It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I hope that you are somewhere with family, looking forward to a enjoyable meal and all the warmth the holiday can bring. I’ll be heading out to my parents soon for turkey, cranberry sauce, and all the wonderful side dishes that we have as a tradition. What’s also a tradition, at least around this blog, is to review some things that we as Cardinal fans should be thankful for at this time of year. So if you make a list, or if you get put on the spot during some pre-meal discussion, here are a few items for which to give thanks. (There may be repetition from prior year lists, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy.)
–The history of the organization. Yes, we’ve seen the Cubs break a curse this year, and that’s still somewhat painful, but we can be thankful that it doesn’t take 108 years between Cardinal titles. They’ve won three times in my lifetime with four other trips to the World Series tossed in for good measure. We have luminaries like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock that have worn the birds on the bat. You can make a starting nine out of Cardinal players that are in the Hall of Fame, it feels like. The history of this club is as rich as any outside of the New York pinstripes and that’s a great thing to be a fan of.
–While some may gripe at their spending habits or their cautious approach to things, Cardinal fans are blessed to have this kind of ownership and front office. The Cardinals’ 2016 Opening Day salaries were significantly larger than teams from New York and Chicago. The market size for the club is well on the small side in relation to the rest of MLB, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they put their money into the club. Could they do more? Could they do it differently? Perhaps, and that’s a fair argument. However, I’d rather discuss how they spend rather than if they are going to spend at all, as you have to do with so many owners around the league. Also, John Mozeliak’s approach to things has seen the Cardinals in the postseason much more often than they’ve been sitting at home in October and we’ve only seen sub-.500 baseball once in his tenure. The Cardinals go into every day with a good chance to win that night’s ballgame and that’s in large part to the folks at the top.
–We should also be thankful we got to see Matt Holliday play in St. Louis as well as being grateful for that last weekend under the Arch. Holliday arrived in the shadow of Albert Pujols and then played second fiddle to folks like Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, but there’s no doubt he was one of the rare folks to get a long-term, big-money contract and live up to it. He was a pillar of production as well as a great person to have in the community. We should definitely be appreciative of the time he spent here and what he meant to the organization.
–There are two faces left from the most recent core three and I think everyone is thankful that Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina ply their trade in Cardinal red. Besides the fact that both of them have been overall some of the greatest performers in the league, much less on the team, both have done incredible things off the field, whether it’s Wainwright’s Big League Impact or Yadi’s M4 clothing line to raise money for various charitable needs. If the public face is any indication, these are two incredibly fine human beings and it’s great to claim them as ours.
–It may not have led to the most fulfilling season, but it was kinda neat to see all the homers this year, wasn’t it? It wasn’t typical Cardinal baseball, but we should be thankful that we got one of those crazy seasons where the ball continually left the yard. It seems less likely that it’s going to happen going forward, so enjoy those memories.
–Give thanks also that The Final Boss was more than just a catchy nickname. Seung-hwan Oh rescued the bullpen after the implosion of Trevor Rosenthal and without that, who knows how miserable 2016 would have been? (I mean, it’s been a rough year all the way around it seems, but that would have been even worse.)
–Also, we should be thankful for the young, upcoming generation. Alex Reyes leads that, of course, but you have folks like Luke Weaver and Harrison Bader that should provide some great moments as well as folks like Stephen Piscotty and (hopefully) Randal Grichuk and Kolten Wong that are more established but are still fairly new in their major league career. We heard a lot about the “aging core” and there was some truth there, but the next core might be closer than folks think.
–We’re fans of a team that draws huge ratings every day on TV, so much so that there’s a billion dollar contract coming. Of a team that has consistently won over the past two decades. Of a team that has limited public miscues out of its players. Of a team that is seen as one of the crown jewels of baseball. How can you not be thankful for all of that?
On a personal note, besides health, family, and the like, I’m thankful for all the folks that I’ve met blogging over the past nine-plus years. I appreciate those that read here on a regular basis as well as listen to the various podcasts and I’m honored when I hear kind words about my output. I hope that you will continue to stick with me going forward and that you have an exceptionally great Thanksgiving!