St. Louis is a nice town.
Even more so when it comes to the sporting media. Players don’t ‘flop’, they ‘disappoint’. Managers or coaches don’t ‘wilt under pressure’ they ‘error in judgement’. Owners aren’t ‘cultivating a systemic culture of losing’ they’re ‘mercurial’.
That’s fine. Not every town needs to have screaming back-page tabloids. And when it comes to the Cardinals specifically, there hasn’t been anything really juicy to report on for years. (The Rams and Blues on the other hand probably don’t get near enough criticism for their faults…)
But when one of the high-profile media personalities does write a piece that is more common in Boston or New York, it’s going to raise more eyebrows than normal.
It’s going to be a shock to the system.
And today, Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch put out in the public realm what many had been speculating for weeks… The Cardinals clubhouse? It’s a mess.
Monday’s atmosphere was so muted following a 6-0 loss to the Royals that a team official observed, “I haven’t been any place so quiet since I visited Kutis.”
Friends, this might be a little ‘inside baseball’ for your tastes, but when “team officials” start popping up in pieces, you know it’s going to be good. No, they won’t put their name on the quotes, but they’ll finally give us the real deal.
One night the club endured its first three-game losing streak. On another, impressionable reliever Carlos Martinez allowed a game to unravel, then fled the clubhouse when reporters entered.
Was it porn related, though? Because that would be excusable. If not? Then it’s time to cowboy up and talk to the press.
Monday’s funereal postgame had something to do with the club suffering consecutive home shutout losses of at least six runs for the first time since 1937.
That’s a good stat. A damning stat for the Cardinals, but a good stat to bust out around the office. Those huge crowds that came out this past week? At least they’re a part of history. So they didn’t totally get screwed.
But why? Why is it so bad in 2014?
Monday’s silence wasn’t news. However, its similarity to many other nights this season hardened an impression of a reclusive team feeling the absence of “glue players” such as Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, Ryan Theriot, Gerald Laird and Kyle Lohse — veterans culled from the roster following the last three seasons.
I’ve got to be honest here. I didn’t think I’d ever mention Ryan Theriot, Gerald Laird or Nick Punto ever again on this site in my life. So now that they’re prime suspects in the downfall of the 2014 Cardinals?
I’m shocked. I don’t even know what to say.
Ok. Don’t we have some pretty good veterans on this team? Holliday? Molina? Who’s stepping up to fill the void?
Holliday and catcher Yadier Molina are the ranking position players. Both have significant clubhouse influence but were also recently described as “introverted” by a uniformed team member. Holliday admittedly is uncomfortable talking about himself, especially before groups of people. Molina’s first responsibility is to the pitching staff.
Maybe Holliday will grow out of that?
Holliday spoke in a one-on-one setting. As he noted after his Division Series-saving home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates, group interviews are toxic. Holliday prefers to leave as he arrives: early.
Ok. I guess not.
Strauss goes on to remind Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso that they could be prime trade bait since their playing time has dwindled (Jay) and their arbitration status (Descalso).
But, still he makes an effort to point out that we haven’t reached the ‘T’ word yet…
The Cardinals’ clubhouse is quiet, which is different from toxic.
Good. There’s still room for this team to get back on track and reach some of the goals it had set out for itself prior to 2014 starting. And as the amount of games left ticks down to single digits, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in someone to cut the tension.
My suggestion? Spunky Beans.