Have you missed me? I’m back!
I started this blog nearly a decade ago, on Super Bowl weekend 2007 to be exact.
Along the way, I’ve worked through the many highs and occasional lows of being a St. Louis Cardinals fan alongside fellow Redbirds rooters across the country.
It was with a lot of pride that I didn’t miss a single day of blogging for the first nine years. I wrote on Christmas mornings, the day my son was born and, of course, many, many days on which the beloved home team won. Or lost.
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But it was time for a break. After more than two decades as a journalist — including the last 18 years working for my hometown newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, I embarked on a new career in public relations and web design work at Lindenwood University.
I don’t think I’ve watched as little baseball any summer in the past 30 years as I did last year because of other preoccupations. But now I’m refreshed and reinspired to kick things into gear once again. A new year and a new season is time for a new beginning.
It’s been tough keeping my Cardinals thoughts to myself over a turbulent end to the 2016 and a similarly angst-filled offseason.
Since we last talked, the Cardinals, unfortunately, felt they needed to say goodbye to one of the hardest-working, most accomplished players to ever have worn the Birds on the Bat: Matt Holliday.
It made sense from a dollars and cents perspective. Holliday was set to make $17 million as his skills inevitably lost the battle against time. But the Birds, long built on a philosophy of keeping three-pillar players in the middle of the roster, surrounded by a steady stream of solid, home-grown talent, have so far failed to find a legitimate middle of the order bat to replace their departed star.
The team did add Dexter Fowler, who is certainly a nice boost for the lineup. But I don’t think anyone expects him to be the guy who carries the team.
Fowler allows Matt Carpenter to slide down the order to attempt to fill in Holliday’s spot. And he also allows Randal Grichuk, who struggled at times in 2016, to move over to left field where he can concentrate on his hitting by playing a less-demanding defensive position.
The affable Fowler ought to make the St. Louis offense much more multidimensional. He’s a more traditional leadoff man than Carpenter with the ability to steal bases in bunches. And he ought to lighten things up in the clubhouse.
I just wish the Cardinals would have added a prototypical slugger, too.
With Holliday, Jaime Garcia and Jordan Walden shed from the payroll, and the possibility that Lance Lynn, Jonathan Broxton and even — gasp — Yadier Molina could be gone after next season means the local club has a ton of financial flexibility.
So, that’s where we pick things back up.
It’s going to be a season of change for the Cardinals. People in these parts don’t like to use buzzwords like “rebuilding.” But, while this might not be a Chicago White Sox-style fire sale, it’s pretty obvious that the front office has stepped back to take a wide-angle view of how this team will be configured as it heads into the third decade of the 21st century.
While I believe the Birds could have — should have — done more, that doesn’t mean they can’t compete. I am excited to see what Grichuk can do, if only the manager would leave him alone and let him play. I’m also curious to see whether Kolten Wong can keep his swing and his fragile ego sorted out well enough to become the player his physical talents would support.
I want to know whether ace Adam Wainwright and one-time future ace Michael Wacha can put injuries behind them. It’s the difference between the Cardinals having one of the best three rotations in baseball and a total train wreck.
There’s nothing more fun in sports than to shock the world to prove you’re better than what the “experts” think of you.
So, anyway … I’m planning to write at least three times a week as we move forward, most likely on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. But I’m sure there will be a lot more when the season or the action on and off the field warrant. So, please, bookmark this page and come back often.
I’ve really appreciated the way fellow Cardinals fans have supported this blog over the years, and I’m glad to be back. I hope you’ll rejoin me.
I have honestly missed it.
But at least it’s a good thing that absolutely nothing of significance happened in the world of Major League Baseball since we last talked!
I’ll see you in the cheap seats!