accomplished our task. But, it wasn’t easy. As our grandparents
used to say, "Sometimes when it rains, it pours."
Recently, the Redbirds have embodied every Murphy’s Law known to
man. They have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Surely the planets are just temporarily out of alignment. The
baseball gods must be away from Sports Center, Baseball Tonight, Fox
Sports and the CNNSI sports desk. They don’t realize how perilous
the situation has become.
have heard some baseball managers talk about how hard it is to be
successful with a 24-man roster. With as many injuries as the Cards
have endured, Tony LaRussa has seemingly been playing with a 14-man
roster (I hope he’s a golfer…he’d at least be adept in
utilizing his 14 clubs).
last few weeks I’ve been waiting for their fortunes to turn, to no
avail. I’ve been waiting for the law of averages to kick in
(although I’m confident that Murphy was totally ignorant of that
only thing keeping the Birds from a total train wreck was the shrewd
wheeling and dealing of general manager Walt Jocketty prior to the
trading deadline Pitcher Mike Timlin has been solid, and what can
you say about the ageless wonder, Will "The Thrill" Clark
(he reminds me of my all-time favorite Cardinal, Jack "The
with those outstanding acquisitions in hand, our feathered friends
were still mired in a funk. I had to do something about it. If you
saw your friend going down in quicksand, wouldn’t you try anything
to save him or her? I took matters into my own hands.
Jocketty has done a tremendous job, and on behalf of all Bird
backers everywhere I applaud his efforts. But my time was at hand.
No longer could I wait for another deal. The farm system could not
come to our rescue at this late date. I had to come up with a plan.
[From his perch in the right field bleachers, the LDN
sports editor gives St. Louis Cardinal rookie, Rick Ankiel the game
plan on how to beat the Brewers.]
Cards needed a good omen…they’ve had enough bad ones this season
alone to last for a decade. I somehow needed to invoke the baseball
went to the only place I could think of…and since I was already in
the area …I entered baseball’s Mecca, The Field of Dreams (most
of that experience I’ll share with you in an upcoming unrelated
story, so stay tuned…you never know what the LDN is going to hit
you with next).
immediately I could feel that things were going to change. As I
walked into the corn where Shoeless Joe and the other players have
been known to dwell, I could sense that they were feeling my pain
and the pain of Cardinal fans across the world. At the very least, I
felt like I was doing my part. No matter what happens from here, I
was doing everything in my power to help right the ship. The next
step would be transferring all of this good karma to our beloved
top of second column)
[From our perch in the right field bleachers
Milwaukee's County Stadium always looks picturesque. The Bob Vecker
Day celebration is going on in the background.]
by fate we chose to go to Saturday’s game (actually my wife didn’t
want to go to Friday night’s game, but don’t bother me, I’m on
a roll here). Just getting to the ballpark turned out to be quite a
quest. Whenever the Redbirds come to town, the crowds come out of
the woodwork. What should’ve taken 15 minutes took an hour.
after a long walk, we took our seats right next to Cardinal rookie
Rick Ankiel, who was warming up for his start in the bullpen. Using
the secret techniques (and they will have to remain a secret or I’ll
have to kill you) that Chief Illiniwek taught me when I was a grad
student at the U of I, I transferred all the good vibes I had picked
up at the Field of Dreams to the young Redbird southpaw. I even had
enough to douse all the Cards in the bullpen area, and believe you
me, they all needed it.
it turned out, it’s a good thing I was there. Ricky pitched a
whale of a game. Although he is not much of a conversationalist (he
didn’t say one word to me while I was giving him a pre-game pep
talk), he listened politely as I pointed out to him that he was the
man. That the buck was going to stop with him. That he was going to
draw a line in the clay. And he was brilliant. I think he only gave
up three hits.
[Construction on the Milwaukee Brewer's new stadium,
Miller Park continues on schedule. The old park, County Stadium is
in the foreground.]
was also glad that I threw a little dust on new Cardinal catcher
Carlos Hernandez. He got a big hit when we were leaving runners
stranded virtually every inning.
was pleased that I covered Timlin and Veres with the stuff too. They
seemed to be overpowering. Timlin even made one of the greatest
pickoff moves I have ever seen. And it’s a good thing that he did,
because what happened next epitomized the wacky dimension the Cards
have been trapped in.
great pickoff was the second out of the inning. The next batter
lifted a high pop-up between right field and the second baseman.
Vina and Drew were sprinting towards the ball and couldn’t hear
each other calling for it. They collided and the Brewers ended up
with a runner in scoring position down at second base.
pickoff was even huger now. That would have scored what probably
would have been the winning run. But you and I know what really
happened. And we know why it happened.
good stuff was still flowing when I went to press as the Redbirds
won the series on Sunday.
time for someone else to step up and help the cause…I’m