This has caused a lot of panic among Cardinal fans, and some of that panic is justified. This was a team that was supposed to walk away with the division. So what’s wrong?
Right now, Matt Holliday is batting .170/.264/.191 with runners in scoring position. Over his career, he’s hit .293/.388/.487 with RISP. In Cardinal wins, Matt Holliday bats .352/.425/.549. In losses, he’s batting .242/.275/.364. So clearly the problem is Matt Holliday, right? He’s just not hitting like he used to with RISP. So what happened?
The stats show that prior to this season, Matt Holliday was obviously a “clutch player”. During the offseason, he was walking to his car when an old beggar woman asked him for a few cents worth of change, so that she might buy herself a sandwich at the local eatery. She had been on the street for days and was starving, and Matt Holliday was the richest man she had encountered in all that time. Despite the fact he had just signed the largest contract in St. Louis Cardinals history, he refused to help her out and accidentally pushed her to the ground as he passed her by.
Little did he know that the old woman was actually a powerful witch. That night, she sacrificed two pidgeons, spoke aloud from the Neconomicon, and spread their entrails in a circle around a 1999 Matt Holliday Bowman rookie card. She set the ritual ablaze and since then, Holliday has been unable to make solid contact with pitches when, and only when, there are men on second or third base.
The Cardinals’ disgraceful fall from first place spurred Tony La Russa to investigate this curse. La Russa is a wily manager, who’s been around a long time, and he realized that if he could make sure that if Matt Holliday gets fewer at-bats with men on base then he will hit better overall. The Cardinals’ leadoff hitters and #2 hitters have been terrible this year, so the clever Tony La Russa figures that if he bats Matt Holliday third, then the curse will have less of a negative effect on the team. He will bat with no one on base more often and therefore hit better. He will get on base and Albert Pujols, who has never shoved a homeless witch to the ground in his life, will successfully drive him in.
I take issue with this decision. First off, we have no way of knowing the accuracy of the witch’s curse. Matt Holliday was the target, but what if the curse actually attached to the #4 spot in the lineup? Hexes are notoriously finicky, and since Holliday has been batting there all season, the effects may have transferred over. Second, we don’t know whether the witch is capable of inflicting a second curse upon Holliday. If she’s still angry about their encounter on the street, and she has access to at least one gecko, she’ll be able to sap him of all of his composure. Clean-up hitters don’t need much composure, but can you imagine a #3 hitter with no composure? It will be awful! It would be even worse than a leadoff hitter without scrap or a #8 hitter without heart! Third, shuffling the lineup ignores the real problem: the witch. The witch isn’t going to be appeased by giving Albert Pujols fewer at-bats over the courtse of the season. If she’s a Cardinals fan, that should just make her more mad.
No, if La Russa no longer believes that Holliday can hit with men on base, he needs to track down the witch and give her a sandwich. That will solve the problem. Holliday will have his clutch back, and we can go back to winning baseball games.
If you can’t find the witch, just bat Holliday second, in front of Pujols. That way even if the cleanup spot has been tainted by the curse, it won’t affect one of our best two hitters. Further, the witch could go ahead and sap Holliday of all of his composure and we’d be fine. Because all you need as a #2 hitter is grit, and the spell to deplete grit is far beyond the capabilities of any American witch.
Wait, you think I’m talking crazy? Well, I figured that some of my readers might be those who think that Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols should be switched because one of them can hit with RISP and the others can’t based on a month and a half sample size. And I was just trying to speak to them in a language they might understand: fucking crazy talk.