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      Loeffler's Link - "Tuned out"

      Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo

      Yadier Molina struck out in the sixth inning Wednesday.

      He also struck out in the ninth inning.

      Those were Molina's offensive highlights for the day.

      Don't get me wrong, I love me some Yadi. But in his first two at-bats, he made four outs --- he twice grounded into inning-ending double plays.

      With a runner on third both times.


      In the end, the Cardinals fell short two runs short in their first of three attempts to advance to the World Series, as the Los Angeles Dodgers secured a 6-4 win in Game 5 of the NLCS.

      Having a flashback yet? None of us want that.

      Remember, the last two times the Cardinals had a 3-1 lead in the NLCS --- including last year --- they flopped short of the finish line, losing the last three games of those series.

      They lost those six games by a combined 52-2.


      Last year, the Cardinals lost Game 5 at home to the Giants and had to hit the road. Then, they left their hearts --- and ours --- in San Francisco.

      This year, however, the last two games will be in the friendly confines of Busch Stadium, under the friendly gaze of the Gateway Arch and 45,000 red-crazed fans.

      So don't panic just yet ... even though the Cardinals will face the likely Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, in Game 6 on Friday night.

      Kershaw is 0-3 against the Cardinals this season.


      Just be grateful the Cardinals are heading home with a 3-2 series lead, and be grateful they won Game 4 on Tuesday. While they did have 10 hits Wednesday, they entered that game with a team batting average of .148 in the series.

      That would be considered lousy for a lineup full of pitchers.

      This has been the rule and not the exception, however, in the two ongoing series. Through Tuesday's games, the pitching staffs of St. Louis, Los Angeles, Detroit and Boston had a combined ERA of 1.80.

      Really good pitching is one thing, really bad hitting is another.

      A few other thoughts.

      The broadcasting crew at TBS, which has the NLCS, has turned the network into Totally B.S. (The B.S. standing for Bogus Stuff, of course.)

      Everybody complains about the announcers, but I never do. Okay, obviously, I seldom do ... because these guys have been more one-sided than a fat guy sitting by himself on a teeter-totter.

      They're obviously sad when it doesn't go well for the Dodgers, obviously happy when it does. Not to mention, Ernie Johnson always sounds like he needs to blow his nose.

      Give the man a tissue, already.

      Then there's this ... Sooie-Puig!

      Yasiel Puig --- the 22 year-old Dodger sensation who's already a Hall of Famer, according to some --- flips his bat, stands at home plate and watches the ball in all its glory when he hits in hard.

      And that's when it goes off the wall for a triple. (Prior to that hit Monday night, by the way, Puig had been 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts in the NLCS. I'm pretty sure you or I could go 0-for-11, I don't care who's pitching.)

      If Puig ever hits a home run in this series, I fully expect him to do back flips around the bases as Roman Candles go off in his back pockets.

      In the ninth inning Wednesday, he apparently lost a ball in the sun which turned into a double for Matt Holliday. The TBS broadcasters had Puig's back, however, explaining as much. Over and over. Then for good measure ... and over.

      Fine. Puig lost the ball in the sun. But when it got past him, he basically walked to go get it. This was not mentioned.

      As the Randy Newman song goes, "I Hate L.A." ... or something like that.

      For those of us who have DirecTV, we've been able to watch every pitch, every hit, every strikeout, and every "effort" by Puig, as well as being annoyed by much of what we hear.

      We have not been able to watch any of the ALCS on FOX, however. This too is annoying, but not really a deal.

      We've all seen enough of Big Papi, after all.

      When you go to the local FOX affiliate, it says: "DirecTV has been unable to renew our agreement with this broadcast station, and the station has forced us to take it down."

      A government shutdown is one thing. Shutting down one of our TV channels is another.

      C'mon, man!

      Here's the point-counterpoint from the two parties:

      POINT --- On the DirecTV website: "(They) will not let us restore these channels (two other channels are also effected, including ABC's KMIZ) unless DirecTV commits to more than triple the price we currently pay to retransmit their "free" TV signals. We simply won't accept a price increase of this magnitude that would have to be passed on to our customers."

      COUNTERPOINT --- A statement from the station's General Manager, Gene Steinberg: "There are channels out there that have way fewer ratings than us and are paid five times more than we are paid."

      $hockingly, it'$ a feud over money.

      FOX has the World Series. In other words, and as of right now, those of us with DirecTV are tuned out.

      That would certainly be a big deal, especially if the Cardinals can convert one of their two final chances to win the NLCS. If they don't get this fixed and the Cardinals do advance, well, I have five words for you:

      I'm coming to your house.

      None of us want that.