It’s time for another United Cardinal Bloggers unified project. Each December we individually write what we believe were the Top 5 Cardinal stories in 2010. Now this can be a daunting project due to so many things happen in a baseball season and it doesn’t have to be “in season”. Some of mine are off-season things that I believe impacted the team.
Why did I put them in the order they are in? I believe some of the earlier things greatly influenced some things later on. Here goes:
- The hiring of Mark McGwire as hitting instructor had a profound influence on the rest of the year. Management was chastised for hiring him, McGwire was seen as a person just trying to save his career and the players felt the pressure of doing well under his tutelage. He had not major league coaching experience. The team had its moments of good hitting but for the most part Big Mac was getting the heat. Some players were said to not like his style of hitting advice, some were rumored to say they were going back to their old ways and at least one went home to daddy for his hitting advice. This move also sent currents into some of the other stories for 2010.
- Second story finds the Cardinals INABILITY to beat bad teams, those under .500. It is well documented that the 2-8 stretch near the end probably was doomsday City for the Birds. This inability came from several sources. The team had little chemistry, had good pitchers going through bad stretches, lack of timely hitting and an field manager that didn’t show us the fire he had in the past.
- The bad karma. This entails several issues wrapped up together to make my point. The Rasmus/LaRussa falling out was part of that. Tony had times that Colby didn’t play or get much time. Rasmus issued a decree and someone on the clubhouse uttered it outloud and it became sports news. To go along with that, Brendan Ryan was getting yelled at on National TV by Carpenter and called out for varying things by his manager. “Why Can’t we Be Friends” was not the song in the clubhouse. Couple all of this with the trade of a productive right-fielder while we are in or near first place and the morale goes down and the team falls flat. Ludwick wasn’t a savior but he had some glue possibilities. He left town and John Jay went in the tank.
- The emergence of Jamie Garcia. The lefthander was in a three-way battle for a starting spot in Spring Training and won out. LaRussa was giving a spot to a rookie pitcher. That in itself was newsworthy. At times, Garcia was brilliant and other times he was good. But seldom was he flat-out bad. He was a bright spot on a rather mundane season.
- The FIGHT. Chris Carpenter is a guy I want on my team but lately he has found many things to complain about. It was this fight that the Cardinals found out they were not as tough as they thought they were. Yadi has swagger but we couldn’t sustain back-up and we folded to the youthful Reds with stamina. It ended our season for all purposes.
Now there are many things that can be written in a Top 5. I am saving my Pujols contract issue for 2011 and the return of LaRussa could be sprinkled in. To me, it started with McGwire as hitting instructor and we clenched up from there.
Hope everyone has a great 2011!!!!!