Every Unhappy Family is the Same

Cards/Giants Game 2, plus notes on managers

I hate to admit it to you, but I really was secretly rooting for the Cardinals this year. My old family allegiance, of course, is to the Cubs, but I admired the way St. Louis battled through all the adversity. And I also miss Jack Buck. It's funny you should mention him. I also thought of him during tonight's game. I met him once as well, and he seemed like a damn nice guy. I met Ernie Harwell a few years ago and I'd have to say he's easily the gentlest soul I encountered around a baseball stadium. I looked forward to the Tigers coming to town every year so I could say hello to him again. One of my favorite experiences at the Dome was watching Ernie in the press box one day, praying out loud with an old friend right in the middle of the National Anthem. Herb Carneal is another wonderful guy, and we've already had a pretty good foreshadowing here of what the future without him will be like, and it ain't good.

You ask about Kelly and Gardenhire. I'm not sure what you mean by the chemistry of the transition. Transition to chemistry is more like it. Kelly hated to hear that word. Gardenhire's clubhouse character is defined by it. I still don't quite understand how the passing of the torch went in that deal, but it seems pretty clear that Gardenhire was anointed by Kelly, which I don't quite understand. Two guys couldn't be more unalike, and I honestly don't think there are very many similarities in them as managers.

There is, obviously, a Kelly legacy, and plenty of it is decent stuff that Gardenhire has appropriated: play hard and play nine innings, respect the game, earn everything, nobody's bigger than the team, etc. Everybody spouts those old cliches, of course, but Kelly *demanded* that players live by them, which is what made him unique, and also what made him such a pain in the ass. He was a titan of passive-aggression, which is something that Gardenhire will never be accused of. He kept a large, dark, and crowded doghouse, and Gardenhire has torn that down. Considering how deeply the Kelly mindset had infected the organization, I've been frankly amazed by how quickly things have changed under the new guy. I guess essentially T.K. gave these guys a trial-by-fire introduction to the big leagues, and that made them a tougher and tighter team, and also made them uniquely qualified to recognize what a breath of fresh air Gardenhire is.

I've been to more games this year than ever before--with any luck I'll hit 70 by the end of the season--and I've never heard Gardie run down a player, which is something Kelly did all the time. Gardenhire literally talks to everyone; Kelly talked to no one. In the two years I spent around Kelly he was never even remotely civil to me--not one time. Gardenhire is generous with his time, and virtually always civil. Here, actually, is the short answer to your question: Though I never questioned his baseball knowledge or command of in-game strategy, Kelly seemed like a dick and a genuinely unhappy guy. Gardenhire seems like a good guy, and a genuinely happy man. I think that makes him a better manager for this group of players.

As for Marsh's joke--it's way funnier than the funniest joke in the world. What's with this challenge, by the way? Why do I have to go first? I fucking hate jokes. I couldn't give you a joke off the top of my head if you put a gun in my ear. I don't remember jokes or dreams. Ever. So what does that say about me? I like my humor in the form of stories and anecdotes; I like satire and stuff like Spike Jones. I lied, by the way, I do remember one joke, so that must be the funniest joke in the world, right?

This goes way back. There was this awkward teacher in my junior high who apparently fancied himself a comedian, and this one year he did a little routine in the annual talent show. He obviously wrote his own material. He was crucified by merciless 12 year olds. I can only remember one joke from that routine, and for years whenever me or any of my old buddies would utter the first line we would all collapse with laughter. It was even funnier when we discovered pot.

Here, then, is the funniest joke in the world, courtesy of Mr. Schwange:

"One day I was on the bus and this stranger next to me introduced himself as 'Tex.'

'Why is it,' I asked him, 'That they call you Tex?'

'Well, because I'm from Texas!' the man said, and tipped his cowboy hat.

'I guess you'll have to call me 'Minnie,' then,' I told him.

'Pray tell, why is that, my friend?' he asked.

'Because I am from Minnie-Sota!'"

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