Food for Thought 6-21-2011

Photo courtesy of Albert Pujols (pictured above) will be out at least a month. St. Louis will really miss their star and will struggle to remain in contention without his big bat.

By Josh Kramer

A 22-year-old just made a mockery of one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments.  The best tournament in tennis just began.  And the NBA Draft is set for Thursday.  There is so much going on in the sporting world.

Here is what has caught my attention.

Lack of the “Machine” spells trouble for St. Louis

When the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the year, many had lost hope.  I said that there was no need to panic.  St. Louis has a lethal lineup and as long as the “Machine” is still around, this team will have the ability to outslug any lineup in the League.  The Cardinals rely on the “Machine” for the majority of their production  Well now the “Machine” is out for at least a month.  Sorry Cardinals fans, but over the course of the next month, the panic meter should be at an all time high.  No companies survive without their main line of production.

Albert Pujols of course is generally considered the best all around player in the game today.  He has won three MVP awards and was finally coming on after a slow start.  On the year, Pujols is batting .279 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs.  In addition, over the past six games, he has six home runs, five RBIs, and seven hits.  Plus his batting average has raised 34 points since the beginning of May.  His home run and RBI totals despite a very slow start still rank number two on the 2nd most lethal lineup in the National League.  The Cardinals heading into Monday night were second in the National League in runs scored with 348.  Sadly, they were also tied for third worst in the National League in runs surrendered, having given up 321.  St. Louis is currently ranked number one in hits in the NL, third in doubles, seventh in HRs, first in RBIs, and first in batting average.  It is safe to say that this team hits the ball all over the park.  The potent offensive attack is the sole reason why the Redbirds are currently in contention and at the top of the National League Central.

They are not in the thick of the playoff race due to lock down pitching.  The St. Louis staff is mediocre at best, with the 9th ranked ERA in the National League.  All day I have been hearing how the Cardinals will not miss their star player that much.  Give me a break.  The Cardinals live and die on their offensive production.  Not only will St. Louis now have to do without typical Albert Pujols production, but also guys like Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday will see less hittable pitches.  Take away Albert and kiss away the fat fastballs that Berkman and Holliday have been seeing.

But have no fear St. Louis.  Tony Larussa is of course one of the greatest managers of all time (so he thinks).  A true innovator.  This will be a challenge for the ultimate micro managers.  I am really looking forward to seeing how the biggest micro manager in the game solves this mystery.  St. Louis over the next few weeks gets to play a three game set against the best team in the National League, the Phillies.  They also have three series in a row against “AL East Beasts.”  Fortunately for the Cardinals, they are playing the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place teams from baseball’s best division.  And following the AL East tour, they have a three game set against their hated rival, the Cincinnati Reds.

This next month could be make or break time for the Cardinals.  Can Larussa find a way to keep St. Louis in the hunt?  Or will we head into the All Star Break with the NL Central being a two team race rather than three?

A smart and obvious choice

It is no secret that the Florida Marlins have been struggling.  They are on pace for perhaps the worst month in MLB history.  With the recent resignation of Edwin Rodriguez, the Marlins have called on a familiar face to take the reins.  The man who many call “Trader Joe.”  I would prefer to call him simply the “Old Guy.”  Either way, Jack McKeon will take over the Marlins for the rest of the season as the interim manager.  And I have to admit, this was a good decision by the Marlins.

Jack McKeon has been around the block to say the least.  He has won plenty in his day as well.  At this point though, he is 80-years-old.  McKeon is not expecting an extension.  He is not your typical candidate that will be doing all in his power to get hired as the full-time manager.  He just loves the game of baseball and loves the Marlin’s organization.  This is a great move by the Marlins.  Why hire a guy that will struggle with the pressure of trying to get an extension?  Why put anyone into this dire situation?  Let McKeon finish the year, and then bring in a new guy with a fresh start in the off-season.

Sure the month of June has defined the season for the Marlins.  But the key statistic in my eyes rests with their star shortstop.  Hanley Ramirez has not had a typical year at the plate to say the least.  A man widely considered the best shortstop in baseball is batting .201 with 4 home runs and 17 RBIs.  That should be a very foretelling sign regarding where the NL East cellar dwellers stand.

Now I realize that McKeon took over the Marlins 38 games into the 2003 season.  And we all know what happened that year.  He led the Marlins to one of the most improbably World Series runs in MLB history.  But that was a completely different Marlins team and a completely different NL East.  Good luck trying to leapfrog the Phillies, much less a very talented Braves team.  Have you ever heard the expression, “Old man strength?”  Well Jack McKeon will need a whole lot of “Old man strength” to turn this team into a contender.

I thought football was the SEC’s forte?

The College World Series is off to a great start and has seemed to embrace the transition from Rosenblatt Stadium to TD Ameritrade Park.  There is only one word to describe the first weekend of play though at this year’s main event in Omaha.  SEC.  The SEC is generally known for its amazing football prowess.  Well the baseball is not too shabby either (3 and 0 record over the weekend).

Sweet is not necessarily good

Wimbledon is off to a great start.  The majority of the tennis world is still anxiously awaiting Isner/Mahut Part II, which is set for later today.  But today, I am going to talk about little known Ryan Sweeting.  Despite his name, the 23-year-old American, who currently is ranked #66 in the world does not exactly have “sweet” luck.

On Monday, Sweeting came back from two sets down, and won a great five set match.  His reward?  A third date with the world’s number one ranked player (Rafael Nadal) in the past six months.  Are you feeling lucky today?  Probably more lucky than Ryan Sweeting.

Just some “Food for Thought.”

Let me hear your thoughts though.  Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

One response to “Food for Thought 6-21-2011

  1. Pingback: Pujols Rant | TheSportsKraze

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