After a day of walking around with a ridiculous hop in my step and a need to view the replay of Albert Pujols’ season saving homer as much as humanly possible (Seriously, I Tivo'd PTI and SportsCenter last night). I now find myself constantly looking forward to this evening’s matchup between Mark Mulder and Roy Oswalt. So much so that I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything beyond surfing the internet looking for articles about tonight’s game.
When these two faced off in Game 2, both pitchers turned in above average performances. Mulder and Oswalt both went seven innings and allowed only one earned run apiece. However, it was Oswalt who came away with the victory and a lion’s share of the praise from the media as the Astros pulled out a victory on the road. To his credit, Oswalt was extremely dominant in Game 2 and never really allowed St. Louis to get anything going. Mulder, on the other hand, struggled with his control and needed a couple of big double plays from his defense in order to get out of some self-inflicted jams. None of that matters now though. Tonight’s game is precisely the reason that Walt Jocketty went out and acquired Mulder this offseason. He knew (along with everybody else) that St. Louis lacked dominant starting pitching last year and that if the Cards were going to have any chance of returning to the World Series this year then that issue would have to be rectified. The addition of Mulder as well as the healthy return of Chris Carpenter has given St. Louis two #1 caliber starters. Despite giving up a huge homer to Lance Berkman, Carpenter pitched seven strong innings on Monday. Without which, the Cardinals never would have been in a position to steal a victory in Houston. As for Mulder, with the way that St. Louis ran away with it’s division this year, one could make the case that a dominant performance tonight is the only way in which Mark Mulder could legitimately earn his substantial salary. Simply put, Mulder was brought here with just this type of game in mind. It’s now time for him to deliver. A team and a city are counting on him.
As for me, I’ll be at my parent’s house watching the game with my Dad. We haven’t watched a playoff game together yet this year, even though we live only a couple of miles from one another. Yet, after the way Monday night played out it wouldn’t feel quite right if I wasn’t watching this game with the man who first introduced me to Cardinal baseball, or baseball in general for that matter. It may not be Busch Stadium but it’ll be good enough for three hours tonight.
There are a couple of other assorted things that I’ve been meaning to mention so I’ll just get to them now since the NLCS has dominated this space (and rightfully so) for the past few days.
- Florida football: I had planned to do a mid-season report card for this year’s edition of the Gators. I can promise you that I’ll get to it eventually. Just not this week. Fortunately for me (and the University of Florida) the Gators have a bye this week. You can expect the report card to be up in this space before I head to Jacksonville for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
- Most basketball fans have heard of O.J. Mayo, hailed by many experts as the next great high school phenom since he first appeared on the scene as a starter for his high school team in eighth grade. What I’m sure many basketball fans (including myself) didn’t know, was what exactly the O.J. stood for. Well, wonder no more…Mr. Mayo’s initials stand for Ovington J’Anthony.
Honestly, you could have given me two hundred guesses and I wouldn’t have gotten either of those names correct. Hell, you could’ve let me guess for a solid week and I wouldn’t have gotten both of those names. In fact, are either of those actually names at all?
- I going out on a limb tonight and guaranteeing a loss by the Orlando Magic to Euroleague power Maccabi Tel Aviv. To be perfectly honest, I’m thinking that the Magic lose by double digits.
- The Bucs traded for Tim Rattay yesterday. I think that says all anybody needs to know about John Gruden’s level of confidence in Chris Simms. Honestly, can you blame Gruden? It’s not like Brian Griese is anywhere near the upper echelon of NFL QBs, and he was light years ahead of Simms in the preseason. I can’t say I’m a believer in Rattay in any way, shape, or form but he’s a definite upgrade over Simms and it only cost Tampa a sixth round pick. Considering the options available I’d say it was a good move for the Bucs.
- Finally, at least one good thing came from the NHL ending it’s strike. No, its not the huge surge in ratings for the Outdoor Life Network, though I’m sure the tree huggers at OLN are happy about that. It’s EA Sports’ decision to sell NHL 2006 for the bargain price of $25. This prompted me to purchase a hockey video game for the first time since my junior year of college. If there are two things that I know about Hockey, it’s that is blows on TV and that it’s unbelievably fun to play on video games.