Game 3 of the NLCS is set to start at 3:07 CDT today at Busch Stadium, but Mother Nature may have something to say about that. Bad weather is forecast for St. Louis today which could put a damper on things. At least a rain delay is a very good possibility and a postponement could also be a result. According to the Post Dispatch, if today’s game is rained out, it will be played tomorrow night, with Game 4 moved to Friday night, and Game 5 on Saturday afternoon. That means the Cardinals would lose their off day and would give them a short travel window to get back to San Francisco if Game 6 is necessary. Not optimum for either team really, but October baseball in open air stadiums can be tricky that way.
While readers ponder these possibilities, I am going to take the opportunity to give some of my thoughts on some notable postseason issues. The most talked about is probably the Holliday Slide, as it has become known. For those who have been living in a cave and don’t know what that is, in the first inning of Game 2 in San Francisco, Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday made a controversial slide into Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro in an attempt to break up a potential double play (he succeeded). As a result of a late start to his slide, Holliday actually slid over the bag and hit Scutaro in his left side, sending him to the ground. After some brief time lying on the ground and some attention by his trainer, Scutaro remained in the game, and later hit a game winning RBI single for his team. Scutaro played until the 5th inning, when he was removed. Initial x-rays on Scutaro’s left leg were negative; a follow up MRI revealed a strained left hip and contusion. However, it appears that Scutaro will be able to play in Game 3.
Now that you have the facts, here is what I think. Holliday’s slide was late, that is pretty clear, and even Holliday admits to that. Scutaro is positioned behind the bag, and the possibility that Scutaro could have gotten out of the way and didn’t does exist. However, putting all that aside and focusing solely on the actions of Holliday, I think that it was an unintended, unfortunate event that Scutaro got hurt. I also don’t think the play was “dirty” to use the vernacular. To me “dirty” means the player had some intent, or at least a pretty good idea that he was going to hurt someone. Sliding into the bag with the intent to break up a double play is pretty commonplace in MLB. It is not a violation of the rules to do so as long as certain criteria are met. You can’t go outside the baseline, and you must be within sufficient distance to touch the bag. Holliday’s slide met these criteria and was legal. Now, some people think it shouldn’t be, and that is for another post. But, it was a legal slide, and all the fist pounding outrage doesn’t change that fact.
Holliday plays hard, that is a known fact. And he’s a big guy, that’s pretty obvious, but there are bigger guys in MLB. Aside from changing the rule to make these plays illegal, I don’t think we can fault a player for playing within the rules because of his genetic makeup. Creating an unwritten rule culture where it is acceptable for Shane Robinson to play hard, but not Matt Holliday, is not a culture I want to live in, and if most fans were honest with themselves, they don’t either. Yes, it sucks when it is one of your players that gets hurt; I sure didn’t like it when Josh Harrison barreled into Yadier Molina, but I didn’t scream for Harrison’s public execution. I understand that Giants fans are skittish about these things given what happened to Buster Posey, I get that. But baseball rules and culture don’t and shouldn’t exist for the comfort of Giants’ fans. Either change the rules or accept what they dictate. Baseball does have ways to police these things. If the right opportunity arises, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Holliday get his back or thigh met by an errant pitch at some point. I bet Holliday wouldn’t be surprised either. And as Cardinals’ fans we shouldn’t get upset by that as long as Matt isn’t injured. After all, Josh Harrison got a present from Jake Westbrook after he ran into Molina. That’s baseball folks.
Another issue I thought I would address is not one that is getting much attention outside of Cardinal Nation. It seems that the Cardinals are not a very popular bunch right now among fans of other teams. In fact, upon perusing some websites I have found some ugly kind of hatred brewing in some quarters. On one site in particular which I won’t name, I discovered an entire thread devoted to giving people the opportunity to express their deep hatred for the Redbirds in some very nasty and colorful ways. The reasons for this hatred I’m sure are varied. One could cite jealousy as one factor. The Cardinals do win a lot, after all they do have the second most World Series Championships in baseball. Another factor may be the Tony LaRussa factor. Let’s face it, the Cardinals’ former manager wouldn’t win any popularity contests outside of Cardinal Nation and maybe a couple of other places. Some people don’t like Chris Carpenter, I guess because he has a strong personality and a colorful vocabulary when he is on the mound. And he competes, probably more fiercely than some people find acceptable. Whatever. Anyhow, people don’t like the Cardinals. Okay, they have that right. I guess what I don’t understand is what do these people expect the Cardinals to do? Deliberately lose so that they won’t be hated? If you are a fan of another team would you want your team to do that? The logic of all this escapes me Maybe I should have a long talk with a Yankees’ fan, they are probably used to this. Nevertheless, if the hatred stems from winning a lot, then that is a hatred I am willing to live with. Hate away, folks, and keep those World Series trophies coming.
If you are going to the game today, stay dry. Go Cards!