McNeal: Mickey Mouse ears, really? Cards have more important things to ponder
McNeal: There's more (like Kershaw's luck kicking in) for Cardinals to worry about than Mickey Mouse ears
By STAN McNEALFS Midwest
ST. LOUIS -- Before checking on three things to watch in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, let's weigh in on one thing that hopefully we won't see.
That would be making too big a deal of the antics of Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and any
Dodgers who choose to express themselves in ways that rankle the purists.
If they want to flip their bat, let them. The Dodgers did not invent the bat flip.
If Gonzalez wants to make pretend Mickey Mouse ears, so what? That's not all that different from all the hand gestures we see from so many other teams, including the Cardinals. As Adrian Gonzalez said, it is Mickey Mouse land.
Heck, Gonzalez even waited until he was almost in front of his dugout before he showed his silliness. Why would the Cardinals even be paying attention at that point? If Gonzalez wanted to show up the Cardinals, he would have done his Mickey Mouse thing as he rounded the bases or crossed the plate.
From what I observed in the Cardinals' clubhouse, the players were not nearly as upset as they were made out to be. They were asked questions and answered them rather matter-of-factly. Their answers were reported and, like anything that strays from the routine these days, they were blown out of proportion.
Let's not allow these harmless, if childish, shenanigans to overshadow the actual game. What happens on the field isn't that boring, is it?
Now, what to watch:
CLAYTON KERSHAW'S LUCK
You would think that beating the game's top starter four straight times would work to the Cardinals' advantage. Don't be so sure. Kershaw has pitched very well in his last two outings against St. Louis, and he gave up just four runs over seven innings in his first start this season.
The Dodgers believe he's due for a change of luck, or a little support from his offense. The Cardinals will say that facing him for the second time in a week will not hurt their chances.
Don Mattingly said on an off-day conference call that he is considering flopping Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig in the batting order. He should. That would give LA the lefty-hitting Gonzalez fourth, the right-handed Puig fifth and the lefty Ethier sixth.
Mattingly said he has had Ethier following Gonzalez instead of going lefty, righty, lefty to help out Gonzalez, his three-hole hitter.
"It seems like they have a little bit more fear right now of Andre with their righties than they do of Yasiel," Mattingly said. "Since we've put Andre back there, we've seen Wainwright pitch to him. Andre has pretty good numbers off him (9 for 30, two homers). But there is a way to do it, still protecting Adrian. We're talking about something a little bit different."
If Mattingly goes with a lefty, righty, lefty setup in the middle, Mike Matheny becomes more challenged in how he uses his lefty relievers, Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist.
Matheny could keep it simple and have dynamite lefty Kevin Siegrist face all three hitters in the middle of the LA lineup. Whatever he decides, such a lineup switch by Mattingly would give the Cardinals something more to think about.
THE CHANGING WEATHER
A temperature of 55 with brisk wind is expected for the 7:37 p.m. first pitch and is expected to drop to sub-50 by 10 p.m. This colder weather will not help Hanley Ramirez and his broken rib. Mattingly said that Ramirez was "OK" Wednesday and a day off will help, but he could find staying loose more difficult in St. Louis.
Mattingly also pointed out that the nighttime start Friday and, if necessary, on Saturday should benefit the hitters from both teams.
"The last one (that Game 6 starters Kershaw and Michael Wacha pitched) was really a tough visual game," Mattingly said. "The shadows were there from the very beginning. This one should be no shadows."
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.