Just 12 More Days, But Who To Choose?

Twelve! Only 12 more days until the Cardinals begin the 2015 season on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

This day presents a dilemma, however — or at least the No. 12 does.

There are plenty of 12s throughout Cardinals history, including one of my uncle Jim’s favorite players Bill White, who wore the number from 1959 to 1965 and later served as National League president from 1989 to 1994. He would definitely be worth writing about (and will be the topic of a future Throwback Thursday post).

As for the dilemma, take a look at the top of this page. Yes, right there at the top of each and every page of Aaron Miles’ Fastball, each and every day, is the No. 12 of Our Namesake, a Cardinal from 2006-2008 and 2010, getting ready to deliver what certainly was an amazing (or at least adequate) heater.

No problem, right? Our Namesake is Our Namesake, beyond worthy of another post extolling his virtues. Yes, but …

Remember 2011, and Game Six of the World Series (other than David Freese) in particular? Remember 2012?

Remember the Twitter hashtag #LBFanClub?

How can we overlook that mortal-enemy-turned-forever-hero Lance Berkman? Is there any way possible to overlook a man for whom a post called “How Do We Love Thee, Lance?” was written?

Can’t be done. Thus, two No. 12s.



And there is a way to tie these two together.

Yes, for your reading pleasure with 12 days until Opening Night, 12 things that Cardinals heroes Aaron Wade Miles and William Lance Berkman have in common. Continue reading

NFC Championship Game Was Great, But Not Like Game 6

Like many of you, I watched yesterday’s NFC championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

GTY 461739872 S SPO FBN USA WAUnlike most of you, I am the rare combination of St. Louis Cardinals fan for baseball and Chicago Bears fan for football. Which means I wasn’t rooting for the Packers — I know there are quite a few Cardinals/Packers fans (I am related to several) who obviously were rooting for their team, and the Cardinals/Rams fans were for the Packers also rather than see a division rival win.

So, personally, I was ecstatic over the outcome. More than ecstatic, actually, to see the Packers implode that way.

But I definitely disagree with Bob Nightengale.


Sure, I get it — sloppy game to start with, as we remember the ball that bounced off David Freese or the one that neither Matt Holliday nor Rafael Furcal could come up with in Game 6. Yes, comparisons can be made with the four interceptions that Russell Wilson threw yesterday.

The comeback that Wilson led, with the Seahawks scoring 15 points late in the fourth quarter was definitely amazing. Incredible plays, like Seattle recovering the onside kick after Wilson scored a touchdown with just over two minutes left. Then the two-point conversion pictured above. We even had the moment similar to Josh Hamilton’s Game 6 10th inning homer — kind of — in Mason Crosby’s game-tying field goal with just 14 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

And there’s the biggest difference: time.  Or, rather, no time. Continue reading

Want To Win A 2011 World Series Game 6 DVD?

Baseball is so much about history, which we as St. Louis Cardinals fans especially know. There are so many classic games the Cardinals have been involved in through the decades, and even (or especially) recently.

game 6To celebrate some of the greatest moments in overall MLB history being available for digital download on iTunes, you have the chance to win the most memorable Cardinals game in recent years on DVD/Bluray combo: Game Six of the 2011 World Series.

It’s part of A&E Home Video’s “Baseball’s Greatest Games” series, and it couldn’t be easier to enter our drawing to win one of three DVDs.

One of the Cardinals from that game who played a significant role in the victory was just honored last weekend on his retirement from MLB by his previous team. Who is that former Cardinal? (Hint, hint — although I doubt you need one.)

Simply provide the answer in a comment below, tweet @AMilesFastball or leave it as a comment on the AMF Facebook page.

Enter by this Tuesday, April 15, at 7 p.m. Central Time (just before the Cardinals-Brewers game). A random drawing for the winners will be held.

And also through April 15, you can take advantage of the digital download sale at iTunes. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Lance Berkman’s World Series Heroics

Ah, Game Six …

It was the most common answer in Tuesday’s question of “If You Could Attend Any Game in Cardinals History, What Would It Be?” and with great reason. Game Six of the 2011 World Series is one of the best games in baseball history. (Maybe the best.) We’ll never forget David Freese’s heroics — both his ninth inning game-tying triple and 11th inning walk-off winner.

2011 World Series Game 6 - Texas Rangers v St Louis CardinalsSometimes overlooked yet just as important: Lance Berkman’s game-tying single in the 10th. And, with Lance announcing his retirement yesterday, it’s the perfect time to recall just how crucial he was to that game (and to revive our LB Fan Club again). Had he made an out during that at-bat, we’d be just as disappointed about the 2011 World Series as we are about 2013.

But of course he didn’t.

Even before that at-bat, though, he’d had a really good night at the plate. In case you’ve forgotten, he had a first inning homer with Skip Schumaker on base to put the Cards on top 2-1. He’d reached on an error, singled and walked before coming up in the 10th with Jon Jay at third and That Guy Who Used to Play First Base on first after being intentionally walked. LB also scored four runs that night, which tied a World Series record — and his fourth run tied the game on Freeser’s triple in the ninth.

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Throwback Thursday: Looking Back to the 2004 NLCS

Ah, the 2004 Cardinals. That great 105-win team with the MV3 seemingly unstoppable on offense, Larry Walker receiving a standing ovation upon striking out in his Cardinals debut, a rookie named Yadier Molina getting called up in June, Chris Carpenter having a great first season with the team, those other new starters Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan doing really well too (yes, they really did) and Rick Ankiel successfully returning to the mound in September plus winning a game. (Sadly, his last.)

2004-CardinalsAnd how could we forget a bullpen with Cal Eldred, Ray King, Steve Kline, Julian Tavarez, Kiko Calero and of course Jason Isringhausen? Ray King! Steve Kline! Kiko!

Plus, in looking at this picture to the left, we can’t avoid mentioning Mike Matheny. Or Reggie Sanders, Edgar Renteria and Tony Womack. Also, of course, Matt Morris (who you can see in the video below).

Ever since researching my post the other day on the 2004-2006 teams vs. the 2011-2013 teams, I’ve been remembering how much I loved that 2004 team. They were just so fun to watch, game after game, because they were so good in so many ways — especially Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds.

The 2004 NLCS was also a classic. A seven-game battle against the Houston Astros, with the home team winning every game. It was the perfect ending to the 2004 season! (That’s what I’ve told myself for years, anyway: the season ended with the Cards crowned NL champs.) Of the seven, Game Six was probably the most epic of all — a 12-inning battle that only went to extras because of a blown save by Izzy yet ended with the spectacular walk-off homer by Jimmy with Albert on base.

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Which Three Years Were Better: 2004-2006 or 2011-2013?

The past 10 seasons are an extraordinarily rich time in St. Louis Cardinals history, as we all know. Seven trips to the postseason, six times in the National League Championship Series, five National League Central titles,  four World Series appearances resulting in two World Championships — obviously a glorious time to be a Cardinals fan.

Yet also two very distinct ways to that success, with the Tony La Russa/Walt Jocketty era reaching its pinnacle in 2004 with its reliance more on veteran acquisitions to make an impact and now the John Mozeliak/Mike Matheny way that’s blossoming with talent developed from within. Which has me wondering: of these past seasons, which three-year stretch was better: 2004-2006 or 2011-2013?

Here’s a refresher on these two championship stretches.


Record: 105-57 (best in MLB), finished first in NL Central.

Postseason: Won NLDS 3 games to 1 over Dodgers; won NLCS 4 games to 3 over Astros; lost World Series in sweep by Red Sox.

Top hitters: The MV3 — Albert Pujols .331/.415/.657 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI, WAR of 8.4; Scott Rolen .314/.409/.598 with 34 homers and 124 RBI, WAR of 9.1; Jim Edmonds .301/.418/.643 with 42 homers and 111, WAR of 7.1. Also, Tony Womack hit .307 and had 26 stolen bases. Edgar Renteria hit .287 with 72 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

Team batting average: .278, first in NL.

Team OPS: .804, also first in the NL.

Top starting pitchers: Chris Carpenter, 15-5, 3.46 ERA; Jason Marquis, 15-7, 3.71 ERA; Jeff Suppan, 16-9, 4.16 ERA.

Saves leader: Jason Isringhausen, 47.

Team ERA: 3.75, second in NL (Braves first at 3.74)

Postseason moment to remember: Jim Edmonds 12th inning walk-off home run in Game Six of the NLCS.

Award recognition: The MV3 finished third (Pujols), fourth (Rolen) and fifth (Edmonds) in NL MVP voting. Tony La Russa was second in the NL Manager of the Year race.

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Cardinals Throwback Thursday: Chris Carpenter Edition

What was expected was made official yesterday afternoon, with the announcement of Chris Carpenter’s retirement. Even though we haven’t seen him pitch on a big league mound since October 2012 and attempt to pitch anywhere since July when he was in Memphis, it’s still a sad day.

CC-2But we all knew it was coming — probably no one as much as Chris himself.

That’s why it was great to see him with the team this season after his own comeback attempt ended in late July. He was there, on the road and at home, with his watchful gaze focused on his young teammates — here he is in Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, watching Joe Kelly — offering advice and encouragement and likely preparing for a coaching future. And what a crop of kids he had the chance to view up close and mentor this season.

Yet it certainly looked like he was just enjoying being part of a team one last time as a player too.

CC 9-1There were tweets from Derrick Goold and others about him taking grounders in the infield during batting practice. In Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, he was very much interested in just where the hot dogs the Parrot was shooting into the crowd ended up — as you can see here. (Yes, he really was that serious about watching flying hot dogs.) But even that was cool to see. Taking in the experiences, enjoying the moments especially since the Cards didn’t know then it wouldn’t be their last trip to PNC Park for the year. (And, yes, I did watch the game that day … but also obviously spent time watching Chris. How could I not? He was right there.)

Chris Carpenter is no doubt the player we’ve written most about here at AMF, and I already said much in a tribute to him following his ceremonial first pitch before Game Two of the NLDS against the Pirates in October in “On Chris Carpenter, Baseball Moments and Storybook Endings.”

So here’s a look back at some of his Cardinals highlights via pictures (yes, some you’ve seen before … perhaps many times!)

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The Game Wasn’t Pretty (But Lance Berkman Was!)

Pretty in pink, that is.

Remember last year when all the guys wore turtle necks (that was on a West Coast trip too, right?)? Or how about their luau theme travel attire?

See? I told you. Pretty in pink.

It seems these silly stress-reducers are inspired by Lance himself, so it’s only fitting that he lead the way in today’s “ugly tuxedo” getup with the baby-pink beauty to the right.

Hey, real men wear pink, right? I think he wears it brilliantly.

If you’re interested, you can see Willy Wonk, er, I mean, Mitchell Boggs in his own brightly colored ensemble (complete with cane and top hat!), or Daniel Descalso rocking the powder blue. Word is, David Freese was in red and white, and Adam Wainwright’s costume included a kilt.

How’s that for team bonding?

(Thanks to @FSMidwest for those fabulous pictures. Keep an eye out at www.foxsportsmidwest.com where they’ve promised a video of the shenanigans from earlier today!)

UPDATE: Thank you, David Freese for satisfying our curiosity. We now have an official team photo. And yes, that is a legit Cat in the Hat top hat in the back row. Can I just say I love this team?

While we’re at it, just take a break at check out the entire @dfreese23 timeline. There’s pictures with Holliday, Berkman, Carpenter, and they’re still rolling in!

Go ahead, the recap can wait. It’ll be here when you get back!

So, you’re probably wanting actual game notes now. That’s not nearly as much fun to talk about as Ugly Tux Day, though!

It was a rough day on the diamond for the Redbirds, who were hoping for the two-game sweep of the Giants to keep the ball rolling before taking on the Dodgers. But, in keeping with the, um, “aesthetic” theme, how about a round of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? Continue reading

Clutch Carp Does It Again: Cards Win In Ten

Mr. Baker, meet Mr. Carpenter, a.k.a. Mr. Clutch 2012.

For the second time in as many games, Matt Carpenter, who made the roster as a bench player, gave the Cardinals a win, this time in walk-off fashion against the Reds. Oh yeah, in his first at bat of the game … in the 10th inning. Cards win it 2-1 in their first extra inning game of the year.

At this rate, a "Mini-Carp" autograph is going to be worth a fortune by October!

I suppose this is where I invoke the “small sample size” rule in order to curb my enthusiasm about young Matt Carpenter’s swell start. But, I really am impressed with the way this kid is playing right now. I mean, when Lance Berkman was out for a few games, there were plenty of worried glances around Cardinal Nation. But “Mini-Carp” showed no fear. And after starting the night back on the bench, he made good on his bases-loaded, one-out opportunity to end Tuesday’s standoff, grabbing his 10th RBI in the process. That ties him for second, behind David Freese.

Most importantly, though, Cardinals win. With all these division games in the first month, every win is exceptionally important!

Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from Tuesday night’s battle.

The Good

Kyle Lohse. The guy is doin’ work. He finished the day with seven innings pitched, and no runs on four hits. That means through 20 1/3 innings, he’s given up two runs. How much of a relief will it be if he keeps this up?! Especially with Chris Carpenter out and Adam Wainwright still finding his way back to form, Lohse seems to be the go-to guy. *Knock on wood*

Carlos Beltran. When he’s on, he’s really, really on. And I’d say early on, he’s locked and loaded. He blasted his fourth home run of the year to put the Cardinals ahead early. That 1-0 lead would hold up until a few unfortunate bobbles allowed the Reds to score in the eighth inning.

Matt Carpenter is an obvious pick. But also, Tyler Greene. No, he didn’t have the chance to play defense or swing the bat. He just did what he does best — RUN! He replaced David Freese in the 10th inning and raced home to score the winning run on Matty Carp’s sac fly.

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Hats Off, TLR. Brilliant Strategery.

Score one for Tony La Russa.

As so aptly put by 2xAught7 in his tweet, it was brilliant strategery by TLR to have Miguel Batista start the game last night, with bad weather imminent in downtown St. Louis. And reading this quote from Dusty Baker backs that up all the more: “The information we received was probably not the same information they received.”

Well, Dusty, there’s this thing called the Internet, and you can look up this thing called the radar, and it shows you what weather is approaching …

In contrast, look at this — praise for TLR’s move from Brandon Phillips?

“I’m going to give the Cardinals two thumbs up for what they did,” the Reds’ Brandon Phillips said. “They changed their pitcher on us at the last minute, that was a very smart thing to do.

“The next thing you know they brought in their starter who was going to start the game, and he was fresh.”

The Reds didn’t do that, of course. Edinson Volquez warmed up before the game began at 7:15 p.m. and was thus unavailable after the two-plus hour rain/storm delay. Even though he never set foot on the field, he’s listed in the box score as the Reds starter. Just like The Poet is listed as the Cardinals starter.

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