All I Want For Christmas Is You, Giancarlo Stanton — As A Cardinal

(With apologies/thanks to Mariah Carey and to my niece Samantha, who played this song over and over in my car on Saturday)

Dear Giancarlo,
My goodness, I’ve been reading a lot about you lately … and I’ll just say that I’d like to dedicate this song to you as you make decisions about your future. And, if this photo is any indication, red is definitely your color. I hope to see you in St. Louis on April 5 — I’ll be wearing my soon-to-be-purchased (fingers crossed …) Cardinals Stanton jersey.

Happy holidays!

Love,
Chris

All I Want For Christmas Is You, Giancarlo Stanton — As A Cardinal

I don’t want a lot for Christmas.
There is just one thing I need: an impact bat for my team.
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree.
I just want you for my team’s own
More than you could ever know.
Make my wish come true!
All I want for Christmas is you — as a Cardinal.

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Cardinal* Love Letter: Giancarlo Stanton

Dear Giancarlo,

Happy Thanksgiving! I could be really cheesy and say something about how thankful I’d be if you’d become a Cardinal, but I won’t. I mean, I would be very grateful if everything works out — but I’m not going to be silly about it.

Yet.

Probably.

Anyway, congratulations on being the National League Most Valuable Player as well! And on your tremendous 2017 season. I actually watched your games quite a bit in the second half of the season, especially toward the end of September, and you guys were fun to watch at times — and the MVP award was well deserved.

Yes, my interest in the Cardinals definitely waned even further in 2017 — especially as September went along. Which is why one of the rare things I’ve written here this year was about being on board with the Cardinals trading for you, all the way back on Oct. 6. Everything I wrote nearly seven weeks ago is all still true. And, since the World Series ended and the hype machine about you being traded ramped up even more, you’ve been the most popular topic of baseball conversations I’ve had. As in, you’ve mostly been the only topic among my baseball pals at work — who are a Giants fan and two White Sox fans. And a non-baseball fan who sits by the Giants fan and now knows who you are too.

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Giancarlo Stanton To The Cardinals? Yes, Please

Ah, October baseball! The exhilaration, the stress, the joy, the agony — and now, for two straight postseasons, watching 10 other teams continue to play throughout this month while the Cardinals are done. It was a week ago yesterday that the 2017 Cards season essentially ended, since they were eliminated from postseason contention, and it marked another step back in the Mike Matheny era.

It’s very good that John Mozeliak is not content with this finish, which he spoke about on Tuesday during a season-ending press conference: “Look, we do not find this acceptable … We certainly understand the expectations of our city, of our region, of what they expect of this organization. All of us know there’s pressure from that. Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to get ourselves back.”

And it was even better to hear Mo say this: “For us, we have a talented team, but when you look at our club, no one stood out as an All-Star, that threat. I think for all of us up here, it’s trying to find what that might look like.”

I know what I want that All-Star, that threat to look like: Giancarlo Stanton.

Yep, I know the immediate objections. The contract. The injury history. The tremendous cost it would take to acquire him in a trade — there’s a proposed trade at Viva El Birdos earlier this week to acquire Giancarlo that made sense, though it would involve giving up a lot — and thus the prospects the Cards would lose. The risk of that …

Totally worth it.

Obviously Giancarlo Stanton would be that impact bat Mo mentioned. You are probably as familiar as I am with what Giancarlo did this season, leading the majors in home runs with 59 and RBI with 132 in compiling an MVP-caliber season. I am likely a bit more familiar with how he did over the final week of the regular season, because I had zero interest in watching the Cardinals play the Cubs — or, really, zero interest in watching the Cubs clinch at Busch Stadium — and then, since they were out of contention, zero interest in watching the Cards play the Brewers so I instead watched every Marlins game. I saw Giancarlo struggle at Coors Field, going 1 for 12 with a double and four strikeouts. And I absolutely enjoyed seeing him blast two home runs last Thursday night in Miami, of course, but also was pleasantly surprised to see him drive in runs in each of those four games against the Braves. He had a more complete season than you might expect, plus can make some entertaining catches in right field too.

The production he would bring is the most important factor in obtaining him, of course — which is what Mo is looking for. But there’s something else Giancarlo would bring to the Cardinals, something mentioned by David Wilhelm of the Belleville News-Democrat: “He would create more excitement at Busch Stadium than the fans have seen in years.”

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How Much Worse Can Things Get?

Remember May 14? It wasn’t all that long ago, about three and a half weeks, and it was Mother’s Day. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 5-0, moved to 21-15 on the season and maintained their one-game first-place lead in the National League Central.

Such a happier baseball time. Because, to be trite, it’s been all downhill from there.

Only five wins in the 22 games since, with the last being on June 1. From six games over .500 to now six games under. Seven straight losses now, as we are all well aware — a three-game sweep by the Cubs followed by an awful four-game sweep by the Reds. If the Pirates hadn’t had their own rough patch of ninth inning blown saves on Tuesday and Wednesday and a terrible game last night, the Cardinals could easily be in last place right now. Instead, the Cards are in fourth and 4 1/2 back.

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We’ll Take Our Good Fortune When We Can

Sure, it’s easy to be a nay-sayer when looking at the standings this morning. It’s only May 9, so whatever the standings reflect mean absolutely nothing in the overall picture of the 2017 baseball season. The Cardinals are only three games over .500. The NL Central is not very good.

But there’s enough negativity in the world right now …

So enjoy the fact the Cardinals are in first place on May 9.

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Five Years Ago Tonight: What A Team! What A Ride!

It’s been a fulfilling journey over these past several weeks to look back at what unfolded from late August 2011 through five years ago tonight, when the Cardinals won their 11th World Series championship.

The memories seem all the more sweet as time passes, because the fact they completed that journey gets more improbable all the time. One more loss at any time during the 2011 regular season or one more Braves win …

What a team, indeed.

Here’s a look at the recap from Oct. 29, 2011, capturing what happened five years ago tonight.

Cardinals Fairy Tale Is Complete

The ultimate moment!

The ultimate moment!

It’s often said that sports teach us lessons about life. And now, whenever we think something we want to achieve is too difficult or too much of a challenge, we have our motivation to keep going.

The 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Less dramatically than in Game Six but even more fulfilling, the Cardinals won Game Seven of the World Series 6-2 to win the team’s 11th championship and culminate the amazing ride that began with a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 25.

We’re all so familiar with the details — 10 1/2 games back at that point, the “September to remember” push and Braves’ collapse that got them into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, beating all the “supposed to win” teams throughout the NLDS, NLCS and now World Series …

They are details we will fondly recall and lovingly replay for years to come. Because they did it!

Against all the odds, ignoring everyone who said they couldn’t win and shouldn’t be there — none of that mattered. The Cardinals believed in themselves, even back in late August when many of the team’s fans quit believing in them. Continue reading

Five Years Ago Tonight: Game 6

Just hearing the two words “Game 6” bring back the memories of the greatest game in St. Louis Cardinals history and, arguably, the best World Series game ever. And it happened five years ago tonight, Oct. 27, 2011.

How to commemorate the milestone of this event, when so much has been said and written already throughout the five years here and elsewhere? In pictures that let you relive the experience for yourself and remember how the game unfolded, as it truly spanned the gamut of baseball emotions.

If you do feel like reading more, Jayson Stark’s piece at ESPN from the time remains the classic account — and includes this from Lance Berkman:

“Really and truly, this was an ugly game for about six or seven innings,” said the relentlessly honest Berkman. “But then it got beautiful, right at the end.”

For a more retrospective look, this piece by Anna McDonald at ESPN from earlier this month looks at both the Rangers and Cardinals recollections from Games 6 and 7.

And now, a look back to the entirety of the game, and not just the iconic moments that are still so vivid today.

game-6-1-garcia

Jaime Garcia was the starter for the Cardinals in Game 6, and his first inning was rather rough: a walk and two singles that put the Rangers up 1-0 before he even got the first out.

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In the bottom of the first, with two outs and Skip Schumaker on first after he singled, Lance Berkman homered to make it 2-1 Cardinals. He was 3 for 5 on the night, with those two first inning RBI and another rather important RBI later on …

Garcia was shaky in the second inning as well, as a walk and two hits allowed the Rangers to tie the game at 2.  Continue reading

Five Years Ago Tonight: The Perfectly Timed Rainout

Maybe, like so many of us, Mother Nature was a Chris Carpenter fan.

That’s one plausible explanation for the events of Oct. 26, 2011, when Game 6 of the World Series was postponed at 2 p.m. Central Time based on the St. Louis forecast for the evening — not the weather at the time.

The extra day off on that Wednesday, of course, meant Carpenter was then available to pitch on three days’ rest once Friday night’s Game 7 arrived — a fact that everyone was already thinking about, as Matthew Leach wrote at the time:

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa continues to avoid naming a starter for a potential Game 7, but definitely left the door open for Chris Carpenter to pitch that game on three days’ rest … “I was told by ‘Carp’ that he would be ready to go,” La Russa said. “I think most important is for us to concentrate [on Game] 6.

Oh, right … Game 6 and all its agony and ecstasy was still to come.

What we’ve forgotten in the past five years, with the giddy memories over Games 6 and 7, is what things were really like following the terrible loss in Game 5. Here, as a refresher, is what was in the Washington Post five years ago today:

Another day of waiting around means another day of digesting the Cardinals’ grotesque bungling of Game 5 — which, aside from La Russa’s much-dissected bullpen-phone escapades, also drew pointed questions about the fact Pujols has the authorization from La Russa to call hit-and-run plays on his own from the batter’s box.

Want to relive more of the Game 5 madness? It’s easier to take now, for sure. Here’s the recap.

Thankfully, the phone craziness and the “what will Albert do?” frenzy is mostly forgotten about and the final two games of the 2011 World Series are what we recall now. But none of that would have happened without the rainout-that-really-wasn’t from five years ago tonight.

 

 

Some Cardinals Alternatives To Watching This Year’s World Series

Even though the 2016 World Series gets underway tonight, you might not be in the mood to watch it. Want to look back on some better days instead? Here, and all available on YouTube, are some alternatives that will make for more pleasant viewing.

The videos are the complete games, so watching these should keep you busy … and able to avoid whatever might be happening in this year’s World Series.

Game One – 1968 World Series

Starting off with an absolute classic in a year that didn’t result in a Cardinals World Series championship, but began with an incredible performance by that year’s NL Cy Young Winner and Most Valuable Player, Bob Gibson. His 17 strikeouts in the game are a record that still stands.

Game Seven – 1982 World Series 

Ah, nothing like a Game Seven — especially when it’s a Game Seven win! Watch the Cardinals win their ninth World Series championship, and first since the days of Bob Gibson in 1967, when they beat the Brewers 6-3 behind Joaquin Andujar and Bruce Sutter.

Game Six – 2004 NLCS

The 2004 National League Championship Series between the Astros and Cardinals was an incredible one, yet mostly overlooked by the national media due to the ALCS that was going on at the same time. We remember, though, these hard-fought seven games in which the home team was victorious in each — and the MV3 was in their prime and all making big contributions. Jim Edmonds was the walk-off hero in this one, as you no doubt remember. (Also, in case you forgot, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman were the enemy.)

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