Cardinals win SOOOOOO satisfying

Illini Madness last night was a bit of a bore. Even Jeremy Piven couldn't raise the crowd from their feet -- at least not in the way he probably would have hoped. Piven only had the mic for a couple minutes, but in that time he managed to get the bulk of the Assembly Hall to boo him. In a bold -- but questionable -- move, Piven got political on a night in which a crowd of basketball fans just wanted to have a good time and forget about the fact that they had just lost the No. 2 recruit in the nation to Indiana. To paraphrase, he said that the kids in the building needed to stay in school so their brains could get bigger and they could overthrow the Republicans (he actually referred to the current administration and the hole they've got us in). I can't argue with the sentiment, but the timing was off and the conservative crowd let him have it. (Not sure what the UI donors who had a hand in getting him to attend thought about it...) He finished up by saying that Illinois was a blue state -- uh, Cook County is a blue county, but the rest of the state is up for grabs -- but on this night it was an orange state. That joke would have been all right on its own.

The evening on the whole only reinforced how white the crowd and school is: from the nearly all-white (one Asian) dance/cheer squads, to the pep band (please, at least bring back "Hey Ya!") to the Marching Illini drum line to the classic rock theme music that permeated the entire Madness event. Hell, even Coach Weber rode out on the court in a cop motorcycle side car sporting a leather Harley jacket (WTF?). We did get one taste of hip-hop culture, when an "up-and-coming" Chicago rapper named Renaissance performed (along with most of the Illini's black players), and the crowd responded much in the same way they did to everything else that night -- with silence.

Silence was exactly what filled up my household after the Madness ended, as M and I watched an incredibly ineffective Chris Carpenter struggle mightily against the Mets in the bottom of the first, much as he had in his last road start in the NLDS at San Diego. However, unlike he had done in the Padres start, Chris couldn't right the ship last night. He stunk, period. But luckily his teammates were not about to let him down. The Cards batters fouled off 26 two-strike pitches last night -- which culminated in spectacular at bats from Pujols in the 7th and Taguchi in the 9th -- and did almost all of their damage when their backs were against the wall. Once again, La Russa pulled the right strings, inserting Speez for Rolen, giving Carp a quick hook, and allowing the same rookies in the pen to carry the team in tight situations. After watching TLR flounder in previous postseasons (and regular seasons for that matter), I gotta give the guy credit this postseason. So far, he's managing the team like the Hall of Famer he will one day be.

I also need to revisit the Albert Pujols haiku I posted to the comments of Listmakers blog prior to the start of the series:

Brad Lidge fears me, true
Soon, Billy Wagner will, too
Mets fans will be blue

After last night's win, I need to write a new one for Mr. So Taguchi, the slayer of Billy Wagner:

As small as a flea
But you better respect me,
Mighty Taguchi!


hungrygirl said...

I don't think Jeremy Piven mistakenly thought Illini fans wanted to hear what he had to say. He grew up in Evanston, he knows that Illini fans really bleed Republican red, not orange. And he knew he'd be booed last night (or, at least, one of his handlers would have warned him that he'd be booed). He said what he said because he thought it was too important not to say it. And I'm very happy that he did. It was his Kanye moment, albeit on a slightly smaller stage. Effectual? Maybe not. Provocative? Yes. Because it reminds us how complacent (or perhaps the word is distracted) we midwestern sports fans can be.

And oh the Taguchi love!!


Listmaker said...

i'm feeling blue. but at least it was so. i love so.

pujols on the other hand is a hgh surly mothafucka despite what all of the apologists out there have to say about his ability to hit a baseball.

amy l. said...

douglas! your poetry is as good as Carlos Betran's hittin'!

amy l. said...

oh. and Carlos Delgado too... you put him to shame!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way - best 2 of 3 now.

Aakash said...

Ironically, politics and baseball are creating a conflict for me right now (as I was discussing in a meeting with an LI representative last night - who is also a fan of the Cardinals)... In super-hectic campaign seasons like this, it's challenging to keep up with what's going on in the post-season, with all the election stuff going on, which I'm so involved with.

So I guess, from the title of this entry, that the Cardinals won today? (I found out, from my dad earlier today, that they lost last night... During my meeting with that LI guy, so it was two and two.)

Also, I did see, at the very start of the CBS Channel 3 news (after CSI:Miami, and before switching to Cold Case on TNT), that a speaker had caused political controversy at an Illini game... I was thinking of looking online (if I didn't catch it on the televion news) to find out what the story was on that - who it was, and what stance he took. Now, I don't have to (I followed a link here from 'The TPS Report'... Thanks for the review, of what went on!

(Incidentally, the national College Republican organization advocates doing campaign events at major games, to build visibility and interest for our candidates. It doesn't hurt to mix sports and politics, once in a while [or more than that, perhaps?]...)

Don Gerard said...

I concur the Madness was more like Illini Mildly Pertubedness.