For the second straight start against the Reds, Adam Wainwright struggled. This start was not quite as bad as the previous one, but it still left some fans wondering if someone else had taken over Wainwright’s pitching arm. Cardinals fans are so accustomed to Wainwright being the one starting pitcher who could always be counted on that these last two starts have left fans foundering for answers in a sport where often things happen that defy explanation. Wild speculations and even accusations abound in this the age of unfettered and unfiltered internet expression.
Let me start by saying this. I have long bemoaned what I consider to be ill-mannered, rude, and often just downright ugly behavior by many fans on the internet (Twitter especially). I was brought up by good and grounded parents in a time when politeness and respectful disagreement between people was not only the norm, but was demanded. There were always exceptions, but those people were easily dismissed. I’m not perfect by any stretch; I have a short temper and a caustic tongue, which gets me into trouble. I do make attempts to reign it in at times when I sense I go a little too far. However, the behavior I see these days goes far beyond that. There is a tinge of malice to it, almost as if disappointments must be punishable rather than just taken in stride. Hurt must be applied liberally. I have attacked this behavior on Twitter and elsewhere but have been met with hostility. There comes a time when one must realize the war is lost. This is one of those times. Today I saw Adam Wainwright called a name that I could not repeat in this post. Adam Wainwright, one of the kindest, most respected players in MLB, a man who from all reports would give you the shirt on his back and all the money in his pocket. A player who gives everything he has and then some. That is when I knew it was over. I cannot stop this trend, I can only control my response to it.
Now, back to the baseball. Something is amiss with Wainwright’s pitching. There are any number of possible explanations. My first thought was that he was tipping his pitches; that perhaps the Reds hitters have picked up a subtle movement or gesture that Wainwright is not aware of. Another explanation is arm fatigue. Many believe, despite the denials of both Wainwright and his manager, that Wainwright’s recent 128 pitch complete game against the Braves was too much stress on his arm. It could also be just a factor of sheer randomness. The first two explanations have a possible cure. Careful perusal of video could aid in discovering any subtle changes that might be leading to the tipping of pitches. The arm fatigue issue is a little trickier. Skipping a start would be the obvious solution, but that would hamstring the team in the middle of a pennant race. However, it may be the only solution at this stage. If the bad starts are due to sheer randomness, then nothing can be done other than to continue to play it out and hope for a change in fortune.
Whatever the reason behind what has happened to Adam Wainwright, I am as sure as knowing the sun will come up tomorrow that Wainwright will do everything in his power to figure it out and change things for the better. In the meantime, calling him names or accusing him of being a head case who doesn’t care (which I saw too), does nothing other than make the speaker look foolish and unworthy of any further human discourse. I don’t need Adam Wainwright to win the Cy Young award or get attention from the national media or even win 20 games for me to know that he is a worthwhile human being who I would consider it an honor to know personally. All of the name calling and criticism and internet psycho babble nonsense that others demean themselves to engage in affects me not at all. In the end, my life will continue on the same and the world will go on. The rest of you can do as you please.
Bring on tomorrow’s game.