They know nussing—nussing!

Molina and the Cardinals have no idea (wink) how that ball got stuck to his chest protector Thursday.

Molina and the Cardinals have no idea (wink) how that ball got stuck to his chest protector Thursday.

It looked innocent as the Bad News Bears Thursday afternoon. Brett Cecil, the Cardinals relief pitcher, threw a fastball to Cubs pinch hitter Matt Szczur opening the top of the seventh that hit the dirt and disappeared, allowing Szczur to reach first despite the stickout–er, strikeout.

Except that the ball didn’t disappear. It bounced into catcher Yadier Molina’s chest protector. And stayed there. Cecil had to shout, “Chest! Chest!” before Molina realised where the ball was. And the amusing mishap, over which even the Cubs had to laugh, proved to be the moment that turned toward the Cubs a game the Cardinals led 4-2 at the time.

Dealing the last wild cards, and hearing the last of a lyricist

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants' home audience?

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants’ home audience?

Vin Scully ended his broadcasting career in the home ballpark of the Dodgers’ age-old rivals, receiving an affectionate pre-game visit from Willie Mays, awash in a sea of placards (THANK YOU VIN) and maybe the only known standing ovation ever afforded a Dodger in San Francisco. His final words were as gracious as you might have expected from this excessively modest man who always seemed to believe his gift from God was merely something on loan.

On Bryan Price’s ground rule plotz

Matt Carpenter, possibly in slight disbelief himself at scoring a winning run that shouldn't have been just yet . . .

Matt Carpenter, possibly in slight disbelief himself at scoring a winning run that shouldn’t have been just yet . . .

Already thought to be on the hot seat for much of the year, with his Reds clearly in rebuilding mode and performing a little worse than expected, manager Bryan Price may not have thrown the switch on his own execution Thursday night. But being asleep at the switch against a team looking for every break it can get clawing for a second National League wild card spot can turn up the seat’s heat even further.

Tuesday night at the races

Sliding home safe with his first major league homer---an inside-the-park job padding a very temporary Braves lead Tuesday . . .

Sliding home safe with his first major league homer—an inside-the-park job padding a very temporary Braves lead Tuesday . . .

How Tuesday ended with one National League club all but eliminated from the postseason, another contender setting some home run records, a third contender showing a couple of vulnerabilities that might prove fateful come postseason time, and a couple of crazy (and heretofore unlikely) American League wild card sharps getting a little crazier . . .

Joe Garagiola, RIP: An erudite Everyman

Joe Garagiola (right) with (from left) Joe Buck and Harry Caray, not long after Garagiola joined the Cardinals' KMOX broadcast team. (Photo: KMOX.)

Joe Garagiola (right) with (from left) Jack Buck and Harry Caray, not long after Garagiola joined the Cardinals’ KMOX broadcast team. (Photo: KMOX.)

If you’ll pardon the expression, Joe Garagiola—who died at 90 Wednesday—made it necessary for the Yankees to sign Yogi Berra. And, in turn, the U.S. Senate made it necessary for Garagiola to transition from a journeyman catcher to a broadcaster. Which story would you like to read first?

The Clubs–er, Cubs–go to the NLCS

The party didn't stop for hours after the Cubs bludgeoned the Cardinals to one side.

The party didn’t stop for hours after the Cubs bludgeoned the Cardinals to one side.

Believe it. The Chicago Cubs have clubbed their way into the National League Championship Series. How long it takes the St. Louis Cardinals to recover from this one is left best to the crystal ball hustlers and card tricksters.

How long it takes before these Clubs wake up from this peculiar dream—they’ve never before clinched any title in their home playpen, and the way they did it could get them charged with human rights violations—might be left best to the same.

Joaquin Andujar, RIP: There was just one word . . .

Andujar, en route to helping beat the Brewers in the 1982 World Series . . .

Andujar, en route to helping beat the Brewers in the 1982 World Series . . .

“In baseball,” Joaquin Andujar once posited, “there’s just one word—you never know.” It was an expansion of a comment he’d once made to Sports Illustrated‘s Steve Wulf, in which he said his favourite English language word was “you never know.” For Andujar, who died at 62 Tuesday after a long battle with diabetes, his favourite English language word could also serve as the epitaph to his pitching career.

Williams’s Nats looking booked and cooked

Matt Williams, to whom the Book is too sacred when it needs to be set aside . . .

Matt Williams, to whom the Book is too sacred when it needs to be set aside . . .

Let’s not be too polite about it. The team every expert on earth picked in spring to win the National League East, with no few of them picking them to go all the way to a World Series ring, is doing its level best to make chumps out of every one of those experts. That’s because manager Matt Williams seems to be doing his level best to make sure they don’t even get to the wild card play-in game.

Of Cardinal sinners and Royal stuffers

Is hacking for the Redbirds?

Is hacking for the (Red)birds?

Boys will be boys, in baseball and elsewhere, and grown men will be boys, too. But some of what the Show Me State’s boys and girls seem to be showing don’t seem to be the kind of thing you’d like showing.

If the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office isn’t facing an investigation into whether people therein hacked into the Houston Astros’ internal data networks, Kansas City fans are gleefully stuffing online All-Star ballot boxes in favour of the Royals regardless of whether the players in question deserve to be in the starting lineup.

Alex Johnson, RIP: The fires within

When Whitey Herzog wrote his memoir You’re Missin’ a Great Game, he included remarks about Alex Johnson that must have dropped every jaw in southern California who remembered Johnson’s tempestuous tenure (to put it politely) in an Angel uniform. To hear the White Rat say it, Johnson—who died 28 February at 72, after a battle with cancer—was anything but a handful, once you played things straight with him.

Alex Johnson proudly holding a ball with his title-winning 1970 batting average.

Alex Johnson proudly holding a ball with his title-winning 1970 batting average.