The Magic Number Is Now 1

Matt Carpenter (13) Welcomes Matt Holliday (7) Home

Matt Carpenter (13) Welcomes Matt Holliday (7) Home

Or is it 4? The Cards landed a playoff berth last weekend, abet only a Wildcard birth. After the Redbird win yesterday and the complementary Pirate loss, the Cardinal’s magic number for division lead is one, but in the home field advantage race versus the Braves, the magic number is four. A near no-hitter versus Washington capped some pretty good baseball coming out of the NL Central this late in the season.


Do Not Break Glass - It's a Long Way Down

Do Not Break Glass – It’s a Long Way Down

This is the big week for bracket-ology and already my personal diagnosis is not looking good. Raincharm has already published their brackets. President Obama has his out too. Republicans dare not contest his basketball prognostications, but are more than willing to complain that he hasn’t published a budget that they would never pass. I am way behind the curve here. Since the tournament began today, it is probably too late now. I could claim surprise, like it snuck up on me, because like everything else in life, March Madness has slid to the right. The Ides of March has past, along with Saint Patrick’s Day, Spring has even sprung, but still there have been no tournament games, until today.

I could attempt some last-ditch sally, except that I can find no windmills to tilt at. There is no office pool that I am aware of. Not that I would have plunked down cash on anything other than a randomized draw. Read this witty little ditty from the New Yorker to get a sense of my thoughts on competitive office pools. I don’t know squat about basketball, probably because I am so squat. I have never held much interest in the game. Whether I sally forth or no, this madness still holds collegiate interest for me. I have my favorite schools, the rest of them are just obstacles to be overcome.

Viking’s Rampage

On Sunday, Dave and I went downtown to see the Rams football game. The Rams were in the hunt for a post-season playoff berth. ‘Were’ is the operative verb here because, they got trounced by the visiting Minnesota Vikings, who are also looking to be in the playoffs. The game started out not too bad. The Norsemen jumped out ahead with a touchdown, but the Rams came right back and tied it up. After that point is was all downhill for Saint Louis though. I shouldn’t count the Rams out yet, they might not yet be mathematically eliminated, but they should be after the way that they played.

This was their last home game of the season, or at least their last regular season home game, as Dave once corrected me before the game. Always the eternal optimist, with just a few minutes left in the game and the Rams having failed to score from within the Viking’s red zone, Dave told me, “Well, it’s still a two touchdown game.” So, it would remain until the final whistle blew, ending the game with a final score of 36-22. This game was trumpeted as fan appreciation day. It might as well have been dubbed fan depreciation day. [Thanks, Bernie!]

I got pretty good seats, Dave was impressed, or at least they looked good on Stub-Hub. Stub-Hub never said anything about the neighbors. The row behind us was entirely populated by Minnesota fans. Garrison Keillor tends to portray all of Minnesota like his mythical hometown, Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” After Sunday’s game, I wholeheartedly concur with the “where all the women are strong” part. The woman with the strongest voice was seated immediately behind me.

By the bitter end of the game, we few diehard Rams fans were possibly outnumbered by the jubilant Vikings fans. Initially, I thought that all of these rabid Minnesota fans had journeyed the 600+ miles from Minneapolis just to see this game. Returning home via the Metrolink it became clear that these Viking fans are now Saint Louis transplants. We were vastly outnumbered by them on the train ride home. There are still two more away games left in the regular season. The last one is against the Seahawks. It won’t help us any this year, or in next year’s draft, but I would still like to see the Rams play the spoiler and win at least one more, if not two. Go Rams!

Front Yard Bone Yard

Front Yard Bone Yard

Brother-in-Law Carl was the last fan left standing at Wednesday night’s Mariners versus Orioles game. At least in his section. The game ran eighteen innings until the Orioles finally prevailed. The Seattle Times posted a great photo of Carl, nearly alone in the center field stands. Jay reposted it on her blog here. Jay had linked to our experience at a nineteen inning Cardinal and Pirate game, so it seemed the right thing to do to link back to her. Ryan, another Cardinal fan and I were supposing about this picture of Carl at work on Thursday. We were trying to come up with some sort of Onion caption. The best that I could come up with is this, “Mariners trade their last fan for an undisclosed sum of cash. Yep, super-fan Carl and spouse Jay have been traded to Saint Louis.” Do the readers have any ideas? This post’s photograph is from Jay and Carl’s front yard. Carl started this front yard bone yard, but it has taken on a life of its own. Now new bats are planted by other people.

Olympic Gold

Sunflower and Honey Bee

I shouldn’t comment on “Mitt the Nit”, what with his recent bull in an English tea room approach to diplomacy, even though I really want to. Although, conversations with my brother Chris, have him egging me on to be more politically edgy. Instead, I’ll try to askew further politics and concentrate on the Olympics themselves. 

I watched the opening ceremonies, well mostly. At four and a half hours, they were a bit too long for my meager attention span. What I did see of Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle’s show was boisterous, very British and at times a wee bit odd.

Let’s start with the good parts. Many of these occurred outside the stadium and were broadcasted into the stadium and then around the world. The Queen’s entrance was fabulous, simply fabulous. I loved the corgis. I was glad to see that she eventually dumped that Bond guy and rejoined Prince Philip for the opening ceremonies. People were starting to call her the new Bond girl. I was a little worried though, what with Philip being missing in action during her jubilee. Maybe he was just under the weather.

Mister Bean (Rowen Atkinson) killed in the Chariots of Fire sequence. I was on YouTube immediately afterwards, marveling on how they could have made that sequence. Finally to complete this trifecta, there were the shots of David Beckham motoring up the Thames, bringing the Olympic flame to the stadium. He looked very dashing.

I promised not to get political here, but Danny Boyle didn’t. His salute to the National Health Service, complete with dancing sick-kids probably fell flat in the American living rooms of ObamaCare’s foes. The giant Franken-baby that NBC’s Matt Lauer questioned, “I don’t know if that’s cute or creepy”, probably didn’t help anyone’s political agenda.

Also squarely under the odd moniker, were the flying bicycle doves that look more like flying monkeys, the Mary Poppins air raid and of course, Voldemort. The house-afire digital-age tour of British popular music was too long, but the music was nice. I lost interest in the show somewhere around China’s entrance, although I did leave it on.

Now it is time to switch from spectacle to sport. Let the Games begin! There will be agony and ecstasy, winners and losers. Will these games be a success or not, I don’t know, but I could ask an ‘expert’:

You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out; there are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials that obviously is not something which is encouraging.

So I lied, sue me. 😆

Anne’s Swiftyness

Sequoia Lizard

[The following is a guest post from my spovely louse, Anne.] “I drank too much coffee last night”, she complained bitterly. Since sleep did not come swiftly, I spent the time thinking about Swifties. Supposedly, they were invented by Tom Swift of Gulliver’s Travel fame. (check Wikipedia, she added parenthetically.) It’s been a Hard Day’s Night, she said with beetled brow, but here comes the sun. “St. Louis is the Gateway to the West”, she said archly. Kansas City demurred royally, adding, “It’s chiefly the gateway from the East.”

Then there were the (worldly) series of baseball puns. Carl and Jay may enjoy these, but only relatively. As the game starts, by the dawn’s early light, a Key ritual is when the ump sweeps the plate. The catcher plainly overheard the ump say, “My, how homely you are with all this dust.” Firstly, there was a dribbler down the line. “Safe!” the ump said fairly, while the first baseman glared at him foully. Secondly, the replay cameras minutely examined the 4-3 double play. Thirdly, there was a stand-up triple. Shortly, after that a pop-up fly was caught. After three innings, the pitcher started to throw balls. (What was he throwing before, she strikingly pondered?) The catcher came out, the infield came in, the ump came in, and fourthly, the manager came out. “Candlesticks are always nice”, the manager added presently. Bullishly, he penned a note, and took the pitcher out. “Go forth and pitch no more” he growled in relief as the pitcher slumped d-ejectedly. While this was going on out on the mound, the home crowd grew restless. “Who’s on first?” Abbot said comically. “What?” Costello replied straight away. I don’t know, but I think the interlude played famously. At the bottom of the fifth, Jack Daniels was out. In the sixth, Robert Redford hit a home run, naturally. In the seventh inning the left fielder gamely caught everything sent his way and liberally hit the ball past his opponents. In the penultimate inning however the center fielder was moderately inactive, as the batters shunned his position. “There is no crying in baseball!” we wailed bi-partisanly. The brazen hussies, Ichiro’s Bleacheros, cheerily said “and rightly so” as the walk-off home run soared into bleachers beyond first base. The Seattle fans, briskly fueled by all that coffee, walked home as well. (Or busily waited for the bus.)

Okay, I’m done. Except for one bike swiftie, before we ride our bikes swiftly into the park. “Your tire is flat” he said unairingly. [Congratulations, to the Mariners for being on the winning end of a no-hitter.] 😉