The WWE sure knows how to play the fans. Raw was live from Chicago this week. After weeks of wondering what would happen due to local boy and company star CM Punk leaving, Raw went off without a hitch, and without Punk. Much to the chagrin of the fans, Punk never showed. What made it even more surprising, was that WWE actually mentioned Punk, teasing fans of a Punk appearance to start the show, as Paul Heyman came out to Punk’s music. The start of the show made it clear that Raw was going to be interesting.
Heyman came out and delivered his own so-called “Pipe Bomb”, but not about Punk, but Brock Lesnar. Heyman said Lesnar would end the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania 30. To prove Heyman’s point, Lesnar destroyed Mark Henry with an F5 into the announcer’s table. In the process, Lesnar nearly seriously injured a young fan, as he madly tossed the prompters from the announcers table. It was a great way to kick off the show in a hostile environment.
While some may have been disappointed at Punk’s no-show, the Wyatt’s and The Shield made up for it with another classic battle. The Wyatt’s got the win again, but this time it was due to Seth Rollins leaving his team stranded in the middle of the ring as he walked away. This will no doubt set up a triple threat match at WrestleMania between Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Rollins.
This week’s edition of Monday Night Raw was, in my mind, a pivotal episode for the WWE. Not only did the WWE deliver a solid show, they got fans excited for the granddaddy of them all, WrestleMania 30.
Raw kicked off with The Immortal, and leathery looking, Hulk Hogan making his way to the ring. The Hulkster still looks good for his age, 60, but he needs to drop the boa, it’s very unmanly. I was expecting Hogan to be a bigger part of the show then he was, unfortunately, all he did was pimp out the Network. So, the first 10 minutes of Raw was Hogan selling the Network and announcing he was named the host for WrestleMania 30. Not exactly what I expected from the Hulkster, but anytime the greatest professional wrestler alive can return to Raw, it’s a good thing and a ratings grabber.
The first match of the night was a rematch between Alberto Del Rio and Batista. Yes, a rematch from the Elimination Chamber pay per view, because the match was just so thrilling the first time around, right? The Animal is going to have to turn heel. The crowd absolutely hates Batista. They booed him the entire match. After Randy Orton came out to the stage, Batista was distracted and Del Rio rolled him up for the win. Following the upset, Batista let loose one of the funniest quotes of the night. “If they cheer me, I cheer them back. If they boo me, I boo them back.” Really? I guess it’s hard to come up with a good comeback when you have all that muscle. On a serious note, I am praying they change the main event of WrestleMania. It will be a nightmare if the WWE decides to go ahead with the main event without Daniel Bryan. Fans may riot if that happens.
I rooted hard for Peter Kozma. I really did.
The Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2007, Kozma escalated through the system based mostly on the merits of his glove, which I’ll admit was terrific last year. His bat, though, was never that great to begin with, and I think Cardinals fans were falsely given hope thanks to the small sample size of 2012 and his “what just happened” game-winning hit in the NLDS:
After putting on a post-season performance that’ll be remembered in St. Louis likely for the rest of its existence, David Freese had a terrific 2012 season, posting a .839 OPS and earning his first All-Star spot. He struggled heavily in 2013, though, posting an OPS+ barely above the league average, and he was downright abysmal in the post-season, recording more strikeouts (16) than hits (10). As a result, Cardinal management decided to give him a change of scenery, packaging him and Fernando Salas and shipping them to Anaheim for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
St. Louis has had a bit of a revolving door when it comes to the middle of the infield. Second base has been the worst overall culprit. How bad? The last player to start more than two seasons in a row as the opening day second baseman was Fernando Vina, whose final season with the Cardinals was in 2003.
Since then, the Cardinals’ Opening Day starters at second base have been:
2004 – Tony Womack
2005 – Mark Grudzielanek
2006 – Aaron Miles
2007 – Adam Kennedy
2008 – Adam Kennedy
2009 – Brendan Ryan
2010 – Skip Schumaker
2011 – Skip Schumaker
2012 – Daniel Descalso
2013 – Daniel Descalso
Not exactly a beacon of awesome or consistency.