Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Strauss: Road-Heavy Schedule No Help for Cards

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Strauss: Road-Heavy Schedule No Help for Cards

Article excerpt

Rumor has it St. Louis still has a major league baseball team. The statement has nothing to do with the locals still loitering within one game of .500 and everything to do with their lack of time within the city limits since the season opened.

The Cardinals began officially reporting to spring training on Lincoln's birthday. Today Feb. 12 seems four score and seven years ago. Gregg Marshall and the Wichita State Shockers have since been in St. Louis as much as the defending National League champions. The Blues remained on Olympic break. The Ryan Miller trade hadn't happened. Frank Haith remained Mizzou hoops coach. SLU was building toward a fleeting No. 8 ranking. Heck, Mel Kiper was still on his first of 374 mock drafts.

The Cardinals today conclude their second three-city road trip of the season. They'll have played 26 of 38 games away from the marketing-friendly confines of Busch Stadium.

Not since 1927 another spring in which the Redbirds were defending NL champs has the club endured a schedule so front- loaded with away games. Of course, the Cardinals represented the game's most western and southern franchise during the Roaring '20s. President Bill DeWitt III aptly likened the franchise as the Seattle Mariners of that era. Three-week road trips and 100-minute games were common.

In May '27 the Cards split 20 consecutive road games among the other seven NL cities before returning for a 29-game home stand.

The Cardinals on Sunday play their sixth game of the season in Pittsburgh, half as many as they've played at home. If it seems like we don't know these Redbirds ... well, maybe we don't. They're playing with hop-scotch consistency that leaves them without a series sweep nearly a quarter into the schedule. They've often pitched brilliantly and hit invisibly.

To date, one would classify the Cardinals as either overrated or enigmatic.

A team that averaged 4.83 runs per game during its 97-win 2013 entered Saturday night averaging a puny 3.64 runs. Year-to-year disparity equates to 194 fewer runs over 162 games. As well as they've pitched, the Cardinals can't expect to reach 90 wins with this sort of offensive production.

Or might "gassed" be another description?

Entirely laying a frustrating start on an absurd early schedule would be the height of enabling. But completely disregarding it would be cavalier.

"Anytime you've been on the road a long time it makes it tougher because you're playing in the other guys' parks where they like to play and the crowds are hostile," pitcher Adam Wainwright told Post- Dispatch baseball scribe Derrick Goold on Friday. "We also know we haven't played to the standards we expect of ourselves. It adds an element of toughness. At the same time, we can play a lot better."

The Cardinals requested to open the season on the road partly to ensure Ballpark Village would be fully operational when fans took in the home opener. …

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