OK, the Cardinals first game of 2024 has been uploaded into history. Thursday’s 7-1 vanquishment by the Dodgers was predictable, simply because they’re superior to the Cardinals in just about every way we can think of including payroll size.

The Dodgers dominated Miles Mikolas and the Midwestern Farmers with such ease, they actually purchased the the Cardinals after the game and will turn the St. Louis franchise into a Triple A affiliate.

This happened: the Cardinals lost to a much stronger opponent who will likely administer many similar beatdowns on the heads of many overmatched opponents while curb-stomping their way to 107 victories or so. The Dodgers season will look like a baseball version of Peaky Blinders.

This did not happen: the Cardinals showed that they are a failed conglomeration, their 2024 season is a replay of 2023, and all hope is lost.

The performance artistry on “X” was in sharp early-season form. I learned a lot by scanning the hot takes. One gent told me fans knew the season was over before it started. These fans declared it over last offseason. I can do better than that. Back in 2017 I pronounced the 2024 Cardinals season to be OVER because I could see this disaster in advance and called it way ahead of everyone else. That’s why I have ‘X’ cred, mang.

In no particular order, here’s the intel I absorbed on Thursday:

1. The season is over.

2. The Cardinals should have signed Jordan Montgomery!

3. The Cardinals should have signed Jordan Montgomery, damn cheapskates.

4. The Cardinals – waah! – should have signed Jordan Montgomery.

5. The Cardinals have been eliminated from postseason contention.

Masterpiece Theater: My Favorite Headlines Related To The Opening Day Loss.

I’m Not Making These Up:

– Oli Marmol’s Extension Already Looks Like An Albatross around John Mozeliak’s neck (FanSided.)

Self-styled ‘Midwest Farmer’ Mikes Mikolas is MLB Twitter’s Opening Day Punching Bag (FanSided.)

Oli Marmol Slams Door Shut On Matt Carpenter In Cardinals lineup (FanSided.)

Cardinals Opening Day Roster Needs A Time Machine And Depressed Fans Know It. (FanSided.)

How Sonny Gray makes Cardinals Jordan Montgomery choice even worse (FanSided.)

There was something something at Viva El Birdos about the Cardinals blowing a golden opportunity to sign Jordan Montgomery.

I don’t know when I’ll reach the end of the line, but I can tell you this: I will be surrounded by Mrs. Bernie and other loved ones, and my last words on earth will be “I have one more thing to say … (gasping) … Cardinals … (gasping) … should have signed …. (gasping) … Ol’ Monty.” 

I expected overreaction, I wanted overreaction, and I absolutely craved overreaction. Well done, people. FanSided comes through with a huge win on opening day — otherwise known as the end of the world. Other bloggers must catch up. Let’s effing go! Most of all, I want to see more Jordan Montgomery columns.

With 161 games to play, we will be treated to a massive volume of headline gold.

My only disappointment so far? I didn’t see any “Cardinals Made A Huge Mistake By Trading Tyler O’Neill” screaming-meanie pieces after Muscles hit a long home run in his first game with the Red Sox. C’mon, let’s get to work on this.


All of this …

After just one game …

But surely the panic is justified. The Cardinals have only 99.3 percent of their 2024 schedule remaining, but to hell with that gutless, soft-media observation that gives this team an excuse.

It’s already late in the campaign. Where’s the urgency?

I didn’t write any headlines Thursday night to get a reaction. But if I had to come up with a few opening paragraphs in a column to fit these times, it would have gone something like this:

On an Opening Day that looked like the End of Days Days for Cardinals baseball and the terrifying termination of a faded St. Louis institution, the team disgraced the franchise with a feckless no-show in Los Angeles. It wasn’t a game. It was a surrender. It was Lee at Appomattox. As Lee might have said in his own words, the Cardinals were “compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.” 

There was the added humiliation of the Dodgers putting Walter White (“Breaking Bad”) on the video board to scream the scared Redbirds into submission. Yeah, I know that actor Bryan Cranston played Walter White on the seminal TV series, but I needed a way to tie in “Breaking Bad” as a phrase that summed up the opening hours of the season. 

Yes we could rationalize this worst of all days by pointing out that the Cubs lost in extra innings at Texas. The Reds and Pirates won. Clearly the Cardinals and Cubs are done for 2024. But never mind the Cubs. We have a crisis here in St. Louis.

The old St. Louis Browns were a better group of hardballers than these St. Louis Cardinals. It is time to declare: The 2024 Cardinals could be the worst single-season team in St. Louis major-league baseball history.

Accordingly, it is time to fire John Mozeliak, fire manager Oli Marmol, fire the pitching coaches and batting coaches and all of the coaches. It is time to fire GM Michael Girsch and everyone who knows him. It is time to bring in Yadier Molina to run everything … well, if you can find him. Where is he, anyway?

It’s time to designate Matt Carpenter and Brandon Crawford for assignment because this leadership initiative is an obvious failure. Where was their leadership at Dodger Stadium on Thursday? It is time to admit the mistake. Offload them. It’s time.

It is way past time to trade Paul Goldschmidt, which should have been done in the middle of his 2022 MVP season. It is time to trade Nolan Arenado before he is completely incapacitated by a decrepit spine that’s being held together by adhesive tape, dugout bubble gum and around the clock treatment by the team trainers.

It is time to start a complete tear-down rebuilding project. No limits, no fear, no hesitancy, no sanity. It’s time to think big and then think bigger. It is time to see what you can get for Jordan Walker and Nolan Gorman. It is time to trade Sonny Gray before it’s too late. It’s already time to trade Victor Scott II while his trade value is at an all-time high.

The Cardinals must go into full tanking mode. If this team can’t win, then it is time to reset the course and go with a plan that includes five seasons (at least) of unspeakably horrid losing. It is time to start losing 100+ games per season.

Even though I strongly believe in blowing up the team and taking a wrecking ball to the entire enterprise, it is time to make one exception: it is time to make a trade with Arizona to bring Jordan Montgomery back home to St. Louis where he belongs. It is time to give him the ball, and build the Cardinals’ long-term future around him. Monty is the young Steve Carlton, the next Harry Brecheen, the long-awaited successor to John Tudor.

It is time for Bill DeWitt Jr. to sell the team because he has destroyed a once-proud franchise over his 28-plus seasons as owner. The Cardinals ruled the baseball world before DeWitt came here to ruin them. He’s been in control of the franchise for nearly three decades now and we’re still waiting for him to give us a winner. It breaks my heart to know that St. Louis children are crying and looking up to their moms and dads and asking, “Why did Mr. DeWitt kill baseball?” 

It is time for fans to boycott the Cardinals. Let it be known that anyone who buys a ticket to support this sorry, no-account minor-league team masquerading as a major-league entity to enrich DeWitt is a traitor. It is time to charge these fans with treason.”

Naw. I wouldn’t have written that.

But before writing this, I may have bumped my head when slipping to catch one of our freaked-out cats that had escaped the kind and generous animal shelter known as our home. The cat didn’t want to leave us. He was just eyeing an actual Cardinal bird, got too excited, and made an unsuccessful dash for it when I opened the front door. Going cuckoo and attacking a Cardinal? My cat apparently wants to be a blogger.

If the Cardinals keep losing, I’ll put on the gear and go. I ripped the 71-91 team for six straight months last season …. and did it again in the season reviews … and I’m not shy about dishing criticism. But I’d really like to watch at least a few weeks of baseball before going completely bananas, running amok in the streets, disturbing citizens in my frantic search for Jordan Montgomery – and finally getting hauled away in the back of the van. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to holler about, but it’s a long season and there’s no reason to peak after just nine innings on opening day.

I want to give this team a chance to show us who they really are — and as the answers come in, I’ll have plenty of columns to write.

Let’s talk baseball, shall we?

OLD GOLDY BUT GOODY: Remember all of the intense pearl clutching over Paul Goldschmidt’s quiet spring training? In exhibition games he had only six hits in 47 at-bats (.128) with 20 strikeouts. The predictable media narrative kicked in: Goldy is old! Be very concerned! It’s a miracle but Goldschmidt had a positive opening day at Dodger Stadium, putting up three hits including his 341st career major-league home run and 132nd as a Cardinal.

In his first opening day for St. Louis, Goldy went 0 for 3 with a walk and three strikeouts in 2019. But since then Goldschmidt has gone 10 for 17 on opening day with six walks, three doubles, a homer, three RBIs eight runs scored, and only two strikeouts.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Rookie center fielder Victor Scott II made his major-league debut and bagged the first stolen base of his career in the fifth inning. Scott got into position to steal by sprinting to first base on a ground ball to short, putting pressure on Mookie Betts to hurry on the throw. The throw skipped and Betts was charged with an error. Technically it was an error but Betts would have been fine in trying to throw out a slower runner. Scott’s ability to race to first base on ground balls to force defensive mistakes is a key part of his offense. I’m gonna call those type of plays “Vic Hits” even if they go in the book as an error.

KISMET? VICTOR SCOTT & VINCE COLEMAN: OK, I double checked this just to make sure my eyes were working properly. But when Cardinals Hall of Famer Vince Coleman made his major-league debut in 1985, the Cardinals lost 7-1 to the Mets in New York. Coleman swiped two bases. In Scott’s first big-league game, the Cardinals lost by an identical 7-1 score and Scott had a stolen base. Baseball can be pretty amazing at times. How do we explain these things?

MIKOLAS, GOLDSCHMIDT AND A POLITE REMINDER: Starting pitcher Miles Mikolas looked terrific in spring-training games with a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings. Bounce-back season! That’s absolutely possible for Mikolas but we might want to wait and see how he does from here. On opening day the Dodgers bombed Mikolas for seven hits, two homers and five earned runs in his 4 and ⅓ innings. Nine of 20 hitters reached base against him. Mikolas did strike out five. But the righthander got only 13 outs on Thursday and has a 10.38 ERA after his first regular-season assignment.

Mikolas started last season’s opening game, a 10-9 win over Toronto at Busch Stadium. But the Blue Jays smacked Mikolas around and knocked him out of the game after he worked only 3 and ⅓ innings. Putting his last two season-opening starts together, Mikolas was pelted for 17 hits and 10 earned runs in 7 and ⅔ innings and recorded only 23 outs in the two starts.

The Dodgers barreled up 15.4 percent of the Mikolas pitches they connected on (way too high) and had a 38.5 percent hard-hit rate. Mikolas did limit Los Angeles to an average exit velocity of 86.7 mph. But his Game Score (32) was awful. A 50 Game Score is considered average.

Let’s see … Goldy had a bad spring training and a fantastic season opener. Mikolas had an impressive spring training and a terrible season opener. Just a friendly reminder: spring-training stats don’t really matter.

THE EARLY-INNINGS TREND: Last season St. Louis starting pitchers were flogged for 290 runs during the first three innings of work in a game. That was a 5.25 starter ERA for the first three innings which ranked 27th. Mikolas gave up five runs in his first three innings of the new season (15.00 ERA), so last year’s trend continued … at least for the first game in 2024.

DEADWOOD: In Thursday’s drubbing, Goldschmidt’s teammates were 0 for 27 with five strikeouts. They also went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position and 0 for 8 with men on. Excluding the error made by Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts, Goldy’s teammates reached base only one time in 28 plate appearances – a fourth inning walk by Willson Contreras. Leadoff man Brendan Donovan didn’t get on base in front of Goldy, the No. 2 hitter. And Donovan had a chance to drive in Scott from second base by delivering a two-out hit but popped up.

ONE MINOR POSITIVE: Dodgers starter Tyler Glasnow struck out only five of the 22 Cardinals that he faced. That’s a strikeout rate of 22.5 percent. That doesn’t sound like much but last season Glasnow had a strikeout rate of 33.4 percent. So at least the Cardinals were able to put the ball in play. But that didn’t mean much. The Cardinals barreled only one pitch, drew just one walk, and had a modest hard-hit rate of 31% against Glasnow. He finished with an outstanding 71 Game Score.

INTERESTING FACTOID: The six-run margin of defeat in Thursday’s 7-1 loss was the worst by a Cardinals team on opening day since losing 8-0 at Coors Field on April 2, 2001. That game was more notable for another reason: a rookie named Albert Pujols made his major-league debut on that Monday afternoon and presented the first hit of his epic career, a seventh-inning single off Rockies starter Mike Hampton. Pujols would end up with 3,384 hits, 703 home runs and 2,218 RBIs in 22 MLB seasons. The 2001 Cardinals recovered to finish 93-69 and made the playoffs as a wild-card entry, falling to Arizona in the division-series round.

THE SIX-INNING WATCH: As we mentioned, Mikolas supplied only 4 and ⅓ innings Thursday. Last season, when the Cardinals got six innings or more from their starting pitcher, they went 10 games over .500. When the Redbirds failed to get six IP from the starter they were 30 games under .500.

SECOND-GUESS: I didn’t have a fit over it, but I disagreed with Marmol’s decision to bring the infield in early in Thursday’s game. With one out in the first and Mookie Betts on third base, Marmol pulled his infielders in with the hope of getting a ground ball to prevent Bettes from scoring. It would have worked if Freddie Freeman hit the ball hard on the ground, but that wasn’t the case. Freeman poked a soft bouncer that hopped beyond the reach of second baseman Nolan Gorman. Freeman singled, Betts scored and Freeman later came around on sac fly to give the Dodgers a quick 2-0 lead. I definitely understand what Marmol was trying to do; it was hardly crazy. But in that situation I would have preferred conceding the run, getting the second out with no one on base instead of risking additional trouble. The Cardinals could have been down 1-0 compared to 2-0. Not that it mattered in this lopsided 7-1 loss.

CARDS BULLPEN: Andre Pallante, Riley O’Brien and Matthew Liberatore combined for 3 and ⅔ innings of relief and give up two earned runs for a 4.91 ERA. The ERA is nothing to smile out, but each pitcher had some fine moments. The trio struck out five of 16 batters (31.2%) and induced six ground balls. The one real negative was O’Brien’s two walks in his one inning of work, but I’d cut him some slack on that. New season St. Louis debut, all jacked up, etc. A problem for St. Louis pitching in this game was the Dodgers’ .400 average on batted balls in play. They had a .455 BIP against Mikolas and a .333 BIP vs. the relievers. There was some bad luck involved here, but that’s baseball.

TYLER O’NEILL: As mentioned earlier, the former Cardinal outfielder homered in his first game for Boston. His solo shot in the eighth provided an insurance run to cap a 6-4 win at Seattle. The blow made history, as O’Neill became the MLB player to homer in five consecutive opening days.

“A bunch of guys in the dugout, they were giving me big-time props when I came in,” O’Neill told reporters after the game. “I was pretty fired up myself going around first base. It was such a whirlwind, honestly.”

O’Neill had a rooting section in Seattle, with friends and family visiting from his Canadian hometown of Burnaby, British Columbia. That isn’t far from Seattle.

NEXT UP: We’ll see if lefty Zack Thompson can fend off the Dodgers in his Friday night task at Chavez Ravine. This will be Thompson’s 11th career start for the Cardinals. He had a 5.01 ERA in his first 10 starts but did a solid job late last season. Thompson pitched well in spring training (2.81 ERA) but can he build on that? The young RH pitcher Bobby Miller, 24, goes for the Dodgers. He made his big-league debut last season and posted a 3.76 ERA in 124 and ⅓ innings. Miller was tough on LH batters, holding them to a .203 average and .620 OPS.


Columnist Bill Plaschke: “How interesting that the Cardinals’ starter Thursday was Miles Mikolas, who earlier this spring ripped the Dodgers for trying to buy a championship.

” ‘We’re not exactly a low payroll team, but you got the Dodgers playing checkbook baseball,” Mikolas told reporters recently. “We’re going to be the hardest working group of Midwestern farmers we can be. … It would be great to stick it to the Dodgers.’

“At least on this day, the “checkbook baseball” did the sticking, as a trio with a combined contract total of around $1.2 billion knocked out the ‘farmer’ in the fifth inning. Mikolas, incidentally, will make $16 million this year on a team that will rank in the top 10 in payroll, so the Dodgers aren’t the only bunch with a checkbook.”

NINETEENTH NERVOUS BREAKDOWN: There are six contests to go on the opening seven-game road trip to Southern California. Three more in Los Angeles, then three at San Diego. Let’s do the math: seven games into the new season, the Cardinals will be 0-11.

Enough of my nonsense for one day.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.