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A Conversation: Old wise men dissect The Cardinals at a diner

What in the White Walker hell are the St. Louis Cardinals doing this season? If this is baseball, I’m calling bullshit.

In order to solve this epic mystery, we are going live to an imaginary diner where old men eat donuts, drink coffee, and gripe about sports teams.

Stanley: The Birds lost yesterday in typical prostate alerting fashion. El Gallo pitched a gem, drove in a run, and seemingly set up the team for victory, but the bullpen misfired again. Cecil Whitaker’s couldn’t get three outs in the ninth, and the Pirates took the weekend bounty. (Stanley finishes his coffee, asks for another fill, and bites into his bear claw, which has fresh almonds.)

Henry: You know what that sounds like, Stanley-the whole frigging season. I don’t know about you boys, but Mike Matheny is General Custer in a different uniform. He leads his troops into a place with no idea how to succeed, looks good doing it, but has no playbook. Imagine a younger looking Tony La Russa with an imitation baseball manager practice managing teams out of a strip mall in Collinsville, and you have Matheny. This team needs a leader of winners, not just men. It starts with him. Finish him.

(As Henry stirs his black coffee together with a few drops of milk, Stanley gestures over to the incredibly sunny Louis.)

Stanley: Just wait for it, Henry. Louis thinks this team is winning 45 of their next 50, trading for Mike Trout, acquiring a box of rainbows, and winning the pennant, right?

Louis: I don’t see why not…(Stanley and Henry roll their eyes and shake their heads like they did when George W. Bush aced his first spelling bee.) It’s not that hard to imagine. Next year, all that television money is coming in, and the Cards can finally sign a superstar like Mike Trout or Nolan Arenado. Those players would turn this team into a true winner, equipped with on base percentage, swagger, and buy-in filtration.(Stanley looks up buy-in filtration, gets re-routed to reddit.) This year, all Mozeliak needs to do is whisk a few eggs together at the end of the month, because it’s never over until it’s over.

Henry: What in the hell are you talking about, Louis? This isn’t Bed, Bath, and Way Beyond or Harry Potter Goes to Kansas. Just because the Cards have money doesn’t mean they will spend it wisely or acquire the balls to disperse it correctly? That’s like buying a kid a larger magnifying glass to destroy more ants at one time with. Trout and Arenado will cost Mozeliak his entire ant farm. He’d rather sign Bud Norris‘ brother, Aaron Miles along with a Jenny Craig diet, and the ghost of the Cris Carpenter, the one who didn’t scream at Brendan Ryan. Forget the bacon and egg sandwich, I’m ordering you a pair of claws to pry your head from your ass.

Stanley: This team needs a shortstop, leftfielder, closer, and a brain on the bases. How do you get that?

George (who just walked in and threw his Post Dispatch in the trash): But wait, guys, if you handpick three weeks of play with this team, you can see upward trends-which is what I saw in my bowel movement last night. The stat guys will tell us the defensive runs saved is so great over the last week. Too bad the big picture looks like a pile of cat piss. I just read an article in the Post that made six references to That 70’s Show while referencing the breakout season of Tommy Pham. I feel for those writers, trying to figure out new ways to say, “Welcome back to the early 1990’s”.

Louis: Why are you guys so negative? This team has won so many playoff games since 2000?!!?

Henry: That’s like the government saying a lot of planes haven’t flown into towers since 2001.

Stanley: With this current Cards team, people say “HAS” a lot. Imagine pardoning a current team by saying: “It’s okay, the last 12 teams did good enough for you all to stink like expired sausage for a few years.” It’s recycled excuse making.

George: This team isn’t winning shit this year. Nothing. A participation trophy for Matheny to cut his finger on in December. Blow it up. At least that way the team can send a message to fans that they are done putting icing on an old cake, and instead, baking a new one.

Denise: Speaking of cake, I baked fresh one last night. Let’s all go destroy it instead of bitching like a pack of school girls about a professional baseball team. Instead of fixing them, how about finding out a way for them to not receive their millions due to bad performance? When I was a kid growing up in Belthato, Illinois, my dad laughed at the fact that Stan Musial made 500 dollars to play baseball. Now they make 500,000 dollars a game. Ridiculous! Cancel the checks!

Henry: Great point, Denise. Finally, someone with some vitrol instead of fruit punch. How’s Ed doing?

Denise: Rooting for the Red Sox again. Yeah, this team has pushed him back to styling his beard like Bip Papi and the funny walking steroid user isn’t even playing anymore. It’s gotten worse.

Stanley: You know what the sad thing is, we will still watch them. Win or lose.

Henry: It’s a disease, like tendonitis…

George: Yeah, tendonitis in the groin. I’m not watching this week. Netflix released a new series on the Oklahoma City bombing. They actually investigated that explosion, unlike this team.

Louis: Oh George, stop referencing real tragedies.

George: Why not? It’s all relative. Don’t be so sensitive. You wouldn’t last on Twitter.

Stanley: What’s twitter?

Denise: A place to voice your opinions in a single paragraph?

Henry: That’s not even a cup of coffee’s worth of print.

Louis: They can never take To Kill A Mockingbird away from us..

(Stanley, Henry, George, and Denise pull off an epic face plant, stare down Louis, pay their tabs, and leave.)

The 2017 Cardinals need a lot of help this year, and it doesn’t matter if they manage to stay in a division race that is looking more laughable by the week. Winning the 2017 Central would be like winning a Hot Dog eating competition without Joey Chestnut’s participation. Who cares?

The Cardinals have no legitimate proven left fielder, a slumping right fielder, an injury prone centerfielder, a first baseman who can only hit, a utility guy playing above his level, and two rookies looking mighty fine for a month.

The Cards would be wise to deal Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, Jedd Gyorko, and Tommy Pham this summer. Randal Grichuk if you show the team the right page of the comic book. Seung Hwan Oh if you show 2016 highlights.

Sell high and keep playing the kids this year. The Cards are 6.5 games out of first place in the middle of a soft month that toughens up in a few days. Like 2016, they are wasting valuable games to catch up. The Cubs, meanwhile, are making moves that improve their team this year and the next few, and that’s fine as long as the Cards have a plan.

I don’t know about you, but this kind of diner conversation should be happening all over the city. Therapy for a fanbase that hasn’t seen back-to-back playoff-less seasons in St. Louis in twenty years.

The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing there is one. The Cardinals have a problem, and it won’t be easy to fix. Selling is the first step. Take it from a guy who predicted 90 wins on zero alcohol in April.

Dan Buffa
Baseball has a way of bringing out the good, bad, and ugly in all of us. All I have is an opinion. Pull up a chair and hear me out. St. Louis born and bred.
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