This column first appeared in the Joplin Globe on Sept. 24, 2006
As the St. Louis Cardinals appear to be heading for the playoffs, they have lost their closer, have lost their big-time left-handed starting pitcher, have a center fielder experiencing dizzy spells and blurred vision, have a shortstop who has trouble running and have a pitching staff that is erratic in the sense that erratic means awful.
And you know what?
I’ve never been more confident that the Cardinals will win the World Series in my entire life.
There’s a scene in the movie version of John Irving’s novel “The World According to Garp” in which Garp, played by Robin Williams, and his wife, played by some actress, are considering buying a house. While they are standing outside the house checking it out, an airplane crashes into the home. Right away, the Robin Williams character says that he and his wife will buy the house even though there is a small plane stuck in it.
“Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical,” Williams says to his wife.
“It’s been pre-disastered.”
That’s the way I feel about the Cardinals this year: They’ve been pre-disastered. In the past, the Cardinals would wait until right before the first game of the World Series for something to go wrong. As evidence of that, I point to the 1985 World Series “tarp incident.” If you remember, the 1985 Cardinals were built on speed, not power. I may have made this up, but in 1985, Jack Clark led the Cardinals in home runs. He hit two home runs. I think Ozzie Smith was second that year. Ozzie hit one-half of a home run.
By far the most important player on that Cardinal team was Vince Coleman. Naturally, on the day before the World Series against the Kansas City Royals was to begin, Vince was run over by a tarp. (Note to you young people: This is not a joke. The Kansas City Royals did appear in the World Series. Actually, they appeared in two.)
That’s right – a tarp. In his own home ballpark!
Later, in game six of the series, umpire Don Denkinger might have, just maybe, missed a call at first base. The call was important only in the sense that the Cardinals probably would have won the game and the series had Denkinger not sort of misjudged the play at first base. Later, television replays would clearly show that while the Royals’ Jorge Orta was still at least a foot from first base, Denkinger was standing in line at the concession stand trying to order a plate of nachos.
In 2004, when the Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, someone – and again I may be making this up – broke into the Cardinals’ clubhouse and stole all their bats, forcing the team to use Wiffle bats for the entire series.
But this year, I feel good. I mean, what else could go wrong? Well, that’s a dumb thing to say. Plenty can still go wrong, but I don’t think it will. I mean, what’s worse than losing your closer? Or your center fielder? Or your left-handed starter? Or your shortstop?
See, this year when the idiots – er, I mean experts – on ESPN start talking about the playoffs, every one of them will say something like, “Well, the Cardinals don’t have a closer, and their center fielder is dizzy, and their starting pitching is weak, so they can’t win. Oh, and BOO-Ya.”
I don’t know why the “experts” on ESPN have to yell BOO-Ya, but they do.
But my point is that the ESPN experts are morons – well, except for Joe Morgan – so if they say something will happen, you can pretty much count on the exact opposite to occur.
I don’t think the ESPN experts have seen “The World According to Garp,” so they don’t understand about being pre-disastered.
So, this year I’m saying the Cardinals will win the World Series. Why? Because right now, they sort of suck, which means they are in perfect shape to win the Series.
Well, unless Albert Pujols comes down with a case of food poisoning after eating in his own restaurant.
Or, if Don Denkinger decides he wants to umpire again.