The release of utility player Scott Spezio on February 27th for charges stemming from an alcohol related hit and run back in December is, by itself, not an indication of a team with problems. However, placed into a broader context, it paints a picture of an organization that seems to be in turmoil. Several otherwise isolated events have come to past in the last year or so that, when taken together, indicate perhaps a larger concern.
Spezio, who will always have a place in the hearts of Cardinal’s fans, will be remembered for the shocking red soul patch and his many memorable plays in their push to a World Championship in 2006. He underwent substance abuse rehabilitation as recently as the fall of 2007. A relapse by itself, while saddening, is understandable. People who have substance abuse problems often times relapse before they get to a place that is clean, dry, and sober. We do genuinely wish him well.
But apart from Spezio, when you look at his troubles along with recent other members of the organization, you cannot but conclude that the franchise has seen better times. The list of such events since the Cardinals captured their recent Championship read like headlines found in the gossip rags one finds in checkout lines at any typical grocer:
- Disgruntled All Star traded away to American League
- Same All Star and coach air out differences, again
- Future Hall of Famer blasts local media for linking him and the S word.
- Former pitching phenom, now hot outfield prospect, suspected of HGH
- Team GM ousted, rumored as loser of front office power struggle
- Bullpen pitcher killed in auto accident, alcohol involved
- Coach charged with DWI in off-season
Quite a list over so short a period of time. So I ask you, what is going on with my beloved Cardinals? Is this in fact a trend to worry about or is my imagination getting the better of me? Are other clubs so similarly beset with trial and tribulation? I don’t know. It is my hope though this is nothing more than an aberration, but my gut tells me otherwise.