs, then there is nothing valuable about him right now to consider him for mvp and the same goes for howard as well. I think playoffs and mvp go hand in hand.
I'd say the Cardinal's biggest problem is not the lack of the punchy bats or injuries. Every team in baseball has that -- this is why teams have managers. My colleage and I call LaRussa "La Loser" because of his inability to win easy games and his nack for squandering talented baseball teams. There are no points for second place, so the Cards might as well miss the playoffs and save us fans some grief.
Everyone should wonder why this team isn't prepared to play. It's the manager. Fire Tony Already!
Whatever teams wins in the NL central we all must admit this is an exciting way to conclude the baseball year. This is why baseball is such a great game! We are all pulling for our team and respect the other guys in the hunt. I am a lifelong Astro fan. My son (now 16) only became a real fan in the last few years. These last five or six games will be remembered by my son the rest of his life. What a season!
Of course we believe! We always will!! We have been doing this for a few years now and it seems to fit with our pattern. Let's look at it like this. Who looks like the playoff team and who looks like they will be watching. Baseball is a game of history and irony. Nothing would be more ironic than the '06 cardinals pulling a '64 Phillies and choking away. Ironic considering it was the cards who benifited from the Phillies collapse.
The Cardinals were counting on Carpentar and he was honestly their best shot to stop the bleeding. This is over now it is time to sit back and enjoy!
Despite being a Cards fan, I almost do hope they don't make the playoffs. That way, the club might be inclined to realize they only have 1 good starting pitcher and actually spend some money in the offseason. The product they put on the field this season was very average at best.
I was at the game last night. Carpenter never looked sharp but battled until the 6th. La Russa, once again, managed his way into a loss. He never warmed up a pitcher even when everyone in the stands knew he was done. Finally, he had Wainwright warm and never put him in the game when a win was still salvagable. Maybe this will finally be the nail in La Russa's coffin that is long deserved.
I have loved the Cards for as long as I can remember, but for some reason when I think of the team, I don't come up with names of great pitchers over the last 10 to 12 years. Carpenter is a stud, but how about ownership ponying up a few bucks for some help for this guy? The Sox made us look stupid in the series 2 years ago, how about getting some pitchers on this team??
I suspect that the Mets executive that said they fear the Padres most said that before the Astros were realistically in contention. There is no way San Diego's pitching is better than Houston's, particularly in a 5 game series.
As a Cards fan, not making the playoffs would be demoralizing, but there are several silver linings: (1) Perhaps the management will be forced to spend some of the ridiculous earnings they have received from loyal fans and a new stadium. (2) Maybe this is the straw that breaks LaRussa's back, so that he will leave town and take his mis-managing with him. How about Oquendo as manager next year?
It's been a crazy ride, especially the four game sweep of the Cardinals winning pretty much each game in dramatic fashion.
The problem is, if at any point the 'stros lose and the cards win, then the bubble is burst. Personally, I think the Astros will sweep the Pirates and the Padres will sweep the Cards but then the Cards will start winning after that.
Momentum is certainly on our side. Heck, I don't know what's going to happen. It's sure exciting though! I thought we were dead a week ago.
When your magic number doesn't change in a week, things have really gone sour. That's the Cards for you at the moment. But things can change. I'm just hoping fate's on the Astros side.
You seem to forget (or are deliberately ignoring) the other team "hiding out", as it were, in third place in the NL Central standings: the Cincinnati Reds. As of today, they are only two and one-half games behind the Cardinals, one game back of the Astros. I'd like some comments on what you think their chances are.
I'm an Astros' fan. But, what is most fun about this season is the spine-tingling playoff feel of the regular season's last week. WOW, this is great. Fans from all over the US are scoreboard watching and nail-biting every pitch... and it is the regular season. The only thing better would be dissolution of the DH.
By the way, hats off to the St. Louis fans. They are some of the best fans in baseball and showed it with their applause after last year's playoff win by the Astros. Thanks, folks.
Re: The Reds Yes I ignored them because I've been stating all season that they aren't very good. But looking at their schedule (Marlins, Pirates), they could win out and get into the mix. -- Jacob Luft
Don't be so quick to eliminate the Reds. They haven't played well for a long time, but they do have some pop in their lineup. A couple of line drives hit deep, and they could be a surprise tie for first with either of the other two.
I've been a 'Stros fan since my dad started taking me to the games when I was 3. I got to get out of school for playoff games. However, we generally lost those playoff games in the mid to late 90s. I just wanted to see my 'Stros win! The past couple years have been nothing short of amazing, and I'm thankful for that.
I'm the kind of fan who hates when people say bad things about my team, boo their own team, etc. I also don't tend to give up until we are mathematically eliminated. Well after we were swept by the Phillies last week and the Cards beat us with a Pujols hit off of Brad Lidge it didn't look that great to me.
But the Astros have decided to try to give me a heart attack every single day until the season is over. Our team has heart and I believe that they can pull this off. If they do, it'll be historic and they will have a ton of momentum in the playoffs. If they don't, they've given me some excellent and meaningful baseball to watch at the end of the season.
A true baseball fan, as I am, can do nothing but sit back and admire what is taking place. There is a lot of bashing going on right now, but the truth is this:the Astros and the Cardinals have been the class of the division for a while now and always play each other tough. I am a life-long Astros fan and hope they pull of the improbable, but respect everything the Cardinals organization and players stand for. When it comes down to it, all I want is to watch good/exciting baseball. There has been a lack of that this year with the Astros, but they have decided to play. Who cares if it took them a 152 games to start playing well. All that matters is who has the most wins after the 162nd game. If the Astros end up on top, it means that they had the better season, even if it didn't look like it for most of the year. Go Astros.
I think if the astros were still 2 and a half back like the reds then they would have no chance bc 2 1/2 games is alot to make up with 5 games left 1 1/2 sound a whole lot better...if it wasnt for that game winning hit but pujols or any of those close games lidge blew...we would already have this thing wrapped up
Another Cards fan here, doubtful (but hopeful) the boys will make it. Carp was on fumes last night and it seemed like an easy call to put in Wainwright, if anything to throw the Pads a new look. Grady Little & Pedro Martinez anyone? The Cards caught breaks from sloppy Pads defense, otherwise the run diff would have been worse. While it's good to see Jimmy Baseball in the lineup, it may be too little too late. Other's aren't hitting, especially with men on base. Williams pitched around Albert knowing Rolen is a frustrated head case right now. Is Eckstein (injured) the only one that can lay down a decent bunt on the squad?
Well if you actually watched astros games you would know lidge would have at least 10 blow saves even more...hes been taken out in the 9th many of times after he let them tie and and had someone else clean up his mess then lose in extra's izzy's era is in the 3's if im not mistaken....lidge...no where close
I only watch Houston when they're playing the Cards. At least Garner had sense to pull Lidge, so technically were they still blown saves? Anyway, your point in (mostly) valid, however in the Cards case, Tony kept in Izzy and the Cards often didn't get a chance to win it in extra innings.
it is indeed a shame that Lidge is no longer his former self. I still remember in 04 and 05 when the Astros lead into the 9th, it usually is "Nights Out" with Lidge's high 90s fastballs that seemed impossible to hit until Pujols had that hit in last year's playoff.
At least Dan Wheeler is doing a decent job at closer right now, but I can tell that Wheeler is still not as good as when Lidge was in peak form.
Well yes it still is technically a save if he let them tie it to go into extra's where.....i hate it...but astros cant score a run for their lives in extra innings...but ya it go to the point where it was ...walk..hit...pull lidge for someone else
Let's consider the Reds for a second my friends, they finish the season with 2 games against Florida and 3 vs. Pittsburgh, if they can finish 4-1 (which is very possible since Harang and Arroyo each have another start), then they have a legit shot at the playoffs, and with that 1-2 pitching punch, the Reds could be a legitimate threat in the postseason.
The Astros have been pretty sorry this year. And they have a propensity to lose this season in agonizing fashion at the worst possible time. But having said that -- the Astros are the true late-season bloomers. They've done it before and they can do it again.
Too bad the NL can't add another wild card team from the East or West. None of the teams from the Central deserve to be in the playoffs, especially the Astros who have been below .500 for about 99% of the year.
Being a HUGE Cardinals fan like everyone else in STL, why are some fans saying that they dont want to see the cardinals make the playoffs to prove a point. If the cardinals dont make it to the pennant, that will be a disappointment. BE LOYAL TO YOUR CARDINALS and ROOT FOR THEM TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS.
Typical Houston sports team....get your hopes up as high as they can and then destroy them. See '93 Oilers, several Rockets teams (other than 94-95), Phi Slamma Jamma, and most Astros teams (they don't get a black mark for last year). Luckily the Texans are done by October and we can just enjoy the comedy. Seriously, I love the Astros, but knowing history, we will probably flame out this weekend in spectacular fashion. But it has been a fun season and after the last two postseasons, I kind of wouldn't mind a break.
I' ve been a die hard Cardinal fan since 63 and after last night I believe the Cards will make it in. Yes everyone says they will get swept ........... but unlike years before, the Cardinals have always had the division won by the middle of Sept. and then just didn't care what happened. This year they have had to fight every day and I believe they will fight to the series and beyond like one Chicago team did last year Get a little excited and every thing will fall in place Good luck Cards