The Cardinals Are the Hardest Working Men in The Show, at Least According to Bernie Miklasz

It was only yesterday that I found myself wading through the mire of a sullied narrative in order to get at the legitimate observation at the heart of the swampy morass. I wasn’t alone, but I know for a fact that fewer and fewer readers are willing to brave the fetid moat Gordon Wittenmyer and his colleagues at the Sun-Times have dug around their once-regal castle.

But with the building in disrepair and their army flagging, they seem to have resorted to launching flaming takes from their journalistic trebuchets in an effort to send folks running to their gates. That readers are doing so out of anger matters not; clicks and pageviews don’t discern motive.

And it’s really too bad since some of the characters over there used to be really well-respected writers, guys who I could either look up to or emulate. But then Rick Telander became sort of a caricature of himself and made veiled attacks at bloggers and Wittenmyer chose to channel Debbie Downer on the regular.

Of course, I think I’d be willing to swallow bitter pills from those guys than to disingenuous saccharine storylines about the St. Louis Cardinals coming from the keyboard of Bernie Miklasz. I mean, we all know that the Cards are an elite organization, but the column I came across today made my eyes roll and my stomach lurch.

I forced myself to slog forward though, and eventually came to realize that Miklasz really did have a bit of a point. He had just spent so much time shoveling manure on top of it that it was all I could do to find it.

But the Cards also have established a winning culture, and much of that comes from their dedicated, tough-minded, grinding approach.

The Cardinals believe nothing will be handed to them, so the players take it upon themselves to push hard, never yield, and do whatever it takes to wrest victories from opponents. No question about it; this is a max-effort team.

Here’s a question: Is it possible for a team to work too hard? Should GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny persuade players to ease up, leave the weight room, run fewer laps and get a proper amount of rest?

Granted, this is strange. In pro sports we usually hear complaints about lazy athletes or ambivalent teams that don’t care enough. As crazy as it sounds, the Cardinals may be the rare birds who actually care too much.

When I first saw this, I thought the Post-Dispatch had mistakenly swapped a meatball recipe from the Cards’ team cookbook for a sports column. Mike Matheny and John Mozeliak grind 1/2 lb each of ground beef, pork, and veal with various spices and then cook with max effort. Ugh.

Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals are the only team in professional sports comprised of players willing to put in work on off-days. You heard it here first, folks. Miklasz goes on to catalog the injuries that various players have suffered in the weight room, as though such ailments are some kind of badge of honor or, even worse, a sign that they work too hard.

If anything, it’s a stunning indictment of the team’s training staff. If you’ve got players hurting their backs and abs while working out, perhaps you should institute a better workout program or get them some more competent supervision. I don’t mean to badmouth the Cards’ trainers here, just saying that that’s what I took from the column.

Then you’ve got the assertion (which Miklasz actually downplays) that Yadi Molina’s efforts to improve his fitness have hurt him.

Catcher Yadier Molina changed his diet and took up a running program to lose a bunch of weight over the winter. The new-body Molina is off to a slow start in 2015, and worriers fret that he may have dropped too many pounds. I’m not so sure about that one; age may be more of a factor. But one scout told me Molina’s balance may be off a bit because of the weight loss. That’s one theory, anyway.

The whole time I’m reading this, I’m just thinking of ways to tear it apart. Then I get to the final couple lines and I’m disarmed a bit.

But it’s also healthy and advantageous to get some rest instead of wearing down and becoming vulnerable to injury or illness. Just a thought.

This is very true, though the fact that it was couched in a big humblebrag meant that it was hard for me to make it that far. Then again, I’m not the target audience and my thoughts on the matter are pretty much irrelevant. And, as I said earlier, the clicks I gave them don’t discriminate.

Maybe one of these days I’ll stop throwing stones; it’s probably not a good idea when you live in a glass house yourself. As I look at this again through the eyes of someone not nauseated by talk of how amazing the Cardinals are, I can see how this would appeal to readers.

After all, my best-read piece was one about Bill James’s bombastic projections for the Cubs offense this year. People love to read about how awesome their team is, particularly those folks in St. Louis for whom grindy, hard-working yeomen represent the epitome of what classy, done-right baseball should be.

So whaddya say, Bernie, no hard feelings?


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