Mohawk Pipe Tomahawk, 1750, New York
The fallout continues from this week’s blowout 1st inning, in the Cardinals-Braves NLDS Game 5. Georgia Republicans are carping that the Braves organization’s decision to not distribute their trademark red foam tomahawks in that game, generated the “karma” that led to the Braves rout. Earlier in this series Saint Louis pitcher, Ryan Helsley, of Cherokee heritage, disparaged Atlanta’s Tomahawk Chop cheer, before Game 2 in Atlanta. “I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His complaint led the Braves to not hand out their foam tomahawks when play returned to Georgia, but it took ten unanswered Redbird runs to silence Atlanta fans and halt their performance of the Tomahawk Chop, at least for a while. Later, while railing against political correctness, Georgia conservatives cried a Trail-of-Tears, big crocodile ones, claiming that they were actually just honoring their state’s Cherokee heritage.
Well, at least Atlanta distinguished itself better this time around. Not the least, Atlanta fans did not cause a lengthy game delay by throwing trash onto the field, unlike the last time the Cardinals and Braves met in postseason play. Looking forward, Saint Louis hosts the Washington Nationals tonight. This series is for the National League pennant. I’m hoping for a good series. The Nationals should let Washington take its mind off of politics for a while and give it a chance to shine. Unlike that other crosstown franchise, who shall not be named.
Let’s go, Cardinals!
Saint Louis Cardinals Pennant
Oh look, the Cardinals are trending on twitter. OMG, is that a typo? 10-0 in the top of the first! Ten runs on five hits, how do you even do that? The Cards went on to finish the game as newly crowned divisional champs, with a 13-1 final score against the Braves. That’s almost as many runs as they scored in all of the previous four games. I’ll be checking out the new Cardinal NLDS Champion T-shirts in the grocery store tomorrow. The Redbird’s prospects seemed especially dim on Monday night, when they were losing in late innings in a do-or-die game. Facing elimination, team hero Yadier Molina first tied the game and then went on to knock in the winning run in extra innings and keep Saint Louis alive.
Pundits, with 20-20 hindsight point to Molina’s performance as a turning point that precipitated this final game. I see it starting with Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley’s comments about the “disrespectful” Tomahawk Chop after game one of the series. The Tomahawk Chop cheer is an Atlanta Braves staple. Helsley’s mom is a full-blooded Cherokee. This complaint led the Braves to unilaterally disarm and halt distribution of their trademark foam tomahawks for game five, which again demonstrates that baseball is a more civilized game than football. Maybe disarming the fans did it or maybe it was the Braves post-season curse. I’d like to believe that the Cards are going all the way and the Braves just had the misfortune of getting in their way. Next up are the Washington Nationals.
Wainwright and Molina take the Field
Even though it was the most beautiful day in months, it wasn’t a pretty game. Even though Wainwright’s single RBI scored the first run and Molina’s two-run homer eventually tied the game and sent it in to extras, it still turned ugly. In-between there were four Cardinal errors. Wainwright had six good innings, but began to flag in the seventh and all those errors really began to bite. The Giants took the lead, but in the tenth Tyler O’Neill’s walk-off home run won the game. The bench cleared to meet him at the plate and in celebration ripped off his jersey, exposing his rather ripped body.
Rey and Becca took us to the game, our first of the season. Hey, better late than never. We had right field bleacher seats that would have been brutal on any day save this. Cardinal hoody sweatshirts made for pretty nice attendance prizes. It was cool enough that I wore mine for a while. If you read this Dave, one will be coming to you soon and Dan if you want one too, just ask me. They would be perfect for any possible post-season Redbird action that might come our way. I would not suggest wearing them if the Birds ever make it to Boston or NYC.
One of the most interesting aspects of the experience was ease dropping on the conversation from the row behind us. There was a British guy who was out of his league and an American girl who was trying to explain the game to him. He kept referring to Wainwright as the bowler, but was also fascinated by his very English name. He managed to grasp the rudiments of the game, but at the end, after the walk off homer, he had to be told that the game was over.
I cautioned Rey not to interact with this ease dropped conversation, but when the Brit started Googling MLB player’s salaries, he had to act. The first Google target was the right fielder. Martinez. The Brit pegged this player’s annual Salary at $12M. Rey interjected that that Martinez was a pitcher. The one in front of us was only earning the league minimum, half-a-million. “Minimum wage, blimey, what an insult!” As it turned out, the other Martinez, Carlos the pitcher and no relation, was the game’s winner.
When we left Saint Louis for the summer, at the end of May, the Saint Louis Cardinals were busy settling themselves in for a season of mediocrity. In all of our travels, I kind of lost the bead on Redbird baseball. Their firing of the manager was about all that penetrated my fog of travel and it only confirmed my belief that this was not going to be their year. How wrong I was.
The All Star break framed manager Mike Matheny’s release and also marked the start of the team’s turnaround. The second half Cards now sports a win-loss record of 23-11, giving them the best second half record in baseball. We’ve been back in town this month and the Redbirds winning percentage has accelerated with a 17-4 record for the month of August.
With 34 games played since the All-Stars and 34 for more yet to be played in the regular season, we are now entering the fourth quarter, so to speak. This week the Redbirds grasped, let slip and grabbed again a post-season wildcard slot. In addition to their slot, the Cardinals also took the series from the Brewers. Then the Redbirds went on to sweep the Dodgers at their home. Uneasy though sits this crown. The Brewers having just lost that slot still sit only half a game back from the Cards in the division. Tonight the Rockies host the Redbirds for an important series, while also sitting only a game back for a wildcard slot too.
I haven’t even mentioned the Cubs yet, who still lead the division and represent the Cardinals next big challenge. In the last 34 games the Redbirds have shaved their lead by five games, St. Louis has 34 more games to close the remaining three game gap. Most likely this horse race will come down to the final series, where as always the Cards face the Cubs to finish out the regular season. It looks to be a wild ride through this final quarter, where it ain’t over ’till its over.
We went to see the Cardinals play last night. The team hasn’t been doing that well this year, but as the old stock market adage goes, buy low, sell high. I got cheap seats ($18) on Stubhub, not bad for eighth row box seats. True to form though, the Redbirds lost (4-3). Losing a home stand to the even more pathetic San Diego Padres. Still, it was fun going to the game and the Cards were in it to the end. We took Metrolink down and back, which always adds a little bit more to our fan experience. I love how the curve of the stadium conflicted with my GoPro’s fisheye effect. It gave the far stands a whole new way to do the wave.