Long before John Tudor put his gone-south paw through a dugout fan; before Joaquin Andujar put his mouth where his brain might have been; before the rest of the St. Louis Nuthouse Gang attempted to justify a preposterous, deserved, team-effort humiliation while their rodent-at-arms, Whitey Herzog, was explaining—all graciousness aside—to the President of the United States himself over the phone: "Wellsir, we won 108 and they won 99, so I have to tip my hat to 'em." ...long before all this, the Cardinals lost the World Series even while they were winning it. Surely somewhere along I-70 they misplaced the sense of fun and sportsmanship, elegance and tradition, that being a St. Louis Cardinal once meant. This was the team of the Dean brothers, of Ducky and Pepper, of Stan the Man? Show me? Hey, Redbirds, spare me.
Spare all of us the perplexing Tudor—so neat and graceful on the mound, so graceless, drab, sullen, even mean off it. Obviously he is allergic to media crowds. O.K., so is Robert De Niro. But "What do you need to get a media credential, a [driver's] license?" he said as the hordes descended after Game 4. "A shmoo," he labeled one writer. "Dead meat," he said of another. "You want some more lines? You want me to swing at you?" And this was after Tudor and the Cardinals had won.
The Cardinals seemed to have hauled a collective, paranoid chip on the shoulder into this Series. Something about not getting as much respect as the hated Mets during the regular season. Ah, yes, the Eastern Establishment prejudice again. Well, that and Andujar's blaming the umpires for his defeat in Game 3 were old, boring, hat. But when Herzog and the rest of the Cards ranted on about the ninth-inning bad call at first base costing them Game 6—the St. Louis Post-Dispatch chimed in by calling AL umpire Don Denkinger "Jesse James"—it was as if no umpire in World Series history had ever missed one before. As if the men in blue had caused the Cardinals to score their pitiful 13 runs in six games. "Maybe we shouldn't even show up for Game 7," the White Rat griped still more. "Maybe we won't."
Make that 13 runs in seven. "These umpires were over their heads. We got burned on a call that cost us the Series," said Jack Clark. "It's understandable if we were moody."
Moody? Why, of course. Come back, Shane. No wonder the Cardinals couldn't pitch or hit or steal or act like anything more charming than a bunch of John McEnroes. No wonder Tudor missed his changeup and hung his fastball, and K.C.'s George Brett and Steve Balboni and the rest of the Motley crew kept smashing rockets and Andujar went bananas.
Upon presenting the lineup card on Sunday, Herzog told the umps, "Try to have a good night." Real smart, Rat. Herzog's calling for Andujar, the incredible shrinking grenade, amid the fifth-inning chaos was another brilliant move. Coals to Newcastle. "We shouldn't even be out here tonight. You know you blew that call," Herzog roared at plate umpire Denkinger and lit another match under Andujar.
As the scene grew ugly; as the score mounted to eight, nine, 10 runs, as first Herzog was heaved from the game, then Andujar; as Andujar was wrestled over the greensward by several teammates who must have finally realized that all Cardinal class was rapidly vaporizing into the cool Missouri night, even commissioner Peter Ueberroth squirmed in his seat. "Personally, I was disappointed," he said. "All I could do was sit there. I was just hoping it would go away."
Finally it did, but in place of respect for the Royals and praise for their unprecedented comeback came more palaver from Herzog and Andujar, who once said his favorite word in English was "youneverknow."
"I don't think the Royals could win our division," said the St. Louis manager. "I don't think they could win the American League East. They struggled in a very weak division and then they come in here and their pitchers dominate us. We were lucky to win three. This was almost a disgrace."
Speaking of which.... "I tell you one thing," said Andujar. "Sometime you lose control, but we are human. Everybody in world human. If you don't make mistake, there is no world. If you try to satisfy whole world, I tell you one thing, you gonna be in the——house. And then youneverknow."
The tragicomedic truth about this grand old franchise that was disgraced by more than its own bats is different. About the Cardinals, everybodyknows.