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Bernie Bits for 8/27

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  • Bernie Bits for 8/27

    Bernie Bits: Pujols suffers only by comparison with Pujols
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/27/2005

    WASHINGTON - His batting average for August is .290, and he's swatted seven homers with 14 runs batted in. He's scuffling with runners in scoring position this month, batting .250.

    Obviously, these aren't terrible numbers. But because the stats belong to the indomitable Albert Pujols, they're considered unacceptable and well beneath his standards.

    When Pujols has a weak 0-for-four game and leaves three runners in scoring position - as he did in Friday's 4-1 loss to the Nationals at RFK Stadium - you can hear the grumbles wherever Cardinals fans convene.

    What's wrong with Albert?

    He's going to squander the MVP award.

    Well, the man is hitting .334 with 35 homers, 98 RBIs, a .427 on-base percentage and a .620 slugging percentage. And yet there's a feeling that he should be doing more.

    Never mind that the placement of hitters around him has been rudely busted up by injuries to Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker (who has returned). Most of AP's protection is gone, save for Jim Edmonds, who is batting .269 with 22 homers and 72 RBIs after posting .301, 42 HRs and 111 RBIs in 2004.

    Pujols bats third, and those who have hit behind him this season include John Gall, So Taguchi, Mark Grudzielanek and Yadier Molina.

    No wonder pitchers are being extra careful, content to walk Pujols and take their chances with the No. 4 hitter. And it's no surprise that Pujols has responded by expanding his strike zone to jump on borderline pitches.

    That doesn't always serve Pujols well, and Pujols hasn't been as dependable in driving in runners from third base with less than two out. Furthermore, his batting average in late-inning pressure situations is a mere .234. Perhaps Pujols does strain a bit under the load of having to carry this team.

    But even with fewer quality bats stacked around him in the lineup, even with his misses in the clutch, Pujols still will finish with huge numbers.

    "That's why this is going to be his most impressive year," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's doing it with people missing. I can't believe anyone is trying to take credit away from Albert. He's having an outstanding year."

    It's the burden of great expectations.


    As others see us

    In a story with the headline "House of Cards," Sports Illustrated's Albert Chen discussed the Cardinals' potential postseason fragility. "The Cardinals are on pace to finish with baseball's best record for the second straight year," he wrote. "But they enter the home stretch not with the strut of a lounging division leader but with the limp of a club hit hard by injuries."

    Chen quoted an anonymous executive as saying the Cardinals seem more vulnerable heading into the playoffs compared to 2004. But Chen offered hope: "The Cardinals take comfort in a starting pitching rotation that is superior to the one they possessed last October, when they were ingloriously swept by the Red Sox in the World Series."

    Reading time, five minutes

    Free Anthony Reyes.

    I think we're all looking forward to watching Reyes start some games for the Cardinals in September, although he was slapped for 12 runs in 11 innings in his last two starts at Class AAA Memphis. ... Friday morning in Washington, Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon and La Russa received a VIP tour of the Pentagon courtesy of Gen. Frank "Buster" Hagenbeck, a friend of Shannon's who commanded the ground war against terrorist elements in Afghanistan. Hagenbeck is a Cards fan.

    The St. Louis Business Journal reports that groups led by Tony Novelly (Apex Oil), Shaun Hayes (National City Bank) and Tony Sansone Jr. (Sansone Group) have emerged as potential buyers of the Blues. Add-on: some insiders believe that Mike Shanahan Jr. and Mike Shanahan Sr. will align with Sansone in making a bid. ... KMOX's Andy Strickland has been hired to write a hockey blog for the anticipated new Web site, hockeybuzz.com, which launches Sept. 15. ... Strickland tells us that defenseman Al MacInnis will meet Monday with Blues general manager Larry Pleau. MacInnis will try to decide whether to resume his playing career after suffering an eye injury in 2003-2004.

    Quick comments: (1) The Cardinals botched their handling of Scott Rolen's shoulder injury, period. (2) Impressive Rams rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will be a good starter in the NFL. (3) Things are so quiet on the trade front that I suspect that Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty is up to something.

    Football columnist Dan Pompei rates all the NFL stadiums in this week's Sporting News and ranked the Edward Jones Dome 25th among 31 venues. ... Brendan Rooney, a member of DeSmet's 1999 state championship basketball team, is the director of player personnel for the Rochester Razorsharks of the revived ABA. Brother Colin Rooney plays soccer for St. Louis University after transferring from the University of Massachusetts.

    St. Louisan Becky Sauerbrunn (Ladue High), a defender on Virginia's women's soccer team, was named to Soccer America Magazine's preseason All-American squad. Earlier, Sauerbrunn was similarly honored by SoccerBuzz Magazine. ... St. Louisan Matt Askew, a 2002 graduate of Parkway South High, is turning heads at Idaho with his performance at wide receiver. Askew played junior college football at West Hills CC in California.

    Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith recently spent three days in North Carolina working with Tampa Bay Devil Rays shortstop prospect B.J. Upton, who plays for the Class AAA Durham Bulls. "And I think he's going to speak to the entire club sometime," Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar told the Durham Herald-Sun. "Ozzie is not only full of knowledge, but he's one of the most generous people in the game. He's a class act."

    Thursday night, Harlem Globetrotters owner Mannie Jackson returned to his hometown of Edwardsville to participate in a special dinner to celebrate the opening of the new 116,000-square-foot Edwardsville YMCA. Jackson donated $250,000 to the new YMCA, and the gym will be named the "Mannie Jackson Globetrotter Center."


    THE NICE SECTION

    Whitey Herzog is hosting "A Reunion of the 1985 NL Champion Cardinals" to benefit his charitable youth foundation. Special guest Don Denkinger will be joined by retired Cardinals Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, Jack Clark, Bob Forsch, Rick Horton, Todd Worrell, Ken Dayley and John Tudor. Bob Costas will emcee the dinner on Sunday night, Sept. 18 at Forest Hills CC. Tickets are $125 each, or tables of 12 go for $1,200. The Golf Classic is Monday, Sept. 19 at Forest Hills with a cost of $1,600 per foursome. For info, call Kathy Dampier at 314-504-7981 or fax a request for info to 636-536-6725.

    The fifth annual Polish Heritage Golf Tournament and Auction is Saturday, Sept. 24 at The Falls Golf Club in O'Fallon, Mo. Proceeds benefit the Heritage Center at Saint Stanislaus Church. Hole sponsors ($200) and corporate sponsors ($1,000) are available, and donations and auction items are always appreciated. There are a few remaining foursomes left on a first-come, first-served basis at $85 per player. Call Greg Poniewaz at 314-984-8828.


    Got a bit? No phone calls, please. E-mail [email protected] or write 900 North Tucker Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo. 63101.

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

  • #2
    I hope big Bern is right about the trade front thing. We need some offensive help.
    Our generation has had no Great Depression, no Great War. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Joker@Aug 27 2005, 02:46 AM
      I hope big Bern is right about the trade front thing. We need some offensive help.
      And.......I hope he's right about the Shannahan/Sansone group buying the Blues. St Louisan ownership is the top priority.

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      • #4
        Mike Shanahan, Sr?



        Yay!

        Moon

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