It probably costs a family of four at least $200 to attend a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium if they spend $35 each for the tickets, each person has a soft drink and a hot dog and you throw in the cost of parking.
Some people can only afford to go to one or two games a year and they buy the tickets months in advance, waiting in giddy anticipation for the date of the game to roll around. It's great fun to cheer with the crowd and watch some of the best players in the world show their skills as they battle it out for an important victory.
So, it's a slap in the face to those people to have to waste their money to watch this current bunch of Redbirds go out there and play like they couldn't care less if they win or lose. The Cardinals played sloppy in the Friday night opener and let a game they might have won get out of their grasp. But on Saturday they didn't even show up. On Sunday, it was a little bit of both. They didn't show up for the first two-thirds of the game, getting down by six. they stormed back with five late runs, but it was too little too late and they got swept in front of the Busch Stadium crowd. They really don't deserve their paychecks for that "effort."
The only thing this team does exceedingly well is rack up strikeouts. The Redbirds used to be renowned for drilling the fundamentals into players so that they played the game in its peak form by instinct. Now, besides Yadier Molina, it seems like most of these guys have never seen a baseball game before. There are about half a dozen guys on this team that I would miss if the Cardinals decided to clean house tomorrow, and they aren't the players who are supposed to be the leaders of the club besides Yadi. They're hope for the future in the form of Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Austin Gomber, Paul Dejong and Dakota Hudson.
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Jose Martinez and Matt Carpenter are so bad in the field they give back everything they do at the plate and then some. Kolten Wong is a mess at the plate and seems to be only getting worse the longer he has to settle into the big leagues. It's a shame he's getting to the more expensive part of his contract because he looks less like a controllable bargain and more and more like a budget albatross.
Marcell Ozuna is so-so. But the Cardinals didn't trade some top prospects — including fireballer Sandy Alcantara who just made a splashy debut with the Miami Marlins — for so-so. And I thought this guy was supposed to be a Gold Glover. Lately it looks more like he's playing left field with a glove — and shoes — made out of iron. Then there is Tommy Pham in center field. Everyone fell in love with him because he had one great season that it no way made any sense when compared to the rest of his career resume. This year he's back to normal, a guy with occasional power who is hitting about .250 with just enough speed to get himself into trouble on the bases. He said he wanted to be the first 30-30 homer man for St. Louis. To get there, he's going to need to have some kind of second half. And he's probably going to get caught stealing 26 times in the process. Pham hit a home run Sunday that gave some hope that he's coming back to life. But he's been giving away at-bats left and right for the past month.
That brings us to Dexter Fowler. Wow has he completely disappeared. He was supposed to be the spark for this team both in the leadoff spot and in the clubhouse. In short, he's been a big bucket of cold water. And he just doesn't seem to care about it. I could be wrong. But that's how it looks to the casual observer. What happened to that getting on base, stealing and putting pressure on the other team offensive catalyst? Is he hurt? Or did he just get the big contract he wanted and lose all hunger and drive?
This team was put together to have more chemistry and fire than the one that fell short of the playoffs the past two years. Mission unaccomplished. I think it's time for a major overhaul. There just aren't enough pieces there to compete.