Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


July 15, 2014

Czachorski: Can't count out the Cards

EFFINGHAM — Here we are again. To completely change the lyrics of a beloved Christmas tune, it’s the least wonderful time of the year.

The All-Star break is here, bringing with it the deadest period in the sports calendar one can find all year.

Most of the basketball free agents have made up their mind (hello LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, etc.), football’s still too far off for any real news to spread, and baseball takes a break for four days for a silly home run contest and what should be a fun but meaningless exhibition. The British Open starts Thursday, but the time difference makes it difficult and by the time the end of the tournament is here, baseball is back.

It’s like the local weather took its cue from the professional lull, with rain taking out the senior legion district tournament in Robinson Monday afternoon as well.

So with half (or half-ish) of the season down, it seems like a perfect time to make some midway review marks on the MLB season.

I’ll spare you my thoughts on the Cubs. They’re kind of okay, but not really good at all and frustrating to think about.

What has been the most impressive is the play of the St. Louis Cardinals. Last year’s run to the World Series was predicated on a world-beating offense, a high-efficiency machine that seemingly always came through with runners in scoring position.

According to MLB.com, the Cardinals hit .330 with runners in scoring position last year, with a .402 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .463, blowing away the rest of the league.

The Cardinals have plummeted in all those departments this year, hitting .248 with a .328 on-base percentage and a .356 slugging percentage. Even with that fall, that’s still good for 16th in batting average but 24th in on-base plus slugging percentage.

St. Louis ranks 29th in runs scored, 15th in on-base, 14th in batting average and 26th in slugging. Simply put, this is not a good offensive club.

And yet, because of course, the Cardinals are a game out of first base.

It’s easy to see why. They rank top 10 in ERA (8th), WHIP (8th) and batting average against (sixth), despite injuries to Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, with All-Star starting pitcher Adam Wainwright leading the way. (I think it should have been Clayton Kershaw, but that’s another story.)

Milwaukee’s hot start has seemed to fade, but the NL Central has easily been the best division in baseball this season, with the Cubs even playing .500 ball for more than a month and gaining no ground on the rest of the pack.

But it won’t get easier. With Yadier Molina’s thumb injury the only player who hasn’t taken a dramatic statistical downturn in the lineup is Matt Adams, who is on fire as of late but may be due to come back down to earth, especially with Molina’s bat out of the order.

The offensive numbers say this team shouldn’t be competing. They are.

The injury to Molina says this team could fall apart without the heart and soul of the Cardinals offense.

I still wouldn’t count on it. I called them the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine almost a year ago to this day.

It hasn’t been as a smooth as a treadmill like I said then, but to continue the running analogy, it seems at the end of every marathon, they’re first to finish the race in the NL Central.

Let the race continue, and let it resume quickly after the least wonderful time of the year.


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  • MammoserLeft.jpg Switching it up; Newton's Mammoser trying his hands at switch pitching

    American Legion fans around the central Illinois area have started to hear of Newton’s Brock Mammoser.
    The pole vaulter, point guard and quarterback also finds time for the baseball field, and while he routinely sat in the middle of the order for Post 20 played shortstop and first base with flair, there’s one thing everyone came back to.
    He’s a switch pitcher. Mammoser took to the mound left and right for Newton, literally, pitching games with both his left and his right arm.
    It all started with a half-hearted suggestion a few years back.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • czachorskimug.jpg Czachorski: Extra innings intrigue unmatched

    Obscenely long baseball games are my kryptonite. Once I get sucked in, it’s impossible for me to stop watching until it’s over. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Cubs, the Cardinals, the Astros or the Mariners — if it’s on TV and it’s going into the twelfth inning or later, you can bet I’m finding a way to tune in.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29NewtonOrientmain.JPG Newton's season ends in 14-4 loss

     Newton Post 20 almost pulled another comeback off against the Orient Miners, cutting a 5-1 deficit to 5-4 midway through Monday night’s game.
    But Newton’s Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament run came to an end, as Orient rattled off nine runs in the sixth inning and clinched a spot in the state tournament with a 14-4 win.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-28NewtonSundaygame2.JPG Comeback win keeps Post 20 alive in 10-7 win

    Newton Post 120 didn’t let a 4-1 deficit get to them against Highland Post 439, using a patient approach in the face of an elimination game.
    Three bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the third tied the game at 4-4, and with the bases loaded down 5-4 in the fourth, Tim Weber broke the game open with a two-run double and an error.
    By the time the dust settled, Newton led 10-5 heading to the sixth inning and would hold on to a 10-7 win to keep its season alive.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-28NewtonSundaygame1.JPG Salem deals Newton first divisional loss

    Mitch Bierman started off Newton Post 20’s game against Salem Post 128 with a bang Sunday afternoon, hitting a leadoff triple and scoring on the next batter.
    Post 20’s offense didn’t follow his lead from there, as Newton had just three more hits and no runs, and falling in a Junior Legion Fifth Division winner’s bracket game to Salem 12-1 in seven innings.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0725.JPG Newton Post 20 bests Belleville Post 58 in opener 6-1
    After a 9-3 loss to Breese Post 252 Gray Monday night, Newton Post 20 coach John Grunloh predicted the five-day break until the Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament would be good for his players, especially his pitchers. 
    Mitch Jansen proved his coach right, spinning a gem in Newton's opener Saturday afternoon as Post 20 made short work of Belleville Post 58 6-1. 

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • daughertyfootball.jpg Hearts to prep with Mattoon 7-on-7

    Two weeks ago, Effingham was supposed to start shaking off the rust with a 7-on-7 football tournament in Mattoon. Naturally, it rained and was canceled.
    So Saturday, the Flaming Hearts will head up to Mattoon and play their first 7-on-7 event of the season, taking part in an 10- team field with Mattoon, Rochester, Robinson, Marshall, Cahokia and Pleasant Plains from Illinois, with Terre Haute North and Northview coming from Indiana. Rochester is bringing two squads.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mammoser3.jpg Newton Post 20 plays Belleville Saturday

    With the District 23 tournament behind them, Newton Post 20 now knows its fate for the Fifth Division Junior Legion tournament this weekend in Bethalto.
    Newton will play Belleville Post 58 at 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethalto, in the third game of six on the day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bateman.jpg Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem

    A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
    The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bierman.jpg Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3

    While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
    Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
    “The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

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