October 22, 2011

Media Perceptions and MottePlosion

Wow, the “media failure” of Albert Pujols and the others who departed the Cards clubhouse before meeting with the media following their World Series Game 2 loss has gotten nearly as much play as the Mike Francesca interview with the Jets Darrelle Revis. http://bit.ly/qCRVG7

Of course this is the World Series and the media scrutiny is obviously greater than at any time throughout the 6 months of regular season questioning and should be treated as such. Pujols and “friends” should have remained to answer the questions that were poised to be asked regarding everything from Albert’s failure to cut off the throw from the outfield in the 9th inning to Nick Punto’s failure to get a bunt down in the Birds half of the ninth.

More importantly in my opinion the first real “implosion” of Jason Motte as the club’s “defacto” closer (since the manager has yet to “officially” designate him as such) should have become a more focal point of the team’s failing to hold the 1-0 lead presented him as the Rangers came to bat in the final inning facing the prospect of going back to Texas down 2 games to none.

Motte began the season as a bullpen reliever who I viewed as the guy with the catcher’s mitt warming up the Cards right fielder between innings and then throwing the ball hard at the outfield fence just before returning to his chair with pals Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Trevor Miller et al. Most nights that I was at the ballpark, when Tony LaRussa summoned the former catcher, I would begin what I called my “Motte Trot” (more accurately a “hobble”) to the exit as the game was now out of hand and would probably get worse for the hometown Birds.

Only over the past 6 to 8 weeks did Motte get the opportunity to close out games following the fatigue or ineffectiveness of Fernando Salas who’d seemingly been handed the closer’s following the release of Franklin.

Not to be a “Negative Nelly” (St. Louis reference intended) but as the Cards came down the stretch and into the postseason and TLR’s use of his bullpen became more and more of a story as they continued to miraculously pile up successes, I continued to warn that eventually the “MottePlosion” would cost St. Louis an important game. Little did I know that it would be Game 2 of the World Series that would be his “moment”. I of course realize that all “closers” “suffer” failure and that the Thursday “blown save” and loss was not a battering but the result of a bloop and some shaky defense along with the aggressive Rangers baserunning to go with a pair of sacrifice flies.

But again in my opinion this was more of the story than the players’ failure to stick around to answer incessant media questions which has in turn led to the talk and discussion of the players not being “good guys”. As long as they can play together and respect each other it shouldn’t and does not matter what the perception is. As Lance Berkman noted in a Friday radio call in:

I don’t want there to be misperceptions about the guys on this team. That’s what I take seriously. I think they’re great and I don’t want anybody out there to think otherwise.”

That quite simply says enough for me and should, but won’t end the nonsense.

ANYWAY...tonight brings Game 3 from Texas with the series now even at 1 game a piece ... GO CARDS..


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