Until last night I wasn't particularly going full jihad on the St. Louis Cardinals even though they stand in the way of the San Francisco Giants making the 2012 World Series. The reasons for that are several and straightforward.
First, there's the lingering legacy of Tony La Russa around the Red Birds and I have always admired La Russa's respect for the game and its history. Second is the fact that the Giants did not have to go through St. Louis en route to their 2010 World Championship, which kind of took the Cardinals off my drone attack matrix over the last several years. But all that changed last night.
Game 2 of the National League Championship Series saw the perfect confluence of Cards' left fielder Matt Holliday acting like a complete aperture for the evacuation of human waste, and FoxSports TV broadcastor Tim McCarver once again demonstrating why we might just need death panels in this country.
The scenario has been told and reviewed in great detail the past 24 hours: in the first inning of NLCS Game 1 Matt Holliday took out Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro to break up a potential double-play. Problem was Holliday didn't start his slide until after he hit the bag at second, and he proceeded to put a brutal and gratuitous body block into Scutaro's legs. Scutaro went down hard and didn't move and it appeared he would have to leave the game.
Up in the FoxSports TV booth dunderheaded analyst Tim McCarver immediately defended Holliday's nasty play, declaring Holliday's slide was good old hard-nosed baseball. More on McCarver (blog above) and why he has become intensely irrelevant the past twenty years (or whenever his broadcast career started).
Holliday: Blindsiding on the Field, Mewling in the Clubhouse
Matt Holliday is not evil and I don't believe there was any intent to injure Marco Scutaro, but his play in the first inning was reckless and dangerous. Luckily Scutaro was not seriously hurt and actually played several more innings before having to leave the game. Not that it's needed, but we saw even further evidence of Marco Scutaro's grit and heart when it counted most.
I agree with astute SI.com columnist Tom Verducci who wrote that Holliday's play was actually interference and both Holliday and batter Alan Craig should have been declared out. The analogy here is when a runner from first base attempts to disrupt a double-play by going for the fielder at second instead going for the second base bag.
After the game in the Cards' clubhouse Holliday was subdued and indirectly apologetic for his unprofessional play. To the reporters gathered around his locker Holliday whimpered, "I wish I had started my slide earlier". Yeah like maybe on Sunday.
What is irrefutable is that Holliday's illegal play absolutely fired up the San Francisco Giants at a time when they needed some type of combustible material ignited under their butts. San Francisco has spent some amount of this post season sleepwalking through the play-offs and their starting pitching was surprisingly moribund and ineffective.
Kudos to Matt Holliday for giving the Giants new energy and determination at just the right time-- a critical must-win game for the Giants at home.
The National League Championship Series-- Now it's Personal
Thanks to Matt Holliday, my preparations for the upcoming NLCS games have dramatically changed.
First, my posse and I will get ready for each game by by donning our camouflage jumpsuits complete with Code Pink skull ribbons; then we'll apply imported orange eyeback and fire up our laptops to Baseball-Reference.com. Finally, we'll set up our traditional Jack Daniels and Cheetos oyster bar.
Hopefully we'll see some serious Giants payback for the Scutaro take-out. Can't wait to see Matt Holliday take a 78MPH Barry Zito fastball off his butt. Hope he notices.