Mad Em-Dashes is a St. Louis Cardinals blog by Dan Moore that does not want to waste your time. 

Notes from the 1095th Celebration of Musialmas

It's 3015, and you're an archaeologist studying the ancient Midwest, and it is still true, 500 years after the Third Postal War, that the only people who send paper letters anymore are the cranks. You've gotten a couple of them a week ever since your article came out, written edge to edge in handwriting like Arial Black's bow-legged nephew, a few too many American flag stamps on each one.

They all say the same thing, basically: What kind of asshole do you have to be to believe Stan Musial didn't exist?

You grew up living and breathing archaeology and it is hard for you to remember a time when you didn't understand the scholarly consensus on Stan Musial, but your wife saw the eye-rolling response you planned to send and threatened to leak it to a talk radio station if you actually did. Now you stay quiet, but you open every one, and you read it from the beginning, the Dear Asshole, to the end, where they still have so much to say and seem only to have run out of paper.

Now that you're back in the field, at the dig, they come once a month, in thick bundles. (Tell Busch is deep inside the Flyover Lands, and the roads don't open very often, not even for the United States Postal Service of the Permanent Revolution.)

Here's what your wife says you should say: Stan Musial was not a real man, sure, but that does nothing to invalidate his teachings or the stories we tell about him, and how important all that is to people. As the mythical founder of the Cardinal Way he's had an undeniable impact on the way we take the extra base, and run out every groundball, and carry ourselves with an unselfconscious dignity.

And okay, sure, on a press release, maybe. But archaeologists owe it to each other to put up a united front about these things, whether it's to cranks or undergraduates. Here's how you put it in ARCH 101: Lots of cultures have mythical founders, and those mythical founders have a lot of things in common.

  1. They live forever, their exploits stretching back into a period the real founders of the society only hazily remember.

  2. They embody not just one but every cultural norm that separates their society from their neighbors. At work they behave with all the culture's fetishized dignities; at home they avoid every taboo and inhabit every generosity that binds the culture together. They are the walls that surround the culture and the soil it grows in.

  3. They are—if not the biggest and the strongest—the best, the shrewdest, the fastest and the hardest-working, and they oversee a miraculous flourishing unlike anything actually discernable in the historical record.

They're overloaded with meaning, is the point, and if you are not a member of a culture it is trivial to distinguish between its actual historical figures—its prickly and severe Bob Gibsons and Alberts Pujols—and its mythological heroes. People who believe in the Cardinal Way—the hardliners, that is, there are good, modern apples in every bushel—know as well as anybody else that Baseball Bugs Bunny was not a real person. It's just their own heroes they can't stop believing in.

You're a good archaeologist and a good, reasonable man. But there's just nothing you're going to do to make them shut up about Stan Musial.

Official two-part Mad Em-Dashes position statement on the Cardinals hacking the Astros, and bonus suggestion

  1. If the Cardinals hacked the Astros, it's terrible—whether it gave them an advantage or not, whether it was one guy or several—and they should be punished for it. I don't have a really strong opinion on what the punishment should be, though that will probably have a lot to do with who did this and who knew about it.

    The good thing about stealing signs or throwing a spitball is that they are not actual crimes—they exist within the boundaries of baseball, not the distended appendix we grudgingly accept in exchange for bigger stadiums, better TV coverage, sophisticated drafting and scouting, etc. If you are a part of that appendix your main job is—well, it's probably to make money so you don't get fired. But your vocation should be not screwing up the actual part that matters by embarrassing yourself like this.

  2. If you are writing a thinkpiece piece about the Self-Important Cardinals Getting What's Coming To Them I appreciate your devotion to uncovering hypocrisy, the one true internet sin, but I ask that you please remember that Cardinals fans are the self-important ones, and the Cardinals organization employs whoever it was who tried to guess Jeff Luhnow's AIM password like a pack of sixth graders.

    If there are a bunch of us suddenly coming out in favor of corporate espionage, by all means, expose us, but I don't think it comes as a shock that our hyper-analytical front office and everybody else's hyper-analytical front offices have much more in common with each other than they do with us or with some tradition stretching back to Branch Rickey. And I don't think anybody's front office spends a lot of time lauding Aaron Miles for playing the right kind of baseball.

    This is probably hypocrisy inasmuch as whoever did it probably wouldn't have publicly come out in favor of skimming passwords yesterday, but it doesn't have much to do with your panting, ragged obsession with the idea that Cardinals fans might like baseball for different reasons than you do.


Dispatches from a boring future: Gold Glove first baseman leaves Cardinals as free agent

ASSOCIATED PRESS / December 1 2016

ST. LOUIS — The Chief Justice has adjourned.

The St. Louis Cardinals have indicated that they won't pursue Jon Jay, who becomes a free agent weeks after being awarded a second consecutive Gold Glove.

Jay's agent, Nez Balelo, said Friday that his client will be looking for a contract that reflects his importance on both sides of the ball. "A first baseman fields 1500 chances a year, and I think [Jay] helped some people understand how important that is. Teams ignore it at their own peril."

Jay, who began his career as a center fielder, moved to first base midway through the 2015 season and impressed baseball observers with his speed and defensive focus.

"A guy like Jon Jay isn't thinking about hitting home runs when it's time to field a bunt," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Jay's replacement knows he has small shoes to fill.

"People don't think of first basemen as big, slow sluggers, but I'm not going to be Jon," Matt Holliday said. "You just go out there and do what's best for the team."

Carlos Martinez and Randy Johnson’s wager

Last night Craig Edwards did a lot of useful tweeting—I do not know how to use Storify, so I leave collecting them as an excercise for the reader—according to a very simple premise. Here it is: Good pitchers frequently pitch badly when they’re 23. Read his tweets and despair at just how long Randy Johnson was a pissed-off Looney Tunes strongman before he became the best pitcher in baseball.

Carlos Martinez skeptics who are also pedants will recognize this—along with my contribution to the genre—as a few half-hearted steps away from begging the question. Pitching badly when you’re 23 doesn’t make you more likely to become Randy Johnson, except insofar as earning a rotation spot when you’re young is a good way of identifying yourself as a prospect to future Baseball Reference users. The thing 23-year-old future successes and 23-year-old imminent failures have in common is pitching badly when they’re 23; our prejudice, in either direction, is smuggled in behind our examples.

But the formula works so well as a tweet because it reads like that exceptionally satisfying-but-incorrect argument while making a very mundane point. The Cardinals have a 22-8 record and a replacement level pulled down by a string of pitcher injuries. They have a 23-year-old pitcher. They don't need to know whether Carlos Martinez will turn into Pedro Martinez, only whether most useful starting pitchers have revealed themselves after a month. And so,