As St. Louis Cardinals fans, we obviously love our team … on Valentine’s Day and every other day too. And those of us who are bloggers especially love the Cardinals — we willingly spend our free time watching, thinking, writing, tweeting and writing even more about them.
So, with our question for the latest United Cardinal Bloggers roundtable falling today, we couldn’t resist a question focusing on this holiday.
Our question for our blogging cohorts: what one Cardinal, past or present, would you send a Valentine to this year and why?
My first response to this question was Willie McGee. I really wish McGee was more a part of this organization, and if my Valentine could move him to do that, then I’d send it to him. I love you, Willie!!!
Given that my plan probably wouldn’t work, I’d send my Valentine to John Tudor. He was inspirational to me in 1985. I was learning to pitch at the time (rather than just throw),and Tudor was my major influence. Watching him work that year was like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistene Chapel. In my mind, it’s the single best Cardinal pitching performance in my lifetime (just missed Gibby).
Besides that, Tudor was a true competitor who was humble and self-deprecating. I just love the guy and always will.
C70 At the Bat
Besides the obvious fact that I should have organized a UCB mailing of Valentines to Stan The Man (let’s put this on the calendar for 2013!), I’d send one to my first favorite Cardinal, the Wizard. We’ll be seeing Ozzie more now with the change in managers, most likely, but he’s always been a favorite. (But I’ll spare you the picture of him and my son from a couple of years ago — I think you’ve already seen it!)
Currently, I’d send one to Adam Wainwright, because I’m very excited to see him back on the mound this season.
Jerry McNertney — My friends and I drove the three hours to the ballpark as 16-year-old kids on five Sundays in one season and it was a trend that the regular catcher got that day off.
Invariably, McNertney was the back-up and seemed to hit a home runs every time we attended. At least it felt that way. So the Valentines goes to him for helping us love the Cardinals even more and gave us something to talk about going home.
Saint Louis Sports
I am going to go a little different direction with this one. My Valentine is going to go to Joe Thurston. As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I have not disliked one player more than Joe Thurston. I cannot speak for the entire Cardinals fanbase, but many other fans I know also disliked Joe Thurston. 99.9 percent of the dislike for Mr. Thurston came due to his performance (or lack thereof) on the field and at the plate.
Mr. Thurston was always aware of his fans and their thoughts. Someone started a Joe Thurston page on Facebook, and numerous fans discussed their displeasures regarding his performance. Mr. Thurston actually sent me an email, talking about how he did not appreciate the “trash talk” regarding his game.
Therefore, since Joe probably needs a little lovin’, I am going to send my Valentine to Joe Thurston, and let him know I like him more now since he is not a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Happy Valentine’s Day, Joe!
A Valentine for Rick “The Stick” Ankiel.
We’re coming up on his 5-year anniversary debuting as a position player after a originally making the majors as a promising pitcher.
Again. He was a good pitcher and then decided to become a good position player. All while “dating” women at a clip that puts him in a good position to become CEO of Vivid Entertainment when he decides to retire from professional baseball.
Don’t Google Vivid Entertainment at work.
Happy V-Day Rick!
St. Louis Sports 360
Oh, this is tough, because it’s bordering into favorite Cardinal territory, which I’ve always kind of shyed away from answering. So many have meant different things at different times, so can I do a few? Okay, thanks.
One goes to Ozzie. He was my first hero athlete and a really great guy to talk to as both a kid and an adult
Another goes to Gregg Jefferies, because he had a great year here when Busch Stadium seemed allergic to those.
Mark McGwire gets one, because regardless of what’s come of it, he revived interest in baseball in a country that needed it and he made me feel like I was really watching Roy Hobbs. Every pitch seemed like an opportunity to see something amazing.
Another goes to Matt Morris, because he was just awesome. I wish he’d come back around.
And finally for Cardinals of yesteryear, Jim Edmonds gets one because how can you not love Jim. He made sitting in the bleachers at both parks a blast.
For Cardinals now, Carlos Beltran gets some love. Welcome to Baseball Heaven, and it’s time to become a hero.
Cards Tied for First
For me, it has to be the guys that “captured my heart” as a young Cardinals fan. I’d send them out to Ozzie, Willie and Vince. Tudor, Forsch, Dayley, Worrell and Whitey would all get one too. I’d probably even send Fernando Vina one too.
Birds on the Bat 82
I’m same as Dathan, those ’80s teams taught me to love baseball. So I’m sending Valentines to: Tommy Herr, Jose Oquendo, Terry Pendleton, Jack Clark, Willie McGee, Ozzie, Vince Coleman, Danny Cox, John Tudor, Todd Worrell, Ken Dayley and Lee Smith.
For good measure, I’ll throw a couple extra in the box for Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan and Ron Gant. Even though they came along much later, the only two things I remember with much certainty about the ’90s were Ozzie’s retirement and how awesome that outfield was. The rest is a blur of mediocrity to me.
While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and throw a few more in to guys from this decade I love(d) to watch play: Jimmy Edmonds, Mike Matheny, Scott Rolen, Matt Morris, Steve Kline, Yadi, Berkman, Larry Walker, Reggie Sanders, David Freese, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
Aww, what the hell, while we’re at it, I’ll give it to the guys who make the least amount of money of anybody listed (and would appreciate a little Valentine love). Here’s some baby birds I’ve really enjoyed watching and getting to know: Adron Chambers, Tyler Greene, Brandon Dickson, Matt Adams, Ryan Jackson, John Gast, Zack Cox, Trevor Rosenthal, Garrett Wittels, Carlos Martinez.
Much love all around for V-Day to the Cards!
Guess I’m secure enough in my manhood to play along. So a big heart would go out to Ted Simmons for being a smart, independent, tough Cardinals hero while I was a teenager, working the radio in my parents’ kitchen in Ohio each night, trying to draw the KMOX signal from 9 pm on.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Aaron Miles’ Fastball
Of course there are so many Cardinals that I love. I could easily make a case for Stan the Man (but who couldn’t?) as many have said, Rick Ankiel deserves one (especially after that heart-warming “Thank You” in the paper last season) and plenty of Cardinal greats are worthy of a little V-Day love.
And this season, who could forget one Mr. David Freese? His post season heroics make him a prime candidate as well. But, I’m going to go with 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein. I tend to have a soft spot for the “scrappiest” of the scrappy, and David fit that to a “T.” That World Series held a lot of personal meaning, and David’s part in it certainly did too!
So, David gets my Cardinal Valentine.
Wow, this is a solid question. I have spent most of the day thinking about this, tossing names back and forth, and I finally settled.
I like the thought of a Cardinal great from the past. Someone who has left a mark on my baseball fandom. Big Mac in ’98, Ozzie and his backflip, Mark Whitten’s amazing double header, Darryl Kile, Jack Buck, So hard to choose …
Ok, I’m putting on the blindfold. I’m stepping in front of the firing squad. I’m ready to be executed for this one. But, there is one Cardinal Legend who has left a bigger impression than the others.
You got it … I’m sending my Valentine Card to Albert Pujols. I’m ready to move past all this hatred and admit to the fact that he put together the greatest 11 years in a Cardinal uniform I have ever witnessed. Do I like the way it ended? Of course not, he should have never left. But that does not change the fact of what he did for the game, for the team, for “us” the fans. No matter how he left, he will still be the player that I tell my children, my grandchildren and anyone else that will listen. The commercial was right … I saw Albert do everything.
If you can look back at McGwire and say “I know now that he was cheating, but look at what he did for the game,” then I cannot see why we cannot say “I know he left and I feel betrayed, but look what he did for this team.”
For the first 11 years of his career, for his play on the field and for being the greatest Cardinal I have ever personally seen play: my Valentine’s Card of Appreciation goes to Albert Pujols.
On the Outside Corner
In the general sense, it would be all of the players that passed through St. Louis for a short time — just to let them know they are remembered. Players like Carl Warwick, Glen Hobbie, Jim Cosman, John Fulgham, Silvio Martinez, John Stuper, Rich Folkers (is throwing up in the bullpen), the other two Cruz brothers, John Urrea, Andy Rincon, Curt Ford, Al Jackson, Larry Jaster.
Narrowing it down to a single name, it has to be Dick Hughes. The tenacity to stick with baseball when it was obvious things weren’t working out, reinventing himself in what he though was a new situation, turning in one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in Cardinals history, and then pitching for a year on a blown out shoulder. What a story. If that doesn’t scream, “Play like a Cardinal,” I don’t know what does. At the very least, it warrants a Valentine’s Day card, to let him know that the fans still remember.
If the name Dick Hughes is unfamiliar, here is something from I-70 Baseball that will help you understand.
Aaron Miles’ Fastball
OK … I have a long list. So lets get to it!
Stan Musial gets one for being THE man!
Ozzie Smith, John Tudor and Willie McGee get one for capturing this little girl’s heart watching the team play.
Matt Morris gets one for being the first Cardinal that made me swoon! It helped that he’s an awesome pitcher too.
Mark McGwire gets one for hitting home runs and helping recapture the nation’s attention that baseball is awesome. The PEDs might have gotten the Valentine tarnished a bit, but then he had to go and become the hitting coach and really help a lot of the young guys on this 2011 team.
Will Clark gets one for being my favorite non-Cardinal-to-become-a-Cardinal! I am still mad I missed seeing him play in a Cardinal uniform in person by a week.
Jim Edmonds just gets one. So does Scott Rolen.
Yadi Molina gets one for being awesome. Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter get one for similar reasons.
David Freese gets one for Game 6 of the World Series alone.
I could go on, of course!
Pitchers Hit Eighth
Given the instructions – ONE Cardinal – mine will go to Tony La Russa. How could it not? Here’s hoping the pitcher hits eighth in the All-Star Game.
My own thoughts:
I was tempted to say either Mark McGwire, for attracting my attention in 1998 and ultimately persuading me to abandon the Cubs for the right side of the rivalry, or Rick Ankiel, who was the first Cardinal I liked when I became a fan in 2000. But looking back to those first days I followed the Cardinals made me realize who my real Valentine is for: Jack Buck.
For that first season I was a fan, my only way of following the Cardinals regularly was via radio. (Since 2001, I’ve had DirecTV.) After years and years of instant access to TV and radio broadcasts of the Cubs, this was quite a change — especially because the local station that brings Cardinals games is about 35 miles outside of the Quad Cities so reception is not always the best. Yet I listened, at home or in the car, to game after game and learned about my new team from one of the all-time greats. Jack only did home games at that stage, with Joe Buck and Mike Shannon doing the away games, yet it’s Jack’s wisdom and storytelling that I remember most from those days.
And it’s Jack who I want to recognize with my Cardinals Valentine today. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend that season listening so much to him. He definitely made me realize I’d made the right decision in becoming a Cardinals fan.
This question also was asked via the UCB’s Twitter account, which prompted these answers.
Stan Musial. He continues to represent the organization with class and dignity.
I’d send one to Lance Berkman, b/c I’m sorry I made fun of him this time last year and I need closure
Mark McGwire he is my personal favorite and a hero of mine. Present would be Eduardo Sanchez hes awesome and talented.
Yadi! he TURNed ME ON to baseball in ’06 postseason! Loved him ever since!
Thanks to all for the responses!
To end our Valentine’s Day tribute, it’s your turn. Which Cardinal would you send one to? Happy Valentine’s Day!
Also, since there’s still more than a week to vote, here’s another request to vote for Kelsey Shea for the MLB Fan Cave. Vote right here, and read more about Kelsey and why we’re supporting her here.