Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: slump

A Bit of Pixie Dust…

Matt Holliday turned on the heat last week and has not looked back.  After a chronic dry spell that had Cardinal Nation seeing red, Holliday finally broke free of the evil curse that had stolen his slugging power.
So what happened? What flipped the switch?  Some have speculated that Holliday heats up when the mercury rises.  Sure, Matt may have just started seeing the ball better or fixed a hiccup in his swing, but isn’t the possibility of magic blogger pixie dust a whole lot more fun?
Hang with me here…
A little blog with magic powers? What if that were true? Maybe Albert Pujols came back swinging to prove me wrong when I blogged about him in “Questioning the King,”  When Holliday heard boos at Busch stadium, Diamond Diaries gave him a shout out of support and maybe Matt returned the favor by hitting us 5 homeruns in the next 4 games. Coincidence?  Maybe.
This week a reader suggested we give a little blogging love to some other Cardinals in need of a boost.   And obviously we could never refuse if the boys need our help!

So, in the spirit of fun …
Ready? Set?   Bring on the magic pixie dust and let’s meet the three candidates for this Diamond Diaries luck-changing experiment!
Brendan Ryan (my favorite spinning RedBird)
image from FSMW
Brendan was the first player nominated for this post.  While he certainly could use another boost, we admit that our track record is poor when it comes to pushing Brendan out of a slump The more we talked about his troubles at the beginning of the season, the longer Brendan kept mucking it up. In fact, Brendan didn’t find his groove again until we QUIT talking about him. So, I’m going to ignore him again and hope that is the magic button. (I will not even mention how his lucky ‘stache is growing in nicely or the fact that Brendan disappointed us by ditching his rockin’ high socks again on Wednesday.)  Shhhhh…
Albert Pujols
When “Dark Erika” showed up and blasted Albert back in May, he went on a tear.  So let’s try it again:  Albert has been striking out A LOT more than he should be.  He is swinging at some crazy pitches that last year’s Albert wouldn’t have touched.  Suggestion:  Colby hit a lot better with new contacts.  Maybe Albert needs an eye exam?  Prove us wrong Albert, because we know you aren’t playing like you should!  And those base-running bloopers are embarrassing.  (Whew! That better work because writing it made me cringe!)
Skip Schumaker
photo from stltoday.com
Poor Skippy has had a rough year so far, and was even recently booted from his perch as lead-off hitter.  Luck has not smiled on Skip as his batted balls appear to sail directly into waiting gloves more often than is logical. Like Holliday, Skipperdoodle’s rocky start this year has frustrated the fans – and the grumbles are getting louder.
With little prior blog love for our darling outfielder-turned 2nd baseman, I had trouble predicting a magical blog tone for Skip.  Holliday responded to support, Brendan to silence, and Albert to criticism.  So here I went with a different plan: “praise plus pep talk.”
Praise: Skippy is the reigning prince of ill-advised headfirst slides and spectacular gliding belly flops across the grass reaching for line drives through the gap. He’s a cutie-patootie, writes a darling column for the Cardinals GameDay magazine each month and the boy likes to slide!  Yay Skip! 
Pep talk: Now Skip, we love looking at you, but we also know you can hit that ball. So it’s time to focus, make solid contact (hopefully hitting away from waiting infield gloves) and earn back your leadoff spot! Your bad luck is now over. *sprinkles magic pixie dust*
Have a magical Friday, Cardinals Fans!  =)
And if Brendan, AP and Skip all sparkle just a bit more tonight, we may just do this again for other worthy candidates!
Cardinals vs. Royals (the I70 Rumble) at 7:10 CST

What’s up with Brendan?

Brendan Ryan is a fan favorite. A spectacular shortstop, he also has a fun-loving personality. He’s goofy, chatty, seems to genuinely enjoy interacting with fans and loves to entertain. Brendan doesn’t mind his life being an open book as was evident during Spring Training this year when he shared his home movieswith the FSMW audience – everything from his toe surgery to what he cooked for dinner. He’s not stingy with his interviews either, and seems to enjoy chatting with the reporters, joking around and giving them plenty to write about. It is no wonder we feel like we ‘know’ Brendan – and maybe that is why we are so troubled by his current ‘issue.’

We’ve been politely avoiding the elephant in the room for almost a month now. Our favorite shoulder-licker, Brendan Ryan, is really struggling at the plate. I’ve heard it described as his “Sophomore Slump.” Whatever it is, it isn’t pretty. His batting average was slowly recovering from an unspeakable low of 0.067 on April 9th to a meager 0.167 on Apr 27th, then falling again to 0.159 after striking out twice and flying out once on Apr 28th. But his presence in the box speaks volumes. Brendan is uncomfortable at the plate. His swing is awkward. He’s frustrated. Not a frustration that involves throwing bats or smashing Gatorade dispensers in the dugout, but more of a disappointment, the stuff that just eats at you on the inside. And that kind of internal dialogue is probably making it more difficult to overcome the mechanical issues. Lately every time Brendan steps up to the plate, Cardinals fans everywhere hold their breath…. will he finally break out of the slump?

What happened to the ‘new and improved’ batting stance that Mark McGwire helped him retool? Brendan was so proud of showing it off in Spring Training. Why now? Brendan had unexpected but successful wrist surgery in February (Derrick Goold wrote about it here). With the chronic pain cured, Brendan should be improving at the plate. However, as of today, we are 22 games into the season (about 14%) and our beloved shortstop is a virtual black hole of offensive production. So…when should we really start to worry?

I completely understand that 1) “It is still early” 2) “Everyone has slumps” and 3) “He will figure it out.” But, watching him battle through it is HARD. Luckily we are winning games and Brendan’s defense has been solid. So everyone is just waiting this out… and confidently repeating the mantra “Brendan will be ok.”

On Tuesday, for the first time this season, Tony LaRussa put Brendan at the 9th spot in the lineup (pitcher hitting eighth) in an effort to spark some team offense. While he was only 1 for 3 that night, Brendan did start off the 6th inning rally with a lead-off hit, and scored on Ryan Ludwick’s double. Looking back at how Brendan did in various lineup positions for 2009, there’s a slight advantage for him in the 9th spot. Could this be what spurs him out of his rut?

BJ Rains of Globe-Democrat.com has audio from his interview with Brendan about moving to the 9th spot in the order. Brendan is excited by the opportunity and the challenge of it, saying he “loves hitting in the 9 hole,” adding that “from the team standpoint it might be another opportunity to get some ducks on the pond in front of the big guys.”

Brendan needs his confidence back. It’s obviously eating at him, and it’s giving me an ulcer. Knowing Brendan’s tendency toward quirkiness, he’s probably trying just about everything he can to find his swing again. This gal’s just hoping the ‘fix’ doesn’t involve a comeback of last season’s crazy mustache.

It is no secret that Brendan is one of my favorites and I really dig watching his amazing talent for defensive acrobatics. But I am hoping soon we can all relax and celebrate his offense too. I’ve got no magic solutions to offer. I’m sure he’s heard it all: “Don’t worry. Don’t get frustrated. Be patient. Clear your head. Focus on the fundamentals….”

So, what do we do as fans while anxiously awaiting the recovery of Brendan’s bat?…… Blame? Pray? Drink?

Although this continued trouble at the plate may be haunting him, Brendan’s got a new batch of home movies to share with us from FSMW (you can find them here).

If you need a further break from the worrying, check out these links from some of Ryan’s lighter moments:

-Brendan juggling a baseball with his feet.
Playing wiffle ball with Joe Mather
-Competing for best Batting Stance Impersonator

Hopefully this write-up will be obsolete very soon. Until then, I’ll be nervously cheering on Brendan from my couch. GO CARDS!

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