Cardinals manager Oli Marmol wanted to cut loose and do some serious venting after a demoralizing 6-4 loss to the Angels. There’s nothing wrong with that, and perhaps it was a form of therapy to help him cope with the freakish start to a crazy, spiraling season.

In Wednesday’s postgame media session, Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson started to ask Marmol about the loud booing thundering down from the stands as the Cardinals left the field and headed into the shelter of the clubhouse. The increasingly high frustration level of a loyal fan base was converted into anger and aired out at Busch Stadium.

Marmol went into a harangue, making an emotional, edgy speech that he obviously had been waiting to deliver. So Marmol pounced on it after BenFred posed the perfectly legitimate question.

“You think they (the fans) are more frustrated than us? No, I can tell you right now they’re not,” Marmol said. “That clubhouse is extremely frustrated. Understand something. This is year 17 (for me) with the Cardinals. I’ve had the privilege of doing this for 17 years for one organization. And whether you are in the minor leagues as a coach in the lowest level, or if you are a coach at the big league level, or you are managing in my seat, you wake up every single day with one thing in mind, and it’s how to improve the organization.

“So, to sit here and think other people are more frustrated than the people in this clubhouse, is insane. Absolutely insane. I’ll tell you that. Every coach in that clubhouse loses sleep over how to improve what’s going on at the moment. That’s the only thing that crosses your mind every minute of the day. That’s why this organization has been good for a long time. It’s because everyone wakes up with the same thing in mind.

“We want to deliver for the city. That’s what you wake up for every day. Trust me, we don’t mind the accountability. That’s also why we wake up every day. Because it drives us, knowing that if we do well, things go well, and if we don’t, people are pissed. That drives me. It drives everybody in that clubhouse. If you think people are more frustrated than within these walls, you’re crazy.”

My reaction:

1. No one ever said other people – those on the outside – are more frustrated than the Cardinals, or care more than the Cardinals. So Oli’s premise was inaccurate. In the words of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa: “if you can’t take the heat, find something else to do for a living.”

2. This a clear sign that Marmol is cracking under the stress of chronic losing, poorly played baseball, and a team that hasn’t summoned a strong counterattack in response to the early failure. When a team fails to respond, this is never a good thing for a manager.

3. It’s best for a 10-21 manager to be careful when he chooses to brings the fans into this. The people have been doing their part by packing the ballpark. They’ve produced the No. 2 MLB home attendance rankings for much longer than the 17 years Marmol has been with the organization.

In fairness, Marmol didn’t criticize the fans directly. But he turned Fredrickson’s question around to make it more about his team than the fans. He used it to launch a spirited defense of his team, his coaches and himself. But what Marmol said can be taken the wrong way, and that would only lead to more fan unrest. But if fans turn on Marmol, it won’t be because of his curt oratories. It will be because of a massive pile of losses, fundamental lapses, and the abominable baseball.

4. All of this stuff about hard work, losing sleep, waking up every morning and thinking how to improve the team … that sounds nice but it’s irrelevant. This is a win/lose competition. A win/lose industry. You win or you fail, period. By pushing the notion that the Cardinals care and are working hard and are more frustrated than their fans and want to improve – then why are they 10-21? Why are they off to the fifth-worst start through 31 games in franchise history? Why isn’t this superhuman effort resulting in wins?

5. The Cardinals players are highly paid, the team draws at least 3 million fans to Busch Stadium each season and play for one of the most illustrious franchises in baseball history. So why wouldn’t they work hard, care about representing the city and strive to get better? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be doing? Isn’t that the minimal obligation? Sorry, but you don’t receive points for giving a damn about repping the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s the job.

6. Perhaps the players had a chance to see or hear about Wednesday night’s fiery sermon and will respond to how aggressively he defended them. Perhaps that will stir the blood, or something like that. And if it doesn’t inspire his players, then what?

7. Marmol’s frustration is understandable. But he shouldn’t worry about winning the press conference. There are no standings kept on that. Press conference “wins” don’t count and they’re worthless. Just focus everything on winning ballgames, the only thing that matters right now. That will work out much better for you and the team. Stacking victories to save your season is the only meaningful cure.

8. Perhaps Marmol can give president of baseball operations John Mozeliak a stern lecture on the need for starting pitching … all pitching, for that matter.

9. If the Marmol and coaches would just clean up this team’s raggedy defense, air-headed baserunning, the manager wouldn’t have as much to defend.

10. I’d much rather see Marmol get fired up to the max about improving his team’s fundamentals than putting on a postgame show for the media. That responsibility belongs to the manager and I’d like to think that a longtime “Cardinal Way” devotee like Oli is embarrassed by this.

Thanks for reading …


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Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.