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A bit more on Yadi and a visit from "Casey"

Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at 3:47 PM

Ok, so far in this offseason, I've predicted a number of things and it appears every single one of them have been wrong. In November I said I thought in the end Albert Pujols would sign with the Cardinals. He didn't. On two separate occasions I've predicted the Cardinals would sign pitcher Roy Oswalt. Twice I was wrong. I said that I doubted Yadier Molina would sign an extension with the team. I'm not wrong yet, but I may be by the time you read this is appears.

I'm much happier about that last one. In this case, frankly I'm glad I was wrong.

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, the general consensus among the sports gurus seems to be that he will sign a five-year extension worth $70-75 million. While I think it's too much money, I'm still glad to see him stay. Of course, it still hasn't happened so we'll re-visit this again soon I imagine.

This is what I love about baseball. Whether it's on the field or the hot stove season I love how fast and often the momentum changes in baseball.

Throughout the course of a baseball game, momentum can change not with every inning or every batter, but with every pitch. While it happens in other sports as well, in baseball it's different.

To the "non-fan" watching baseball can feel like absolute torture. Throw in a good pitcher's duel and watch them flee like they just found a snake on their couch. Homeruns might fill stadiums, but the pitchers duel is baseball at its finest.

The night that the Cardinals faced the Phillies in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, I was away and unable to watch the game on television. But as Chris Carpenter faced off against Roy Halladay I was glued to my radio. I wanted to hear every pitch. Seeing two of the finest active pitchers in baseball face off against one another in one of the greatest pitchers duels in postseason history is truly amazing. However, sadly, you have to truly love this fantastic game for what it is to appreciate it.

I listened to several people that evening talk about what a boring game it was, but those are the people who think it's not baseball without home run trots and fireworks. Those things are great, but they're not all baseball is about. As I sit here writing this column I've decided to share with you my favorite baseball story, well poem. Those of you who know it will be surprised when I tell you that I only first heard it in the last few months. It's been mentioned in numerous books, songs and movies since first published in 1888. So, I leave you today with Ernest Thayer. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

"Casey at the Bat"

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -

We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,

And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,

And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;

And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,

There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;

It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;

There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;

Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-

"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.

"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;

And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;

He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;

But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;

But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,

And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;

He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

"Phin"

-

To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com , call (573)624-4545 or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/



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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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