First off, many congrats to you and your new bride! Seeing how this is a “love letter” and all, I felt that an appropriate way to begin.
A month removed from the end of the season, I can’t help but look back at some of the moments that made 2013 such a great ride … and many of those moments wouldn’t have happened without you! Following the Cardinals this season was great fun, due in large part to the big personalities the year’s squad featured. You, dearest Joe, certainly led the
The friendship between you and fellow pitcher Shelby Miller was no secret. Interviews with one (or both) of you brought out the wackiest in you. And Cardinal Nation loved it. This video might be my favorite Kelly/Miller moment — the peanuts, the worm, the photo bombing. Poor Shelby didn’t stand a chance in that interview!
On second thought, THIS was pretty hilarious (and slightly gross!) as well. Ahh, the beauty of a good bromance.
But there was oh-so-much more to enjoy this season, like completely confused look on Nelly’s face when some weird old guy showed up in the dugout.
I can’t lie, I was pretty distracted by the antics in the bullpen for one Cubs/Cards game this season, as you, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist and Co. entertained yourselves (and those of us with a clear vantage point!) throughout the early innings of the game. (See the above photo collage…)
And of course, there was the dancing. All the dancing. Salsa classes, eh? They paid off. We at AMF used that “Joe Dancing” .gif many times in celebration of Cardinals winners! So, thanks for that.
Oh, and then there was the actual baseball thing.
As we learned later in the year, you’ve had high expectations of yourself all your life. While you may not be a pitcher, short stop, and a first baseman, you did change roles quite successfully throughout the year.
What started as a bullpen role (though I often not-so-secretly hoped you’d get back into the rotation sooner or later!) didn’t allow for the greatest use of your skills. I mean, what good is having a Ferrari if you don’t take it out for a cruise now and again?
This season saw starting pitcher after starting pitcher sidelined with injuries. Eventually, you got the call back to the rotation. Many of us wondered how you’d adjust stepping back into a starting role, but we didn’t have to wait long to find out. Right out of the gate after the All-Star break, you picked up three wins in five starts.
You would go on to add another two wins in August, and remain unbeaten until the middle of September.
Oh, and one more thing about those wins: most of them came after disappointing losses.
You stopped a seven-game loosing streak with a stellar performance against the Pirates on August 1st (which was a great birthday gift to me, so thanks!), then snapped the Dodgers’ 14-game winning streak in your next start. Two more wins against the Pirates in September helped the Cards claim the NL Central, and return once again to Playoff Baseball.
Even as a late addition to the starting rotation, you led the Cardinals’ starters with a 2.28 ERA in 15 games, and posted a 9-3 record in your role as “stopper” many times.
Once a seemingly forgotten asset, you became an anchor to a rotation in flux and a team fighting for October.
And, you knew how to lighten things up.
For the record, you totally won the standoff. Forget that, you won the internet. Trust me, just ask twitter.
“Where would the Cardinals be without Joe Kelly this year?” many asked as you came through time and time again. I’m not sure I want to know the answer. I am sure the Cardinals are a better team because of you, both on the field and off.
Thanks for the memories!
See you in February.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on twitter @tarawellman, and Follow AMF on Facebook!