Mariano Rivera, Skip Schumaker and Michael Wacha — Oh My!

What do the just-retired greatest closer of all time, a Cardinal-turned-Dodger-now-turned Red and the Cardinals rookie sensation all have in common? Nothing, it would seem — yet posts we wrote about those three were what you read the most at Aaron Miles’ Fastball in 2013.

12-31 collageAfter looking at our picks for the top five stories of the year yesterday, we close out the year today with a look at the most-read posts. And, as you can already see, it’s certainly not a Cardinals only list — although of course they dominate the list. Just not at the top.

No, our No. 1 post of the year (in terms of readership numbers) is one about the man who is used to ending things instead of starting them, Mariano Rivera. Watching the All-Star Game tribute to Mo on July 16 reminded me of the time my Yankees friend Kat and I went to Busch Stadium in 2005 for the Yankees-Cardinals series. We had the opportunity to see something very few people probably even noticed before that Sunday’s game, which I wrote about in The Tale of Mariano Rivera and The Ball Thrown Out of Busch Stadium. It was a fun, entertaining post — and it ended up in Deadspin (which was a surreal moment, and one I had to capture via screenshot). So lots and lots and lots of people ended up reading about what Mo did that day, and it was by far our most read post of the year.

deadspin Continue reading

Matheny’s Rookies Living Up To High Billing

Michael Wacha, the boy wonder, has done it again.

This time, though, it was on a stage far brighter — and louder — than he’s ever known before. You wouldn’t know that from watching him, though.

Just 18 months removed from college ball, Wacha was given the daunting task of beating rookie pitchersthe fairy-tale Pirates at home with the Cardinals’ season on the line. No pressure, or anything.

Just five months removed from his very first big league start, Wacha, who had made a couple trips back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis, took the mound with a rare combination of wide-eyed innocence and unflinching competitiveness. He wasn’t afraid of the rowdy crowd, the high stakes, or the hungry lineup he’d face. Perhaps he didn’t know to be scared. Perhaps he’s just that mature beyond his 22 years.

He was also just 13 days removed from his last start. You know, that one-hit affair with the Washington Nationals that could have been no-hitter, save for the infield hit with two outs in the ninth. That performance may have given Mike Matheny the extra confidence he needed to hand this rookie the ball on Monday.

Like Matheny has said before, a lot of things could have gone wrong. Fortunately for him, they did nothing of the sort. Continue reading

To Pirates Fans After Win 82

Maybe it’s because I began my baseball fandom following the Cubs. Or perhaps it’s because the writer in me loves good stories, especially redemptive ones. Yes, my massive crush on one particular Pirate certainly plays a role, but it goes beyond him or any one guy on their team this year. Because after spending Labor Day weekend in Pittsburgh and talking with so many Pirates fans, I genuinely am happy for them after they won number 82.

PNC Park - Sept. 1, 2013

PNC Park – Sept. 1, 2013

If you think that’s wrong for me as a Cardinals fan, so it goes — I’m not going to apologize. I spent last night watching both the Pirates and the Reds and, as a fan of great pitching, found both games compelling. (Travis Wood! We love you!)

Yet it was the one on my laptop, Pirates and Rangers, Gerrit Cole against Yu Darvish, that captured my attention more (and that was way before this happened).

Yes, the end of the Pirates 20-year losing streak has gotten plenty of attention and justifiably so. Sure, Cards fans can mock and be bitter (and plenty are) but just think about it from their perspective. Where were you in 1992? What have you experienced baseball-wise since then? Even for me, as a Cards fan since 2000, it’s been beyond tremendous. Now, what if the Cardinals hadn’t even won 82 games once in a season during that time — how would you feel? It’s not like the Cubs and them not going to or winning a World Series. It’s not winning, period.

Those fans who’ve stuck by them definitely deserve a break for how they’re feeling now. And, undoubtedly, those Pirates fans were the best part of the trip to Pittsburgh.

Continue reading

Kelly Saves The Day Again

We have a problem. We’re running out of adjectives to describe Joe Kelly and the impact he’s having on this team.

20130901-222041.jpg
Awesome. Magnificent. Stunning. Formidable. Brilliant. Dazzling. Impressive.

He’s the stopper. A stud. A Ferrari showing what makes him luxury. In many respects, he’s the constant in an inconsistent playoff picture.

He’s the shot in the arm the Cardinals needed, especially as the other starters sputtered.

Of course, getting a lift from the offense doesn’t hurt.

Yesterday, he did all that again and salvaged a PNC Park winner, bringing the Cardinals back into a first-place tie as they head for Cincinnati.

Continue reading

Hitting the Road for PNC Park

I recently had the opportunity to visit my tenth Major League Baseball stadium, PNC Park in Pittsburgh. A milestone like your tenth ballpark deserves to be a memorable visit, and mine definitely was!

You’ve probably heard how beautiful and wonderful PNC Park is, and I am here to tell you that all the hype is true!

Now, obviously the results on the field were not what I was looking for, but my trip to PNC Park was one that I will look back on fondly, and with a smile. The ballpark has a list of positives almost as long as the Allegheny River with just a few negatives.

Tickets

By the time this trip became a reality, tickets at the level I wanted were no longer available in pairs so I took to Stub Hub. I ended up paying around $52/ticket to sit in section 113. The face value price was $38. Either price is a bargain compared to what I would have paid to sit in a similar seat at most ballparks. My seat provided a great view of the Clemente Bridge and downtown Pittsburgh, which was a must for my first trip to PNC Park.

Image

View from 113

Image

View from 113

Image

View after the sun went down

Ticket tip: The ballpark tour guide said that the bleacher seats are not released until 10 days before a game so if you prefer that experience that is something to keep in mind.

Continue reading

Yes, The Cards Are Down, But No One Is Out

Yesterday’s doubleheader could have been a chance to flip the momentum right back around. Instead, the Cardinals continued to play hide and seek with their offense, and lost both games. That pushes the season-high losing streak to six. And what’s worse? They

"Tell me when it's safe to look, okay?"

“Tell me when it’s safe to look, okay?”

also lost Yadier Molina.

Everyone take a moment to panic, cry, scream, throw things, blame Mike Matheny, Tyler Greene or the Muffin Man. Get it all out.

No matter what, there are still 57 games left to play. And, I don’t know about you, but I have a suspicion that a 1.5 game deficit can be made up in 57 games … somehow.

Now, I’m certainly not happy with the goings on the last week. It’s been tough. The Cardinals have looked bad — swinging at bad pitches, pressing, expanding the strike zone, playing poor defense, and acting more defeated than perhaps they should. To throw Yadi’s injury into the mix is just pouring salt in the wound. For now, the team is calling it a sprain, though the MRI today will provide more detail.

A sprain or a hangnail, though — time without the MVP candidate will hurt. Not only will the pitching staff miss his guidance, but the lineup that is struggling to put numbers on the board will miss his 2nd-place NL batting average. What’s more, he has often been credited as the heart and soul of the team. Continue reading