Pitching gets lit up; hitting gets shut down, again

September 30, 2009
Reds' pitcher Homer Bailey throws in the first inning

Reds' pitcher Homer Bailey throws in the first inning

(AP photo)

Don’t know how long the Cardinals are going to last in the post-season. They’ve dropped 4 of their last 5, 10 of their last 16.

Last night, Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey went 7 innings, allowed 7 hits, struck out 7, and gave the Cardinals one measly run. Cardinal starter Joel Pineiro, who’s now dropped 3 of his last 4 starts (admittedly, with tepid run support), went 6 innings, allowing 8 hits – three of them home runs – and 7 runs. He struck out only one batter.

The Redbirds have only been outscored 61-58 in those 16 games, but that number’s deceptive. They’ve had 2 games in which they’ve scored 11 runs, 1 where they scored 7, and 2 where they scored 6. That’s 41 of their 58 runs in 5 of their 16 games. So the pattern is to score a bunch of runs in a game, then misfire for several games.

Even though they’ve clinched their division, winning still matters, as it determines home-field advantage, and if they lose that, it’s another obstacle to getting to the World Series.

Later,


No big surprises in Senate Finance

September 30, 2009

Rockefeller’s “robust public option” amendment to Baucus’ root canal of a bill went down, 8 – 15 in Committee, with Baucus, Conrad, Lincoln, Nelson and Carper voting to protect insurance companies (and/or their right flank in next year’s elections) and to stick it to consumers. Schumer’s slightly less “robust” version lost, 10 – 15.

Ready for Baucus’ lame excuse? A public option can’t get 60 votes on the floor (the number needed to overcome a Republican filibuster), so I can’t vote for it here.

The Finance Committee bill (Baucus’ bill), assuming it makes it to the floor, would be competing with the HELP Committee’s bill, which includes a public option. Baucus’ bill is a huge, huge gift to the insurance companies, who’ve been so generous to him over the years. It requires every American to have insurance or pay a fine (which might be waived, but it’s there nonetheless), and it allows the industry to regulate itself. Right, just like Alan Greenspan assumed the finance industry would regulate itself and not run off charging huge fees, driving the economy off a cliff, and then jumping out of the car at the last second, leaving the rest of us to crash.

But don’t take it from me. Watch and listen to Jerry Flanagan, of Consumer Watchdog (CW website, give you the ugly skinny –

And CW has more – CW calls out the Dogs

Finance’s actions are certainly not doom for the public option, although it’s clear now who the enemies within are. The Senate HELP Committee has the public option, as does the House bill, and Speaker Pelosi keeps saying she’s absolutely behind it, even as her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid, who’s facing re-election in Red Nevada next fall, is waffling.

Later,


We are shocked, shocked, I tell you

September 29, 2009

Tim Dickinson has a lengthy piece in the new Rolling Stone – isn’t it great they’ve gotten back into journalism after all those years in exile? – about how the Rs have been working hand-in-fisted-glove with the insurance companies to make it seem like America is mad as hell about health care reform. Of course, it’s all been phony, but, of course, effective, given the flaccid state of American journalism and the inept response from Dems.

But note, as I did in a post a few days back the public option, essential to any genuine reform, is still polling in the 60s with Americans. But DC is turning a deaf ear.

Here’s an excerpt; you’ll need to buy the magazine, or read it at your library, to get the whole thing. But the excerpt will make you genuinely angry, without a single backroom greasing of palms: Astroturf and bullshit

Back to watching Jay Rockefeller hammer Chairman Baucus’ kidney stone of a health care bill . . . .

Later,


Banned Books Week

September 28, 2009

September 26th – October 3rd is the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, a reminder of how precious – and how vulnerable – intellectual freedom and access to ideas is. Sadly, the impulse to censor books (often in the name of protecting children) from our schools and libraries is still very strong. Banned Books Week home page

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has many resources to help us become more aware of the extent of this threat, including a handy map showing censorship effforts in the United States over the past two years – ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

There’s also a list of some of the more frequently banned or challenged novels – The List of Shame

The Boston Globe had a commentary this weekend that described the mind-and-soul-crippling effects of censorship – The School That Opted Out

So, this week, go check out a book at the library, or buy one at a store, or both.

Later,


Greenspan has a Road-to-Damascus moment, it appears

September 28, 2009

The intellectual edifice has collapsed

Thanks, Alan. Can millions of Americans have their jobs back now? How about their homes? Savings? Future security? Post – Fed: What, me worry?

And three guesses who has been hit the hardest by the catastrophe Greenspan & Co. created – Brother, can you spare a dime?

Later,


We return now to our regularly-scheduled program

September 28, 2009
Rockies' 2nd baseman Clint Barmes (center) gets hugged after his game-saving catch of Ryan Ludwick's fly ball in the 9th

Rockies' 2nd baseman Clint Barmes (center) gets hugged after his game-saving catch of Ryan Ludwick's fly ball in the 9th

(AP photo)

Rockies 4, Cardinals 3.

It could have been different. WIth runners on the corners and one out in the 9th, Ryan Ludwick hit a shallow fly ball that looked like it might drop, but Rockies’ 2nd baseman Clint Barmes dived to spear it, then doubled up Albert, who had broken from 1st.

Pujols had driven in all three Cardinals runs in the 3rd with a bases-clearing double, but struck out with the bases loaded in the next inning. Until mid-season, Albert had been an absolute monster with the bases loaded, but that hasn’t been happening nearly as much since July.

Pujols also committed his 12th error, which allow Colorado their go-ahead run in the 5th.

Colorado has out-scored St. Louis, 42-19, in taking 6 of 7 regular-season games. As the Rockies and Cardinals are likely to meet in the Division Series, this does not bode well.

A day off, then on to Cincinnati

Later,


Finally!

September 27, 2009
Jason LaRue rounds that bases after putting the Cardinals up, 4-3, in the 7th

Jason LaRue rounds that bases after putting the Cardinals up, 4-3, in the 7th

(AP photo)

After much fumbling and floundering the last two weeks, the Cardinals finally clinched the NL Central title, won their 90th game, and made a 19-game winner out of Adam Wainwright.

They beat the Colorado Rockies, the likely wild-card team, and, if so, the Cardinals’ likely opponent in the Division Series, for the first time this season, 6 – 3.

Wainwright threw a herculean 130 pitches over 8 innings, allowing 10 hits and 3 runs while striking out 11.

The outcome was still in doubt in the top of the 7th when backup catcher Jason LaRue, subbing for Yadier Molina, who was hurt earlier in the game, sent the first pitch he saw into the left-field seats to put his team up by 1. Ryan Ludwick hit a 2-run shot in the 9th to give closer Ryan Franklin, who’s been a little shaky of late, some insurance.

Wainwright has a shot at a 20th victory at home this coming Friday, against the Brewers.

El Hombre douses manager Tony LaRussa as the Cardinals celebrate

El Hombre douses manager Tony LaRussa as the Cardinals celebrate

(AP photo)

Clinching the division is nice, but right now, I don’t see how the Cardinals go into the post-season as favorites. After plumping up their won-lost record on much weaker teams in August, they stumbled in the last two weeks and are 5-5 in their last 10. Of of the three other NL teams in the post-season – Dodgers, Phils, and (odds-on) Rockies – the Cardinals have a winning record only against the Bums. While Matt Holliday has been great, the Cardinals’ main offensive weapon, El Hombre, has not been nearly as potent since the All-Star break. In fact, the whole offense has slumbered through two stretches in the second half, and there’s no time for that in October. Pitching’s been satisfactory, but not lights-out, and Ryan Franklin still has to show he’s back on-course by not blowing saves. Hopefully, Molina’s injury is minor.

The next week gives the Redbirds a chance to tune up for the Division Series. Let us hope they pull all the parts of their game together.

Later,