Where Have You Gone, Chris Carpenter?


Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak announced in a press conference this afternoon that long time pitching ace Chris Carpenter has suffered a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery and is unlikely to pitch in 2013 and possibly never again.  A return of the symptoms Carpenter first experienced in his neck and shoulder this time last year puts the Cardinal pitcher in the position of deciding what his future will bring.  It is a profoundly sad day for Cardinal Nation.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter (29) in the dugout during game four of the 2012 NLDS against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever gotten news that made you want to drown your sorrows in that bottle of Canadian Whiskey in your pantry and then run outside screaming until your neighbors call the cops?  I am at a point where I don’t know what to say or do.  I knew I had to post about this, but what to say that didn’t sound trite, maudlin, or just downright boring.   I’ve been a fan of Chris Carpenter since 2005, and the thought that is is all over, that the big lug will never scream naughty words on the mound again, that he will not pitch games that make the Gods envious, that I will never see that scruffy bearded, adorable guy giving 200% of himself for my favorite baseball team……well, crying is too easy.  I knew it would come sooner or later, but I envisioned being eased into it, kind of like the Chipper Jones Farewell Tour of 2012, only with more testosterone.  Just one more season for Reds fans to hate on him, so we could all mock them and tell them they wish he was on their team.  Just one more season with both Carpenter and Wainwright, co-pitching aces extraordinaire.

As Al Hrabosky would say, I know no one feels worse about it than Chris.  Though I challenge him to a close second.  I can’t put it into words exactly, saying it’s like my dog died doesn’t seem to be a particularly appropriate analogy, though I really did love my dog and was sad when she died.  It’s like cutting off a limb of an old oak tree; the tree still lives and thrives, but the tree just never seems the same again.  The Cardinals will continue to thrive, but that limb is gone and it’s just a different tree now.  I will miss seeing him in the dugout, spitting sunflower seeds and cutting up with Waino and the gang.  I will miss that head that doesn’t know whether to grow hair or not, I will miss the &@$^*)(%  and the %#$@^%# that comes out of his mouth when he’s competing, calling Mike Napoli whatever it was he called him ( I know what it was, I am just not going to repeat it, this is a family blog).  Reds and Brewers and Cubs fans just don’t understand and never will, and Zack Greinke wouldn’t know phony if it bit him in the posterior end.  Don’t even get me started about Johnny Cueto.

Chris Carpenter is the greatest Cardinal pitcher since Bob Gibson, no question.  He is just as much an icon to this Cardinal team as Albert Pujols ever would have been.  And if it’s true that his career as a pitcher is over, I sincerely hope his career as a Cardinal is not.  Many think he would make a terrific pitching coach; I happen to agree.   I would say that regardless of what happens, Carpenter deserves his day with the fans, a tribute that gives the fans the chance to love on him as he deserves.   Just name the day and I will make every effort to be there in person.  I never got a chance to meet Stan Musial, but if my life ever straightens out enough for me to make a Winter Warm Up, I would go just for the chance to shake his hand and say a few words.  He means that much to me.

I love you Chris Carpenter, in that platonic, fan adoring sort of way, and if you never know anything else about me, know that.  Baseball for me will be different without you.