Cardinals Love Letter: Joe Kelly

Dear Joe,

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

From handshakes to dance moves ... Joe has it all.

From handshakes to dance moves … Joe has it all.


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. Continue reading

Cardinal Love Letter: Michael Wacha

Dear Michael,

How’s it going, buddy? Of course you’ve bounced back from the last time we all met, almost two weeks ago now, and seeing you that night was rough. Every Cardinals fan out there just wanted to give you a hug after watching you leave the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park — even my uncle Jim, who rarely hugs anybody.

MLB: St Louis Cardinals-Photo DayYes, the night was incredibly disappointing but the Cardinals wouldn’t even have been in the situation, Game Six of the World Series, without you. And now, with a little time and a little perspective, hopefully you can see and appreciate that.

Because, in the big picture, what a season for you! And, especially, what an October!

Seriously, how can any of us as Cardinals fans decide which game of yours from this season was our favorite? I definitely have a difficult time.

Was it your final regular season start, that oh-so-very-close-to-a-no-hitter against the Nationals on Sept. 24? It was special because of its unexpectedness at that particular moment and, of course, incredible to watch (especially for someone who loves pitching like I do).

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Cardinal Love Letter: Carlos Beltran

Dear Carlos,

So here we are, the morning of your first home World Series game. Hopefully you will get a great and well deserved ovation from the Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium tonight, both as recognition that after 2,064 regular season and 45 postseason games you finally reached the Series and also for what you’re playing through just to be in there at all. Because, ouch.

Carlos BeltranLiterally and figuratively.

That literal and figurative pain both came on the same play Wednesday night, of course, and I found myself getting angry at the baseball gods. Like, what kind of deal has David Ortiz made with them anyway? Why does Fenway Park have to be so cruel to the opponents? (Seriously, Red Sox fans are arrogant enough anyway.) How can it possibly be that you finally make it to the World Series after all this time only to have to leave your first game in the second inning, and after saving a grand slam?

Yet there you were, back out there in Game Two despite the pain of your bruised ribs. Singling your first time up and driving in the final run as the Cardinals won and tied the Series. What you endured physically to be out there is so apparent in this video that was posted yesterday, especially in that sigh as you walk down the long hallway to get to the clubhouse.

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Cardinal Love Letter: Chris Carpenter

Dear Chris,

This isn’t the first time I’ve written to you, although it’s been more than a year since my letter and over a month since I included you in my love letter to the whole St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff. Reading the latter one again certainly is ironic and painful — all the talk of a healthy pitching staff and the excitement over seeing you and Adam together again … then, at the bottom, a link to the very next post: Carpenter “Very Unlikely” To Pitch Again.

photoOuch. Figuratively, literally.

Which is why during Friday’s 16-10 win over the Nationals it was fun to see the mix-up on MLB’s At-Bat app, which there’s a screenshot of at right. Of course Matt played second base, but seeing your photo and you listed as the second baseman just lets my imagination wander to what you as a second baseman could be like — enjoying tagging out the runners foolish enough to try to steal (you’d certainly have some entertaining comments about trying to run on Yadi — and wouldn’t it be awesome if one of them was Brandon Phillips?), turning the double play, fielding grounders, whipping a throw (well, hopefully you could) over to Allen Craig at first. Hey, if Matt can learn to play second over the winter …

Okay, dream over.

Which means back to the reality that, for me at least, really hasn’t completely sunk in yet just due to timing. Or maybe denial that I really won’t ever see you pitch again.

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Cardinal Love Letter: The Pitching Staff

Dear guys,

Now that the Super Bowl is over, next up — finally — is baseball. It’s just over a week now until you’ll all be in Jupiter, Fla., with Yadi and Tony Cruz and the minor league catchers and the St. Louis Cardinals will finally start moving toward the 2013 season.

Ah … Last October seems like forever ago, so it’s good that our countdown is in the single digits.

As if that alone isn’t enough to get me excited, the season preview articles I’ve read in the past couple days just up my admiration for you collectively all the more. There was this in USA Today last week, “Healthy staff generates optimism in St. Louis,” and a Yahoo Sports preview too. And Jenifer Langosch wrote the “Cardinals boast remarkable depth in rotation,” which of course doesn’t mention all of you in the bullpen who also are a strength of the team.

Pitching, and pitchers, have fascinated me for years, going back to my own very brief and ill-fated softball pitching career. Because you don’t realize, or at least I didn’t, the power the pitcher has over controlling the game. The pace, the momentum, the outcome — it’s all right there, resting on you and when you decide to throw that ball and set the next play in motion.

(And when you walk batter after batter after batter, and your coach ignores your frantic glances to the dugout as you internally plead for him to take you out of the game, so you keep walking batter after batter … well, it stays with you for a very long time. Obviously. Plus, way back in 2000, my own experience made me want to hug Rick Ankiel. And, more recently, made me feel sorry for Ryan Franklin. But enough of that …)

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