Joe West does Tony LaRussa a Solid

Joe West

The Situation

Umpire Joe West, owner of the Major League record for most games umpired, decided to confiscate St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos’s hat. There is a rule against pitchers using foreign substances and West wants to pretend he simply enforced that rule.

Major League announced at the beginning of the season they planned to crack down on such foreign substances. As of yet, despite record no-hitters, out of control spin rates, and many, many sightings of such material on gloves, hats, forearms, and everywhere else, this is first time we’ve seen a player’s equipment confiscated.

What Really Happened

Joe West and Tony LaRussa go way back. They are long-time associates and LaRussa’s team, the White Sox, were on the verge of sweeping the Cardinals whom LaRussa managed for many years. In the first two games of the series the White Sox pretty much led the entire game. In this third game the Cardinals were a run ahead when Joe West suddenly had his moral epiphany.

Joe West hoped to do his friend a solid by rattling Gallegos before he started pitching. It’s that simple. I’m certainly not suggesting Gallegos didn’t have a foreign substance on his hat. I’m saying every pitcher in the series did exactly the same thing and Joe West chose the most opportune moment to intervene on behalf of his friend.

Joe West now takes the morally repugnant stance that he attempted to do Gallegos a favor by not immediately ejecting the pitcher from the game. Ha. If Joe West had an ounce of moral integrity, a teaspoon of personal responsibility, he’d get up on the podium, announce he made a terrible error in judgment, retire from the game, and not speak again until he publishes his memoirs, which will remain silent on this particular subject.


I want to be clear that I’m of the opinion Gallegos likely had a foreign substance on his hat, probably suntan lotion, rosin, and who knows what else. I’m just saying that he isn’t doing anything different than almost every other pitcher in major league baseball. Joe West along with all the other umpires well know it.

It’s the timing of this incident that galls me. It’s clear to me it was an attempt to influence the game by the umpire and that’s a serious problem.

Tom Liberman

It’s Difficult to be Gracious in Defeat when it’s the Cubs

cardinals-cubs-rivalryIt’s rarely easy to be a passionate sports fan. Your team will lose, no matter how successful they are, far more often than they will emerge victorious. My beloved St. Louis Cardinals have not won the World Series since 2006 despite making the playoffs five times in the ensuing nine years. That’s five years of losing the last game of the season and being eliminated from the playoffs.

This year we lost to our long downtrodden rival the Chicago Cubs. Circumstances were not in our favor this year as the Cubs were playing arguably the best baseball in the league near the end of the season while injuries slowed down my Redbirds. Hopes were raised briefly by a Game 1 win but the Cubs went on to defeat us in the next three hard-fought but losing efforts.

There is that moment when the final out is made and disappointment can bubble into rage at the victors and I cannot imagine anyone who has not felt as much over the years.

That being said I think it is becoming more important than ever to be gracious in defeat because as our political climate becomes more infantile in its paroxysm of fear and hate; sports fans, players, coaches, management, and ownership groups are becoming better and truer role-models for how to act in life.

Does not a Cubs fan love baseball as do I? Does not a Cubs fan understand defeat and disappointment and perhaps far better than I? Does a Cubs fan not revel in the joy of victory as do I? Are we not but twins caste to different islands by the circumstance of our birth? Do we not have far more in common than in differences?

By nodding my head and putting out my hand in congratulations to their hard-earned and deserved victory do I not make the world a better place? Do I not set an example for my fellow Cardinals fans and also those who bleed Cubbie blue?

It hurts, that I do not deny. I steel my jaw knowing that next season awaits and the Cardinals shall soon fly again.

Well done Cubbies but we’ll get you next year, just you wait and see.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition
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It’s Cardinal Nation … Win or Lose

Cardinal NationI was at the St. Louis Cardinal game on Friday night and we were defeated by the last place Cubs 7 – 2 in a game where we scored a couple of runs in the first inning and then stranded nine runners and looked pretty awful. During the game we had a “fan” behind us who seemed to only find enjoyment when the Cubs scored runs so he could tell us how awful our manager is and how awful our pitching is. I had a fellow next to me tell me there was no way we could make the playoffs with pitching like that.

On the other hand there were plenty of Cardinal fans cheering their team and upset with the loss. They talked about what was going wrong and what could possibly be done to make it better.

The next day they lost 5 – 1 to the Cubs punctuating what has been a frustrating season. Before the season started the Cardinals were the favorites to win the National League Central Division after having lost in the World Series the year before. Our starting pitching was solid and our young relievers looked good. There was some concern about our hitting but generally we were the favorites.

As the season has gone along we’ve had a number of injuries and the Milwaukee Brewers have played much better than expected. They’ve been leading the division almost since the first week of the season.

Expectations often drive our emotions when it comes to life. If the pundits predicted the Cardinals would finish in last place many people would have been happy to be just 1.5 games out of first place on August 30. But that was not the reality. We were supposed to win so expectations were high.

The players and coaching staff have talked about how tough this year has been and I would imagine expectations weigh as heavily, or even more so, upon them than they do on the fans. The miserable performances on Friday and Saturday afternoon led a lot of people to think the Cardinals were finished for the season. Perhaps they are. Maybe they won’t make it to the playoffs. Maybe if they make it to the playoffs they won’t win the World Series.

It doesn’t matter to me. I’m a member of Cardinal Nation win or lose.

There’s an interesting phenomenon in professional sports where some franchises seem to do well year after year. There is Packer Nation, Red Wing Nation, Laker Nation. I’m fortunate enough to have been a Cardinal fan since I can remember. Many of my best memories are from Cardinal victories and I’m not going to let a tough season make me forget those memories.

I love going to the games. I love rooting for my teams. I get mad when they lose. I’m willing to lay some blame. But I’m not willing to be happy when the team I love loses because it vindicates my prediction about a player or manager.

I’m of the opinion that a higher percentage of positive attitudes among fans helps build a Nation. Fans that root for their team, win or lose, that believe in them, that give them their support even in the tough times. With fans like that owners, managers, and players just want to win more than the other owners, managers, and players. And when you want to win more than the other guy, well, often times you do. Certainly not always, or even most of the time.

When it comes to my Rams I’m envious of the Packers, Steelers, and 49ers. When it comes to the Missouri Tigers I look with envy at the tradition and power of Alabama and Nebraska. When it come to the Blues I may hate the Red Wings but I get it. Their fans are proud and rightly so.

But, by golly, it’s nice to be a part of Cardinal Nation.

Oh, by the way, the Cards took the second game of that double-header and fought back from a 5 – 0 deficit to win today 9 – 6. We’re tied for first in the Central.

Here we go, Cardinals, here we go!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
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