Posts Tagged ‘Chris Carpenter’

Starting Rotation: National League Central

January 22, 2010

Today, I am going to take a look at the starting rotations for each National League Central team.

Pitchers like Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Roy Oswalt call this division home. This division has quality pitchers throughout.

Here are the starting rotations for each National League Central team as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Chris Carpenter, RHP

2. Adam Wainwright, RHP

3. Kyle Lohse, RHP

4. Brad Penny, RHP

5. TBD

Quick Take – This rotation is very top heavy with Carpenter and Wainwright leading the way. Carpenter’s health is key. If he is healthy, the Cardinals will be favorites to win the division. I like the Penny signing. The Cardinals don’t have a candidate for the fifth starter right now, so look for them to sign someone.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Yovani Gallardo, RHP

2. Randy Wolf, LHP

3. Dave Bush, RHP

4. Doug Davis, LHP

5. Jeff Suppan, RHP

Quick Take – With the additions of Wolf and Davis, this rotation is vastly improved from 2009. Wolf and Davis will give the Brewers innings. Look for Gallardo to continue to develop into an ace. Suppan will battle with Manny Parra for the No.5 starter spot.

Chicago Cubs

1. Carlos Zambrano, RHP

2. Ryan Dempster, RHP

3. Randy Wells, RHP

4. Ted Lilly, LHP

5. Tom Gorzelanny, LHP

Quick Take – This might be the most overrated pitching staff in baseball. Dempster has had one good year in the last seven years and was not worthy of his contract. It’s up in the air whether or not Lilly will be ready for Opening Day. I am starting to wonder if all those innings Zambrano threw earlier in his career is coming back to haunt him now?

Cincinnati Reds

1. Bronson Arroyo, RHP

2. Aaron Harang, RHP

3. Johnny Cueto, RHP

4. Homer Bailey, RHP

5. TBD

Quick Take – This rotation will really miss Edinson Volquez in 2010. Volquez might pitch in 2010, but not until towards the end of the season. Arroyo and Harang are prime trade candidates. The Reds’ No.5 starter spot is open right now. I don’t think it will be Aroldis Chapman to start the season.

Houston Astros

1. Roy Oswalt, RHP

2. Wandy Rodriguez, LHP

3. Brett Myers, RHP

4. Bud Norris, RHP

5. Brian Moehler, RHP

Quick Take – From where this rotation was at the beginning of 2009, the Astros have come a long way. Astros need Oswalt to have a bounce back year. Norris showed potential last season, but needs to cut down on his walks and needs to show development next season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Paul Maholm, LHP

2. Zach Duke, LHP

3. Ross Ohlendorf, RHP

4. Charlie Morton, RHP

5. Kevin Hart, RHP

Quick Take – I really feel bad for Maholm and Duke. If they were on better teams, they would be more recognized and people would know how good they are. Morton came over to the Pirates in the Nate McLouth trade and at 26, he needs to step up and prove he belongs in the major leagues.

Tomorrow, I will have the final installment of this series and take a look at the division where pitching dominates–the National League West.


Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Albert Pujols Unanimously Wins NL MVP

November 24, 2009

My preseason NL MVP pick: Albert Pujols

NL MVP winner: Albert Pujols

I am shocked that St. Louis Cardinals 1B won the National League MVP award unanimously. The way the voting has been going, I am surprised James Loney didn’t get a first-place vote.

Pujols won his third MVP award today

Pujols received all 32 first-place votes to win his second consecutive NL MVP award. Pujols becomes the first player to win back-to-back MVP awards since Barry Bonds won four in a row from 2001-2004.

Hanley Ramirez finished second followed by Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder. I am a little surprised Troy Tulowitzki didn’t finish higher, but what can you do?

2009 was another banner year for Pujols. Pujols led the majors in home runs (47), runs (124), slugging percentage (.658) and intentional walks (44), and led the NL in OBP (.443).

You know, I really thought Pujols winning the MVP award unanimously would finally make Cardinal fans stop whining and crying this offseason.

But alas, I was wrong.

Here is a classic “Tweet” from a Cardinal fan that will go nameless. “What in the definition of MVP makes Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright better than Tim Lincecum, who was good enough for BBWAA to win Cy?”

Even when one of their players win an award, they still whine about something else that happened over a week ago. It’s unbelievable.

Cardinal fans should be more concerned with whether or not Pujols is going to re-sign after the 2010 season instead of being concerned with Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright winning the CY Young.

This is Pujols’ third NL MVP award and will go into 2010 as the early favorite to win the award again.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


The Freak Does It Again: Lincecum Wins NL Cy Young Award

November 19, 2009

My preseason NL Cy Young pick: Cole Hamels

NL Cy Young award winner: Tim Lincecum

For the second year in a row, San Francisco Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum has won the National League Cy Young award. Great, now I have to hear St. Louis Cardinal fans whine some more.

Is there a fan base in sports that is more sensitive about their players winning awards than Cardinal fans? It’s overkill.

And if you don’t believe me, here is the “tweet” of the year from Keith Law: “Do the Cardinals sell a pacifier with the team logo on it?”

Just spot on.

Lincecum received 100 points to beat out Cardinal pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in a very close race. Carpenter received 94 votes and Wainwright received 90 points.

Lincecum won his second Cy Young today

Just like with his fellow Cy Young award winner, Zack Greinke, Lincecum’s win total didn’t reflect how good of a year he really had. Lincecum only had 15 wins, which tied him for forth in the NL with seven other pitchers.

Lincecum however,  led the NL in strike outs with 261, complete games with four, quality starts with 26, was second in ERA with 2.48, and was forth in WHIP with 1.05.

Lincecum is off to an amazing start in his career. Do you realized that he has pitched just two full seasons in the majors and has won two Cy Young awards?

That is ridiculous.

The only one I could think of off the top of my head who has accomplished something like this would be Roger Clemens in 86′-87′. Clemens started 15 games in 85′ and then broke out in 86′.

Lincecum becomes the first pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards since Randy Johnson won four in a row from 1999-2002.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


Cardinals Face Franchise Defining Offseason

October 13, 2009

Every year, whether a team won 90-plus games like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or a team’s season ended in April like the Washington Nationals, every team faces major offseason decisions.

Some decisions are solely made for the next season and some decisions can shape the course of the franchise for a years to come. Decisions can be made by trades, arbitration, and of course, free agency.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, they face an offseason of free agency that will define the course of their franchise for years to come.

The Cardinals have a myriad of impending free agents, including Matt Holliday, Joel Pineiro, Mark DeRosa, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, John Smoltz, Khalil Greene, and Todd Wellemeyer.

However, the most important free agent for the Cardinals is manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa’s contract is up at the end of the month and if LaRussa doesn’t come back, it could set the Cardinals’ franchise back for years to come.

LaRussa is a free agent

LaRussa is a free agent at the end of the month

LaRussa gives the Cardinals credibility and credibility usually means winning. When players come to play for LaRussa, they know they are in a winning environment. Top players always want to play for him (unless your name is Scott Rolen).

Just think about the course of events if LaRussa leaves.

If LaRussa leaves, then pitching coach Dave Duncan leaves. Duncan is just as important to the Cardinals’ success as LaRussa. Duncan, time and time again is able to take mediocre pitchers and turn them into winners.

Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Mike Moore, Dennis Eckersly, Jeff Suppan, and Chris Carpenter all had their careers turned around by Duncan.

That allows the Cardinals to spend their resources on offensive players such as Larry Walker, Jim Edmonds, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, and Albert Pujols.

Speaking of Pujols.

If LaRussa leaves at the end of the month, it could very possibly mean Pujols could leave after the 2010 season. Pujols is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and I would say right now there is an 85 percent chance he stays with the Cardinals.

If LaRussa leaves, then I would say that percentage goes down to 25. Pujols has only played for LaRussa in his career and has said that all he wants is for the Cardinals to put a competitive team on the field year after year. Pujols knows every year his teams have a chance of competing with LaRussa at the helm.

Do you think he is going to take a home-town discount playing for Eric Wedge (I am just throwing his name out there. He is not rumored to be going to the Cardinals if LaRussa leaves) or some second rate manager?

That is why LaRussa coming back is so important. Him leaving sets off a chain of events that could set the Cardinals into rebuilding mode after the 2010 season.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., GM John Mozeliak, LaRussa met for two hours yesterday reviewing the season.

It will be interesting to see what happens with LaRussa. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on LaRussa coming back and signing a new deal with the Cardinals.

The Cardinals just wouldn’t be the same without him.


Bullpen Saves The Day For The Dodgers In Game One

October 8, 2009

In one of the most brutal postseason games to watch in quite some time, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the St Louis Cardinals 5-3 in Game One of their National League Division Series.

This was three-hours and fifty three minutes of unwatchable baseball. Both starting pitchers–Chris Carpenter and Randy Wolf couldn’t have been worse and both teams left a combined 30 runners on base. The 30 runners left on base was a record for a nine-inning postseason game.

I thought the National League was known for fast-paced, crisp baseball?

Let’s start with the Cardinals. What on earth happened to Carpenter in this game? He looked like Carpenter on the Toronto Blue Jays, circa 2001.

I couldn’t get over how badly Carpenter was missing his spots. If Yadier Molina was setting up inside, Carpenter threw the ball six inches outside. If Molina wanted the ball low, Carpenter threw the ball at a batter’s letters.

I don’t know if it was playoff nerves or what? But I have never seen Carpenter off like that in a Cardinals uniform.

The other Cardinal I am going to get on is Matt Holliday. I know it was only one AB, but his first inning AB with the bases loaded was terrible.

We got a clear indication early on that Joe Torre is not going to let Albert Pujols beat him in this series. That means that Holliday is going to have to step up.

Bases loaded, nobody out, Wolf already on the ropes, and Holliday stands there with the bat on his shoulders looking at the same pitch–not once, but twice.

That just can’t happen in that spot.

Now let’s talk about the lesser of two evils last night–the Dodgers. Just as I suspected Wolf was, well, Wolf. Six hits, two runs, and five walks in three-and-two-thirds of less than stellar pitching.

The Dodgers’ offense helped him out with a solid 12-hit attack led by Rafael Furcal (3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored) and Matt Kemp (two-run HR in the first that set the tempo for the game). But the real stars of this game for the Dodgers was their bullpen.

Jeff Weaver (yes, Jeff Weaver), Ronald Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill (very underrated pickup at the trade deadline), and closer Jonathan Broxton combined to shut down the Cardinals for five-and-one-third innings.

Weaver did to the Cardinals last night, what he did to other teams in a Cardinals’ uniform in 2006. Somehow, in his last 31 postseason innings Jeff Weaver has a 2.32 ERA. How is that possible?

The Cardinals did have a rally going in the ninth against Broxton. Mark DeRosa doubled home Ryan Ludwick to make the score 5-3. But Broxton got pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel looking at a pitch literally right down the middle to end the game.

Honestly, what on earth was Ankiel looking for in that situation? He really has no excuse on that one.

Dodgers lead the series 1-0. Game Two is Thursday at 6:07 ET.

Let’s hope Game Two is better to watch than Game One. It can’t get much worse.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twiter @ theghostofmlg


National League Division Series Predictions

October 6, 2009

Last year, I went four-for-four in predicting the American League and National League division series. I thought they were some of the easiest matchups to predict in quite some time.

This year? Not so much.

This year’s matchups are pretty tough. But after playing out some scenarios in my mind for the last week, I am pretty confident in my division series picks.

Here are my predictions for the NLDS. I will give my ALDS predictions once the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers decide their fate tonight.

* means if necessary.

Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7th 2:37 ET. Ubaldo Jimenez vs Cliff Lee

Game 2: Thursday, October 8th 2:37 ET. Aaron Cook vs Cole Hamels

Game 3: Saturday, October 10 9:37 ET. Joe Blanton vs Jason Hammel

Game 4*: Sunday, October 11 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Game 5*: Tuesday, October 13 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Prediction: This is a rematch of the 2007 NLDS where the Rockies wiped the floor with the Phillies. Do I think the Rockies are going to wipe the floor with the Phillies again? No I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they won’t win the series.

I think the Rockies are the most complete team in the NL. If you can find a weakness on this team, I would love to hear it because right now I can’t find one.

Tracey will have the Rockies ready

Tracey will have the Rockies ready

Their starting rotation goes five deep (depending on the health of Jorge De La Rosa), they have a solid bullpen, one of the best lineups in the NL, and they are one of the better defensive teams in baseball.

The best thing about Rockies however, might be their bench. They by far and away have the best bench of any team in the playoffs. Look at possible bench against the righty Joe Blanton in Game Three – Seth Smith, Jason Giambi, Ryan Spilborghs, Chris Iannetta, and Garrett Atkins.

That is one sick bench.

The Phillies are the defending champs, have one of the best lineups in baseball, and have a great one-two punch in Hamels and Lee. While this is all great, their bullpen is a clown show.

They won’t have JC Romero and Chan Ho Park in this series and JA Happ may or may not start Game Four. Charlie Manuel is in a tough spot with Happ.

If he starts Happ in Game Four then Manuel takes away from his bullpen. I think Happ should close for the Phillies in the playoffs. If Manuel puts Happ in the pen, then he will have to start a fried Pedro Martinez in Game Four.

Tough, tough call for Manuel.

Here is how I think the series goes. The Rockies and Phillies will split games one and two and then the Rockies will torch Blanton and Pedro in Games Three and Four

The Phillies need to win the first two games at home and I don’t think they will.

Rockies in Four

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7 9:37 ET. Chris Carpenter vs Randy Wolf

Game 2: Thursday, October 8 TBD. Adam Wainwright vs Clayton Kershaw

Game 3: Saturday, October 10 6:07 ET. Vicente Padilla vs Joel Pineiro

Game 4*: Sunday, October 11 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Game 5* Tuesday, October 13 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Prediction: I have the same feeling towards this series as I did for the Chicago Cubs and Dodgers series last year. The Cubs had the best record in the NL last year and started Ryan Dempster in Game One.

I kept thinking to myself the best team in the league is starting Ryan Dempster in Game One? No thanks. I thought the Dodgers would win the series and they did.

The Miller Lite of pitchers

The Miller Lite of pitchers

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the shoe is on the other foot this year. Is the team with the best record in the NL really starting Randy Wolf in Game One?

Pitchers like Dempster and Wolf are like those silly Miller Lite commercials. You know the ones where they talk what greatness tastes like and what amazing hops are in Miller Lite.

I always think to myself watching those commercials — at the end of the day, it’s just Miller Lite. College kids drink it because it’s cheap. Who ever drank Miller Lite at a frat party and said “Wow those hops are awesome!!!”

That’s Randy Wolf. You can give me all the stats in the world and tell me how great he is, but at the end of the day he is just Randy Wolf.

The biggest concern for the Cardinals in this series will be the bullpen. Ryan Franklin was awful in September and they don’t have a dominant eighth inning guy, which is key in the postseason.

However, I think LaRussa will push Carpenter and Wainwright as far as he can to cover up for the lack of power arms in the pen.

Cardinals in Four.


St. Louis Cardinals Clinch Playoff Spot

September 27, 2009

About an hour and change after the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched a postseason birth, the St. Louis Cardinals decided to follow suit. The Cardinals beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 in a potential first-round preview.

The win gave the Cardinals their eighth playoff appearance in 14 years in under Tony LaRussa.

There were a lot of factors that win into the Cardinals clinching a playoff spot — Albert Pujols’ MVP season, the trades for Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa or the emergence of Adam Wainwright. For me, the most important factor was Chris Carpenter staying relatively healthy.

Carpenter is 16-4 this season with a 2.30 ERA and a ridiculous 1.01 WHIP. Carpenter has re-established himself as the Cardinals’ ace and is once again looking to win the NL Cy Young award.

It’s no coincidence that when Carpenter wasn’t healthy the last two years, the Cardinals missed the playoffs.

When it comes to the playoffs, I think the most important question for the Cardinals is whether or not closer Ryan Franklin can get the job done in a pressure situation. Remember, Franklin has never pitched in the postseason before.

He has looked terrible in September and closing games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in October is a lot different than closing games in July against the San Diego Padres. 

I was watching the Cardinals – Rockies game last night and you know a guy is shaky when you are not even a fan of the team and you are nervous that he was going to implode at any second.

I just have a gut feeling that John Smoltz might factor into the closing situation as some point during October.


Teams Should Stay Away From Joel Pineiro This Offseason

September 17, 2009

St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Coach Dave Duncan is one of the best pitching coaches in the game. As a matter of fact, he might go down as one of the best pitching coaches of all-time. Duncan has taken the term “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” to the extreme.

From Dave Stewart to Mike Moore to Chris Carpenter, Duncan has taken mediocre pitchers and transformed them into quality major-league starters. Duncan’s latest rags to riches story — Joel Pineiro.

Pineiro is not worth the investment

Pineiro is not worth the investment

Many forget that Pineiro was an up and coming stud with the Seattle Mariners back in the early 2000’s. In 2002 and 2003, Pineiro went a combined 30-18 with a 3.52 ERA. He looked like one of the rising pitchers in the game.

In 2004, Pineiro was shut down 21 starts into the season with a sore elbow and hasn’t been the same since. Quite frankly, since his 16-win 2003 season — he has stunk.

From 2003-2008, Pineiro’s record was 35-47. Very Jeff Weaver-like. However, Pineiro’s 2009 season has been a different story. Pineiro is 14-11 with a very respectable 3.31 and even has three complete games and two shutouts.

Pineiro’s story is all too familiar. Mediocre pitcher who finds success in his free agent year. Sounds a lot like Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, and Kyle Lohse’s story to me.

Lohse’s story is most similar to Pineiro’s. Lohse had two good seasons with the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and 2003. In those two seasons he went 27-19. From 2003-2007, Lohse went 32-48 and was just an awful pitcher.

Sound Familiar?

In 2008, Lohse went an amazing 15-7 with an ERA of 3.78. Lohse parlayed that season into a four-year, $41 million contract from the Cardinals. Cha ching!

I can’t believe the Cardinals, a seemingly smart organization fell for it. How quickly do you think Lohse signed that contract? Two seconds tops.

Guess what Lohse is doing this year? That’s right, he’s back to same awful pitcher we have known to grow to love. He is a Lohsian 5-8 with a 4.78 ERA. That a boy Kyle. I always knew you had it in you again.

Ironically, Pineiro is looking for a contract similar to Lohse’s this offseason. We all know what is going to happen. Some idiotic team is going to give him a three-year, $28 million contract and guess what is going to happen?

In his first year Pineiro is going to go 9-12 with a 4.65 ERA and his contract is going to hamstring that team for the next three years. It’s inevitable.

That’s why if I was a GM, I would stay away from Pineiro in the offseason.

I don’t need to see advanced statistics or anyother stats for that matter. I will just use the “eye test” on this one. And the eye test tells me, once a mediocre pitcher, always a mediocre pitcher.

One year doesn’t change that.


Baseball Nirvana: Five Friends Journey To Milwaukee And Iowa. Part 1

September 11, 2009

There are very few things in my life that I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for. If my wife went into labor at 4:30 in the morning, I certainly would wake up for that. Of course, I would need a wife first in order for that to happen.

The other thing I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for would be to have the opportunity to go to the Field of Dreams. Anyone who knows me, knows that Field of Dreams is my favorite movie of all time (Wall Street and Return of the Jedi are two and three respectfully). Since that movie came out in 1989, it’s been my dream to play on that field.

But before I got to play on the Field of Dreams, there was plenty of business to take care of in Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee, home of the Brewers, cheese, Kopps frozen custard, the Comet Cafe, and of course, the Miller Brewing Factory.

Here is an unadulterated recap of the first day of my three day trip to baseball nirvana.

Day 1.

After a quick hour and forty five minute plane ride, my buddies Tom, Justin, John and myself arrive in Milwaukee around 7:30 AM. The fifth member of our group, Minnesota Twins fan, current Chicago native, and our driver for the weekend Charlie was going to pick us up at the airport.

In typical fashion we took bets on how late he would be in picking us up at the airport. John showed the least confidence by saying he wouldn’t show up, period. Much to our surprise, Charlie was right on time and greeted us all with giant man-hugs.

Our plan was to head to the Comet Cafe that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, check into our hotel, and then head to the Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals game that started at 1:30. Immediately our plan was tossed aside like a sack of potatoes because the Comet Cafe was closed and didn’t open until 10:30.

So after our initial plan was foiled, we decided to check into our hotel. Matthew, the extremely helpful and knowledgable doorman at the InterContinental recommended that we head to a place called Trocadero for brunch. I got to be honest, John is a doorman and if I had a vote for Doorman of the Year, I think Matthew would get it over John based on his performance.

Trocadero was awesome and while we were there, we experienced our first taste of Milwaukee’s obsession with Bloody Mary’s. I would say outside of beer, Bloody Mary’s are Milwaukee’s No. 2 most consumed beverage. Everywhere you looked, there were Bloody Mary’s being served.

Once we got done with breakfast, we headed to Miller Park. Now just to fill you in, Tom has a borderline unhealthy obsession with the Cardinals, which is why we are in Milwaukee in the first place. I am not going to lie, it’s a little concerning.

There's tailgating at baseball games?

There's tailgating at baseball games?

From a distance, the ballpark looks like a giant spaceship. It’s the weirdest looking stadium I have seen from the outside. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were all shocked by what we saw.

People were tailgating at a baseball game!! I am not talking about standing like a putz by your car with a beer and you call it a tailgate. I am talking about an all out tailgate like it was the Green Packers vs. the Chicago Bears.

There were tents, generators, sausages as far as the eye could see, and kids throwing the baseball around. I was really impressed. We barely see any tailgating at baseball games here in New York.

Here was the best part of tailgating at Brewers games. Not only do they have porta potties, but there is a full restroom that anyone can access outside the stadium. And not only is there a restroom, but this place was spotless. If that was at Giants Stadium, that place would be filled with stuff so vile that decorum prohibits me from talking about it.

I will admit, I like what I saw from Miller Park. It was fan friendly, tickets are inexpensive, and you can stand wherever you want for batting practice. Our seats were on the field level, down the firstbase line ($50 is not bad considering those same seats are $250 at Yankee Stadium), but for BP we stood in the rightfield bleachers.

I didn’t catch a ball, but the girl who was standing there before caught one in the arm because she wasn’t paying attention. Terrible job by her. One last note about BP, Matt Holliday put on a show and Albert Pujols hit the centerfield scoreboard.

Here is what I didn’t like — the Brewers’ lineup that day. Here is the lineup that Ken Macha through out there against Chris Carpenter, one of the best pitchers in baseball

1. Corey Patterson, CF

2. Frank Catalanotto, LF

3. Felipe Lopez, 2B

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Jody Gerut, RF

7. Jason Kendall, C

8. Alcides Escobar, SS

9. Dave Bush, P

What is wrong with this lineup? NO RYAN BRAUN!!! Ken Macha, how can you do this to me? If I am going to travel to Milwaukee at 4:30 in the morning, I better see one of the best players in the game play. No wonder why it was 60/40 Brewer/Cardinal fan ratio at the game.

Carpenter just destroyed this lineup. In the second inning, Justin said that Carpenter was going to throw a no-hitter. Well, he came awfully close. Carpenter tossed a one-hitter in one of the best games I have seen pitched in person.

A one-hitter is the sports equivalent of turning 22 years old. Nobody remembers what they did or where they were for a 22nd birthday. But everyone remembers what they did or where they were for a no-hitter or their 21st birthday.

The most surprising aspect of Carpenter’s performance is that he threw 99 pitches. It was surprising because I thought Carpenter only threw like 70 pitches. That’s how much the Brewers’ lineup was dominated by Carpenter.

The other thing I didn’t like — and this really ticked me off. The only thing I wanted was an old-school, powder blue Paul Molitor or Robin Yount player tee-shirt. I went to one team store — no dice. I went to the second team store — sold out.

How is this possible? How can they not have had shirts for the only two stars this franchise has ever had? Just a terrible job by whoever is in charge of merchandising for the Brewers. This almost ruined my day.

The Cardinals won 3-0 in a 1950’s like two hours and eighteen minutes.

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Once we got out of the parking lot, in which Charlie had road rage for no apparent reason, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and hit up Water Street. Charlie thought it would take two hours to get out of the parking lot, when in reality it took only 30 minutes.

Now I am going to backtrack here a little. Back in the Spring of 1996, Justin, Tom, and I took a trip to Hartford, CT to see WrestleMania XI. It was the WrestleMania where Lawrence Taylor took on the “Beast of the East” the late, great Bam Bam Bigelow.

After that event, we deemed Hartford, CT the most boring city in America. Well, Hartford, CT, you have been replaced. This honor now goes to Milwaukee, WI.

I know it was a Monday night on Labor Day, but come on Milwaukee, show me something. There wasn’t a person in town and barely anything was open. How is Buffalo Wild Wings not open on a Monday night at 7:30 when Miami is playing Florida State that night?

It’s inexcusable.

I saw more people on my plane than there were people out on Water Street on Monday night. One of the places that was open was the Water Front Brewery. There I experienced my third sausage product of the day and my first ever beer sampler.

Normally, the sampler is reserved for mozzarella sticks, wings, fries, etc…But in Milwaukee, the sampler is reserved for eight different types of beer served on a “Thank you sir, may I have another” paddle.

Only in Milwaukee.

The town was so dead that we decided to head to the Pfister Hotel and have some drinks because that is where the Cardinals were staying. Again, Tom has issues. Speaking of issues. When we arrived, we saw a bunch a people and when say people, I mean adults waiting outside the hotel for autographs.

If you are in your 30’s waiting outside a hotel room at 10:30 at night with a sharpie and a binder full of photos, you have some serious issues. At that point you should re-evaluate things.

The bar at the Pfister Hotel was pretty quiet (shocker there). We did see Tony LaRussa, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Skip Schumaker, and Julio Lugo walk into the hotel, but they weren’t drinking. I wanted to roll an olive at Lugo and ask him to field it.

We called it a night around 11:00. Part Two of our trip will cover the drive to Iowa, playing on the Field of Dreams, pizza in Madison, WI, a Brew Town Hot Brown at the Comet Cafe, and the Miller Brewery Tour.