Thursday, August 9, 2012

Game 7: The Decade of the Pitcher

Cardinals 3, Giants 1

Through the first seven days of the trip, we have seen some masterful pitching performances.  Josh Johnson started us off with eight and two thirds innings of mastery over the Nationals, Roy Halladay blanked the Diamondbacks over seven innings the next day, Wade Miley and Eric Bedard dueled in Pittsburgh, and Mat Latos struck out eight before his bullpen blew the lead.  Today continued the trend as Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright stymied the Giants lineup over seven innings to the tune of seven strikeouts.  This is a trend we expect to continue for the rest of the trip.

Two Aces: Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner
2010 was thought by many as the "Year of the Pitcher" with five no-hitters thrown and average runs per game taking a nose dive.  However, in the years since, this type of baseball has become the norm.  The MLB crackdowns that ended the steroid era have given birth to a new kind of game where quality pitching has become a team's deadliest weapon.  Unlike many analysts who lament the loss of high scoring contests and record-setting homerun hitting, I think this new development will transform baseball into a much more popular and entertaining sport in the decades to come.  Here are the reasons why:

Speed of Play
The most widespread complaint about baseball is that it is just too slow.  As the player who possesses the ball at a much higher frequency than anyone else, pitchers have the most control over the pace of the game.  A hurler who is firing strikes and mowing down hitters keeps the game moving and the audience in their seats.  On the other hand, inefficient pitchers can grind the pace to a halt and produce yawns from even the most die hard fans.  This is a completely unsubstantiated stat, but I would hazard a guess that the most common time for viewers to change the channel from baseball occurs during a mid-inning pitching change.

Run Importance
When runs are at a premium, scoring opportunities take on an added significance.  With runners on second and third in the fourth inning, fans on both sides are glued to their television screens because chances like this might not come around again.  Ten years ago small early leads mattered very little as most teams had the firepower to come back in the late innings.  While that still may be true for some squads, most teams must take advantage when opportunities present themselves or suffer the consequences.  Regardless of the inning, viewers should be on the edge of their seats during such moments.

Innovative Styles of Play
With the game changing, general managers and coaches have devised a wide variety of new strategies to manufacture runs and ultimately win baseball games.  We have seen the emergence of the Moneyball philosophies of Billy Beane, the pressure creating strategies of Ozzie Guillen, the small ball school of many National League managers, and many others.  No matter which method you support, we all can agree that variety in styles of play is the spice of life for a baseball fan.

The sport may never have the popularity of football or the star power of basketball, but as we travel around and watch game after game of efficient, exciting, and inventive baseball action, I know that the future of the game is bright.

Games watched: 7
Games to go: 23
Thuuz score: 50
Stadium: B+, Nice stadium, incredible view of downtown especially the St. Louis Arch, good incorporation of the organization's history with pennants prominently displayed and statues erected
Fan Atmosphere: C-, Surprisingly lacking. I'll give them a break for a really hot Wednesday afternoon, but for a team that has a brilliant history, a World Series ring from last year, and a realistic shot of making the playoffs, the showing was really poor. Entire sections were vacant and very little crowd noise could be heard at any time during the game.
Concessions: B+, Excellent food. Pulled pork was done very well with a heaping helping of fries. Beer selection was limited to Budweiser products for the most part, but all varieties were present. Pricing was expensive.
Quote of the Day: "I respect all religions: Christianity, Mormans, Muslims, Hispanics..." overheard on the O'Reilly Factor at a gas station in southern Illinois. You can provide your own commentary.
Tim Kurkjian Award: In the top of the 5th, Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner came up with a runner on first and one out. With two strikes, Bumgarner showed bunt before the pitch, brought it back as Wainwright started his motion and third basemen David Freese rushed towards the plate, and slapped a ground ball just to Freese's left for a single. This was a perfect execution of the fake bunt play that every Little Leaguer is taught at the age of 10.
Total Miles Traveled: 2,095
Miles to Next Game: 303 (Reds @ Cubs, August 10, 1:20pm)

Click "Read more" for photos from the day

Us outside Busch Stadium

Pregame Navy Ceremony

Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fries

Lots of empty seats

Stan "the Man" Musial


  1. Great photos! Creative photography. Fun and thanks! EKR

  2. Earlier this year Seattle shortstop, Brendan Ryan, was unsuccessful executing the fake bunt swing (he grounded out to third) and Dave Sims called it the "butcher boy", with no explanation of the term's origin. -dw

  3. Too bad you had that experience with the fans. In 2005 I did an 8 stadium tour with my son (with whom you guys share a mutual friend, BTW) and the St. Louis fans were the most devoted of our trip. We won't soon forget: Having spent the day touring the city we stopped back in our hotel before the game, and shared the elevator with a man and woman about my age and their teenage daughter. I commented to my son, purposely loud enough to be overheard "Ya know, these might be the first people we've seen all day who aren't wearing Cardinals' red." The girl immediately dropped her bag and to our GREAT surprise and apprehension pulled her grey sweatshirt up to her neck to reveal... a Cardinals' t-shirt. That was our Tim Kurkjian moment for St. Louis.

    I'm really enjoying your blog. Have fun!