Cardinals-Phillies: Carpenter vs. Halladay
Well, this is it...or is this it?
This is it for this series, and it has potential to be the launching pad for another Cardinal LCS run. Of course, it has potential for it to be the end.
No matter what happens tonight, here are two things that I can say:
1. The last six weeks of baseball have been a run that we may not see duplicated locally for another generation. Not only has it been successful, it's been thrilling. Damn near every night since the first week of September the Cardinals have put on a show...and rarely has there been a game in which they either didn't win...or were at least in it.
2. This series has been one of the best Cardinal playoff series since the advent of the wild card.
It'll be tough to top the 2004 NLCS vs. the Astros and the 2006 NLCS vs. the Mets. And, some that may be forgotten by now are the 2001 NLDS vs. the Diamondbacks and the 1996 NLCS vs. the Braves. But, as far as competitive games and atmosphere, I'd have to put this fifth after those previous four since 1996.
All of the above series had absurdly good final games...with the exception of the Donovan Osborne mess of 1996. With Carpenter and Halladay on the mound, you have to "like" the chances of another gutwrenching thriller.
I'd be quite happy with a 5-0 laugher...but I have a tough time seeing that happening.
A few observations on this whole deal tonight. Do with them what you would like to do:
1. I disregard Carpenter's start Sunday...just like I would've disregarded Halladay's start if he got lit up on short rest.
2. Halladay is in a different world than anyone on the planet with the exception of Justin Verlander. He had one terrible start after the All-Star Break in which he became overheated at Wrigley Field. Other than that, in eight of his 11 starts before his end-of-the-regular season tune up, he went a minimum of seven innings. In the three starts that he didn't get through seven...he went at least six. The guy is just a machine. Yeah...the Cardinals scored three runs on him last Saturday, but what did they do after Lance Berkman's first inning home run? Nothing until Hallday lefter following eight innings of dominance. The Cardinals have seen Halladay three times this year. They scored three off him most recently in Game One, four earned runs on September 19th, and back in St. Louis in a blowout loss, they got one earned run off him.
3. But...how many runs is it going to take to win this game if you're the Cardinals? That is the variable that I feel/hope is in their favor. The Phialdelphia bats have rattled in six---and that's being liberal with it---innings of the 35 they've hit in this series. And, two of those came against Carpenter on short rest. Since Carpenter left Game Two after three innings, the Phillies have scored runs in just three of the 21 innings. And, one of those innings with a run scored (the 8th in Game Four) required a single off the first base bag, a balk, and a wild pitch. I don't know what it is with Philadelphia's bats, but they're a mess after Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Take a look at the batting averages:
And, keep in mind, they've put up those rough numbers without facing the Chris Carpenter who went on a batshit tear through September. They should get him tomorrow. How many runs will they be able to score off of Carpenter? If he's on...and if that lineup continues its trend, it shouldn't be many.
4. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have four guys hitting .400 or above (Pujols, Holliday, Theriot, Schumaker).
Three disappointments for the Cardinals? Furcal at .222, Berkman at .200, and Molina at .200.
Molina's offense being below his season average isn't devastating. His defense, however, has been stunning.
5. So...what can we expect? While the incredibly boring cliche of "anything can happen" remains true even for this pitching match-up, if Carpenter and Halladay give up more than six earned runs combined, it'd be one hell of a surprise. And, if one of them doesn't get into the seventh, it'd be one hell of a surprise. There's a real chance that both of these guys go crazy deep into the game like Matt Morris and Curt Schilling did in their Game Five classic 10 years ago. But odds are that whenever they leave the game, it'll be tight. And, odds are it won't be particularly relaxing for either fan base. Personally, I live in fear of a Cardinal blown save ending this one...just like the double play disaster of the regular season reared its ugly head in Game Three. But, I go into every game with a fear of the worst taking place. The stage is set for a memorable conclusion to an already memorable series...and we at least wake up this morning with the fantasy still alive:
Chris Carpenter on the mound for Game Three of The NLCS at Busch Stadium with Nyjer Morgan standing in the batter's box pissing himself.
The insideSTL July, August, And September Girl Next Door Contest Tonight at Hot Shots In Fenton...Co-Hosted By Larry Nickel
You've got one-stop shopping for watching the Cardinal game and a bunch of lovely, local ladies compete for cash in the insideSTL Girl Next Door Contest.
Following the Cardinal game, either me or Producer Joe will be hosting the GND Party. If the Cardinals lose, I will cry in a corner at my apartment and not go out for the entire weekend. @ProdJoe will be on the call of the hosting duties. If the Cardinals win, I'll drive with glee from Downtown to Fenton.
I'm serious. I'm 35, and I'm that fucked in the head.
Either way, Larry Nickel will be there making his first insideSTL public appearance. He'll talk it over with the ladies competing, and we'll tally up the online votes (vote HERE until 5 p.m.), and we'll tally up the crowd noise vote at HotShots, and then we'll hand out $500 to first place, $250 to second place, and $100 to third place.
One more time...here's a look at our ladies competing tonight at HotShots in Fenton:
Click HERE to place your vote.
HotShots Presents Week Six of Football Picks
Ahhh...the skill of picking football games.
I was exhausted---like I am right now---and wanted to rattle through the picks as quickly as possible without attempting to display reason or mock @ProdJoe...and I go 5-2 just by listing the team I'm picking, and that's it.
And, that's good...because it gives me a good excuse to do the same thing again this week
But, just when I want to mock the skill of picking games and you fucking degenerates who claim to make money over the long term betting sports, "ricflair" comes along and wins the $10 HotShots gift certificate for the second time in five weeks by going undefeated...again.
Maybe this "ricflair" character actually knows what he's doing.
Maybe we should all follow his lead and get paid in the Escalade.
I'll be watching you this week, Nature Boy.
Meanwhile, @ProdJoe and I are doing just fine at above .500 against the spread. Here's where we are through five weeks:
Producer Joe: 18-13/3-2 Locks of The Week
Me: 17-14/3-2 Locks of The Week
Not too bad.
Let's pwn holes again this week:
Missouri (-3) at Kansas State
Producer Joe: After going for 4-3 last weekend I need to once again step things up. Sure I am winning you money, but you deserve more. And since the Rams aren't playing this weekend I can't absolutely guarantee one of my picks for at least one week....but I should get you started with a W here. Sure it looks strange that a 2-2 team is traveling inside the conference to an undefeated ranked team and laying points, but Vegas is onto something here. I love the Tigers here. K-State is K-State, I don't care that they beat Baylor last weekend at home, its still Baylor even though RGIII is a stud. The Wildcats won't have enough to do it in back-to-back weeks. The fighting Pinkels find a way to cover the FG and get back to .500 in the conference this week.
Pick: Missouri (-3)
Me: Missouri (-3)
Oklahoma (-10) vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Producer Joe: Big number for a rivalry neutral site game but I really don't think Texas is all that good. Sure they are better than they were a year ago, but that doesn't mean they are good enough to beat one of the 3 best teams in the country, and I surely don't believe they can get into a shootout and come out on top. Interestingly enough, I was going through some things yesterday and there is a very real chance that at the end of the season in CFB you could have an undefeated Oklahoma, Alabama or LSU, Stanford, Georgia Tech or Clemson, Wisconsin, and Boise State. Can't wait to hear the bitching start and the BCS look like fools.
Pick: Oklahoma (-10)
Me: Texas (+10)
Georgia (-2) at Tennessee
Producer Joe: With South Carolina taking a bad loss last weekend, the door the SEC East is wide open and this game is going to go a long way in deciding who gets their ass kicked by the winner of the actual National Championship game on 5 November between Alabama and LSU. But for one day in Knoxville I just want to remember This Special Day 10 Years Ago and a Hob Nail Boot. I still don't think Georgia is very good, but it probably isn't going to take a special team to win the East this year. Going on the road is going to be tough, but I think the line is covered.
Pick: Georgia (-2)
Me: Georgia (-2)
Eagles (-3) at Bills
Producer Joe: Uh the Dream Team only has one win. That win was against the Rams. The Dream Team has only beaten one of the 4 worst teams in the league after the 1/4 poll of the season. That isn't what anyone would have guessed but that's the story so far this season. Ends this week though. The Bills are fun and really they are a good story, but good stories eventually end and I think this a beat down weekend.
Pick: Eagles (-3)
Me: Eagles (-3)
Titans at Steelers (-3)
Producer Joe: In the first week of the NFL season I said that 4-0 record for the Rams in the preseason was accomplished by beating teams that wouldn't be playing after Week 17. The Jags, Colts, and Chiefs have done their part to prove me correct. The fucking Titans haven't. While I don't believe the Titans are going to go into Pittsburgh and win anyway, I shall label this game Make @ProdJoe Right About Stupid Statements 5 Weeks Ago Lock of the Year.
Pick: Steelers (-3)
Me: Steelers (-3)
Jets at Patriots (-9)
Producer Joe: Screw it, I don't want to over think it. 9 points is a lot. But not enough for the Patriots not to cover.
Pick: Patriots (-9)
Me: Patriots (-9)
Lock of The Week
Producer Joe: Texas A&M (-9.5) at Texas Tech: hit another one last week. I shall destroy another one this week.
Pick: Texas A & M (-9.5)
Me: Boston College at Clemson (-21.5): I am actually going to comment here, because buttass is running his mouth about "hitting another one last week." Hey, fuckstick. You're 3-2 with your Locks of The Week. They're supposed to be "locks." Hence the name. When you're 60% on "locks," there isn't much room to peacock. I'm at 60% as well, and I'm embarrassed. I'll attempt to deliver as Boston College is awful, beat up, and Clemson needs to beat the shit out of people to continue to rise to the top in what could be a surprising BCS Championship candidacy.
Pick: Clemson (-21.5)
Now's your chance to partake in The HotShots' Picks of The Week. Pick the six games Producer Joe and I selected, and then pick your own Lock of The Week. Don't forget to include a tiebreaker. This week will be the total points of the Missouri-Kansas State game. The winner gets a $10 gift certificate to HotShots.