A Cardinal Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, as you all know, we stop to say thanks for the many blessings the Lord has given us.  This list below is what we as Cardinal fans can be thankful for.  Of course, there’s the family, friends, country bit and I’m not suggesting these take precedence.  But, strictly from a Cardinal perspective, thanks for:

Ownership.  OK, let’s get the controversial one out of the way first.  Lots of people don’t feel that this ownership is much of anything to be thankful for.  They feel that Bill Dewitt and company are cheapskates who know that the devoted fans of St. Louis will come to the ballpark no matter what product is out there, especially with the new stadium.  Let’s say that’s true.  I don’t believe it is, but I’ll even give you that.  When the team was up for sale, there could have been investors from another town who said, “Hey, who cares about tradition?  I want to see the New Jersey Cardinals instead!”  Keeping the team in St. Louis should give them some thoughts at this time of year, if nothing else.

Then, they spent enough to put a great team together in the middle part of the decade.  Cynics will say they did that to keep interest up to get a new ballpark.  Fine, believe that if you want.  It doesn’t take away from the fact that we saw two 100 win teams in a row followed by an improbable World Series title.  Some of the credit–and the thanks–have to go toward them as well.

Plus, they locked up Albert Pujols to a long term deal.  We’ll talk about him next, but anything that keeps El Hombre in Cardinal Red is a very good thing.

Albert Pujols: The greatest hitter of our generation wears Cardinal red.  To be able to see him play on a daily basis should make your list of things to bring up around the table on Thursday.  It’s the rarest of things to not only see a Hall of Famer in his prime, but to see a player look like a lock for Cooperstown since his rookie year.  Appreciate him while he’s here and store up the stories to tell your grandchildren.

On a slight tangent, I’ve often wondered how good #4 is going to be for my son’s generation.  My dad watched Musial (6), I get Pujols (5) who has potential to be even better, so in about 20 years, #4 is going to be a doozy!

Jim Edmonds:  His flair for the dramatic since he’s come to St. Louis has given fans so much to appreciate.  The sliding grabs.  The plays in the 2004 NLCS, both the walk-off home run in Game 6 and The Catch.  The numerous times he’s robbed a home run.  (Cincinnati hates seeing Jim on the field!)  Jim has carried this team in the past and, going into what is likely his final season, we need to stop and realize how much he’s brought to the team since coming over for Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy, one of Walt Jocketty’s finest moves.

Scott Rolen:  Right now, half of Cardinal Nation wants him gone somewhere, anywhere.   That’s their right as fans, of course, but let’s remember that he pushed this team to the World Championship in 2006.  Without him, we might have seen the Mets win the whole thing, something that all of us can be thankful didn’t happen.  His offense may have deserted him (though I do have high hopes for the latest surgery), but he proved numerous times last year that his glove is still there, and there’s fewer things more impressive in baseball than watching Scott Rolen play third base.

Walt Jocketty:  No longer a Cardinal, but his impact has been left and his legacy fairly secure.  Walt was able to bring in star players, usually giving up nothing in return.  Players like McGwire, Rolen, Edmonds.  Some would say the game had changed, that he wasn’t as successful after the ill-fated Mark Mulder trade.  Be that as it may, he put together some great Cardinal baseball, and for that, we are thankful for his service.

John Mozeliak:  He wasn’t the first choice of ownership or fans, but he has the job and so far hasn’t done anything to work the fanbase into a frenzy.  You take what you can get sometimes.  If the stories are true and he is able to synthesize the scouting side and the stats side, though, we should have a lot more reasons for thanksgiving in the coming years.

Jason Isringhausen:  People thought he was done after his terrible 2006.   But Izzy proved in 2007 that he still could be a top of the line closer.  Unfortunately, due to blowouts both ways, he didn’t have as many chances, but he converted the ones that he had.  He was able to push away the boos that had come his way during the time where his hip was affecting him and continue to love playing for his hometown team, so much so that he declined to waive his no-trade clause.  You have to be thankful that the Cardinals have class guys like this on the team.

The Internet:  Before the Internet, Cardinal news was pretty scarce in the off-season, especially out here in the hinterlands of Cardinal Nation.  Now, with the net, we can have three page threads on the backup catcher signing within minutes of it happening.  Not only does information get around faster, but thoughts and opinions on that information do as well.  Being able to “talk baseball” at any time of the year with people that are as passionate about the team as you are is an amazing thing.  You have blogs that can give you the statistical breakdown of ideas in ways that you’d never see on a traditional broadcast or in the paper, especially if you weren’t in St. Louis.  While the Internet also allows for more abrasive and less tactful behavior, on the whole it is definitely something to be thankful for on those cold (depending where you are!) winter evenings.

Adam Wainwright:  From the famous scene of his arms spread wide after Brandon Inge’s strikeout in the World Series to the most consistent pitcher in the starting rotation, Wainwright has been on a roller coaster of usage and emotion in the last couple of years.  From the fire of 2007, though, we were able to see Wainwright develop into the “must see” pitcher of the staff, the guy you felt confident before the game would come out with the victory.  That meant a lot with this year’s staff, when you usually weren’t sure if the pitcher would make it into the fifth.  Wainwright’s acquisition from the Braves ranks right up there with some of Jocketty’s finest, and seeing him back to back with Chris Carpenter late next year or in 2009 should be a wonderful thing for Cardinal fans.

I, personally, am thankful for all those that read this blog, especially those that read it on a regular basis.  The views of the site continue to climb and I hope that you enjoy what you see here.

Programming note:  I’m pretty sure there’ll be no post tomorrow.  I’d like to think I’d get one up this weekend, especially if the Cardinals do something, but I make no promises.  Strong possibility I’ll see you again on Monday.

Also wanted to note that Redbirds Fun has indicated they’ll be joining the Cardinal Blogger Project this time around.

To you and yours, a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


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