Tuesday, October 26, 2004: Two days have rarely seemed to have taken so long. And in two days the mind can play tricks on you. Especially when the mind has accomplices.

Off days are killers in a series like this largely because the media can frame a story however they want to and make it seem legitimate. The cards are invincible at home! The Sox lose pop without the DH! The Sox defense is horrible and with Ortiz it will be worse! Pedro is in decline! And of course variations on the curse quackery.

First, the Cards won 105 damned games, meaning that much of the time they have been invincible just about everywhere. They also had the best road record in baseball. See where that got them? We can play fine in St. Louis, and the only advantage they’ll have against our merry little band of idiots is that they get to bat last. This is not insignificant, but when we enter the bottom of the ninth with a three run lead all it will mean is that Foulke will strike them out to end the game at the bottom of the ninth rather than the top. Whoop-dee-freakin’ doo.

Yes, the Sox lose pop without the DH. And the Cards lose the extra hitter they got in Fenway. I’ve seen their pitchers’ batting numbers. This is a wash for both teams. Oooooh — but with the dh gone some pull out the old double switch argument. National league fans hitch their entire belief in their league’s strategic superiority on the double switch. I hate to drop this bomb on the good fans of the Senior Circuit: The double switch is not that fucking hard, Tito managed for four years in the National League, and with guys like Roberts and Youks and now Millar on the bench, I think we can figure out the cosmic mysteries of the double switch. (Anyone want to place a bet on the over/under on times Tim McCarver evokes this sanctified bit of piffle in the next three days? I say at least 4) I’ll still say our lineup will be ready to rake, and as a karmic bonus, I cannot wait for Pedro to bloop a Texas leaguer for a single, or to draw a walk, and to score a run.

As for the defense, David Ortiz started 34 games at first this year, or more than 20% of our total games. This is his natural position in the field. I recall him making a few scoops on throws that showed that he has quick hands. I also recall that there was a time when Millar-Ortiz at first was really a wash, with Millar offering a slight upgrade. This fear of our defensive misplays is way overstated. Our defense’s performance was quite clearly an outlier, with one guy making multiple errors in each of the first two games. Need I remind people of the results of the series so far? If needed when the game matters, we can bring in Minky. We will not lose this game because of Ortiz being at first. We may win because he jacks a ball 475 feet off of Jeff Suppan, who had a great vantage point in last year’s playoffs when his ass was nailed to the bench because we had eleven pitchers in whom we had greater faith than him.

Pedro’s numbers against everyone but the Yankees have still been quite stellar, and once you get him out of the AL East, where they have seen him 20 times each the last few years, he approaches those rarefied heights of the glory years. Do I expect the Pedro of 2000 to walk out there tonight? No. But I expect the best of the Pedro of the last three years. I expect him to go 7. I expect to have the lead. I expect to see the radar gun hit 97 once or twice. I expect him to out-pitch Suppan. I expect him to get the win. I expect him to take his place in this series. Pedro is the least of our worries. Perhaps the ones who should be worrying about him are the guys in the Cardinals’ clubhouse, who so far have not lived up to their vaunted billing.

Basically, I expect all of this talk about the coming Cards resurgence to be put to rest when they take the field for game three. We hope that is tonight, but if rain delays it until tomorrow (and it seems about 50/50 that a delay or even postponement will happen), so be it. That will leave more room for speculation. And another day for the guys to get rest and enjoy the experience and for Schill to get a bit healthier and Pedro to visualize the most important game of his career and St. Louis to think about being down two games to zero.

We’ll ignore the curse nonsense. At this point that’s talk for charlatans and fools.

Believe!!! Two more wins . . .

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