This isn’t the first love letter I’ve written you — looks like I wrote one after last year’s Winter Warm-Up and also on your 35th birthday last February — but much has happened in the interim. To say the least …
Yeah, your first season in Cardinal red was more successful than any of us could have imagined, right? An All-Star. Comeback Player of the Year. The spark who got the team rolling in April, and kept them rolling in May and June. Such a big factor in the team’s march through September and October. The most clutch hit of your life in a certain game none of us will ever forget. Then, one night later, two more indelible moments.
First, this. Your reaction to the final out of the World Series — it’s difficult to describe how truly awesome it is. Genuine. Real. Then, the picture above (which looks better when you click on it for the larger version). Such pure joy, as that one thing you’ve been playing your entire career is now in your hands.
It already makes me anxious to see your reaction when you get your ring in a few months.
Ah, yes, the 2012 season. Time to look ahead. To state the obvious, things will be a little different — but it’s very encouraging to hear you say things like this:
“I still like our club. We have a better pitching staff, our bullpen is more settled. Add a guy like Carlos Beltran, we’re going to be good. I’m still excited about this team.”
Glad you mentioned Beltran — it’s funny how I no longer have any bad feelings about a former rival joining the team like I did a year ago, and that’s all thanks to you. I was reminded how much I disliked you in watching a DVD of Games One and Two of the 2004 NLCS my friend Michael sent me. I really didn’t like you. Actually, I hated you. And Beltran. But, times change. I suppose I can even learn to like that constant smirky expression on Roy Oswalt’s face that’s bugged me forever if he becomes a Cardinal. See the power that charm of yours has?
And you are definitely the charmer — I’ve listened to this, from the Jack Buck Awards ceremony in December, several times now just to hear your perspective on Game Five of the ’05 NLCS again. Plus I loved this comment from the Winter Warm-Up, as well as all the things Ann wrote about you:
“Well, I can just kind of relax now, and now that I’m playing first, I can get huge. Ha, bottom line is I’ll be ready to go.”
She also mentioned joining the LB Fan Club, of which I’m happy to continue for its second year. Your leadership, your humor, your perspective and — of course — your play on the field are all worthy of admiration … and a fan club.
Lance, you definitely, and happily, exceeded my expectations in 2011. Now, obviously, those expectations are even higher moving into the 2012 season. But I trust in you, as well as the other 24 guys who will be out there plus the new manager. And, just like you, I’ll be ready to go too — and ready to cheer when you get your ring.
Enjoy the last month of the off-season!
P.S. Really glad you got your hair cut …
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.