The Cardinal Commandments

(Happy Opening Day everyone. This article was written a couple weeks ago for Tim McKernan of insidestl.com. It was my sample submission for the Cardinal blog writer, in which I will debut tomorrow. For the lovely bertflex readers only, I added the last two, making it an even ten commandments. Hope you enjoy.)

So you want to join Cardinal Nation? It’s easy; just follow the Ten Cardinal Commandments written below. (Some insight and opinions put into this article was obtained from sources at Delmar Gardens)

Hate the Cubs, Take Pleasure in their Pain
The Cubs are funny. They haven’t won a World Series in 100 years. Kerry Wood gets hurt all the time. Ha ha. No one will ever tell you why, but you should hate the Cubs from birth. Don’t question this. Just know that Al Hrabosky wants you to hate the Cubs, so shut up and do it. Now.

Add Cardinal Ringtones and Wallpaper to Your Phone
Go to your cellular service provider’s website and download anything and everything Cardinals. Better yet, go to stlcardinals.com (it should be your homepage) and download them all. Okay, so it’s $2.50 per download, and 25 ringtones and wallpapers to buy…but think of how envious your friends will be! You can’t put a price tag on that.

Embrace Scrappy
I hope you know what “scrappy” is. If not, stop reading and move to Chicago. Study video of Rex Hudler, Bo Hart, Joe McEwing, Stubby Clapp, and David Eckstein immediately. What are you looking for? Well, besides the immense talent that these players have, you’re looking for something hidden – intangibles. You’ll know it when you see it. Embrace it, give it standing ovations. Name your children after these guys. Buy their jerseys and wear them long after they depart/are forced into retirement.

Come Up With Horrible Trade Proposals for Carl Crawford
Anybody can do what John Mozeliak does. But nobody would be better at it than you! You know baseball, you know who’s good and who sucks. So why not tell everyone how to make the Cardinals better? It all starts by trading Anthony Reyes (2-14, 6.04 ERA in ‘07) and Brad Thompson (4.73 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) to the Rays for Carl Crawford. Then send Adam Kennedy (.219 AVG, 27 Runs in ’07) and “some minor leaguer” (we still have Brian Barber, right?) for Hanley Ramirez.

It’s too bad that you repair refrigerators all day. The Cardinals would win the World Series every year if they took your advice.

Bill DeWitt Never Spends Money, Ever. Complain.
The Cardinals’ 2007 payroll was $90 million (USA Today). But Bill DeWitt is the cheapest bastard ever. He never spends money on any free agents. Torii Hunter and Barry Zito should be wearing the birds-on-the-bat right now. They would have taken less money to play in front of the Best Fans in Baseball™. DeWitt is so stupid. He should sell the team to someone who cares. And trade Reyes for Crawford.

Stab Anyone Who Disrespects Whitey
The 80s were a golden era of Cardinals baseball. And by “80s” I mean 1982, 1985, and 1987. There were only three years in that decade, I’m not sure if you knew that. If anyone criticizes Whitey Herzog, put down your Busch beer and stab them. Once for me, and once for the other three million fans of Whiteyball.

Sign a Lifetime Contract with Anheuser-Busch Products
Mike Shannon recommends smooth Busch Beer, or easy drinkin’ Busch Light. If you’re new school you’ll go with Bud Light or Bud Select. It doesn’t matter, as long as it has that AB logo. If not, you’re a traitor. You’re probably a communist and should pack your bags and get out! I can, and will, report you to the local baseball police (see below).

Obey the Baseball Police
Their main duties are telling people when to clap, when to sit down, who to cheer, who to boo, what shirts are appropriate, what language is appropriate, how to talk to opposing fans, and knowing how players should act on and off the field. They know all the rules of Cardinal fandom (including unwritten and secret ones). There’s a strict training process to join the baseball police force. If you meet the first requirement – AARP membership – let’s talk.

Memorize This Line: “Well, the money is going to Cardinals Care, so it’s not a big deal.”
When you go to Winter Warmup (“if” is not an option), be sure to bring plenty of money. I know you worked hard for it, but you don’t give to charity any other time of the year – except for the Channel 9 pledge drive and Mike Bush on the Jerry’s Kids Telethon – so a Cesar Izturis autograph for $100 is money well spent.

Always do the Wave
The wave is so much fun. Here's how it works - one lucky fan (always a young male) around the 6th inning runs down to the front of his section. He ignores what is going on behind him (some kind of activity where guys are throwing a white thing to each other and running around on a squareish/diamondish field). He then screams out "1...2...3!!!" and on cue, we all stand up and raise our hands to the sky. After we do that, the next section over does it, then the next, and so on. Usually it takes 7 or 8 tries for the lucky fan at the front of the section to get it going. Sometimes over multiple innings too. But they have to be persistent! The wave must be done! No matter what the score is or who is hitting - the Cardinals are counting on us to do the wave, they need our help.

This is a Catholic Town, We Pray for Victories Here Buddy
Since they need our help, you have to pull out every trick in the book for a victory. The oldest, and most effective of them all is praying. Praying for the Cardinals always works. God bless those young men on the field giving it their all. We prayed our butts off for the Rams in 1999 and we won the Super Bowl that season. We prayed even more for the Cards in '06 and look what happened. Jack Buck was looking down from the heavens above and told the Big Guy that Jeff Weaver really needs to not get blasted by the Tigers for us to have a chance. God listened. We thank Him every Sunday at church for the blessings He hath given us.



Cardinals Off-Field Problem Pool -- Hardcore Analysis With an Extra Dose of Asskickery

Flexers and Flexettes --

Mel Kiper couldn’t make it tonight, so it falls on my shoulders to break down the 2008 Cardinals Off-Field Problem Pool. Without further ado ...

Round One

1. D.I. - RYAN FRANKLIN -- Two words: Sam Bowie. He who holds the No. 1 pick has great power, and if you’ve studied your Spider-Man, you know that with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, D.I. saw fit to blow his wad while leaving the real talent on the board.

2. hazelwood's most wanted - CHRIS DUNCAN -- Franklin:Bowie::Duncan:Michael Jordan. Put simply, Crush Duncan loves to hump things, and it’s only a matter of time before he runs afoul of a nun or a respected figure in the African-American community. At which point, HMW gets the $.

3. robdogg - MIKE SHANNON -- A solid choice, Mike Shannon is renowned for his love of tall, frosty beverages and occasional butchering of the English language. It’s easy to imagine a combination of those two resulting in an offensive on-the-air remark, possibly at the expense of Jews or gays, or perhaps more likely, gay Jews.

4. Hack - DAVE DUNCAN -- As I type, Duncan has a feud a-brewing with Kevin Slaten. If he does in fact kick Slaten’s ass, Duncan will be disqualified from this pool, as that would be the polar opposite of “bringing shame upon the House of Cards.”

5. Big Head - BRIAN BARTON -- Just because a guy has dreads doesn’t make him a shoo-in.

6. Sir - TYLER JOHNSON -- Lefty relievers are notoriously batshit insane, but there was a better one available. See below.

7. Big Sandwich - SKIP SCHUMAKER -- How badly could a guy named “Skip” screw up? There’s never been a serial killer named “Skip.” It’s science.

8. maltliquorman - MARK MULDER -- Since Mulder hasn’t done anything of note since 2005, this feels like a reach. There is an outside chance that Mulder will hunt down the guy who dissed him on his own bb-ref page.

9. O'Doyle Rules - TONY LARUSSA -- Value pick! How T-La made it down to No. 9 is beyond me. Drunk driving, a confrontation with a Post-Dispatch d-bag, fisticuffs with various animal-haters or lawyerphobes. The possibilities are endless. Some would say his vegetarianism alone is shameful enough to qualify.

10. The Good Face - ALBERT PUJOLS -- To clarify: I feel that Albert is the most likely to be (falsely) accused. But once the accusation is made, the stench of taint is hard to remove. Ha. Taint.

11. The Mad Librarian - AL HRABOSKY -- The Mad Librarian takes the Mad Hungarian. And word is that someone within her extended family once got into a barroom brouhaha with the Psychopathic Schnauzer himself.

Round Two

11. The Mad Librarian - RICK ANKIEL -- “Ooooh, Rick Ankiel is soooo cute. I think he’s just dreeeaaamy.” Sorry, ML, but the most shameful thing about Ankiel this season will be his OBP.

10. The Good Face - CESAR IZTURIS -- A guy with a lackluster grasp of the English language struggling to cling to a major-league roster spot? That has PED potential.

9. O'Doyle Rules - TROY GLAUS -- He looks like Bruce Campbell. Next.

8. maltliquorman - HAL MCRAE -- Solid. I just want him to throw a phone again.

7. Big Sandwich - RYAN LUDWICK -- Apparently, Big Sandwich thought the Cards’ Quadruple-A outfielders represented a market inefficiency.

6. Sir - JUAN GONZALEZ -- A risky pick, and it looks like it already has backfired. Don’t call it a comeback, because Juan Gone never came back.

5. Big Head - BRADEN LOOPER -- Pass.

4. Hack - DR. GEORGE PALETTA -- Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe Paletta is an evil doctor. I don’t think he even applied to any evil med schools.

3. robdogg - ADAM KENNEDY -- I think we all know that any Kennedy is a safe bet to be a disgrace.

2. hazelwood's most wanted - JAY RANDOLPH -- I can’t say anything bad about a guy who called Mizzou games during the heyday of Derrick F’ing Chievous. (Note: I panicked for a moment when it appeared as if Chievous didn’t have a Wikipedia page. He does. Phew.)

1. D.I. - RUSS SPRINGER -- Springer’s value in this league is equivalent to his value in a fantasy league. Which is to say, it’s nonexistent.

Round Three

1. D.I. - KYLE LOHSE -- Lohse is one of only three non-Hispanic Native American players in Major League Baseball. This makes D.I. a racist.

2. hazelwood's most wanted - ANTHONY REYES -- Did I ever tell you that I saw Anthony Reyes at Chipotle once?

3. robdogg - JASON ISRINGHAUSEN -- Sometimes, I like to call him “Ason Jisringhausen.” Gross, huh? In case you hadn’t guessed, I don’t have a strong opinion on this pick.

4. Hack - JASON LARUE -- His first name is Michael. Jason’s his middle name. Hack might be on to something; you can’t trust someone who plays around with our emotions like that.

5. Big Head - JOEL PINEIRO -- Wow, we have a lot of crappy players.

6. Sir - DAVE MCKAY -- I will not sit idly by while one of my fellow Canadians is slandered in this fashion!!111!

7. Big Sandwich - TODD WELLEMEYER -- Pass.

8. maltliquorman - BRAD THOMPSON -- I don’t think eating glue or talking during naptime is enough to win this pool. Get it? Because he looks young. Get it?

9. O'Doyle Rules - RICK HORTON -- Apparently, John Rooney and Dan McLaughlin are altar boys. Speaking of Dan "Walters" McLaughlin, he'd like to talk to you about your mortgage payment.

10. The Good Face - BRENDAN RYAN -- Between T-La and Al Hrabosky, Ryan has already made considerable enemies in his short time with the Cardinals by “smiling too much” and popping up 3-0 pitches. Again, he would be doing a good deed by decking either of those two and thus would be disqualified. A mistake on my part.

11. The Mad Librarian - YADIER MOLINA -- A reliable source to whom I am related by marriage assures me that Yadi would never do anything to sully the uniform he wears so proudly. Looks like ML f’ed up. Again.


Who's Shitty

Hello ladies and gentlemen welcome to your final pre-draft installment of the "Who's Shitty" fantasy report, your premier source for fantasy baseball knowledge. Tony Pellegrino, webmaster and fantasy expert will check the mailbag and answer all your fantasy questions. We have picked five more questions, so hopefully yours will get answered. If you're lucky, Tony might call your favorite fantasy player "Shitty," which will automatically make your team even better (see: Pellegrino Curse in the bertflex glossary).

To show you how much of a badass Tony is, here is a badass picture of him right after the Fightin' Illini hockey team steamrolled everyone in their conference tournament. Some would say this is the face of death. Others would say this is the face of a champion. I say this is the face of...perfection.

The correct term is, ahem...
The Face of Champion Death Perfection.
How effing awesome is that? Very awesome. You're lucky your monitor didn't just explode due to the sheer awesomeness, or maybe it did.

Let's get to the questions!

1. Eric (St. Louis Unions Outfield) - Most Distinguished Archduke of Pellegrino - aside from Albert Pujols, name the one Cardinal you would really want to draft for production in '08.

I think that Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin can both be productive players for the Cardinals in '08. I've heard good things about the Lopez Twins from the Stanford Cardinal. Oh, you meant the St. Louis Cardinals... sorry, can't help you there. Try back in '09.

2. Big Sandwich (Potbelly's) - I've been scoping out mock drafts online to get an idea where guys are going, I saw one yesterday where Miguel Cabrera went #1 overall. I laughed, then I thought maybe this guy knows something I don't. Does he?

I'd actually say the he knows the exact same thing that you know: how to blow a #1 overall pick, Mr. I-Took-Mark-Prior -#1-Overall. In all seriousness, Miggy seems to be the trendy pick for AL MVP this season. Don't believe the hype. He's going to the hard league, and will be hitting fifth. Granted, D-12's lineup is monsterous this season, but 5th place hitters don't win MVP's; 3rd place hitters do. He'll have a good year, perhaps a career year, but he's sure not a lock to be the best player in the game.

3. Thomas (Mason, OH) - Can Mike Lowell repeat last year's season?

Ninja, please. They're called "career years" for a reason. If Lowell drives in 90 this season, take it and run. He's already 34, hadn't sniffed 100 RsBI in 4 years, and had never hit .300 before. Expect something like his 2004/2006 seasons (.290/22/85).

4. B-Rob (Asskickville, USA) - Hey D-Bag, of these hotshot '07 rookies, who's bound for a fall? Braun, Tulowitzki, Pence, Pedroia, D. Young, Dice-K. Go.

Braun and Pence are the real deal and both will actually play a full year this season, so expect their counting stats to increase. Daisuke might be slightly better than he was last year, but I think a 15/200/4.20/1.30 line will be about right. Delmon "Baby Meat" Young seems poised to take the next step this season, as he was slightly disappointing last season. I think 20/20 is almost certain.

Tulo and Pedroia could both be bound for the floor (Local H reference). No one expected Tulo to do what he did with the bat last season since he basically duplicated his AA numbers with the Rockies. Regression to the mean, and all that scientific stuff. Pedroia will take a step back because I own him in a fantasy league. Sorry Dustin, it's all my fault.

5. T. Kirkjian (Bristol, CT) - Hay Tony!!! Predict the major-league leaders in the following categories: HR, steals, batting average, strikeouts (P), ERA. Thankx a bunches!! :-P

TIMMY!!! Here's my leaders for ya:
HR - Prince
SB - Reyes
BA - Ichiro
K - Johan
ERA- Johan

As an added bonus for our loyal subscribers, Johan will win the MLB Pitching Quadruple Crown this year, leading the universe in everything.

6. Howie (NYC) - Tony, the 26 lovely models and I have made our Final Four selections: NC, Georgetown, Memphis, and Xavier. There is a lot riding on this Tony...this is your shot at doing something no one else in the history of Who's Shitty has ever done. This is you shot at making all your dreams come true. Tony Pellegrino...my question for you is this...Shitty, or Not Shitty? We'll hear your answer...when we come back (finger point).

Well, I guess I cheated Howie here a little bit by not posting this before the tournament started but I was already going to declare this Final Four SHITTY. As everyone has seen, Georgetown has already proven me correct and I have great faith that Xavier will soon follow suit. Memphis has been shakey as well. My Final Fore is NC, KU, TX and UCLA. I'm already better than you. We'll see how much better I am than you this weekend.

It sounds like reader Tim C's got the ass about something, let's see what he's got for me this week:

Hey TonyP, long time reader, first time writer! First of all, I gotta say, I love the blog. Great stuff in there, I never miss it. But I've got a beef with your recent mailbag. You want to use new-fangled fancy-pants statistics like the BAIBP? Then you can’t leave out the SPF. For those of you unfamiliar the Scrappy Player Factor, created by the Secondfloor Sunderland Thinktank, is used to quantify a player's hustle, tenacity, grittiness, heart, team spirit, shortness, and whiteness—in other words, all the little things that a player does that don't show up in a box score but help your team win. For example, last year Aaron Miles was SPF 45 while Ray King was SPF 3. The highest SPF ever recorded (twice) was SPF 90, by David Eckstein (2001) and Mark Lemke (1992). (Note: The SPF wasn’t captured during his era, but it is hypothesized that Phil Rizzuto would have had a lifetime SPF of at least 125.) Several players have recorded an SPF of 0, including Roberto Kelly (1989), Ray Lankford (1999), and most recently, Juan Encarnacion (2001-2007).

The inverse of the SPF, known as the Unenergetic Vector (UV for short), is a way to quantify the destructive nature of a player's personality. It measures the amount of clubhouse cancer-causing "free radicals" a player puts off in the form of not running out ground balls, breaking up double plays, or returning high fives with the appropriate vigor. Teams frequently protect their teams from UV by liberally applying high SPF players to the roster.

Yours Truly,
Middle-Aged Cardinals Fans Throughout The Midwest

Jesus, Todd, PLEASE leave the made-up statistics to the professionals from now on, ok? You're trying to make up stats for intangibles when everyone knows that intangibles don't exist. Only sportswriters and fat white women still believe in them. It's kind of like "clutch," only worse. I'm sure you know that the words "the little things that a player does that don't show up in a box score but help your team win" cause nausea and vomitting among sophisticated fans like myself. The big thing scrappy guys could do to help your team win is to NOT show up in the box score at all!

If you make intangibles tangible then they can't win you any ballgames because then computers can take them into account. And Joe Morgan says that the computer that wrote Moneyball is dumb. He played baseball and knows more about everything than you do, so shut your yap, yapper. Here's to you, Mister Making-Intangibles-Tangible-Guy.

If you would like to ask Tony "Who's Shitty?" please send your questions to shaunfanclub@hotmail.com. Tony Pellegrino's advice should be taken with caution, but he has finished in 2nd place in numerous fantasy leagues over the years (none recently) and gets paid to analyze baseball players, so he's kind of an expert, using that term loosely.


Captain Obvious

I love when Deadspin posts reader comments from espn.com. I'll copy that idea - I'm sure my buddy Will would approve - and let you take a gander at this gem from stevieg247:

Whatever shakes down, the Elite Eight is going to have some great contests.

Unfortunately I can't let it go at that. Here is stevieg's photo on his espn page:

Yeah softball guy! Nice job trying to bring back the Brett Hull half tucked jersey circa 1991. Even better, here is his greatest sports moment:

Dropping 7 Three-pointers and 28 points while playing point guard in a very competitive University of Delaware Intramural Basketball League my sophomore year of college.

I knew you could make dumb comments, but I had no idea you could make dumb myspace pages on espn too. This is stupid enough that we need to join in on the fun.


2008 Cardinal Off-The-Field-Problem Pool: Draft Results

The much anticipated 2008 St. Louis Cardinals Off-The-Field-Problem Pool draft was completed last week by our 11 entrants. There were many surprises throughout the draft, but I'll leave all analysis and commentary to my colleague, The Good Face, for a future column.

Here are the draft results for everyone to follow along throughout the season. For a recap of all rules and regulations, click here for the original article.

Round One
2. hazelwood's most wanted - CHRIS DUNCAN
3. robdogg - MIKE SHANNON
5. Big Head - BRIAN BARTON
7. Big Sandwich - SKIP SCHUMAKER
8. maltliquorman - MARK MULDER
9. O'Doyle Rules - TONY LARUSSA
10. The Good Face - ALBERT PUJOLS
11. The Mad Librarian - AL HRABOSKY

Round Two
11. The Mad Librarian - RICK ANKIEL
10. The Good Face - CESAR IZTURIS
9. O'Doyle Rules - TROY GLAUS
8. maltliquorman - HAL MCRAE
7. Big Sandwich - RYAN LUDWICK
3. robdogg - ADAM KENNEDY
2. hazelwood's most wanted - JAY RANDOLPH

Round Three
2. hazelwood's most wanted - ANTHONY REYES
5. Big Head - JOEL PINEIRO
7. Big Sandwich - TODD WELLEMEYER
8. maltliquorman - BRAD THOMPSON
9. O'Doyle Rules - RICK HORTON
10. The Good Face - BRENDAN RYAN
11. The Mad Librarian - YADIER MOLINA


Tuesdays With HMW

Earlier this week I found out that I have been chosen to contribute to the new STL Cardinal section of insideSTL.com once a week. It was a very generous offer from the site's founder Tim McKernan and I accepted it. And by "generous," I mean, he said I'll get paid an actual dollar amount to write about the Cardinals once a week. Deal, Howie!

But before you go calling me a sellout, I'll still be here posting the normal crap. I wouldn't leave you guys (all 8 of our readers) for the world.

Tim let us know the schedule, and my feature column will be posted on Tuesdays. It looks like each blogger will be allowed to do our thing, so if you have any ideas send them my way. I'll pretend like I'm actually listening to your suggestions, but since I'm a professional now, it will go in one ear and out the other.

As for my long-term plan, I'm using this as a stepping stone to a permanent spot on Chalk Talk, which will easily be the pinnacle of my career.


Thumbs Up For March 17-23

Man I am fired up for this week. I rarely ever look forward to a Monday, but this will be one of those good ones.

Over the past few years, March had rapidly become my favorite month. It's too hard to pick a favorite summer month, overall they are about the same. October is great for the World Series and football season. November has Thanksgiving, and December has Christmas. But the downside of those three months is that its freakin' cold outside. March has very few flaws. We did have a foot of snow a couple weeks ago in St. Louis, but it's all gone now and nice weather is around the corner. March even has a day where you don't look funny having green hair and it's recommended that you start drinking beer around 9 am.

But there are two main reasons why March is awesome: the NCAA tournament and fantasy baseball drafts. The Monday after Selection Sunday is the kickoff to a week of being worthless at work. Monday is all about studying the NCAA bracket for your pool, so you can be the smart guy at work who tells the ladies what teams have the cutest mascots. Thursday and Friday are the first two days of the tourney. It is recommended that you stay home and watch, but if you must be at work, it's okay to be useless by 11am. Your boss expects it by now.

Also, because spring training games are in full swing, it is time to start drafting your fantasy baseball teams. We personally have our Hardcore League draft on Saturday night (yes, Saturday night...somehow a whopping 2 out of 10 guys in the league are married).

This week will combine the first four days of the tournament and fantasy baseball. Toss in some booze, chips, chicken wings, ribs, more chips, lots of calories, fried stuff, and more meat. Sit around with your friends making smart ass comments, and you're set.

Nothing gets better than that. Don't let work bring you down this week - life is good (until your bracket gets blown up; just set it on fire and try again next year).


Should BertFlex Shut Down? Vote Now on ESPN!

It is hard to fathom, but Robert "Bob" Costas wishes we would go away. He hates us. We should just keep our big mouths shut (via keyboard).

A Miami Herald column Friday included some thoughts from Costas about bloggers. Honestly these are some great quotes, but come on Bob - I thought we were buddies! At a Make-a-Wish sports auction on Tuesday, the all knowledgeable and wise Mr. Costas said this:

''Today, I saw on ESPN a poll about which Western Conference teams would not make the playoffs,'' Costas said. "Well, 46 percent said the Denver Nuggets, which has zero percent influence on anything. No reasonable person who cares about the NBA should care about that. Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?''

''I understand with newspapers struggling and hoping to hold on to, or possibly expand their audiences, I understand why they do what they do,'' Costas said. 'But it's one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother's basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they're a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard's column or Bernie Miklasz' column in St. Louis. That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.''

What bothers Costas -- and he's not alone -- is Internet and talk radio commentary that "confuses simple mean-spiritedness and stupidity with edginess. Just because I can call someone a name doesn't mean I'm insightful or tough and edgy. It means I'm an idiot."

"It's just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men's room walls in gas stations. That doesn't mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.''

Now if Lil' Bob wanted me to boycott ESPN polls, I can live with that. I pretty much boycott ESPN anyway (except for the free fantasy baseball draft kit). But should we, the great blogger community, close shop because we don't have a degree in journalism or weren't a backup QB for the Vikings/free agent football analyst/camera phone abuser who yells a lot when he's on the air? None of us have ever interviewed a half naked man after a June game against the Pirates, or reported on the sidelines of training camp updating viewers how the 5th receiver "battle" is going. Does that mean we can't share thoughts and opinions with others online?

Come on Bob, Skip Bayless is on TV. Skip Bayless has a forum to express his thoughts. Think about what you are saying. If there was an official list of 'humans who should be talking about sports on television,' Skip Bayless would be at the end of that list.

I think Bob is taking the random bloggers who are actual idiots, along with the good ones (naturally - all of us at B-Flex), and clustering them all together as one big community of idiots. And that is far from true. Are the guys from Fire Joe Morgan idiots? They are more knowledgeable than the "professional journalists" they write about and actually use rational thinking before typing words on the screen. How about Viva El Birdos? Or my close, personal friend Will Leitch? I could go on, the list is pretty long.

Here's a deal: You don't pay attention to the "idiots" out there in the blogs and message boards, and we won't pay attention to the Skip Baylesses and Kevin Slatens of the media world. Because you wouldn't want me lumping Skip Bayless and Bob Costas together as "idiot media guys."

[And another thing, stay out of my F'N personal business Bob! The hell if I'm gonna move out of my parents' basement and try to get a life!! The hell with that!! You're a moron Costas, you don't know what you're doing!!!! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE. STOMP STOMP STOMP. %$#$&@ YOUUUUU!!!! HEY MA, THE MEATLOAF!! WE WANT IT NOW...THE MEAT-LOAF!!]

Sorry Bob, I hate to say it, but you're out of touch on this one. Everything else about you is great. Keep up the good work, and I hope we can still be friends. Maybe that can be my Make-a-Wish...


The Obligatory Hockey Post

Flash back to late-October, 2007: the Cardinals were playing golf; the Rams still hadn't won a game and were in the running for the #1 pick.

The city of St. Louis was looking for a team to get behind, to cheer for, to capture their attention for a while...and that was the Blues (okay they did jump on the Mizzou bandwagon too but there's a whole 'nother site to talk about them).

A lot of fans were complaining about how the Rams front office runs their team. The Cardinals have plenty of critics too. But the Blues' were busting their asses all summer to get fans to come back. Attendance had been bad since the lockout, but a slight glimmer of hope came at the end of last season when new coach Andy Murray helped the team finish strong. Signing Paul Kariya for three years and '06 top pick Erik Johnson's debut gave the Bloosiers something to look forward to.

People wanted to cheer for the Blues again. A lot of us youngsters grew up during the golden era of late 80's-early 90's Blues hockey - pretty much the Brett Hull era, up until Mike Keenan was hired. And before that, our parents grew up during the early days of the franchise, filling the Arena on a consistent basis (105.7% capacity in '69-'70...wow).

Combining this, along with the hot start the team got off to, and it's really hard to deal with the current state of the Blues. They've lost 10 out of the past 11 games and have 4 points in that span. It has dropped them from a couple points away from a playoff spot, to 4th worst team in the NHL.

So, like I did back in November of '05 (wow, November? I'm a jerk), here are some of the top prospects to look out for in the NHL draft this June, via Mark Seidel at The Hockey News.

#1 – Steven Stamkos; C, Sarnia Sting. Continues to dominate. Fans in Sarnia should pay close attention because it’s doubtful he’ll be back next year.

#2 – Alex Pietrangelo; RD, Niagara IceDogs. Defensive play is still less than ideal, so his playoff performance will be very important to maintaining the No. 2 slot.

#3 – Drew Doughty; LD, Guelph Storm. Most guys are convinced he is No. 2, but I still think his upside is less than Pietrangelo’s. But there have been nights when he has simply dominated.

#4 – Zach Bogosian; RD, Peterborough Petes. Play has tailed off on occasion, but the overall package is brimming with upside and thus he maintains his No. 4 ranking.

#5 – Nikita Filatov; RW, CSKA Moscow. Had a phenomenal performance at the Five Nations and is clearly the second-best forward in the draft.

Those are some great team names.

If you're still reading, here is a mock draft posted on March 10 by an NHL draft site. They have Doughty going to the Blues at the 4 spot. He is listed as a 5'11" defenseman. Hmm. Sounds like he can score though. Sign him up.

We all knew the rebuilding process would take a few years, but it really seemed like the Blues would turn the corner this year. I thought a playoff spot was guaranteed with the Kariya signing, even if just a 7th or 8th seed. But no one thought a regression was in the works. Andy Murray's job is safe for a while and there are plenty of kids to watch out for over the next few years.

I was trying not to turn this into a Kansas Jayhawk-esque article, so I'll end with this: I am looking forward to Blues hockey again next season and you should too.


And instead of doing two posts about hockey in the same year, check out the former Blues who will be signing autographs in the near future: Jon Casey, Soupy Campbell, Darren Kimble (in Alton-look out!), Perry Turnbull (H-Wood), and Bob Plager.

Who's else is having flashbacks of Jim Campbell doing commercials for the now out-of-business Kenrod's Restaurant?



Manny and Chipper: "Saved by the Bell" rejects

I'm going to have to assume Chipper got that shirt at a Tommy Hilfiger store -- but where did he get that bitchin' woven belt?

Manny has the bad boy-with-a-heart-of-gold look down cold. There's a disturbing lack of gold chains, though. Rookie mistake.

The picture comes from a pretty cool ESPN.com article about baseball card photographer Gregg Forwerck.


Karl Rove Hates High School and College Baseball

From Anderson Cooper's lackeys at CNN.com:

Former top Bush aide Karl Rove didn't get the friendliest of receptions at the University of Iowa Sunday, CNN affiliate KCRG reports....

Radio Iowa also reports one audience member told Rove that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named him the "worst person ever."

"Ever?" Rove joked. "Yea, worse than Hitler, worse than Stalin, worse than Mao and worse than the person who introduced aluminum baseball bats."

Burn on Hitler, Stalin, and Mao!

The 2008 St. Louis Cardinal Off-The-Field Problem Pool

Long gone are the days when your favorite St. Louis Cardinal player could get in trouble with the law and it would be swept under a rug by the media. In response to the recent wave of, uh, let's call it "non-baseball publicity" the Cardinals have received over the past year, we have decided to start our own Off-The-Field Problem Pool.

The "draft" will be 3 rounds - snake format. Each participant will select a member of the Cardinal organization each round. Whoever owns the first player that gets in trouble in an off-field incident is the winner of the pool. (Re-buys are allowed as long as everyone wants to do it)

Bertflex writer The Good Face came up with a great description of how the winner shall be determined:

I think we’re looking for anything that gets reported as a disturbance/law violation/extra-marital affair or pregnancy/etc. Basically, anything that brings shame upon the House of Cards qualifies, in my view. We’ll know it when we see it.

I'll go ahead and throw steroid/HGH allegations in there as well, like the Ankiel saga last year. If something like that comes up out of the blue, I think it qualifies as a winner. If there is a dispute, we can put it to a league vote.

Here is a recap of who is draft-eligible:

- the 25 man roster at the end of spring training, plus DL'd players
- coaches/trainers/bat boys
- dewitt, mozeliak, dewitt III, & luhnow (upper level office guys)
- announcers

No minor leaguers, office workers, or other staff.

To maintain the integrity of the league, there will be no other free agent adds or drops during the season. Once we begin drafting, no one else can sign up to be in the league. I know we're all about integrity 'round here.

Speaking of that, I am invoking a rule that is one of the best parts of the entire league: if you are the cause of the player's "incident" you will be awarded the money. If cash money is important enough to you to start a bar fight with Braden Looper, by all means, do it. Honestly, that would be awesome.

The draft begins on Wednesday to the 11 participants, all members or friends of the site. We will post the results after the draft in order for everyone to follow.

Here is the draft order:

1. DI
2. hazelwood's most wanted
3. robdogg
4. Hack
5. Big Head
6. Sir
7. Big Sandwich
8. maltliquorman
9. O'Doyle Rules
10. The Good Face
11. The Mad Librarian

EDIT 3/15: changed "lamping" to "dewitt III"

Vin Scully: Down With Chuck D and Flavor Flav

Part of the appeal of the below YouTube snippet is seeing Clayton Kershaw (that name just sounds like he knocked up some girls in high school) freeze Sean Casey with a Shasta McNasty curveball. (What? I'm the only one who remembers that show?)

For me, though, I just like hearing Vin Scully giving props to the best rap duo this side of Kid n' Play.


Marshall McGoogle

The internets is a wonderful tool for finding everything about anything. Upon arriving at a friends house to watch the second half of the UNC/Duke game, which despite a Tar Heel victory was a disgusting display greasy basketballs, I was treated to this: How did this guy get a bowling scholarship? Apparently good friends of the site, David Inlow and Ben Bridgman, were having trouble remembering the web address for the Hardcore Baseball League and figured the only way to find it was googling the name of our webmaster T.P. aka Sir. I know this is the era proceeding the U of I bowling heyday, but man, carrying a 148 AVG! This will not be going in your Sports Century.


Another Fun Site on the Internets

This is right up our alley - it kind of takes the jibberish Hat Game and gives you a band name:


Some examples:

Loving Bertflex Of The Safe Zebra
Bertflex Heed And The Silent Baggage
Bertflex Amplitude
Bertflex Fart (yes this really came up)
Cheddar Bertflex And The Lithium
Bertflex Rage
Bertflex Sister
Bertflex Of The Apathetic Bazooka

Hey Pats; THIS is What Undefeated Looks Like

The BertFlex-endorsed Illini Hockey Club won the ACHA National Championship last night with a 4-2 victory over #2 Lindenwood University. The championship put the finishing touches on a 38-0 season by the Fighting Illini. The season schedule, in its unblemished glory, can be seen here. It's the Illini's second title in four seasons, so it appears they are putting the "nasty" in "dynasty".

Yes, I know it's club hockey. Yes, I know they beat Lindenwood. You can shut your whore mouth any time. I'm off to the bar to get pissed! CHAMPIONSHIP!!!


The 2008 Cardinals Preview

We are a few weeks into spring training and tons of questions still remain to be answered for your St. Louis Cardinals. You can check a number of publications - local and national - and they will give you some kind of "Top 10 Questions" list for each team, addressing numerous decisions that need to be made by the beginning of the baseball season. But there are so many questions that do not make the cut and I feel they are just as important. Since I know the furious masses of BertFlex Nation demand answers and hardcore analysis, I will do the dirty work and cater to your needs. I did this back in 2006, and the Cardinals won the World Series. I did not do it last year, and the Cardinals were mediocre. Coincedence? Hopefully thinking about these issues will help the Cardinals get organized before March 31st.

Here are questions #11-20 facing the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008:

11. What is the statistical probability that Mike Shannon will drink a beer on any individual occasion?

See the convenient graph below...

12. Following in the footsteps of Edmonds, Shannon, O. Smith, Pujols, Hrabosky, etc, who is the next Cardinal, past or present, to open a bar?

This is a tough one. Now that the Spiezio news has come out, I think a current player would be advised against opening a bar with their name on it. The last thing Dewitt wants is more booze-related press about his team. So just to throw a name out there for conversation purposes, I'm going with a long shot and saying Ron Gant. I'm 99% sure that Gant doesn't live here, but if he were to give back to the community in a positive way, he'd open a bar called "Pythons."

Back to the current players, I could see Brad Thompson opening an ice cream shop, or Chris Duncan owning his own White Castle franchise. The former would be good for the Cardinals' family friendly approach. The latter would be awesome for my personal entertainment.

13. Who is the new David Scrapstein?

If he wasn't a few years away, I'd go with last year's first round pick Peter Kozma, who has been compared to Mark Loretta and a "young" Michael Young (which is Michael Young without the power). But he is gritty...and grimey...and tough...and is a great teammate...and, yeah you get the picture.

Kozma is too far away, but Jarret Hoffpauir is close to the majors so I'm going with him. Last year over two levels he hit 11 HR's, which is more than Eckstein ever hit in a season (although he had 8 HR's in two different seasons in the majors). But Hoffpauir is 5'9 and listed at 165 (baseballcube.com) and 175 (stlcardinals.com) - very similar to Eckstein. Both play MI (Hoffpauir at 2B, where Eckstein should be playing), and most importantly...both are white. I can't find any data that says how much of a "gamer" Hoffpauir is, I'm shocked that PECOTA doesn't have that projection yet, they're worthless.

Another intangible is that Hoffpauir (pronounced Hoff-Power) has a great name for Sign Guy to have some fun with. That has to count for something. Sign Guy is probably in his basement right now with a pen and pad thinking of more golden material.

14. What will be the least attended game of the year?

Thursday May 15 vs. the Pirates (12:15 pm)

Usually the early season games draw well, as does any "businessman special," where there is a game during the day in the middle of the week. But by May 15th there will have already been three mid-week day games (not counting opening day)...plus this one is against the Pirates. Really - who is going to go to this game? Stay at work people, don't call in sick.

15. With the 13th pick in the 2008 draft the Cardinals choose?

Okay, so the MLB draft isn't on par with the NBA and NFL draft, where players are able to make an immediate impact. But in recent years a lot of top picks in baseball have risen through the minors quickly and are regulars in plenty of lineups around the Majors. This is very evident with the '05 draft, as guys like Ryan Braun, Alex Gordon, and Troy Tulowitzki are starting and playing big roles for their team already. So with the 13th pick, the Cardinals should be able to snag a pretty good talent. I recently read that Shooter Hunt is a possibility, a pitcher from Tulane. My personal opinion is that they'll take Jemile Weeks, brother of Rickie "The Better" Weeks. Of course there are still a few months left for the front office to say they are going to make a big splash in the draft (like Rick Porcello last year), then find a scrappy 5'7" white infielder named Skippy or Shortie or Stumpy to build the franchise around.

16. What local website will be hosting a "Cardinal Off-The-Field-Problem Pool" in the wake of the La Russa, Hancock, and Spiezio incidents?

The insensitive bastards of bertflex.com. We will post the results in the coming weeks. Dave McKay is my sleeper pick.

17. Will Jose Oquendo really care this year?

Rumors flying around spring training so far have been saying that Jose will work his 3rd base coaching duties from a recliner. He won't be very busy waving runners home, and he can't be the Cardinal manager for another two years, so why bother?

18. Did we really sign Juan Gonzalez?

Oh crap, we really did. He's actually been in spring training games and hasn't fallen apart yet (with a HR off Johan too). With Spiezio cut, he has a chance to make the club over younger players who can bend their legs without needing an operation. I really hope the outfield ends up being Duncan, Ankiel, Ludwick, Shoemaker, and Barton. If TLR is making the decision, it will probably be over for those last two (Hmm, Gonzalez - over 30. Must be good. Sign him up. Shoemaker - under 30? Pass. Rasmus - 21? Does he have an uncle? Barton - blac...er, um bad fielder. Pass on him too).

19. What businesses will move into Ballpark Village?

I think I'm the only one left who actually has any faith in Ballpark Village. Besides the corporate office for Centene, a big ass aquarium (yeay?), and lofts that will be d-bag magnets, what else is going to go into BPV? I tapped into some Vegas connections and they have odds on these establishments, to be released soon:

1:2000 - Starbucks
1:10 - Something sponsored by Anheuser-Busch
1:1 - Walgreens
2:1 - Applebee's
5:1 - Tony La Russa Veterinary Office
7:1 - Delmar Gardens
10:1 - A Domino's run by Sign Guy
11:1 - A Mustache Trimming Saloon run by Sign Guy
12:1 - Some dude on the corner selling rocks to throw at Sign Guy
25:1 - The entire BPV will be a parking lot
75:1 - Cody McKay's Nutritional Supplements
200:1 - Dirt Cheap Cigarettes, Beer, & Liquor
1500:1 - KFNS 590
10 jillion:1 - anything involving nudity

20. Did they build a less boring stadium yet?

No, damn.


Who's Shitty

Hello ladies and gentlemen welcome to the first March installment of the "Who's Shitty" fantasy report, your premier source for fantasy baseball knowledge. Tony Pellegrino, webmaster and fantasy expert will check the mailbag and answer all your fantasy questions. We have picked five more questions, so hopefully yours will get answered. If you're lucky, Tony might call your favorite fantasy player "Shitty," which will automatically make your team even better (see: Pellegrino Curse in the bertflex glossary).

Keeping up with our pals at yahoo.com and cbssportsline.com, here is a badass picture of Tony, chomping down on some chocolate bacon. I won't repeat that - you heard me.

I will say this though: only champions eat chocolate bacon.

1. Shaun (Clayton) - Tony, with all the new stats you're learning about, what is your favorite? Mine is BAIBP - no, not BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play)...I'm talking about Batting Average in Batting Practice. Juan Encarnacion hit .847 in batting practice last year! Also I read Matt Stairs led the league with 706 Home Runs in batting practice - that's amazing.

You and your stupid made up stats and your dago mustache! Look where Juancarnacion's BAIBP got him... BLINDED! And everyone knows (and by everyone, I mean me and Justin) that John Mabry is the greatest BP hitter EVAR! My favorite new stat is MASH, Most Awesome at Slugging Homeruns. It's a stat dominated by Jack Cust and Adam Dunn so obviously it's the best stat ever.

2. George (D.C.) - Hah Tony, with all this tradin' goin' on in baseball, I need you to uh, dissectify the best trades of the offseason. The people of 'Mericah thank you.

Sure W, I'd be glad to dissectify the trades for ya. Tigers and Mets win. Everyone else loses. The end.

3. Annie F. (Denver) - After getting luck from the yahoo fantasy gods, I got the 1st overall pick and used it to take LT. My year only went downhill. I cycled through no less than 8 quarterbacks and generally stunk up the field with my team's shittyness. If I'm lucky enough to get the 1st overall pick in baseball, do I go with the obvious choice (A-Rod) or do I take someone else?

Non-sequitor. It's not LT's fault your QB's were horrible. and it won't be A-Rod's fault if your baseball team sucks. He won't hit a brazillian homeers like last year, but he's still a good bet to be a monster. He's always amazingly healthy and should go .300-40-120-20 for you with .280-35-100-10 being the floor. He's the best guy in fantasy right now, and it's not even close.

4. Nurse E. Turd Ferguson (The Lab) - Dr. Pellegrino, you have to take either Mark Prior or Rich Harden. Who ya got?

I'm a big Harden fan this season. I'll definately take 100 innings of Harden this year, just don't expect him to give you any more than that. This is his year-27 season so it's almost make-or-break time for the kid. Hurt Flex, on the other hand, is awesome when he's healthy but tends to get bombed if he's not right. At least with Harden, he's been good any time he's pitched.

5. Andre Reed (Dieruff High) - Hey Tony, any fond memories of Allentown?

Not Allentown, persay, because the city of Allentown is quite shitty. Bethlehem is pretty nice as long as you avoid the Puerto Ricans, who "could be part of a gang, and therefor, [makes a fist] real used to fightin'." I can't speak of most of my fond memories of Allentown yet, on advice from my counsel, at least until the hearings are over. Once we get all that nonsense behind us, expect a full report.

If you would like to ask Tony "Who's Shitty?" please send your questions to shaunfanclub@hotmail.com. Tony Pellegrino's advice should be taken with caution, but he has finished in 2nd place in numerous fantasy leagues over the years (none recently), so he's kind of an expert, using that term loosely.


Don't Invite Orel to the Next Poker Game

This weekend in Las Vegas was the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. It started with a field of 64 professional, celebrity, and amateur stars. All the big poker names were there: Hellmuth, Ivey, Hansen, etc. The handful of celebrities included Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Alexander, and Don Cheadle. However one name intrigued me when I saw it in the field - Orel Hershiser. I have actually seen the Hollywood trio mentioned above on poker shows before, so those aren't really surprising, but Orel Hershiser?

Anyone who has played poker heads-up knows that a lot of luck is involved. The big pots are usually won by pushing all-in preflop. If the odds aren't in your favor, you just need a little luck to rake in a ton of chips. So even a person like Orel Hershiser has a chance versus the best players in the world, as long as the right cards hit.

On Friday, Orel defeated poker pro Ted Forrest. He went on to face Allen Cunningham, who is crazy good at poker. Sure enough Orel beat him on Saturday, and went on to beat another pro, Freddy Deeb to advance to the final eight.

A funny sidenote is that I was actually in Las Vegas for a little under 30 seconds on Saturday night to catch a connecting flight. I thought there was a 100% chance I'd be "stuck" in Vegas overnight, but it was not meant to be.

Sadly on Sunday Orel's luck ran out as he was defeated by Andy Bloch. If anyone cares beyond that, the final four ended up being Phil Ivey vs. Jesus Ferguson and Huck Seed vs. Andy Bloch. Coverage can be seen here.

I think it would be a great idea to have a 20 year World Series anniversary heads-up match between Orel and Mr. Dave Stewart. The lasers coming from Stewart's glare have killed lesser men, so maybe it's not a good idea after all. For Orel, it's back to ESPN, where he can play poker with John Kruk (who I hear is a big fan of chips).