I forget what year all that ‘Hard Nine’ crap flooded St. Louis, but Tony LaRussa’s mantra was all the rage around 2005 or 2006.
A blue collar town, crazy about the Cardinals, LaRussa saw how well the Rams resonated with ‘Gotta Go To Work’- Dick Vermeil’s similar slogan- and ran with it. It humanized millionaires. Made it seem like guys who play a ball game for a few hours every night know what it’s like to have their asses handed to them by a foreman or get burnt out on a roof from 6a to 8p six days a week. Like most marketing the Cardinals do… it worked. We believed that LaRussa, and by extension the players, were not the type of people that wouldn’t give 110% until that final out was recorded. They were like us; hard workers. Maybe they didn’t win every game, but they damn sure weren’t going to lose from trying.
Last night the Cardinals lead the Colorado Rockies 9-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. They lost the game 12-9. We are awash in blame today.
Randy Winn absolutely butchered a ball in right field. Aaron Miles was shaky at best at second base. Molina let a passed ball by that plated a run. Franklin served up some serious meat. Reyes was a gas can. LaRussa played for extra innings before he even got there….
The list goes on.
But it doesn’t matter. Great teams in baseball lose 60 times a year. Playoff teams can lose 70 or more times and still win it all. Baseball is a game of failure. Where succeeding 3 out of 10 times makes you an All-Star, not an also-ran.
More bluntly- baseball is a fucking grind. A athletic sausage factory that’s relentless and cruel. The teams that can keep it in the casing the best are the ones that are playing in October.
The Cardinals have exactly 1/7 of the NL All-Star team in 2010 on their roster… RIGHT NOW. All of them are playing, none are injured. Night after night, they roll out one of (theoretically) the best line-ups in all of baseball. So why are they mired in second place? Why can they not get the traction we all expected by now?
As cliché as it may be… these guys just don’t play a hard 9.
And that’s on Tony. And Albert. And every other player on this team. Because you shouldn’t turn 6 run leads into 3 run losses in the bottom of the ninth. You shouldn’t be laughing when Reyes hits for himself in the top of the inning and doesn’t run down the line. You shouldn’t be hoping the other guy makes a play and not take the onus of the game unto yourself.
No. You have to respect the fact that the other side has paid players that want to win too.
St. Louis takes a lot of horse shit from the Cardinals. And we take it because we all love baseball. But I can promise you one thing: St. Louis never has and never will take a team that cashes checks.
We’re all working our asses off today, Cardinals. Wish we could say the same for you last night.