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Note to Mike Matheny From a ‘Bitter’ Fan: You Aren’t Managing the 2011 Cardinals

The Cardinals flubbed another series, losing two of three at Milwaukee even though STL pitchers gave up only nine runs in 25 innings.

I am sure, however, that you will be hearing this. saying this, or reading this, today:

The Cardinals are only 4.5 games out in the NL Central! 

Can we knock this off, please?

I realize this makes me one of these hideous  “bitter” people in the eyes of Mike Matheny, the Beloved Leader of Men. It’s funny how Matheny is always so positive, and thinks the Satan-controlled media is so negative — but he has no problem questioning the loyalty of fans who are grumbling over an uninspired, underachieving, self-tripping, self-defeating baseball team.

Matheny had the audacity to suggest that dissatisfied fans “don’t get to be really an active part of when something really cool happens.”

Oh.

I guess I’ll suspend my plans to buy tickets to an upcoming home game.

If you have complained about the Cardinals this season … you’re out.

If the Cardinals suddenly go on an impressive winning streak and surge into the playoffs, and you expressed anger or frustration over this team’s blooper-video performance at any point this season, Dear Leader has made his ruling: you aren’t allowed to enjoy it, or be a part of the excitement. You have relinquished your right to love the Cardinals. And you aren’t, to use Matheny’s term, a “hardcore” fan. (In other words: a real fan … true fan.)

Never mind that there are legions of disappointed fans who love this team with all of their hearts … they love this team so much, they’re emotionally connected in a special way. And if you’re a passionate and intense fan, you’ll also get upset by this team. As Randy Karraker said, just because parents get upset at their kids, it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less.

Fans that care deeply will take it harder than most when watching a fundamentally embarrassing team stagger through a second consecutive season of shabby baseball.

Mike Matheny isn’t in charge of determining fan loyalty. He doesn’t get to decide if you’re a true fan or an infidel — with the word “infidel” applying to anyone ticked off substandard baseball that’s soiling the franchise tradition for sharp fundamentals and distinguished field management.

Six years into the job, Matheny can’t run a bullpen or construct a coherent lineup. But he’s in charge of your fandom? He’s going to dictate how you should feel when you are repeatedly exposed to second-rate baseball? What’s next? Will Matheny be at the gates to Busch Stadium, making fans sign a loyalty oath?

For the fifth consecutive season the Cardinals are ranked second in MLB (to the LADodgers ) in average attendance per home game. Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. can count on more than 3 million fans filing into the ballpark each season — and for that matter, pumping the money into Ballpark Village.

But don’t you dare criticize this team.

The manager evidently would like you to hand the team your money and shut up.

Show some gratitude and bow down to bumbling baseball.

It’s astonishing that DeWitt would tolerate his manager — on top of everything else — taking snotty shots at paying customers or anyone that adores the historical institution of Cardinals Baseball.   But we live in strange times. And I’m sadly coming to the conclusion that the franchise standards have been lowered.

As much as I’d like to muster optimism about the Cardnals’ chances of climbing well above .500 and passing the Cubs and Brewers in the standings, I can’t fire it up. Sorry. I’ll explain why in a quick follow-up piece that you’ll find on 101sports.com in a while.

Cardinals’ players, management, manager and coaches believe that they’ll make a run and make things right. And I don’t blame them;  otherwise, they’d just pack it in for the season. And that would make them quitters. They must try to remain upbeat and hopeful.

But from a pragmatic standpoint, I just don’t see a late-season charge in the Cardinals’ future.

Matheny likes to bring up the 2011 Cardinals as an example of why it’s a bad idea to count out a struggling team. As he told Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch: “I think about how many people must have done that in ’11. They’re just so bitter — this team, this, that or the other. And kind of had their mind set. So when everything started to go well, did they truly get to enjoy what happened from there on out?”

Since Matheny asked, I have a few things to offer in response:

1. I am pretty sure Cardinals fans enjoyed seeing their team win another World Series, the second in six years. And I am pretty sure they savored this triumph to the max. They were literally dancing in the streets following the World Series clincher. And the celebrants included many of the demon-possessed heretics who thought the 2011 Cardinals were toast after being 10.5 games out of the lone NL wild-card spot on Aug. 24.

2. The 2011 Cardinals were below .500 for only 13 days during the ’11 campaign. Their record was solid, or good, all season. Even at their low ebb on Aug. 24, the 2011 Cardinals were still four games above .500. Through 108 games, the 2011 Cardinals were 57-51. OK, so what about the 2017 Cardinals? Through 108 games they are 53-55. And while the ’11 Cards spent only 13 days below .500, the 2017 Cards have been under .500 on 78 days. And counting.

3. The 2011 Cardinals had the league’s best offense, ranking No. 1 in the NL in runs, slugging percentage, onbase percentage and OPS. They were third in extra-base hits. Their hitters had the lowest (as in best) strikeout rate in the NL, and fifth-highest walk rate. The 2017 Cardinals have a listless offense that ranks 11th in the NL in runs and homers per game and is 10th in slugging and OPS.

4. The 2011 lineup was stocked with a bunch of hitters that put up good-to-great seasons: Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, David Freese, and Jon Jay.  The primary middle-order hitters for the 2011 Cardinals were Pujols batting third, Holliday hitting cleanup, and Berkman batting fifth. The three impact hitters combined to hit 90 homers, drive in 268 runs, club 88 doubles, and score 278 runs.  As for the 2017 Cardinals and their middle lineup … well, I don’t think I need to say anything about that.

5. The 2011 Cardinals greatly benefited from the expertise of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa and an exceptional field staff that included pitching coach Dave Duncan, third-base coach Jose Oquendo, first base coach Dave McKay, and hitting coach Mark McGwire. Terrific leaders and teachers. As for the 2017 Cardinals’ manager and staff …  I’ll just note the obvious brain drain and move on. But before I move on, let me add this: Derek Lilliquist is an outstanding pitching coach.

I’ll also note that the 2017 Cardinals’ manager-coaches are working with inferior talent on the offensive side in comparison to the 2011 team. And president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is responsible for that.

I’ll note that the Mozeliak substantially upgraded the Cardinals’ bullpen and plugged a rotation spot by dealing Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays as part of a three-team trade that included the White Sox.

The 2011 “Mo”  made a season-changing trade at the deadline.

The 2017 “Mo”  didn’t make a trade … any trade … at the deadline.

Geez …

I’m just so damned  bitter.

Your basic reptilian overlord.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

More: Wheeler – Matheny Should Go By the Facts and Not the ‘Feel’ When Making the Lineup

  • bellvegas10

    100% agree. Bernie, please fly to Oquendos house and ask him to be our manager next year. Then tell Mo you might have saved his job.

    • Bobz

      why wait for next year? Tell him to become the manager next week to start bringing back fundamental baseball back to STL by holding players more accountable for their terrible defense/base-running/etc and maybe while he’s at it he can show Matheny how to actually use a bullpen properly

  • This is what all my bitter social media posts have been about. For the team to pounce on Molina for indirectly slighting the coach and the press to make a huge deal, then all are SILENT about the manager’s public, irrefutable swipe at the fans is disgusting.
    Matheny should be forced to apologize or resign. Not backtrack, not explain it away. Apologize.

    • JDinSTL

      He’s just really not that bright. The same stubborn inflexibility that doomed him in real estate dooms him as manager. If President Moe wishes to “walk the plank” for Mike Matheny, then saw the damned thing off.

  • Scott Warren

    It’s a complete disgrace from Dollar Bill on down and nothing, I repeat nothing is going to change. Bank on it.

    • Phil Wakefield

      I am afraid you are right Scott. I have been saying this for over 2-years, and btw criticized for it, that as long as the turnstiles keep turning and DimWits bottom line continues to grow, nothing will ever change including firing a bad manager. Now that Bernie has come out against Meathead, maybe something will change but doubtful because one thing is for sure, DimWit and MO have their “YES” man and fall guy in Matheny.

      • GMO Joe

        I think they’re trying, but either the minors are not producing because we’re not drafting well (where have you gone Jeff Luhnow — oh right, to Houston) OR we aren’t handling them well once they get to the majors. Giving up a mid-range prospect to land a Holliday, Edmonds or a Rolen just doesn’t happen these days.

  • RolandHeadlessThompsonGunner

    At least in 2011 the manager had the good sense to bat Molina 7th, not 5th.

    • GMO Joe

      Not defending Matheny here – I think we made a huge mistake in hiring him – but TLR could afford to hit Molina 7th because he had some real bats for 1-6 spots.

  • Phillip Mezzapelle

    Speaking of 2011, what would Mike Matheny think of the players, who all on their own, without the presence of TLR, decided to hold a closed doors meeting after getting swept by the Dodgers at home during the weekend of Aug. 24? At this meeting the veteran players pointed the finger at THEMSELVES. They openly admitted that the way they were playing was not only an embarassment to themselves, but also to the city of ST.LOUIS and the Cardinal FANS. Would Mike Matheny consider the players from 2011 to be “traitors” to the “Cardinal Way”? I will freely admit that for the past couple of seasons I really have questioned some of John Mozeliak’s decisions. However, he is right about one thing. The 2017 Cardinals have a cultural problem, and untill the first begin to fix this, very little else will improve for the better. One final thing. I REALLY miss reading articles like this at the PD. I’m starting to visit this site more and more. keep up the good work.

    • JDinSTL

      Wait until next week. The sun will shine again.

  • Paul

    Fire Matheny and replace him with Oquendo asap. I’m tired of his bullpen management, his managerial mistakes (Bochy kicked his rear end twice in the playoffs), his lack of communication with the leader of the team, and his disdain for the media and the Cardinals fans.

    • flood21

      I think everybody has to give up on Oquendo that ship has sailed. Stubby Clap for next Mgr.

      • Mark Lee Arbogast

        I love Oquendo but I always thought that if he was such a great managerial prospect how come nobody else ever tried to scoop him up?

        • Cranky Observer

          I think Oquendo paid the price of loyalty. You’ve probably seen it many time in the corporate world as have I: the faithful assistant department head who believes in the organization and the job and who stays on year after year getting the work done while senior management brings in one Wonder Boy after another to either flame out or be promoted before they actually do anything. After enough time the argument is “well, she has been in the same place too long so she must not be any good” – ignoring that at least the department and the possibly the entire organization might have collapsed if she hadn’t stayed. Oquendo would have had to look for a job outside the Cardinals the first time he was passed over, and it might have had to be back down at the AA or AAA level. Hard to do that if your loyalty is truly to the team.

          But I do agree his time has passed at this point.

  • rightthinker4

    Right now, the Cardinals are a flawed organization, from ownership on down through the major league roster. That’s really hard to overcome.

    • JDinSTL

      President Moe’s complacent arrogance has sunk the franchise.

  • Steve R. Burke

    I’m a bitter fan. I know DeWitt won’t care but I chose to spend my money someplace else this year. I went to a Blues game over spring break. Instead of our annual late July trip to the StL, I took the family to Wisconsin. I just couldn’t rationalize spending 200 bucks to sit in 100 degree weather to watch a manager with no clue, a bunch of players that don’t seem to know fundamentals, etc. I live an hour north of Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m one of those people who get talked about all the time about coming from “Cardinal Nation.” I’m voting with my wallet. Mozeliak shares some of the blame too. I understood the Fowler contract but giving Piscotty a contract extension was ludicrous. The insistence on giving Grichuk chance after chance. I could go on and on but enough rambling. This team will not make the playoffs. If you think so, see point #4 from Bernie.

    • LoboLoco

      Couldn’t agree more Steve. All we can do is vote with our wallets. And now that MM has decided who is and isn’t a real fan, now is the time to show our displeasure at the turnstiles.

      The problem is, that the TV money is so ridiculous now that I’m afraid the head count at the stadium doesn’t have the impact that it once did.

      But no matter. And instead of automatically installing Oquendo as the next manager automatically, know what I’d do if I were DeWallet?

      I’d call Whitey and see who he likes. There’s no-one I trust more, even at his age today. And then go get that person. Maybe they’re not even managing in the big leagues right now…someone in the White Rat’s mold to bring some excitement back to this now-boring baseball town.

      • Mark Lee Arbogast

        At the very least I would make sure the next manager had more experience managing than little league

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  • Aaron

    Thanks, Bernie. I’m definitely a bitter fan I stopped watching & going to the games and buying the merchandise 2 years ago. I’m waiting until they get rid of the worst manager and hitting coach in my lifetime. I’ve been a fan for 41 years. I can wait. But it appears that the masses have been hoodwinked. Attendance continues to be high. I wonder how local TV ratings are doing? I guess the only way real change is going to occur now is if people stop going to the games.

  • tominco

    I’ve gotta agree with this one. Bernie is dead on. We, as fans, have a right to be upset at a poor product that one way or another costs us money to enjoy.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand what the Cardinals ownership sees in Matheny. He has no idea how to manage during a game, and now has lost the clubhouse. It’s time for him to hit the road, but some blame must also fall on Mozeliak and DeWitt, etc. Mo’s roster the last year and have has left something to be desired, while you’re making money hand over fist, loosen up and spend a little money some free agents (assuming they are valuable).

    And as far as Mr. Karraker’s comments, I love the Cardinals as much as my kids, almost.

  • Aaron

    Also, it’s essential to grow your own talent for ease of payroll and ability to deal with other teams. However, prospects are PROSPECTS! They haven’t done crap yet and giving guys like Piscotty and Wong big deals when they have done little to nothing is a great way to continue in mediocrity. Those guys were cost controlled and there was no reason to give them a contract after a short period of decent baseball. Until this organization starts using their spending and dealing power to bring some stars to Busch Stadium, we’ll just keep rolling the dice on prospects that haven’t proven a thing.

    • Kevin Henkle

      This is so true!!! That’s why it’s really time to get rid of MO!! He is an idiot!! Plain and simple. Tired of his worthless evaluation of players!! He truly sucks at it!! It starts on top and you can only manage the players that you have and Matheny has very few actual MLB players. To many AAA players on this team!!!

  • Chris Moeller

    One thing that is as true today as it was in 2011: We’ve got Bernie!

    • JDinSTL

      Which one?

  • Randall Senn

    I’m not bitter, but I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Grichuk and Piscotty have been awful. The bullpen is full of arsonists. It’s wait til next year time. Hopefully they can sign a legit clean up hitter and Fowler rebounds.

  • ken

    karraker strikes again with the patently false analogy of fan-team = parent-child.

    • Tom L

      Karraker?
      Bernie wrote it.

  • Mark Lee Arbogast

    I used to go to games. I turn down free tickets these day

  • Well said Bernie. It’s wonderful to finally see someone in this town who isn’t afraid to come forward, and truly tell it like it is.

    MATHENY HAS TO GO, PERIOD!! LEARN IT, KNOW IT, LIVE IT, LOVE IT. AND SO DOES “PRESIDENT” MOZELIAK.

    As for DeWitt, he doesn’t give a dam what you or I think, he NEVER has. And he’s never going to do a dam thing, until people finally quit being naive idiots and supporting this mess. Why would he, why should he? Maybe he likes Matheny’s poster boy good looks, and he believe that’s why people come to the games.

    Otherwise, how could an astute billionaire business genius be so truly dumb and unaware of reality?

  • Mike Meyer

    Amen Bernie!!!
    You and Slaten are the only ones who are telling it like it is!!

    • geoff

      How funny…Bernie, you have reached kevin slaten status with your vitriol toward Matheny. PERFECT. I remember when slaten spent a whole season belittling Joe Torre’s acumen almost as enthusiastically as you are Matheny’s. It is somewhat comical that two radio guys who don’t go to games and do not ever go around the players or into the locker room could have a better read on the pulse of a team than even the players themselves.

      • Big T

        Thats funny!!

      • geoff

        The honest truth is that you could be the very best jockey ever but, if your mount in any given race is a plow horse, it would take a miracle for you to beat a field of thoroughbreds.

  • geoff

    Bernie, Bernie,Bernie… you really dislike Mike Matheny…everybody gets it. The fact that Mo sets the roster and Mo sets the lineup (by his own words) while Mike makes in game moves ( I am assuming Mo doesn’t call the dugout)…it should hardly be an afterthought to mention Mo’ part. This is not a team that is a reliever or two away. It is going to be pretty darn hard to win with Grichuk and Piscotty as your corner outfield. It is difficult to win when your supposed “BEST” player is only average in the field at first base (inadequate everywhere else) coupled with the fact that he is a saber metric dream come true…not at all a threat or a force in the lineup but WOW just look at his obpopsblahblahblah. Matt Carpenter’s effectiveness as a walk drawer is negated by his lack of speed and his lack of instinct. Bernie, you keep mentioning hitting in bad luck…bad luck is ripping a line drive right at someone…hitting nine irons to the left fielder or rolling out into the shift is not hitting into bad luck…it is bad hitting. If your implication is that this team has laid down on MM, I beg to differ. You and I spend about the same amount of time in the locker room and around the team so, I can register my opinion with the same amount of conviction. I do not think Mike Matheny would ever come up in my conversation of best managers, unless I was searching for an example of not great ones. I think his coaching staff is just not good at all and I think Mo is responsible for half of that staff. Back in 2015, I kept asking our vaunted sports reporters in these comment threads what the heck was going on between Matheny and Oquendo, and not one of these supposed insiders even noticed anything. I saw it and I am just a fan in the stands or in my recliner…how could all of you baseball experts with your vast access and insight miss the schism. Your boy MO told all of us, the fans and media alike that we overvalued Jose Oquendo’s importance and contribution to the team and to the organization. Now, all of a sudden it looks more like MO unvalued it. This team, most of the coaching staff, I think Mabry, Mueller, and Bell are Mike’s guys, the rest of the mess is all Mo. Now Mo has handcuffed the organization with some bad contracts. He has blocked his most treasured prospects but, he won’t trade them. He signed Leake to a long full no-trade contract that meant the end of Lynn’s (a much better pitcher) tenure in St Louis. I know Matheny insists on having too many pitchers in the pen but I find it hard to believe he overrules Mo if Mo cuts it back by one. I don’t quite understand Mike’s need when he only uses three or four of them most of the time. With Grorko obviously out of gas, and Grichuk and Piscotty being just not good at all, maybe it’s time to bring in Wisdom and get Sierra back up as well. I know Mike and Mo keep talking about what Sierra doesn’t do yet but they don’t mention what he does do. The kid gets on base and he puts pressure on the defense because he can run. Bernie, I know that it is impossible for you to go more than a week without unleashing a volcano of vitriol directed at Matheny but, leaving Mo’s part in the dumpster fire known as the 2017 Cardinals is not exactly what most people would call astute reporting. Oh and just as an afterthought here, there were fans and reporters and columnists who were just as critical of TLR in 2011, and their criticism was one hell of a lot more deserved , if you look at the roster both had to work with.

    • JDinSTL

      Mabes has been working with Carpenter on launch angle!

      • geoff

        It looks like they figured out a way to change Piscotty’s swing from that of a .330+ hitter to a high strike out unable to hit home runs home run hitter…much like they did with Carpenter, who has become such a disappointment for me. I liked watching him when he was a line drive hitting doubles machine… now not so much.

  • W Mahan

    I hate to say this, but the best thing that could happen to the Cards is a 20-game losing streak. I’m actually hoping for that each day. That is the ONLY way DeWitt will finally fire Matheny, Mabry, and Moz. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you wake up. Matheny is right about one thing: A lot of Cardinal fans ARE BITTER when they see the overall decline of the team since he took over as manager. I’d trust the first random name out of the phonebook to manage the Cards over MM. Couldn’t be any worse.

    Anyway, just remember, every Cardinal loss is a day closer to a brighter future. Then Matheny can go back to speculating in real estate which he was good at. Oh wait…he screwed that up too.

  • Rich Conley

    Miss this kind of frank and realistic commentary – don’t hear it anywhere near the TV, radio or Dispatch. At least with the Cubs, Comcast and the Score pretty much call it like it is

    • geoff

      Rich, are they saying that Maddon has to be the worst manager in baseball??? They all keep saying he has the best team, so they must be under-achieving for a reason , and the reason has to be the manager…RIGHT???

      • Rich Conley

        He does not go without second guessing. I guess since I’m out of range of anything comparable to the Score if there is such in STL, I only have the Fox Sports Midwest commentary to listen to and they pretty much soft peddle things and are sure that Cards are still in the division race (without any note of how they don’t stack up against any potential opponents, but you don’t here that much on Chicago radio either). Not sure that there is any radio I can get via an app either, the STL ESPN 101 only streams a few hours a day and not sure what else to try.

  • Big T

    “The 2011 “Mo” made a season-changing trade at the deadline.” How true… So if this trade with Toronto is not made TLR does not win the WS….

    Yet we blame MM record with this team (which is a mere shadow of talent vs. 2011 club…..) Did MM date your sister or something? Why the constant hate both direct and veiled.

    • EJetson

      Because he’s been a horrible manager for six years. There are very few things that a manager can do to win a game for his team. There are an infinite number of things a manager can do to LOSE a game for his team. Mike is trying to infinity is not an impossible number to reach.

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    Matheny is reaching in his characterization of fans. And as Bernie suggests, the Cards flubbed another series. This Cardinal team is fundamentally flawed. It lacks a solid go to closer, a solid go to defense, and a solid go to middle of the order lineup. This latter issue was behind my off season desires for more activity in the FA market. DeWitt supposedly has the money to burn on a few players (Price, Heyward), so why not improve the team by signing a bopper (Chris Davis), a couple of middle of the lineup guys (Turner, Cespedes), and a quality closer (Chapman). Didn’t happen in the last two off seasons. And this off season was especially frustrating. Most fans could see that signing Fowler would not be enough to make the team competitive with the Cubs. Oh well…. life is like a bowl of cherries….

  • John Sachse

    I’m bitter, but I am not spoiled to think we should win every year. I expect good fundamental baseball, hustle, enthusiasm and above all good coaching to develop young players which we do not see. Great comparison of the 2011 team to this team. What a slap in the face to the 2011 players to be compared to the current team.