The Cardinals' Front Office actually acquired an in-season impact player. I'm shocked; I never thought this would happen. Mark DeRosa can actually hit for average and power (.270, 11 homers 56 RBI), something our present outfielders are incapable of. He should play every day, but don't hold your breath. Remember, Tony LaGenius is our manager, and if there's one thing he will never resort to it is doing the obvious thing. For, you see, geniuses do not do the obvious. That's why they are geniuses. If it is plain to all that DeRosa should play every day, then you can bet he will not. Because LaGenius knows more than any fan, any player, any manager, any front office person who has ever seen a game of baseball. In fact, I have publicly begged him to bat the pitcher eighth so that he would do what every other manager in the history of the game has always done: bat the pitcher ninth. I figure if he gets the idea that the fans think batting the pitcher eighth is a good idea, he will resort to batting the pitcher ninth. Such is the bizarre conundrum of being a St. Louis Cardinals fan. (By the way, someday, god willing, LaLoser will retire or die, and ownership--Bill DeWallet--will sell, and I will be free to love my team again. After all, this has been my team since 1958; it is more my team than it is LaGenius's or DeWallet's.)
Back to the sweet and sour of having DeRosa. Because DeRosa is a very versatile player, it presents LaGenius with many options. And one thing we do not want is for LaGenius to have too many options, because he invariably thinks and ponders and intellecutalizes himself into the wrong choice. (Baseball is a simple game, but LaLoser insists on making it rocket science.) For instance, in today's game the Twins threw a lefty, Nelson Liriano, so it was a safe bet that DeRosa would be in left field (even though he prefers the infield) because we have a paucity of right-handed-hitting outfielders. (The only other is Ryan Ludwick, so it was a safe bet he would play also, though I sweated this out until game time. Note: this is the same Ryan Ludwick who hit 37 homers last year, drove in 117, batted .300, and made the All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger award...but who has been turned into a platoon player by LaGenius.) This must have been a devastating dilemma to LaGenius, because it meant that he would have to sit either his man-crush/love interest Rick Ankiel (.234, 5 HRs, 25 RBI) or the pitching coach's son, Chris Duncan (no power, no average, no clutch hitting)...or, god forbid, horror of horrors...bench both! Ah...alas, LaGenius chose to play Ankiel, rather than Colby Rasmus, our young phenom who has also been turned into an occasional player. So although Duncan was benched, Ankiel was not.
Let's back up here a minute, and let me explain something. Until the Cardinals acquired DeRosa, they had four outfielders (five if you include Skip Schumaker, whom LaGenius has converted into a mediocre second baseman). They are Ryan Ludwick, Colby Rasmus, Rick Ankiel, and Chris Duncan. It is obvious to me, and all logical Cardinals fans, that Ludwick (for reasons stated above) and Rasmus should be playing every day. Rasmus is only 21, but he can run, hit, field and throw. He has the most potential of any player. Playing him every third game is not going to develop his abilities; he needs to be a part of the everyday lineup. That leaves one outfield position vacant for the remaining two players--Ankiel and Duncan. The logical thing to do would be to play one and sit the other (I don't care which, because they are equally awful...and now that DeRosa has arrived, BOTH of these slugs should ride the bench). But there is a problem with this. Yeah, you guessed it: LaGenius is infatuated with both of them. Let's take them one at a time:
Rick Ankiel--A converted pitcher whose pitching career was ruined by LaLoser (He played head games with Ankiel prior to a playoff game and this began Rick's inclination to regularly throw the ball over the backstop from the pitcher's mound). LaLoser may feel intense guilt over this and thus is compelled to "carry" Ankiel as an outfielder. This despite the fact that Ankiel is a streaky hitter, who has prolonged slumps, never hits for a good average, has little power, and never hits in the clutch (.155 career with the bases loaded, and 0 for 8 with six strikeouts this year). Ankiel wraps the bat around his head and waves it before the arrival of the pitch. His swing is long and loopy, and has a decided uppercut. He invariably hits the bottom of the ball (for a pop-up) or the top of the ball (easy grounder). My son and I laugh as we watch him hit. We scream in unison, "he hit the top of the ball" as we watch yet another weak ground ball roll toward the second baseman; or, "he hit the bottom of the ball" as another lazy Ankiel pop-up drifts towards short right field. If you're a Cardinal fan, he is the LAST GUY you would want in the batter's box of a tie game, ninth inning, bases loaded. He has a fragile psyche (he spent years in therapy from an abusive father), and he folds easily under pressure. However, you should see him hit when the score is 10-1. Screaming line drives. Some say he has a good arm, but as many times as he throws a runner out, he will just as often miss the cutoff man. In short, I am sick of the high-maintenance, no-performance, head-case melodrama that is Rick Ankiel. But LaGenius is not sick of it. He has made us endure it for 10 years, and there is no end in sight. I believe, don't laugh, that LaGenius has a latent homosexual crush on Ankiel. Ankiel is a great athlete (not all great athletes are competent baseball players) and a good-looking guy, and I think, at some level LaGenius is in love with him. How else to explain this obsession with Ankiel? The guilt theory holds only so much water; LaLoser has ruined many careers without a scintilla of guilt. Why this soft spot for Ricky boy?
That brings us to Little Dunc, the son of longtime pitching coach, Dave Duncan. Little Dunc looks, talks, runs and plays baseball with all the acumen and agility of Frankenstein. No, wait, Frankenstein was a better left fielder. As long and loopy as Ankiel's swing is, that's how stiff, labored, and un-athletic Duncan's is. They say, he is playing out of position; first base is his natural home, but we already have one of those (perhaps you've heard of Albert Pujols? Not even LaGenius could justify benching Albert in favor of Lil Dunc...though I am positive the thought has crossed his mind). Then one day Albert was hurt and Lil Dunc got his chance. He dropped an easy popup; so much for the first-base wunderkind. He strikes out often (all curves and changeups fool him); his power has vanished; and he never gets a big hit. So why does LaGenius play him? It's as simple as this--nepotism. LaGenius is fiercely loyal to Duncan, Sr., and this blinds him to all of Little Dunc's shortcomings.
So there you have it. Ankiel and Duncan must play, despite all the evidence to the contrary. There will never be a time when both are benched in the same game, and they WILL NEVER BE TRADED as long as LaLoser is manager. Despite LaLoser's national reputation as a great manager (this endures as the greatest American lie since Oswald acted alone), who bases his decisions on a computer-like recall of stats, proabilities and tendencies, he is nothing more than an impulsive, illogical, manipulative boss who plays favorites and and covets the power he has over others. His lineups are a reflection of his personality--a mishmash of senselessness, contradiction, contrivance and pseudo-intellectualism. And, mark my words, DeRosa's usefulness will be limited by this. Watch and see--the day will come--perhaps tomorrow night when Lincecum, a right hander, pitches against us--when LaGenius will bench DeRosa and play both Ankiel and Duncan instead. After all, it's more than just baseball; it's Tony working out his neuroses, much to the anguish of Cardinal nation.