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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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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