Thoughts I Had While Rereading 192 Haikus I Wrote About The Cardinals’ 2016 Season

I’ve been writing haiku summaries of Cardinals games since 2006, on and off – honestly, more off than on. This is the first season where I’ve written a haiku about every single game, including Spring Training – that’s 192 haikus!  I’ve compiled them in a single page: The 2016 Cardinals Season – Every Game in Haiku!

Rereading these haikus, I think they function as a Cliff’s Notes to the season. Some of them are a bit obscure and I don’t remember their context, but they tell me the gist of what went wrong and right this year.

It really hurts to miss the playoffs after making it the past six years, especially when we only missed by one game. Rereading these haikus, I see so many games we lost by a run, or a blown save, or a blown start, or an error, or failure to hit with runners in scoring position. Sad to think if we had won just one more game we would have been in playoff game with the Giants last night.  But I doubt this team would have gone deep into October.


  • Aledmys Diaz – He was certainly a surprise with his early season heroics and off-the-charts hitting. His injury really dampened our playoffs chances. But we will never forget his emotional first ever grand slam, coming just after he lost his childhood best friend Jose Fernandez. That was baseball magic!

9/27/16 – Cards 12, Reds 5

Diaz says he will
play hard to honor Jose,
promptly hits grand slam!


  • Bullpen
    • Seung Hwan Oh – He really rose to the occasion, taking over from Rosenthal as closer and was mostly lights out.  Plus he and his translator Eugene are a fun pair, especially when dressed as Mario and Luigi during rookie hazing.
    • Matt Bowman, Miguel Socolovich, Zach Duke – These guys were pretty solid.


10/1/16 – Cards 4, Pirates 3

Gyorko’s jack wins it!
Holliday and bullpen show
great tenacity.


  • Starting Pitching
    • Carlos Martinez – We owe this guy so much. Looking back at the haikus, I see so many great performances from him where we either didn’t hit or the bullpen blew a lead. I love his passion for the game and his filthy stuff.

      6/11/16 – Cards 5, Pirates 1

      C Mart dazzles, throws
      near-complete game. Holliday
      hits a three-run jack.

    • Alex Reyes – He has amazing stuff and pitched so well in pressure situations toward the end of the season.

      9/18/16 – Cards 3, Giants 0

      A stellar Reyes
      unspools seven shutout frames,
      ensures series split.

    • Luke Weaver – While he had problems, he shows so much promise that I expect him to be a big contributor next year, either as a starter or reliever.
  • Home Runs – I can’t count how many times the words “homer” or “jack” appear in these haikus, because the Cardinals hit so many homers this year. They hit 225 home runs, setting a team record and notching the second most homers in the league after Baltimore. It was so much fun to watch!

    4/8/16 – Cards 7, Braves 4

    First win of the year
    comes with MLB record:
    Three pinch hit homers

  • Jedd Gyorko – I loved watching this guy! He reminds me of a 70s player who just does his thing without ego or fanfare. He hit so many key home runs, leading the team with 30 jacks.

    7/20/16 – Cards 3, Padres 2

    Gyorko homers twice,
    dominates his old team. Cards
    take double header!

  • Randall Grichuk – He hit 24 homers. He did struggle early in the year and was sent to the minors, but he bounced back well and was a key contributor toward the end of the season.

    8/13/16 – Cards 8, Cubs 4

    Didn’t make it to
    Denny’s, but Grichuk still got
    a birthday grand slam!

  • Stephen Piscotty – Piscotty was a lot of fun to watch, hitting 22 homers, with 85 RBIs.
  • Yadier Molina – He may be part of our “aging core” but he is still a leader and a terrific player, barely resting at all this season and a true offensive weapon especially after being moved up in the lineup.

    6/9/16 – Cards 3, Reds 2

    Waino settles down
    after rocky first; Yadi’s
    three hits power win.

  • Matt Carpenter – Our lone all-star sparked many rallies and hit 21 homers, but he was hampered by injury.

    5/31/16 – Cardinals 10, Brewers 3

    Leake cruises. Carp gets
    four hits for second straight day.
    Fatherhood brought pep!


  • Bullpen
    • Trevor Rosenthal – Rosey crashed and burned as our closer and Matheny stuck with him a bit too long. Rosey did look good in non-save situations toward the end of the season. I hope he can bounce back in some capacity.

      6/3/16 – Giants 5, Cards 1

      Tight game implodes in
      ninth when Rosey walks three in
      a row and all score.

    • Broxton, Williams, Siegrist, Maness, Tuivalala, Kiekhefer – These guys were disappointing more often than not and kept me continually stressed out.

      7/15/16 – Marlins 7, Cards 6

      Six runs (four homers!)
      ought to be enough but Cards’
      bullpen was a sieve.

  • Starting Pitching
    • Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha were totally erratic. Wacha could not come back with any effectiveness after his injury.

      5/19/16 – Cards 13, Rockies 7

      Thirteen-run blitzkrieg
      led by Carp doesn’t hide fact:
      Wacha is struggling.

      7/30/16 – Marlins 11, Cards 0

      Mercy rule needed.
      Fish get four off Jaime in
      the first, keep swimming.


    • Mike Leake was totally lackluster.

      6/25/16 – Mariners 5, Cards 4

      Leake gave up five quick
      runs, must have felt as blue as
      his throwback jersey.

    • Often our starters would give up first inning runs. Many times they staked the opposing team to three or four runs early in the game and our offense couldn’t make it up.

      5/24/16 – Cubs 12, Cards 3

      Wacha gives up six
      runs in the first. Our starters
      don’t give us a chance.

  • Injuries – We sustained key injuries to Diaz, Holliday, Lyons, Wong, Peralta, Wacha, Carpenter, Rosenthal. We didn’t have Lance Lynn due to Tommy John surgery. Mike Leake missed games due to shingles!


7/8/16 – Brewers 4, Cards 3

Villar’s walk-off hit
wins it; Wacha, Holliday,
Rosey exit hurt.


  • Defense – the team made 107 errors – 6th worst in the league. It was the sloppiest Cardinals baseball I’ve seen in my life.


6/30/16 – Royals 4, Cards 2

Three errors and hot
Morales doom Cards as Royals
lock up series win.

9/16/16 – Giants 8, Cards 2

Uhh… Giving up six
unearned runs is no way to
earn a wild card slot.

  • Management – I know I have been spoiled as a Cardinals fan, getting to see Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa manage for so many years, but I just don’t feel Mike Matheny has the right level of aggressiveness. He left pitchers to hang themselves too many times. He changed the lineup so much that the team never got comfortable working together. His devotion to the veterans and the short leash he held on younger players like Grichuk and Wong was frustrating. And there is just no excuse to have kept playing Moss every day when he was in a historic slump and we were battling for a wild card spot. That was simply maddening!


9/8/16 – Brewers 12, Cards 5

Matheny froze while
Jaime and Mayers floundered.
Let the bullpen work!

  • Jhonny Peralta – He had a disappointing season once he came back from his injury, but Matheny kept him in the lineup faithfully. He ended the season with only 29 RBIs in 289 at bats.

The jury is still out…

  • Brandon Moss – He hit 28 homers, yet had a historic slump in the final two months of the season that really damaged our playoff hopes. His average over the last 30 games was .089! He broke out of the slump a bit in the final week, but I just don’t know what to expect. I feel Matheny did him (and us) no favors by keeping him in the lineup every day.


6/8/16 – Cards 12, Reds 7

With our sad pitching,
Moss knows he may need to hit
two homers per game.

  • Jeremy Hazelbaker – He started the year on a hot streak. I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t do so well because his last name takes up so many haiku syllables 😉  But then he didn’t do much after the all-star break – of course, he didn’t get many chances either, as he seemed to fall out of favor.


3/17/16 – Tigers 5, Cards 4

Hazelbaker’s big
homer isn’t enough. His
name fills haiku space.


  • Adam Wainwright – He definitely wasn’t his usual self but he rose to the occasion on most of the times we really needed him. His performance was definitely vexing.

4/10/16 – Cards 12, Braves 7

Five-run ninth caps sweep
of Braves. Cards found their bats. Hope
Wainwright finds himself.

And so we have a team that ended the season with a record of 86-76, finally achieved the mark of being ten games over .500 on the last day of the season, and was eliminated from the playoffs on the last day of the season. I can look back at the haikus and see so many blown opportunities that I would never blame the Dodgers’ failure to take one game from the Giants in their final series as the reason we didn’t make the playoffs. Our fate should always be in our own hands.

It was an often frustrating season but I feel lucky we have a team that did give us many thrills and kept things exciting all the way through September. They displayed a lot of fire in the final weeks and I hope that will carry over into next season.


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