Who was really at fault for the Cardinals ninth-inning, two-out implosion Thursday night? Was it Matt Holliday, the man who shall now be known forevermore as Ol' Three Ball Holly, or Ryan Franklin, the Cardinals' budget-conscious, Dave Duncan reclamation project version of Brad Lidge?
It's an interesting query, of course, and one I think most fans are still making their minds up on. On the one hand, you have the Cards' big midseason acquisition, Matt Holliday, the dude who everyone was clamouring for the Cardinals to pony up and pay $100 million dollars just a couple weeks ago. Holliday who cost the Cards Brett Wallace
. Holliday who was, in essence, the avatar of the 2009 team. We like to think of Albert Pujols
or Chris Carpenter
as the leaders of this team, maybe Adam Wainwright
as well. But if you want the guy who really sums up what this team is about, look no further than the player the Cardinals essentially gutted their farm system to acquire. (Or if not gutted, at least gave a pretty decent knifing to.)
On the other hand, of course, you have Ryan Franklin, the guy with the job he was never supposed to have, and never felt comfortable doing last year because Jason Isringhausen was still around and he felt like he was looking over his shoulder and blah blah blah. You'll forgive the sarcasm, I hope, but of all the ridiculous crap we've had to listen to over the past couple seasons from the mouths of idiot broadcasting personalities, none has flat-out pissed me off more than the story of Why Franklin Couldn't Close in 2008. He couldn't fucking close in 2008 because -- and write this down, please, so I don't have to say it again -- he's not a closer! He's a solid reliever capable of getting some outs for you, maybe even at the end of the game, if necessary. He is not, however, a lights-out, shut-down badass striding in to a Metallica song, ready to mow down any and all comers. He's just not that guy. Never has been, never will be. Period.
So anyway, which one is worse? The guy who loses the ball in the lights and can't put away what should be a relatively routine fly ball to even up a playoff series? Or the guy who, following the error, can't manage to record even one more fucking out before allowing the next four --four!
My point is this: yeah, Holliday got hit in the balls with a routine fly that should have ended the game. And yeah, Ryan Franklin then proceeded to shit the bed, massively, by failing to record even one more out in the next four batters. But if we really want someone to blame, maybe Colby should be the guy.
Or maybe we should just blame the offense as a whole. After all, they did only manage to score two runs against a rather wild and fairly hittable Clayton Kershaw. Inning after inning, the Cards managed to put runners on, but just couldn't get that one extra hit to bring anybody home. So maybe we blame the offense.
Or then again, maybe John Mozeliak is to blame. If he hadn't traded away Chris Perez, maybe the kid would have somehow won over Tony La Russa and taken over the closer role from Franklin down the stretch, a la Adam Wainwright in 2006. Okay, so maybe that isn't very realistic, but you get my point, no?
If I had to pick one or the other, Holliday or Franklin, to blame for Thursday night's loss, I would have to take Franklin, to be perfectly honest. Luckily, though, I'm not required to pick just one. I can blame the whole team for the loss, which is just the way it should be.
The Cardinals had plenty of opportunities to ice that game earlier, to put up a big inning off Kershaw and put things out of reach. But they didn't. They let the Dodgers hang around, and when you let quality teams hang around, they're going to come back on you sometimes.
So enough with playing the blame game. The offense as a whole needs to be better if the Cardinals are going to have any chance of extending this series beyond three games. The bullpen is going to have to better too. Ditto the defense. Hell, even Chris Carpenter could do with some improvement after his pitching performance in Game 1. You win as a team, and you lose as a team. Blaming one player is ultimately futile, and more than a little bit childish.
So the question must eventually be asked, you know. I don't want to have to ask it, and I'm sure you probably don't want to have to try and answer, but the question will not just go away. So here goes.