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PURE CARDINAL OBSESSION
The #1 authority on St. Louis Cardinals baseball in Kent County, Maryland.
(And a little on the Orioles, Rams, Blues, Purdue Boilermakers, and Mizzou Tigers too, ever so often.)
This site is not affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB, or anything, really. Contact the creator, if you wish.
After the past month or so, a win
-- especially a 29-point one -- is just so nice. It's a burden lifted off this Purdue fan's shoulders. I'll probably write more on the game later, but I just wanted to share in the awesomeness of this moment. Hopefully there'll be many more like it soon.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch contains an article
on Sunday profiling 94-year-old former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden
, who was a three-time All-American as a player for Purdue from 1930-1932 (the only one in the school's history) -- and led Purdue to its only national title in his last season. It's an excellent read, talking about Wooden's philosophies of basketball and life. He truly is an extraordinary man.
Another game, another frustrating and disappointing loss
. This time, it's the longest losing streak
in the Gene Keady era.
This time, it was Wednesday night to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Attendance was light; the announced crowd was 11,278, but fans sitting in the upper arena were encouraged to move down to any empty seats in the lower arena -- the first time I've heard that announced in all the games I've seen at Mackey Arena. My best guess is that there were about 9,000 in attendance. And, since I knew I wouldn't be able to attend Sunday's game against Michigan, I tried to sell my ticket on the street before Wednesday's game. For a center-court, upper arena ticket (face value $21), I basically had to beg and plead to get $2. Needless to say, the atmosphere at Mackey is not what it has been in years past -- and Coach Keady's pleas
in the Exponent after the Iowa loss last weekend didn't seem to hit their mark.
UWM used an intermittent full court press to pester Purdue inbounding the ball, and forced several turnovers as a result -- Purdue committed 19 on the game, and I'd be willing to wager that at least 10 of those were directly a result of the press. Unfortunately, that wasn't the main problem, as UWM shot 55 percent from the field in the second half, and 47 percent for the game. Purdue's defensive struggles -- ironic, considering Coach Keady has stressed defense his whole career -- did the team in once more.
Wednesday's game was the first of a slightly easier nine-game stretch in Purdue's schedule
-- ranked second toughest in the nation according to Sportsline's RPI
-- during which they can potentially regain some dignity after a 4-12 start. In my opinion, each of these games is winnable; however, the team seems to need to play a perfect game to win. Perhaps relying more on Carl Landry
is the answer, I don't know. But we will find out soon -- even though neither will get the team anywhere in postseason contention, 11-14 or so looks a lot better than 4-21. Sunday afternoon against Michigan -- on national television (CBS) no less -- is when the Boilermakers will have to dig deep and finally get a win.
Don't miss an excellent post
by Sean about the history of Cardinal baserunning.
Also, is anyone else headed over to this
tomorrow afternoon? Feel free to drop me an email if you are.
is a good word to describe it. It's only Purdue's second blowout loss this year, but still -- six in a row is not good. And players
are going down left and right. Chris Hartley may have to see significant playing time -- yikes.
The only option, though, is to get right back on the horse. That'll be Wednesday night against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Yes, I'm going to do this every time there's a good post over at TBW
. We just launched the site, so I'll do whatever it takes to get visitors. Although I think that site gets way more hits than this one, so maybe it isn't necessary.
Iron Throne does an excellent piece
on Cardinal dynasties, and yours truly followed up with a post
about baseball in this past half-decade (whatever it's called).
And don't miss the picture
of Ozzie Smith Jr. from American Idol. I'm not kidding.
The Rams' report cards are in, according to the Post-Dispatch. The special teams and secondary did horrible (F and a rather generous C-, respectively), but thankfully both of their coaches will be gone
. Martz himself rated a C-, which I thought was a little low, but hey -- that must be why I'm not a reporter, because I'd probably give him around a B-. I mean, after all, he made the playoffs.
Here's the letter grades:
Quarterbacks - B (mostly thanks to the backups, otherwise A-)
Running backs - B-
Receivers - B
Offensive line - C- (rather generous, in my opinion -- too many sacks)
Defensive line - C+
Linebackers - D
Secondary - C- (also generous, as stated before -- not enough INTs!)
Special Teams - F (Wilkins gets a B in my book, it's not his fault the coverage stunk)
Coaching - C-
Saturday, January 15 was a rough day.
Part I: Purdue vs. Indiana, NCAA men's basketball, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, IN, 12:00 p.m.
A boring game
became nuts at the end of regulation when Brandon McKnight missed a jump shot from the top of the key, and time expired during the scrum for the rebound (where no foul was called -- remember that, folks), sending the game to overtime. Then it got crazy.
At the end of the first overtime, and the score tied 61-61, Bracey Wright missed a jump shot. In the fight for the loose ball, Andrew Ford was called for a foul. Replays showed that the call was very questionable. Either way, Marshall Strickland was given two free throw attempts with 0.9 seconds remaining. He made them both. Purdue called timeout to try and draw up some kind of miracle play. Ford, who must've been a quarterback in high school, threw a perfect court-length strike to Carl Landry under the basket. Landry quickly drew a foul while putting up a layup, which somehow went in. The referee behind the play immediately ruled the basket good -- still, they went to the monitor to review the play. When they came out, they ruled the basket good still, and Landry had one shot to win the game.
Supposedly, when the referees huddled around the monitor, they ruled that even though Landry released the ball after time expired, he should get continuation -- and therefore the basket was good. Mike Davis was irate when the ruling was explained, and (apparently) rightfully so, because the Big Ten admitted
that it was the wrong call a couple of days later.
It all was a moot point, however, because Landry missed his free throw. And Purdue lost in overtime -- McKnight's leaning 3 for the win banked off the front rim. The Boilers dropped to 0-4 in the Big Ten, and quickly fell to 0-5 (4-11 overall) after another close loss
in East Lansing on Tuesday night.
Part II: St. Louis Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons, NFL divisional playoffs, seen at Jake's in West Lafayette, IN, 8:15 p.m.
After a rough afternoon at Mackey, I headed over to Jake's Roadhouse
, a popular bar with lots of TVs, to watch the Rams' playoff game. The game started rather quickly, as both teams traded touchdowns within the first five minutes. But the Rams' defensive shortcomings shone through, and by halftime, they were trailing 28-17. The Fox network commentators reported on several Falcons postseason rushing and punt return
single-game records being set during the first half
, so it certainly didn't look good. Still, the Rams weren't out of the game by any stretch, down only 11 with the ball to start the second half.
Unfortunately, fter halftime, it got ugly. The Rams went three-and-out, punted, and the Falcons scored a touchdown thanks to a big punt return (again) and the resulting short field. The Rams failed to score during the second half. 47-17
was the final score. The Rams allowed 327 yards rushing, which was one of the aforementioned records.
The worst part about the Rams' effort was the little things. I can come up with a whole bunch of instances, mostly during the first half, where a tiny break going the Rams' way could've changed a lot. There was the punt that Kevin Garrett could've easily downed on the 1; instead, he misjudged where he was, and stepped on the endline, forcing a touchback. There were the two dropped interceptions (by Antuan Edwards and Tommy Polley) by the Rams defense during the Falcons' second drive of the game, which resulted in a touchdown. There were missed tackles on Allen Rossum's punt return TD. There were several drops by the receivers -- most notably one in the first half by Steven Jackson on third down. The defense failed time and again on third and long And last, but not least, while the game was still in reach at 28-17 on the first drive after halftime, when Steven Jackson danced his way to being stuffed on third and 1, forcing a punt. Little mistakes add up over the course of a football game. I'm not saying the Rams would've won if they'd played the second half the same way, but if a few of these aforementioned little breaks had gone their way, they might've been the ones up 28-17 at the half -- and thus dictated the tempo for the rest of the game. Who's to know?
It was an ugly day. To add to the frustration (although I didn't even think to look at this until the next day), Mizzou got killed
at Kansas State that afternoon 74-54. Merely icing on the cake to one of my worst sports days in memory.
But hey... I have to remind myself that the Cards did win 105 games and a pennant
, so maybe the law of averages has to kick in a little bit.
A little late, but here's another recent post
of mine at The Birdwatch
-- be sure to check out everything on that site! If we members of that site had enough money, we'd buy ourselves a ballclub and win a pennant every year -- we're that good.
A sad state of affairs
There are so many distractions, with the Rams in the playoffs, and hot stove baseball
, but for a die-hard like myself, it's hard to forget that it's college basketball season.
As a Purdue alumnus and season ticket holder, it's hard not to cringe at what's been happening to the Boilermakers this season. A 1-5 start to the season against a tough schedule
was bad, but three home losses since to the likes of Illinois last Saturday (not bad), Wisconsin last Wednesday (tough, but you've gotta win those), and Baylor before that (yikes!) have taken the life out of the Purdue fan base with the team's record at 4-8.
Against Illinois, the game was sold out. The student section was nearly half-empty, since the game was the weekend before school started up again, and the tickets were part of their package. So, that's sort of understandable -- although, being a former student season ticket holder before who'd been denied
tickets to a pre-spring semester weekend game, I feel a little shafted. Anyway, I can't complain because those 1,000 or so tickets didn't fall into the hands of even more
orange-clad Illinois fans (since, of course, there's no way that that many Purdue students would've shown up to a game that they didn't already have on their package -- even if it was the #1 team in the country). Still, there were several
thousand of those Illinois fans, and seeing them made me see red (well, orange).
Here's a couple pictures, courtesy of purduesports.com
, that I edited to show the amount of orange in the crowd:
The left is Matt Kiefer, the right is Charles Davis. Those pictures don't quite show the magnitude of the infestation, but they do give the basic idea. Either way, it's sad to see the fans give up on a team like the Purdue fans have this year; while Gene Keady has struggled in past years, it'd be nice to send him out with a proper farewell.
For better or for worse, the season continues
Wednesday night in Minneapolis. As that article says, the last time the Boilers were 0-3 in the Big Ten was 1963. Let's hope it stays that way.
On cloud (win) nine
Playoff victories are sweet. Especially when they come against a division rival. But Saturday's 27-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks was even more of a thing of beauty. Why?
It shut these guys
I'd love to see the Rams make a run to the Super Bowl. Martz will be hailed as a god, and no newspaper columnist will ever be able to run him out of town.
It's definitely a whole new season
I'll take Scenario 2, thank you
How 'bout them 'Skins
? How 'bout them Rams
Yes, I'm glad the Rams pulled through, obviously, but for another reason in addition to the fact that they are once again in the playoffs. I'm probably one of the small percentage of people (none of whom, apparently, are members of the local media) who still thinks Mike Martz is the best man to coach the Rams. Why? He wins games. Lots of them. Enough to make the playoffs four times in five seasons. Yet sportswriters and their followers complain about his 2-3 playoff record, among other things. Let's take a look at those playoff games
, shall we?
2000: Loss at New Orleans, 28-31
2001: Win vs. Green Bay, 45-17; Win vs. Philadelphia, 29-24; Loss vs. New England, 14-17
2003: Loss vs. Carolina, 23-29 (2OT)
A double-overtime loss on a fluke play, a non-officiated Super Bowl loss (Pass interference? Heard of it? That game began the process that led to increased illegal contact penalties this season), and a three-point road loss by a 2000 Rams team that had absolutely zero defense. The first two of those could've easily gone the other way with a lucky break or call or two.
So what does that mean for the 2004 version? This year's team certainly has its flaws (turnover ratio, special teams, etc.), but you mean to tell me that they can't beat the Woodland Park Zoo
for a third time this season? I don't see why not.
We'll see on Saturday. Go get 'em, guys.
(Actually, I won't personally see, since the NFL picked the only time for the Rams of the four possible slots during which my Boilermakers will be playing the #1 team
in the nation -- on CBS, 3:00 St. Louis time, mind you, you can flip back and forth with it and the football -- and I already have my ticket to that. So I'll just have to sport the Rams jersey to the basketball game and silently hope that they will be winning when I'll be able to watch eventually.)
is a new blog, just launched today. It's a collective, with fourteen different contributors from all around the Cardinals blogger world. There's a little piece
by yours truly about the process leading up to new Cardinal shortstop David Eckstein's acquisition.
Be sure to check it out.
The Rams are playing for their playoff lives tomorrow. Unfortunately, those lives are not in their hands. If they can beat the Jets
(I cannot stress that enough), they've gotta have one of a couple of different results from other games around the NFL:
1) Seattle loses, at home, to Atlanta
This is the best scenario, since it would give the Rams the NFC West title over the Seahawks, who'd possibly end up heading to St. Louis for a first-round game (depending on other factors). While this scenario is not the most likely of the three, it still is very possible, since Atlanta will be "playing to win
", unlike last weekend's Matt Schaub-led debacle against the Saints. Michael Vick is slated to play. This game is being played at 3:00 St. Louis time, so they'll know the result of the Rams game (which is at noon) beforehand. If the Rams lose, the Seahawks will probably rest some players. If not, this could be an interesting one -- and closely watched in St. Louis.
2) Minnesota loses at Washington
This scenario would put the Rams in a three-way tie for two wild-card spots with the Vikings and the winner of the Carolina-New Orleans game. The Rams would make the playoffs either way, but their seed (i.e., whether they'd play the Packers or Seahawks in the first round if they were the wild card) would change depending of the winner of the other game. Anyway, the Vikings are doing their best impersonation of last season, when they fell apart down the stretch and missed the playoffs after a hot start -- losing on a last-second touchdown to the Arizona Cardinals in the last game of the year to give their spot to the Packers. The Redskins, unfortunately minus Clinton Portis and LaVar Arrington, would love to play the spoiler this year. This game, as well as both the Panthers-Saints and Rams-Jets, will be played at noon St. Louis time, so there may be some scoreboard watching from all three locations -- since the scenarios
for each NFC team (minus, of course, the eliminated Redskins) in all three games depend on one another.
3) New Orleans ties Carolina, at Carolina
Hey, you never know. A hotly contested game for a likely playoff berth goes to OT, defense takes over... and by the end, both teams end up screwing themselves.
Ah, who am I kidding? There hasn't been a tie since 2002, and only three in the past ten seasons (since I started paying attention when the Rams moved to St. Louis). Heck, there have only been three since the '80s. Thank God this game is at noon, and not the night game or something, so it can't be a last resort. Yeah. It's not even remotely likely at all that there'll be a tie... but hey, it'd be nice if it happened, wouldn't it?
So, you've seen what the Rams need to do -- and have done. Is that proper English? Ah, who cares. Go Rams, go Falcons, go Redskins, and go... uh... neither of those other teams!
St. Louis Cardinals -- The Purpose.
Major League Baseball -- The system behind The Purpose, messed up in some ways as it may be.
StLToday.com -- More polished journalism than can be delivered on this blog.
ESPN.com Cardinals Clubhouse
Redbird Nation -- My inspiration.
The Birdwatch -- A new Cardinals blog. Highly recommended. Oh yeah, I post there.
Get Up, Baby
Random Redbird Reasoning
Royalties & Cardinalate -- Cross-state rivals, sort of.
Cardinals Birdhouse -- My dream job.
The Cardinal Virtue
Cards Fan in Cub Land
Other Baseball Links
Rob Neyer -- One of my favorite baseball pundits, even though he's a Royals fan.
Jayson Stark (on ESPN.com) -- Another guy I like.
Peter Gammons (on ESPN.com) -- Ken Burns would love his East Coast bias, but the guy knows what he's talking about.
Baseball-Reference.com -- An easy-to-navigate and uncluttered site for historical statistics. Yours truly is Ray King's page sponsor.
Al's Ramblings -- An excellent blog focusing mainly on the Brewers, a tribute to the lukewarm Brewer fan I've become.
Honest Wagner -- I don't hate the Pirates, and this is a good one as well.
Aaron's Baseball Blog -- Aaron Gleeman, Twins blogger extraordinare. Al of Ramblings fame calls him "King Gleeman," for good reason.
Transaction Guy -- Very witty. Keeps you up to date, which is handy for fantasy leagues.
Bat-Girl -- Twins commentary, with sass.
Throws Like A Girl -- Astros blog.
The Hardball Times -- General baseball blog/news site.
College Basketball Links
Big Ten Wonk -- Big Ten blog.
Yoco's College Basketball -- General NCAA blog.