2017: You Sucked. Good Riddance.
Lets get right to it.
Part 1 is here. (1-10)
Part 2 is here. (11-20)
And below you will find part 3.
This is the part of the post that I, @cardinalsgifs, say 'turn back now if you are easily offended'. I mean that. I don't wanna hurt your feelings. If you thought last year was an amazing year for the team, for management, for media, you may not like this post. In fact, you may hate it. The whole basis of this post started when CardsCards and I were talking about what would be remembered from the 2017 season 5 years from now. I asked him to help me, perhaps all of us, turn the page from 2017 to 2018.
21. Out? That’s Exactly Where We Want You
Only the Cardinals, man. Only the Cardinals.
I get that there are those of you out there that don’t agree with Pride night. Fine. You don’t want someone’s sexuality interfering with your ability to watch your sports and see men get all sweaty, and when they get super excited, slap each other’s asses. OK. To each their own.
Frankly, pretty much all post-game ballpark celebrations annoy me, except that I like that they tend to make traffic better when I leave. But even if you are against such a thing, you have to admit that this was a good PR move for a team that has needed good PR for YEARS.
And then they bungled it up.
The Cardinals still had Christian Day on their calendar, and Lance Berkman – who let’s just say doesn’t have the best relationship with the LGBT community – was a featured guest speaker. By all accounts the Christian Day was tame. Lance Berkman apparently talked about what Christianity meant to him, and nary a word was spoken about homosexuality or bathrooms or political opinions. Of course, when I say all accounts, one group that wanted an account was OutSports, an Online Gay Sports publication.
Naturally, they were interested in being present for anything Lance Berkman might say.
And they were denied credentials. Why? To quote Chris Tunno, the Communications Coordinator, “Major League Baseball and its member clubs do not credential web/blog sites. ... Major League Baseball and its member clubs credential only those media wishing to cover teams and their players, where a theme night would not fall under that category.”
Which is absolutely defensible, of course, if any of it proved to be true.
Instead we were treated to features by OutSports about how MLB says they totally could have credentialed them! Why it’s the team’s own discretion!
Then we were given ANOTHER story by OutSports that showed that – what do you know! – Chris Tunno himself HAS credentialed an online publication to cover an event!
In both cases, Chris Tunno, who again has “Communications” in his title, did not offer a comment.
This is ridiculous.
Now, I suppose I have to give a proper caveat here that Chris Tunno is responsible for giving our own Joe Schwarz a press pass to cover Winter Warmup – and there are future events that Birds on the Black would like to be credentialed for that are already in the works. So, yes, this website already has a preexisting relationship with Tunno that it hopes will continue. Thus, you may think that I am mincing words here, or playing nice, to do my part in it. It’s fair to question me and my motives here to not fully criticize Mr. Tunno. I apologize if you feel the following passage is, in fact, letting him off.
My lord the rank stupidity. The Cardinals KNEW Outsports would be at the event.
Tunno even suggested that they had to buy a ticket to attend. They did! Had they been credentialed, this would have been a virtual non-story by their own admissions. Nothing controversial was said! Instead, the Cardinals brought the controversy upon themselves and full well knew it the entire time. Then Tunno apparently didn’t think that a journalistic outlet would, you know, perform Journalism and actually look into his claims. And when those claims proved to be false, what happened? Silence. From the communications guy. The silliest part was that the other online site that had been repeatedly credentialed was an LGBT site. So it’s not like there was any homophobic actions at work here in any way. The Cardinals just managed to trip over themselves to make it look that way, and totally knew it was coming.
Cardinals install “Pride Night”
Cardinals hold inoffensive “Christian Night”
Cardinals historically credential an LGBT website
Cardinals combine the three to still manage to embarrass themselves and further the city’s reputation as being hostile to minorities.
Because they wouldn’t credential a website that they knew would be in attendance already. Awesome. That’s exactly the PR win a massive company should expect from their Coordinator of Communications.
22. Busy Doing Nothing
I am basically going to plagiarize the fantastic @erdrickstorm who recapped this disaster well here.
The Cardinals were struggling entering last July. On June 30th they sat 3 games under .500 and in 3rd place. It had been exactly 3 weeks since John Mozeliak had shuffled the coaches’ deck and declared that everyone’s job was on the line, including his. Since that time the team had gone a middling 11-9 and demoted its SS of the future, Aledmys Diaz, to AAA. This was the environment in which they announced the promotion of John Mozeliak, whose job was perhaps, not as on the line as was previously communicated. Mozeliak indicated this was a great time for the promotion as they were about to have a “busy July.”
Rumors of a Josh Donaldson deal surfaced, but nothing was finalized. The days ticked away slowly.
By July 13th the Cardinals had accomplished nothing. They had lost 2 games in the standings and stood, somehow, tied for 2nd with the Cubs, 5.5 games out of 1st.
The Cubs responded to this situation by trading for Jose Quintana.
The next day starts the 2nd half. The Cardinals lose to the Pirates. Bill DeWitt says the Cardinals are not buyers or sellers, they are “dealers.” In other words, you could expect the Cardinals to try to bring on talent. You can also expect them to waive some of their bigger trade chips, like Lance Lynn. This was a decision point for the team. If they were going to go for it, it was time to make their move. As bad as they had played, they were somehow still in it. They needed the support of the front office if they were going to win this thing.
Of course, as bad as they had played, they were actually, yes, pretty bad. If the Cardinals were going to throw in the towel, 5.5 out in mid-July is a good time. Trade your assets. Play the kids. Retool for 2018.
Really, the only acceptable option was to have a middling .500 team outside of the playoffs continue to be a middling .500 team out of the playoffs. Guess what happened?
One week later, on July 21st, the Cardinals finally made a trade. They traded minor leaguer Marco Gonzales for minor leaguer Tyler O’Neill. It was a good trade! It was also a trade that wouldn’t impact the 2018 club in any way.
The Cardinals were now only 3 ½ games out of 1st, albeit in 4th place. The division was winnable, but it was going to be hard. They needed to make a move.
July 31st was a day off for the team. Apparently it was a day off for the front office as well. While everyone was waiting to hear about the big bat, or the bullpen help, or the Lance Lynn move, exactly none of that happened. None of it. The Cardinals, and their busy July, went the entire month without making a Major League transaction. The future wasn’t helped. The kids weren’t playing. The team wasn’t helped. Nothing was bolstered. The talk had let to nothing.
But then Mo told us we were bound to have an active August. I even think some of you believed him.
Between injuries and ineffectiveness, it’s been a struggle over the last few years for Adam Wainwright. The man is a true competitor, who wants nothing more on the baseball diamond than to be on the top of his game and prove he is still an elite pitcher. He’s also semi-famous on twitter for having not quite the thickest skin, as he has been known to search his name and block negative (but not abusive) comments from even huge Waino lovers.
Then, in August, things got worse. Adam was clearly injured, and we were all awaiting news on just how injured he was.
Well, not all of us.
@DrMiles5, the co-editor over at Redbird Rants, wrote an article riddled with factual errors that basically declared Adam Wainwright’s career to be over. Miles later said this was poorly worded speculation, but reading the article “Planning For the Permanent Loss of Adam Wainwright” (which has since been edited in some way), it’s clear that Miles expected Adam’s injury to be the end of his career.
The best part, is that they tagged Adam in the post.
Adam Wainwright, perhaps not wanting to announce his retirement in a blog, took exception to this (and other factual errors).
Miles took a lot of abuse for his post. When a beloved public figure comes after you, and does so rightfully, it’s probably best to turn off the phone for a week. This isn’t what Miles did, however. He turned it into another post where he declared himself “Twitter Enemy #1.”
I’d suggest the tone of this article was poorly chosen.
Apologetic and confessing to errors, the article turns to defending his site with lines like:
“Let me do my best to be 100 percent clear here: FanSided and Redbird Rants is by fans (not media)”
He also posted a parable about making sure we don’t attack people for one mistake, and instead celebrate their successes. More on this in a bit.
You would think that would be the end of this, but it wasn’t. When it was later revealed that Adam would need surgery, that was in no way career ending, Miles wrote the following article:
This was….not good.
Because Adam came back to pitch briefly, but not pitch well, before his season ended, Miles concludes that his article where he stated the PERMANENT loss of Adam Wainwright was partially correct because Adam was almost basically out for the rest of the season (Though, again, Adam’s complaint was about his career).
The concluding paragraphs are real winners:
“So, there it is. Yet another procedure that very likely should have occurred back when I wrote my first article assuming it was coming. For that, I’m owed an apology. Second, I feel that I’m owed an apology since- in essence- his 2017 season was finished as evidenced in his weakened appearance on 9/23 and I had predicted that outcome as well.
Let me be perfectly clear: I like Adam Wainwright very much and am glad that he is on the St. Louis Cardinals. That said, I would like the apology but don’t really expect it and certainly do not NEED it; my ego is not that fragile.”
If you’ve been following along, I don’t need to explain to you why Adam has nothing to apologize for. But this reads as a statement that Adam’s ego is too fragile to issue the apology, while ignoring a pretty major truth:
Unlike the first article, they neglected to tag Adam in the 2nd article.
It was unwise to tag him in the 1st article, but then to ask for an apology in public, but not actually Adam himself? This is missing some class here folks.
Let me say that I actually personally like Miles a lot. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, a good Cardinals fan, and I believe that he, and the other members of Redbird Rants are actually victims of a terrible system set up by their overlords, Fansided. The way Fansided demands constant content for below living wages with disregard to quality means that you’re going to get at least occasional sloppy work, which I believe the 1st article was. It also means you’re hitting publish without being able to step back and ask how your voice is going to be received, which I believe the 2nd and 3rd articles were. That said, I think this incident should have been a wakeup call to Miles, as it ultimately is an embarrassment to us all.
Miles says they are fans, not media. It’s not true. While anyone can sign up for a blog, when you publish your thoughts to the world, you’ve instantly entered the realm of being media. They might also be fans, and many of them are amateurs, but they are definitely media. They definitely write each post hoping to get clicks and influence readers. Declaring yourself just a fan after you write something that gets attacked is a cop out from what your actual role is.
Furthermore, there are levels of responsibility here. I am an amateur writing for a small time blog. I have very little reach. Miles is the co-editor of a blog that is a subsidiary of Time. Their reach is huge. Anything they fart out will get countless more readers that what I produce. They know this. Why? Because Miles actually gets paid to write for them.
Sorry Miles, you’re getting paid to write for a website promoted on Sports Illustrated and owned by Time. Redbird Rants rivals Viva El Birdos as the most read Cardinals blog out there. You are definitely a part of the media.
The difference between Redbird Rants and the blog you just started 5 minutes ago is pedigree. You can write any crap you want and you’re just another moron on the Internet. Redbird Rants has the pedigree to expect levels of responsibility from them. In this, these articles failed.
Their failure caused a negative reaction from a Major League player with Major League followers watching how a good guy is treated by the media. Their screw-ups cause the little guys like us to be lumped in negatively with them. That the story continues to trip over itself with more and more articles is a repeated forehead slap of embarrassment for the reputation of the St. Louis media and the team’s relationship with its fans.
I realize this is small potatoes. I realize the guys at the PD weren’t exactly scared of this reflecting poorly on them. For the rest of us, it became just another thing for outsiders to mock about St. Louis.
24. The Pen Is Weaker
I wrote 2,000 words on Matheny and the bullpen, and then I stopped and deleted them. Either you know that he sucks at handling a bullpen, or you refuse to acknowledge he sucks at it. Nothing I say is going to change your closed little minds, and this isn’t really what this section is about. You’ll have think pieces telling you the bullpen really wasn’t that bad, and while there may be some truth to that, the people that wrote those articles were shaking in fear every single night, just like you and me.
Still, this isn’t all about performance. If Mariano Rivera was a Cardinal, people could have pointed to him and said “SEE? If Mike is a bad manager, why is Rivera doing so well?” The point is never the team doing good or bad, the point is the team doing better or worse than they otherwise would do.
One way the Cardinals drive me absolutely crazy in this capacity (and they are hardly alone), is the manly man concept of playing hurt. If your injuries are impacting your production, you most likely shouldn’t be playing. Your backup is possibly or even likely better than you, and you need time to heal so that you can be at your best. The Cardinals don’t know this and they end up shooting themselves in the foot over and over. This is how a Tommy John needing Lance Lynn sits on an NLDS roster. This is how a Yadier Molina that can’t swing still starts at catcher. In 2016, we saw on video Mike discussing an injury with Kevin Siegrist – and then allowing him to continue pitching – only to have him end up on the DL days later.
2017 was no different. We got to hear all about Matt Carpenter’s achy shoulder, we got to watch him throw balls like he was possessed by David Eckstein. We saw his stats dip well below Matt Carpenter levels (and below the levels of his roster replacements). And when the Cardinals had officially played their way out of contention, we saw Carpenter get shut down for the remaining few games. We are left to wonder what his season might have been like had he been dealt with earlier in the year. (As an aside, you can’t tell me Oh has felt right since the previous September)
The most egregious example of this, and not for the first time, was Trevor Rosenthal. Trevor, who spend a good month of 2016 getting the crap beat out of him before he was finally disabled (and came back strong), started 2017 out be being the lights out Trevor we all missed.
Here is a video captured on August 17th, where Trevor is warming up with clear discomfort.
He is discussing the pain. There is nothing hidden there. He was put in the game anyway. He threw 8 pitches, gave up a walk and a home run, and was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.
What was the point of putting him in? Did they think Trevor might suddenly get over it? Did they think Trevor would suddenly be good?
Nah, Trevor got hurt, and he blew the game. Win-win if you hate the Cardinals.