Jun 2010 07

I’ll admit, I didn’t get to follow the Cardinals this weekend.

Instead, I spent the weekend in glorious Grafton, Illinois, camping at



Pere Marquette with my friends Mike, Chris, Jessica, and her family. An epic time was had. Overeating, overdrinking, drunk swimming, trading drinking stories with her uncles. I did decide to collect mosquito bites, however. Pretty sure my legs look like I have smallpox, and I have a couple in spots that when I scratch them, it looks like I’m still just having a good time.

Unfortunately, deep into Marquette Park, Sprint offers no service. So, I was at the mercy of the baseball gods until Sunday afternoon when I could catch up on the weekend.

Fortunately, the Cardinals didn’t miss me, it seems.

Friday night, Adam Wainwright dominated the Brewers for his first career complete game shutout, winning 8-0. I was pretty surprised he’d never done that before, as he’s been an absolute horse the last few years.

Saturday, Adam Ottavino pitched much better than his ’10 debut, giving up two earned runs in five innings on his way to earning a no decision. The Cardinals eventually won in 11 innings, 5-4.

Last night, Jaime Garcia turned in yet another excellent quality start, giving up two earned runs in six innings. It’s a shame he’s quietly having one of the best years and is flying under the radar for most.

In terms of offense, well, Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus have been carrying the team.

In his last ten games, Pujols is hitting .371, slugging .800 with an OBP of .468 and six HR to go with 15 RBI. He’s now third in the National League in average, second in slugging, tied for first in home runs and RBI, and first in OBP and OPS. Rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Rasmus has been even hotter in his last six games, hitting an even .500 and slugging 1.000 with a .577 OBP and three HR and nine RBI. Hopefully the tightness in his calf dissipates quickly, as this is one of his patented scalding hot streaks. He’s now sixth in the NL in OBP, fifth in slugging and third in OPS.

Right now the Cardinals are playing some premium baseball, last night’s game notwithstanding. A few of the guys are dinged up, but fortunately, the bench is deep enough that LaRussa can rotate players in and out to give the ailing guys a temporary reprieve.

I have to say, I was a little surprised at the addition of Randy Winn this weekend. Winn is a decent outfielder with less than average pop who’ll hit for a decent average. I guess the Cardinals liked the fact that he can play any OF position, but it seemed like John Jay was finally hitting his stride, and with Colby and Studwick dinged up, I thought he’d get some more at bats under his belt.

The MLB draft is coming up this week. I’m curious to see what the Cardinals will do. I think they went in the right direction last year with their first pick, choosing a raw, high-upside talent rather than the safer picks they’ve gone with the last few years.

After this draft, start watching the Nationals the next few years. This year, I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’re gonna pick Bryce Harper, the 17-year-old prodigy who got his GED early so he could play junior college ball. All he did was hit .442 with 29 HR and 89 RBI. In 62 games. Over the course of a 162-game season, that’d project to 76 HR and 232 RBI. No big deal. Keep in mind that, although it is junior college, he’s also playing against competition 2-4 years older than he, and they used wood bats during their regular season instead of composites. The kid has incredible bat speed and a cannon arm.

Meanwhile, their top draft pick last year, Stephen Strasburg, is set to make his major league debut on Tuesday. Strasburg dominated the minor leagues and shot to the majors. And I was lucky enough to draft him on my fantasy team, suckas. I was fortunate to have a strong enough rotation (Ubaldo Jimenez, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Francisco Liriano, Mark Buehrle) that I could hold off drafting an immediate MLB starter and pick Strasburg, who I figured wouldn’t arrive ’til June. Regardless of who you root for, all eyes will be on Washington DC tomorrow.

On a non-baseball note, I didn’t hear until Sunday that John Wooden passed away on Friday from natural causes. If you haven’t heard of him, John Wooden put together perhaps the greatest college basketball dynasty of all time, winning 10 national championships in 12 years at UCLA. He preached a fast-paced, physically demanding game in an era when most of the West Coast schools played a more deliberate game.

Well above that, however, was his character. I never met the man, but just Google his name and read the personal accounts of those close to him. The man was a lesson in integrity. He did more than coach his players; he taught them lessons they’d need along the way in life. He never cursed at refs. He married his high school sweetheart, and after she passed away, he began writing a letter to her on the 21st of each month, placing it on her pillow on their bed. He did this every month until he he passed.

If you get a chance, read his seven point creed and his Pyramid of Success. You’ll be glad you did.

He spoke constantly about how the rest of his life was biding time until he was reunited with his wife, Nellie. And so, while the rest of the world remembers him in a somber mood, you get the feeling he couldn’t be happier.

In pace requiescat.


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