March 05, 2014

Bernie Miklasz boo-hoos for nonexistent #CardinalWay

Can't you just feel the Cardinal Way?
Does it smell like St. Louis teen spirit?/AP photo
I am officially calling bullshite on St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, and for something besides running flak for Mark McGwire on andro, vs. an AP reporter, in 1998, the Year of Magic Year of Tainted Dreams.

His nonsensery? A column that, in addition to being 2x too long, invokes the mystical Cardinal way in pleading, begging, imploring with tear-stained peepers, for Ozzie Smith and his managerial arch-nemesis, Tony La Russa, to kiss and make up.

Yes, because a feud like that goes against "the Cardinal way." No, really. Read:
The last thing any Cardinals' greats should do is feud; that dishonors what they're representing. That isn't the so-called Cardinal Way. Why should other Cardinals Hall of Famers be made uncomfortable when the old gang gets together just because two guys can't settle some dusty dispute that's 18 years old and inconsequential to their current stations in life? These iconic men should be smiling and happy and proud to stand together as one.

Oh, and then, there's this bit of saccharine on top:
Mr. La Russa ... Mr. Smith ... can we end this?

Can we please have peace in our lifetimes?

Or as Stan "The Man" Musial might put it: Whaddaya say, whaddaya say?
Wow. Invoking St. Stan Musial. I'm just about to cry a freaking storm. If I were diabetic, I'd be in a coma by now.

Yeah, a manager who deliberately stacked the deck from spring training on, against Ozzie and in favor of Royce Clayton, and showed zero clue or sensitivity beyond that about how to handle the retirement year of a Hall of Famer who was, despite an injured 1995, in at least as good of walkoff-year health as Derek Jeter this year, should have Ozzie just give him a big hug and a smooch.

Even worse, Bernie has now doubled down on the stupidity, in a new column:
Tony La Russa boxed himself in back in 1996, when he announced that Ozzie Smith and Royce Clayton would compete for the starting job at shortstop during spring camp. The Cardinals obviously acquired Clayton from the Giants with the plan to use him extensively, but didn't want to be insensitive to Ozzie before the players reported to Florida. The proud Ozzie had other ideas and outplayed Clayton during the spring games. That put La Russa in a real bind. 

So the starting job went to Ozzie, right? Uh, no. Clayton had 531 plate appearances in 1996; Ozzie had 261. I thought it worked out fine, because La Russa and the Cardinals received good play from both shortstops. Clayton ranked among the NL's best shortstops in zone rating. And in his final season Ozzie stayed fresh and vibrant as an occasional starter.

But TLR's allocation of playing time at SS became a prominent side issue that never went away in '96. It was a sore point for Smith and many fans.
Er, this is a selective reading. In reality, when weighted per at bats, Ozzie was better on defensive runs, and about even on offensive runs per the shortstop position. B-R ranks him higher on both WAR and WAA; in fact, Clayton gets a negative. And Fangraphs agrees. There, on net run production, Ozzie's 5 runs ahead of Royce for that year, with half as many at bats.

So, "whaddaya say"? I say that TLR was definitely more in the wrong, and has never fessed up.

Beyond that, as his fellow P-D columnist, Bill McClellan, recently pointed out, and blogged about  by me here, TLR isn't exactly the "Cardinal way" guy anyway. His Cooperstown plaque will have no team logo. He never lived in St. Louis in offseasons or spent significant time there.

Per that link, in an email exchange, Bill referenced Andy Van Slyke, too, speaking of players feuding with TLR. I forgot about the history between him and TLR, over LaRussa's knowledge of Big Mac's roiding. (Oh, a good sabermetric based piece here about how Mac showed TLR should have known.) That wasn't the only tangle they had, though. But, that tangle alone, plus Bernie acting like a 1950s sportswriter in carrying Big Mac's bags, probably is more illustration

The Busch Stadium mound, baptized and exorcised by Waino
And, speaking of McClellan, and Stan Musial, and "whaddaya say," Bernie, why don't you ask if Adam Wainwright and other Cardinal pitchers are going to draw Christian fish symbols on the mound again this year? Since it's been a year-plus since Musial's death, they and Mike Matheny can't claim it's a "6" any more.

Beyond that, it's bullshite like this that make fans of many other teams barf when they hear "the Cardinal way," anyway. So, please, fellow Cardinal-loving bloggers, stop? Bernie Miklasz's column explains to a T why you should stop this. It's arguably more true than the Dallas Cowboys calling themselves "America's Team, but that's about it.

I mean, I lived in St. Louis for two different stretches of my life, my last two years of high school plus first couple of college summers, and a half-decade later, three years of grad school plus a year afterward. Loved the city. Still would like to live there, even at the price of figuring out ways to dodge relatives on religious holidays, speaking of the baptized Cardinals' mound.

(More here on the images, along with additional images. More here on the strongly Christian and clubhouse character background I'm not sure the team ever owned up to who was doing this. They did eventually remove them, which prompted national wingnut talking heads to spout off.)

Related to this, I'm also calling bullshite on any Cardinal blogger who again talks about how TLR had a preference for veterans. Ozzie's final year was just as good as Clayton's 1996, no matter how much TLR tried to stack the deck. Both B-R and Fangraphs say so.

Speaking of Fangraphs, a page linked there shows that the Wiz could do it in the field on grass as well as Astroturf. 

This, between the sheer stupidity and wrongness, and 400 wasted, overblown words, may be the single worst column Miklasz has written since coming to St. Louis 20-some years ago. 

Finally, I'll freely admit to bias on this issue. Said bias includes a sports P1 pic of the Wiz, from a pre-Miklasz P-D, diving into the hole for a patented stop, with Ozzie's autograph perfectly placed on top. I've never met the gentleman (which I perceive him as being), and I'm not saying he's guiltless. But, unless one wants to go past Bernie into Buddhist/hippie/New Ager/Obama Kumbaya land, one person needs to stick his hand out first.

And it ain't Ozzie Smith.

Note for Yankee manager Joe Girardi: If you want a good example of how to handle Jeter's final year, look at Tony La Russa, 1996 model, and do exactly the opposite.

(Update, Feb. 25: Bernie, if you're really worried about the "Cardinal Way," you need to keep an eye on Carlos Martinez, obviously [NSFW].) 

Or, read your office mate Bill McClellan, who politely says STFU about the "Cardinal Way." Re Martinez, he notes:
There is no “i” in team, but there is definitely an “i” in Twitter.
 Got it.

And, NOT gonna "get it" — the Cardinal Way is in book form

Seriously, Miklasz at times is starting to sound like one of those 1950s sportswriters who always traveled with the team, often drank with the team and sometimes wenched with the team. Bernie, I'll venture that Mozeliak has a PR position available, or can create one.

Otherwise, Bernie, you can write better than this. You have many a time, before.

If I want to up the facetiousness level, was Garry Templeton flipping off the fans the Cardinal Way? Keith Hernandez snorting coke in the Cardinal dugout? Rumors of players cheating on other players' wives in the 1980s? David Freese and his DWI problems? Not to mention other Cardinal DWI problems, like Tony himself, passed out at the wheel.

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