Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Halfway House: Cards Giving Little Reason for Hope

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Halfway House: Cards Giving Little Reason for Hope

Article excerpt

At this point, as a precautionary measure, it might be wise to place the entire St. Louis baseball-addicted population under a suicide watch.

The Cardinals officially have reached the midway point in the season. And one might say they have hit the halfway house at something less than a brisk pace. A Ford Bronco has been known to travel faster.

Locals are becoming despondent, at various levels. Lynch mobs are chasing after manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Joe Coleman. Some prefer pistols at dawn with Stuart Meyer. Others are simply placing calls to the city pound to take this dog away.

The Bud Bowl has become a House of Pain for ye faithful Fowl-lowers. The club has been demoralizing at home, limping with a 19-25 record after Wednesday's series finale with Houston. If it were one thing, one obvious fault, one oozing sore that needed a Band-Aid, there might be less reason for anti-depressants.

But with this team, you can pick your poison. One night, the pitching staff goes up in flames like the U.S. Olympic Festival torch. The starter might spontaneously combust, or the bullpen may come out throwing inflammable liquid on the proceedings.

The next night, the offense has a distinctly Bora Milutinovicesque design to it. The batting order plays for corner kicks.

All the while, the defense springs holes at the most inopportune moments. The cracks show up everywhere, in the sure-pocketed glove of Jose Oquendo or in the unpredictable nature of Geronimo Pena.

If there is a most perplexing aspect to this maddening mediocrity it might be the baserunning. Aggression on the bases was once a Cardinals staple. Now runners stick to bases as if they were stapled. First base coach Jose Cardenal couldn't coax a runner to steal with a cattle prod.

Remember how frustrating it was, in recent years, watching all those runners retired on pickoffs and caught in rundowns? Well, those worries are over. The lads have had noticeably fewer such casualties this summer. Our conscientious Cardinals never stray far enough from the bag to be vulnerable.

This club will not have a player steal as many as 40 bases for the first time since the strike-shortened 1981 season, when Tom Herr led with 23 steals. …

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