I’m not yet over the World Series — what about you? (Actually, I’m not yet over the 2004 World Series — what about you?)
Yet today’s schedule brings the Red Sox to Jupiter, which means that it’s not going to exactly be a lineup for Boston like we saw last October. (Hopefully that means less horrid facial hair.) Although looking at the Cardinals lineup, with Yadier Molina behind the plate for the first time this spring, seems to say “ooooh, this is serious.”
Or that Yadi’s tired of just hitting.
But, given that FOX Sports Midwest is bringing today’s game, you know Dan and Al will be on the THIS IS SERIOUS! bandwagon. Because they love nothing more than hyping things, don’t they? And, based on last weekend’s broadcasts, they also love telling us about everything we watched last October and have already moved on from, although they didn’t have the chance to tell us all about it in their hyped-up giddy way at the time so they have to remind us over and over now … and in April when real games start.
With 38 different players taking the field for the St. Louis Cardinals over the course of 179 games from April 1 to Oct. 30, it was sometimes difficult to really highlight even the impressive seasons — like that of rookie Seth Maness.
For pitchers, it’s usually the starter or the closer who get all the blogging attention and we certainly wrote plenty about Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal and even Carlos Martinez. All justified, of course. And we did mention Maness, most often with the phrase “double play” used in the same sentence. But it wasn’t quite the same glowing praise — instead usually along the lines of “hey, he did it again!”
An article about a week ago in his hometown newspaper, The Pilot in Southern Pines, N.C., brought Maness to mind again. “‘One of Ours’ Makes the Big Time” chronicled Maness’s year, starting with his major league debut in Milwaukee on May 3 when he threw six pitches, and six strikes, to get three outs — all ground-outs, of course. After that:
The next night proved emblematic of what would become a hallmark of his rookie season. In the eighth inning of a tie game, with runners on first and second, the batter ground into a double play to end the inning. The Cards scored a run in the ninth, and Maness got his first Major League win in his second outing.
As most everyone else does between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I’ve been thinking much about what I want to see in 2014. As the snow falls and the temps waver from low to high single digits, it’s only natural to think about spring … and baseball … and what I want to see from the Cardinals as the weather warms (both the temperature and my spirits!).
Taking a look back at last year’s New Year Wish List makes me wonder how much will change between now and October, but it’s fun to look ahead and wish, nonetheless.
So, as I watch the end of the college football season and look ahead to 365 days of new opportunities, here are 14 things I’m hoping to see from the 2014 Cardinals.
14. Visits to Busch, complete with a tour of Ballpark Village
We’ve been hearing about BPV for so long. This winter, watching the progress as it becomes a reality, has me yearning for the first opportunity to see it in person. (Like I need another excuse to visit the happiest place on earth!) The legacy that is St. Louis Cardinals baseball deserves a showplace worthy of its history, and here’s hoping the city does it up just right!
13. Chris Carpenter’s developing role
I know “front office guys” don’t usually show up in game recaps or headlines. But, I hope to hear what Carp is up to throughout the year. I mean, don’t you? Continue reading →
This year will be known as yet another great one for the St. Louis Cardinals, with so much that has happened over the past 365 days — and with so much of it good. Given there are now just today and tomorrow left in 2013, it’s time to take a look back. And as part of the United Cardinal Bloggers’ December project, here are our top five Cardinals stories for 2013.
1. Cardinals win the National League pennant
After finishing the regular season tied for the best record in the majors at 97-65 and winning the NL Central for the first time since 2009, the Cardinals didn’t stop once October arrived. They handled the Pirates in the division series and then headed to the NLCS for the third consecutive year, this time to face the Dodgers.
The Cards were victorious and clinched the pennant in six games, thanks especially to the incredible starting pitching from NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. So for the second time in three years, third time in eight years and 19th time overall, the Cardinals were National League champions and advanced to the World Series.
St. Louis Cardinals team chairman William DeWitt Jr. and Cardinals senior vice president and general manager John Mozeliak this morning congratulated Tony La Russa on being selected for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Hall of Fame Expansion Era Committee.
“We are proud of Tony and honored that he will be joining an elite and distinguished group of Cardinals in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said DeWitt. “This is truly a great day for Cardinals Nation.”
“Tony’s managerial tenure with the Cardinals will always stand out as one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history,” said DeWitt. “Tony’s passion for winning and innovative leadership not only helped the Cardinals achieve so much, his approach transformed how the game is managed and played today.”
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.
But 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.
There 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.)
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.
Yes, 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).
Once upon a time (actually, twice up a time) the St. Louis Cardinals met the Boston Red Sox in the World Series and the right team won. The first of those match-ups was in 1946.
Whitey Kurowski, Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion and — of course — Stan the Man
That season was Stan Musial’s first back following his military service in 1945, and all he did in 1946 was hit .365/.434/.587 with 228 hits including 50 doubles, 20 triples and 16 home runs to be named National League MVP and lead the Cardinals to their fourth pennant in five years.
The 1946 World Series is famous for Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” to score what was the winning run for the Cardinals in Game Seven.You can read complete details about it here (Wikipedia is wonderful, isn’t it?)
And, since seeing is always better, check out this 1946 World Series highlight video, including Harry Walker describing his double that drove in Slaughter.
Yes, there was an obstruction call then too — along with a much happier Series ending, just like there was in 1967 as well.
A week ago this morning, the butterflies were already building. I was nervous. The reality of winning two games in Boston with the Red Sox on the verge of a history-making win seemed slim. But hoping beyond reasonable hope is what sports fans do. Michael Wacha gave the Cardinals as good a chance as any, and the law of averages seemed to imply that the offense was “due,” as they say.
It could happen. Crazier things had.
That was then.
Now, I’m finding it gradually easier to look back. Just as fans hold out hope until the bitter end, they also feel the hurt when the fairytale ends. It’s not technically our loss, but it stings like it is. Our summer is invested in the success or failure of our team; we inhale and exhale — quite literally! — based on what our players do; attitudes and emotions can be swayed because our team is up … or down.
As I watched Game 6, as our team’s World Series hopes slipped further and further out of reach, I said aloud to my dad, “Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much.”
Admittedly, I have a tendency to care too deeply about pretty much everything. Cardinals baseball is no exception. When they’re up, I’m up. When they’re down, I’m down. When they are confident (a la Adam Wainwright’s comments before heading back to Boston), I can be confident. When they’re disappointed, I’m devastated. Continue reading →
As we continue to look back at the 2013 season, one area to review is the job done by Mike Matheny in leading the team. We’re all well aware this was just his second year managing anywhere, and the Cardinals improved on their 2012 NLCS performance to make it to the World Series.
With the United Cardinal Bloggers off-season roundtable kicking off today, our question to the group focused on the manager: what letter grade would give Mike Matheny for his job managing the Cardinals throughout 2013, regular season through last Wednesday’s Game Six, and why?
Here are the responses — and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
He gets an A-minus. Just looking at it big-picture, he managed the Cardinals to the National League pennant even though, for most of the season, he lost two starting pitchers (Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia), two closers (Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs) and a starting shortstop (Rafael Furcal). Plus, he lost his RBI leader (Allen Craig) for a month down the stretch.