The Right Guy To Make An Impact

There are so many topics that could be addressed about the St. Louis Cardinals after the first 10 or so days of the 2018 season, and so many are deja vu to 2017. But let’s ignore those right now. Instead, how about a bigger picture look at how some players are doing on their new teams?

And, specifically, how about a look at how the 2017 Miami Marlins outfielders are doing in their respective new homes …

ExMarlins-2We all remember quite well the Cardinals off-season pursuit of an impact bat that was missing last season, and the courting of Giancarlo Stanton. It was even enough to get me to write three posts about wanting to acquire him last October, November and December. (Ah, memories … especially that photo with my December entry.) Yet Giancarlo turned downed the Cardinals, and the Giants, and decided he wanted to be a Yankee. Okay, his right — that’s why he had the full no-trade clause.

So the Cards moved on, and acquired Marcell Ozuna instead. There were some Cardinals fans were who not pleased with that move and would have preferred the Cardinals acquire the third Marlins outfielder, Christian Yelich, instead.

I was reminded of all these things at various times yesterday — when I saw Ozuna single with one out in the bottom of the ninth yesterday, for one thing. When I heard that Yelich was put on the disabled list yesterday with an oblique injury. And particularly when I saw that, for the second time this week, Stanton struck out five times in a game at Yankee Stadium — and heard boos from the fans as well.

It made me wonder how, had he decided differently, the Busch Stadium crowd would respond to two five-K performances to start and end a home stand.

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Let The Real Baseball Begin

You can’t tell by the weather here, especially with remnants of Saturday’s 9.6-inch snowfall still stubbornly hanging on, and the date on the calendar is the earliest ever for the occasion, but today is it: Opening Day 2018.

Then again, the sun is shining. Birds — and specifically cardinals — are chirping outside. Not that the weather in northwest Illinois has any bearing on what is happening was supposed to happen at 15 Major League parks today: real games, ones that count, will be played. (Isn’t it shocking that weather in Detroit especially, but also Cincinnati, wouldn’t be conducive to baseball on March 29? Way to go, Mother Nature — or MLB schedule makers. The decision to have all teams start on the same day was a good one, but geography could have played a bigger role.)

Weather aside, Opening Day brings about an anticipation and excitement like nothing else. A marathon of six-plus months begins today, set to play itself out through these early spring days into the warmth of May and into the heat of summer through fall and the changing colors of the leaves that are just starting to bud on trees. Theoretically, with today’s blank slate and 162 games ahead, every team has a chance to succeed.

Realistically? Of course not. But even my Giants and White Sox fan friends are feeling good this morning (though my Giants fan friend was feeling better before Madison Bumgarner’s hand was fractured last week …)

As Cardinals fans, we have a lot to be excited about with so many new faces on the roster and in the coaching ranks. After two seasons of missing the playoffs, we need something to be excited about going into this season. Yes, of course, there’s plenty to wonder or worry about too — but let’s not get into all of that today. Trite as it sounds, Opening Day is literally a new beginning.

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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!


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.



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.


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.


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