Jack Clark, who played three seasons for the Cardinals in the 1980s and was the MVP of the World Series squad in 1987, appeared on a St. Louis radio station yesterday and accused the current team of being “quitters” who “have poopy in their pants.”
Here are some quotes from the four-time All-Star first baseman nicknamed “Jack the Ripper”:
I’m really tired of watching the effort, that’s for sure. I’m not seeing a lack of [effort] I’m seeing a pathetic effort. These Cards fans deserve much better. That’s just awful. They won’t admit it, that they’re quitters. If you can’t put a better effort out there on the field, take ’em all out, back up the truck, ship ’em all out and get somebody in here that wants to play baseball. We’ve got one team here [San Diego] going for the title and we’ve got our team going for the toilet. They’ve got poopy in their pants.
For the sake of comedy I’m hesitant to be too critical of any grown man who goes on the radio and utters the phrase “they’ve got poopy in their pants” but the idea that teams have “quit” simply because they’re struggling and underachieving seems a little much. And if you’re going to accuse players of quitting on the team and putting forth “a pathetic effort” shouldn’t you at least have the courage to actually name names?
Which players have quit? Which players have put forth the pathetic effort? Lumping the entire team together means nothing, because clearly some players haven’t quit on anything. Albert Pujols hit .379 with 11 homers and a 1.230 OPS in August, but the Cardinals had an 11-15 record for the month. He’s hit .303/.380/.615 with 18 homers in the second half overall, but the Cardinals are 28-29 since the All-Star break. Obviously he didn’t quit or put forth a pathetic effort, yet he can’t single-handedly stop the team from struggling.
Matt Holliday has hit .324/.396/.545 in the second half. Guys like Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker have posted better post-break numbers than their career marks. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook all have an ERA under 3.50 in the second half. Have those guys quit? Are those guys to blame for the second-half struggles and a disappointing season? Seems to me that would be a pretty tough argument to make, so why lump them in as “quitters”?
It’s also worth noting that Clark made headlines earlier this year for opining that Mark McGwire should be banned from baseball for steroid usage, saying: “He’s a sad excuse for a player. Just seeing him in uniform makes me throw up.” Clark also accused Tony La Russa of looking the other way when he was managing McGwire in Oakland and St. Louis.
UPDATE: La Russa fires back.