On Friday night against the Atlanta Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals embraced a philosophy of teamwork and hustle in their victory. But notable was the energy increase the team showed after CF Peter Bourjos and manager Mike Matheny were ejected from the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning, home plate umpire Sean Barber made the club reach its breaking point with his rotating strike zone.
Truly, it was a psychedelic strike zone, in that every time he made a call it seemed to change shape and size. Matheny, a devout Christian, is a class act and a pillar of the St. Louis community. He is not prone to such emotional outbursts, yet this umpire made him temporarily lose his control when Bourjos was basically baited into an unwarranted ejection. Bourjos, also a high character guy, showed a resolve and fire heretofore unseen from most of the rest of the team.
After Matheny challenged the late great Billy Martin, the club took off. Putting together a combination of hits, hustle and intensity, it flew past the flatfooted Braves and in doing so perhaps gave an indication as to its future prospects in terms of momentum. Unified in a way they had not been since last season’s playoffs, the crowd felt the electricity surge through the club and an energy took over the stadium, dispatched the Braves and perhaps finally launched the redbirds into the sky.
If the club can continue to play with passion and some improved hitting, the Cards still have a great chance to reach their potential and be what most experts and fans expected in the first place-champions.