Tony La Russa refers to it as “Fuzzy Baseball.” He uses the term to describe his team’s focus when they commit errors, run the bases poorly, and generally play bad fundamental baseball.
This type of play is abnormal for La Russa’s teams and the St. Louis Cardinals. But this season it’s been a frequent problem.
The 2010 Cardinals have had a general malaise about them. They’ve seemed unfocused, uninspired, and lack a sense of urgency. This has been noticed by fans, Cardinals media, and recently in tweets by angry author, and perhaps now former friend of La Russa, Buzz Bissenger.
It’s as if the Cardinals have been asking, “is it October yet?” since May.
Go up early in a game, and they have trouble tacking on runs. Get ahead in the standings early in the season, and they play .500 ball since. Sweep the Reds to take over first, and they go into a slump against sub .500 teams to fall out of first place.
If only there were an option to fast-forward to the end of the end of a game or sim option. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening on someone’s Playstation, but rather it’s occurring in real life.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t happen all the time. They wouldn’t have the record they do if it were. But it’s happened enough to keep the Cards looking up in the NL Central and Wild Card standings.
I’m sure it’s more subconscious rather than being in the front of their minds. After least year's first-round playoff flame out, I’m sure they’re dying to for redemption.
They were one dropped line drive away from going back to St. Louis tied at one game apiece in a best of five series. That experience has to be eating away at them a bit still.
This year they jumped out to an early lead in the NL Central, and fans and experts prematurely crowned them division champs just a month into the season.
Without a feeling of something to prove or a playoff-like atmosphere, the Cards play fuzzy baseball. It helps explain why they play down to sub .500 teams, but can beat division leaders and wild-card contenders.
I’ve tried to be patient this season. I’ve seen very good Cardinal teams go into September swoons before, including the ’09 Redbirds, the ’06 champs, and even a relative slide in ’05 (15-13).
I’ll be happy to trade the fuzzy focus of 2010 for a strong September. The Cardinals will need to win every series left on their schedule, or they’ll be facing elimination.
It’s time for the Cards to quite looking ahead to the playoffs, and realize they’re already in them.
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