Posted by JE Powell
The January (yes, I know, I am a little late putting this up) United Cardinal Bloggers monthly project is for bloggers to list their top five iconic moments in Cardinals history. So, here are my Top Five:
5. The Ozzie Smith Backflip
My first taste of Cardinals fever started in the early ’80s when my dad and grandpa took me to my first game. Growing up in the ’80s I do not have a more clear or fond memory of Cardinals baseball than seeing Ozzie Smith do his backflip. As a youngster of five or six years, I was enthralled watching him do that and when I think of Cardinals baseball in the ’80s I think Ozzie Smith and his backflip.
4. McGwire’s 62nd Home Run
I realize that this feat has been tainted with Mark McGwire’s admission of taking steriods, but the home run race in 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa helped bring baseball back into the mainstream. The strike in 1994 had hurt the sport, but the home run duel between Big Mac and Sosa aided in bringing it back and the first one to 62 homers was Big Mac. I remember seeing him run the bases (nearly missing 1st in the process) and was extremely excited that the home run record now belonged to a Cardinal. I may take some slack for this pick, but at the time it was monumental. Read More…
Posted by JE Powell
The holidays are finally over. Yes, I certainly enjoy them, but as a parent with an ever expanding family (siblings getting married, getting ready to give birth [though not the same sibling], etc) the holidays can be a bit, shall we say, harried. In my neck of the woods we have had several days that were around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and has had a spring feel to it (though reports indicate snow is on the way; stupid Midwest weather) and with that it has served to remind me that baseball is once again right around the corner. In about five weeks St. Louis Cardinals pitchers and catchers will report to Jupiter, Florida on February 19th. That day, for me at least, is the official start of the baseball season.
My little blog will officially be over a year old on the aforementioned 19th. Well, I guess it depends on how one defines the blog’s birthday. I created the blog on February 15th, 2011. My first post was February 23rd, 2011. So, in human terms, I suppose one could argue that my blog had a gestation period of 8 days. Well, I guess that’s not really close in human terms. The closest would be the American opossum, which is 12-13 days and can be as short as 8 days, though, opossums are marsupials and give birth and then let the offspring develop in the ventral pouch of the mother. So, I suppose that my blog’s official birthday would be Feb. 23rd. So it will be just shy of a year old when pitchers and catchers report. But I digress.
Back to baseball. Since I am coming down with another case of Cardinal Fever (as you may recall, it’s a form of Bird Flu), well I guess I have had Cardinal Fever my whole life, so I am not coming down with it, let’s take a very quick peek at the 2012 season.
I hope to cover some of these topics more in depth at a later date, so these will just be quick hits for now. First, some of the questions for 2012:
- Will Adam Wainwright be able to come back from Tommy John surgery and be as dominant as he was before?
- Will Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran spend any significant time on the disabled list?
- Will Jon Jay be able to able to produce with the bat having considerably more playing time at centerfield (while he put up good numbers last year, statistically speaking, his numbers declined as his playing time went up)?
- Can Allen Craig come back from knee surgery and play as well as he did with limited playing time in 2011?
- Can David Freese stay healthy and carry over his magnificent play during the 2011 playoffs?
- How well will Mike Matheny manage the team?
- Who will see the most playing time at 2nd base?
Time will be the only one who can truly answer these questions, but they are questions that will affect (effect? I still don’t know which one to use and I have looked it up several times) the outcome of the season.
But the best part, in my opinion anyway, is finding the answers out. I am anxiously awaiting the start to the real New Year, the first day of baseball season (which, as you may recall, I have stated to be February 19th. Sure, the regular season doesn’t start until April this year, but I cannot wait that long. I miss baseball.
Posted by JE Powell
The A&E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions Official 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals 2 Disc-DVD Set (from here on out, I will just refer to it as the “DVD Set” because it’s just easier that way) is basically set up in three parts: The Official Film, the Bonus Material, and the entirety of NLDS Game 5 (Carpenter vs. Halladay). So, I have decided to review it that way. I now present to you, Part I: The Official Film.
I think that best review of the movie I can give is that my mother-in-law loved it. She is not a sports fan at all (except for her New Orleans Saints and even that is just a “check the team’s record every few weeks” sort of thing) and while I know she watch parts of a few World Series games, she really didn’t care who won or lost. So, I had just started watching the Official Film on Thanksgiving Day when my mother-in-law came into the room, sat down, and asked what I was watching. I said, “It’s about the Cardinals winning the World Series.” She replied with a simple, “Oh.”
Posted by JE Powell
It’s finally here, the official A & E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions 2 DVD Box Set of the 2011 World Series Champion ST. LOUIS CARDINALS!!!
Now, the DVD set comes out on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 with the World Premier at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis and if you are in the area and want to buy tickets, just click the link and buy away. It looks like it’s going to be a blast. But perhaps you would prefer to stay home, since the weather is getting colder, and watch the DVD set from the comforts of your couch. The good news is that you can purchase the DVD set from A & E Home Entertainment and the MLB Shop! It’s a very good price for hours of enjoyment and cheaper than taking a loved one to the movies with you, not to mention (though I am going to anyway) the fact that you can watch it over and over again and relive some of the best moments from one of World Series in many years. There is also a trailer that you can check out.
Posted by JE Powell
It’s that time of year again when members of the United Cardinal Bloggers get to make their picks for for the Cardinal Blogger Awards. This year, however, readers get to vote for the Awards, too! Readers can vote here. So here’s your chance to make your voice heard. Well, not really your voice, but you get to make your picks known.
There are twenty categories and I have gone through and carefully determined who I feel is the best choice and why. So gather ’round and let me tell you the tale of the SS Minnow and its three hour tour…er, I mean let me tell you my picks:
Cardinals Player of the Year
This felt like an easy choice to me. Albert Pujols had more home runs and more RBI, but had trouble the first half of the season and grounded into a lot of double plays. Berkman was consistent all season long and filled in for Pujols while Pujols was on the disabled list. Berkman had 31 HR and 94 RBI, so he was pretty close to Pujols’ numbers and had a slightly better batting average at .301 (compared to .299 for Pujols). With Matt Holliday injured on an off all season, Berkman had to carry the team the 1st half and had some big hits in the playoffs.
Cardinals Pitcher of the Year
Like, Pujols, Carpenter struggled the first half of the season, but turned it on the second half of the season and was huge in late August and all of September and October. Carp pitched a shutout on the last day of the season and, coupled with an Atlanta Braves loss, helped the Cards secure a playoff berth. He also pitched a 1-0 shutout in Game 5 of the NLDS and pitched on 3 days rest in Game 7 of the World Series to ensure the Cardinals 11th Championship.
Regular Season Game of the Year
September 7th vs. Milwaukee
Carpenter pitched a 2-0 complete game shutout of the Brewers and struck-out Nyjer Morgan, which caused Morgan to have a temper tantrum. That was the Cardinals fifth win in that last six games against the Brewers and Morgan’s temper tantrum may have been a sparking moment that sent the Cardinals onto the playoffs and World Series.
Post Season Game of the Year
World Series, Game 6
This game could probably win Cardinals Post Season Game of the Decade without much effort. This was one of the best games I have ever seen in my life, period. The Texas Rangers took a 4-2 lead and the Cards tied it. Texas took a 7-4 lead and the Cardinals tied the game when they were down to their last strike. Texas took a 9-7 and the Cardinal tied it, again down to their last strike. David “Absolute Zero”** Freese hit a solo shot in the bottom of the 11th to win the game. The Cards may not have officially won the WS until winning game 7, but in reality, they won the World Series in game Six.
Surprise Player of the Year
Berkman had a disappointing season in 2010 and was traded from Houston to the Yankees where he continued to disappoint. However, he signed a one year deal with the Cardinals and ended up winning Comeback Player of the Year and had 31 HR and 94 RBI while batting .301. There was quite a bit of speculation that he probably wouldn’t be able to play the outfield any longer or that he had lost his swing or whatever. He proved them all wrong.
Disappointing Player of the Year
Rasmus had a strong first couple of weeks, but then began to slowly taper off and after 94 games played he was only batting .246 will 11 HR and 40 RBI. Not necessarily bad stats, but when a player whines and complains that he isn’t getting enough playing time when it seems obvious that he just isn’t trying very hard out in the field on defense, it’s disappointing. He had a lot of potential, but his maturing needs some work.
Rookie of the Year
I think it’s fitting to pick Craig here, because this category follows Rasmus. Craig also had 11 HR and 40 RBI for the Cardinals, but did it in only 75 games. He also hit .315. Craig came up huge in the playoffs, especially off the bench in the World Series.
Sensing a theme here? I don’t think I can add much to what I said the last two times a picked. He was just very important to the Cardinals run this year.
To steal a line from Mystery Science Theater 3000, Rzepczynski “isn’t a name, it’s a bad scrabble hand.” But this left hander really helped to solidify the bullpen and got some huge outs against left handed hitters in the playoffs.
Most Anticipated Cardinal
Jake Westbrook has really not worked out that well for the Cardinals. In fact, they only used him for one inning during the entire playoffs. He will be the 5th starter in the Cardinals rotation, but if he is struggling in late July or early August, I think the Cards will call up Shelby Miller. Miller has some maturing to do, but I think he will be a very important piece in the Cardinals rotation. Even if it’s not in 2012, I think he will be a starter in 2013.
Best Individual Cardinals Blog
Daniel is the Godfather of all Cardinals bloggers. He started the UCB (United Cardinal Bloggers) and the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance), but his blog is more than that. He is insightful and puts a lot of time and effort into his blog. His blog post Happily Ever After is one of the better Cardinal posts I have read in quite some time and when I got done reading, I went back and reread it. It was that good.
Best Team Cardinals Blog (A blog with 2 or more bloggers)
Nick, Dennis, and Josh run an insightful, funny, witty, and enjoyable blog. I often find myself laughing out loud or nodding my head in agreement with something they have written.
Best Professional Cardinals Blog
Derrick Goold is a blogger and journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His blog updated regularly and he often has inside information on trades, rumors, or anything Cardinals related.
Best Rookie Blog (Started after December 1st, 2010)
I had the pleasure of meeting Christine during the UCB Event at Busch Stadium the third game of the season and Tara and I interviewed each other for the Get to Know A UCBer monthly project in August and I had quite a bit of fun with that one. I have only read posts by Miranda, but I enjoy her upbeat writing style. AMF is a great site and I really do not see them having a sophomore slump.
Post of the Year
This blog post gave me goosebumps. It was just that damn good. I am not going to defend this pick. It can defend itself. Read it. Now! Go!
Best UCB Project
Get to Know a UCBer
Most Optimistic Cardinals Blog
Honestly, just check out the site. You will feel better about yourself and life in general. Trust me on this.
Best United Cardinal Bloggers Podcast
UCB Radio Hour
Best Cardinal Tweeter
Best Fake Twitter Account
I gotta be honest and say that I rarely tweet and I haven’t checked out any of the fake twitter accounts. I was listening to the MLB Network on XM and heard someone mention that an account had already been created just after the squirrel ran over home plate. That’s why I picked it.
Those are my choices for the Bloggies. You can read all the picks from the other bloggers at the UCB Official Site and don’t forget to vote for yourself, dear reader, the link is all the way back at the top of this post. There are many, many wonderful Cardinals bloggers and blog sites out there, so make sure that you hop over to the UCB site and check them ALL out.
**I call David Freese “Absolute Zero” because when he was up to bat twice during game six of the World Series and again in game seven he didn’t have ice running through his veins, he was so cool that all molecular activity ceased.
Posted by Steve Griffith
So, It’s now November 1st, and baseball season is over. Your St. Louis Cardinals are once again the World Champions, and if you are anything like me, you are still dreaming of baseball, and the season that was. In the next couple of days, you are going to start noticing some changes in yourself. You will begin to feel lonely around 7pm, maybe even a little depressed. Although your family may be sitting right next to you at the dinner table, or begging you to read a bed time story, you are going to feel as though something is missing. Like when you lose your car keys, and search the house top to bottom, even looking in the refrigerator just in case. Soon you will realize, what you are missing is the adrenaline rush you get every evening as your Redbirds step out on the field. You miss the way you could almost feel the grass under your feet while chasing down a flyball with Jon Jay, Lance Berkman, or Matt Holliday. You miss the excitement of stealing 2nd base, or turning a double play with Furcal, Schumaker, and Pujols. You miss the thrill of having a perfect game through 7 innings. You miss giving a standing ovation to Carpenter from your living room as he makes way for Salas, Sanchez, or Motte. If you’re lucky enough to go to several games every season, you miss the $8.00 beers, and the chicken nachos from El Birdos cafe. You miss the call of the folks peddling everything from cotton candy, to peanuts, to lemonade and water. You miss how one side of your face is sunburned after sitting in the lower bowl sections during a June day game. But most of all, you miss the thrill of always being in the penant race, and bragging about YOUR team, or playfully cracking jokes about the Cubs, Brewers, or Reds.
So how do we survive November to February?
There are plenty of baseball related activities that occur during this time. Not the least of which will be the on going Pujols contract talks, and the search for the next Tony La Russa. There will be plenty of this type of news to keep our feable baseball minds churning for the foreseeable months, but there are other things you can do.
1. Re-watch the postseason (if you were awesome enough to DVR the games, or buy the DVD’s that will inevitably be available soon.)
2. Get your fantasy baseball league ready for next seasons draft.
3. The first time the sun melts just a little bit of snow, grab your glove and play catch. Even if it means throwing the ball against the wall.
4. Attend a Cardinals Caravan event. I recommend getting there a few hours early, as our caravans are always well attended. Also, if you want an autograph, bring a small child with you, as they are often the only ones that get the autographs.
5. Read this blog often, as we will be posting the latest Cardinals information, rumors, etc… as often as we can.
6. Go visit your mom. While you are there, say hi to her and ask her how she is, but don’t forget the real reason you are there: To creep down to her basement and look through all of your old baseball cards.
7. Most importantly, take a breath and relax. Spend some time with your other die hard Cardinals friends, and just talk baseball. Talk about the glory that was 2011, and speculate about 2012. We all do it… It’s ok. Pretend you are Mo: What moves are you going to make this offseason? Who stays? Who goes?
Keep your mind in the game! It’s only 3 and a 1/2 months til pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
“People ask me what I do in the winter when there is no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
Hello everyone. My name is Steve Griffith. I am a new contributor this blog. I would first like to thank JE Powell for allowing me the opportunity to write about the Cardinals on his blog. Most of the time, my rants and raves about the Cardinals have taken place over an ice cold Bud Light while sitting on a barstool or recliner while watching a game, so to have this forum as a place to talk about the Cardinals excites me. JE approached me about contributing to his blog three or four days ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In fact, I’ve already written a few short posts that I am yet to publish.
So where did I come from? How did I become a Cards fan, and what makes what I have to say important?
Growing up in central Illinois, a boy has two options. They can be a Cubs fan or a Cardinals fan. That’s about it. My father, whose namesake I bear, tried his best to raise me as a Cubs fan. I remember how my Dad and I would watch Cubs games on tv. I always wondered why we rooted for a team that always did so bad. Growing up, the only thing I really yearned for, was to know my dad and I had something in common, and I thought cheering for his team would help us bond, but I also knew something just didn’t feel right about rooting for the Cubs, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was. Looking back now, I remember falling asleep while watching Cubs games (even in the middle of the day). Cubs baseball was just so boring to me.
So what happened? When did my baseball life turn around? The year was 1997. I was 15, and a close friend of mine asked me if my cousin and I wanted to take a trip down to St. Louis to catch a Cardinals game. I accepted his invitation, under the condition that I wouldn’t wear a Cardinals shirt, hat, or any other paraphanallia. We embarked on our 2 and a half hour journey to the Lou (as I affectionately call it now) in a little red Chevy S-10. The truck wasn’t very comfortable for the rider in the extended cab portion, so we took turns riding in the bed of the truck. A little over half way down to the Lou, we were pulled over by an unmarked police Mustang for speeding. When we told the officer we were heading to the game, he wished us well, let my friend off with a warning, and informed us that the person in the bed of the truck could legally drink as long as the driver could not touch the alcohol. We reminded the officer that we were only teenagers, and we all had a good laugh at his expense for basically giving his blessing to minors to consume alcohol.
When we finally arrived at Busch Stadium II, I remember gazing in wonder at the beautiful arches that adorned the top of the stadium. I immediately fell in love with this place. There was something almost magical about it. This may sound cliche, but I remember feeling like this place, this game, this team, completed me. It seemed to fill a void that had been missing in my life. Many religions tell us that our relationship with God makes us feel whole, and completes us. In my case, I already had my relationship with God, but it wasn’t until this game, that I knew Heaven was a real place; and it was only about 170 miles from my house. By the 3rd inning, I forgot about my past allegiance to the “Lovable Losers”, and was fully entrenched in the glory that is Cardinals baseball. I now gleefully anticipate every February when pitchers and catchers report, every Opening Day, every home game, every away game (even the west coast games that start at 9 or later). I own dozens of pieces of Cardinals memorabilia, several jerseys and hats, three pets named after Cardinals players or the city itself, and two Cardinals tattoos (pictures to follow).
Thinking back on how my love for the Cardinals began, I realize that I am a believer in the Nature side of the Nature vs. Nurture debate. My dad tried everything he could to nurture me to be a Cubs fan, but nature had another plan, and thank God it did. My heart always belonged in St. Louis, it just took me a while to understand it. Thanks again, Mr. Powell, for the opportunity to contribute to this page. I’ve got some great ideas for future posts, so if you are reading this now, check back often. There are some real exciting things I will be posting on here.
12 in ’12