Posted on November 13, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
| United Cardinal Bloggers
As you know, the Cardinals have now named Mike Matheny
as the next manager of the team. I'll have much more on that in the morning, but while I had some time, I wanted to make sure I got in my ballot for this year's Cardinal Blogger Awards, brought to you by the United Cardinal Bloggers
If you've been reading this site for a while, you've probably seen these awards in past years. This is the fifth time that we've done them, marking it as the longest consecutive project of the UCB. This year, we've added a little twist, in that we're allowing the readers of these blogs and followers of these Twitter accounts to have a little say in the matter as well. If you follow this link
, you too can make your voice heard in the balloting. If you want to vote for me in any of the blogger-related awards, I'd be honored, but you can't go wrong expressing your opinion on any of those nominated or available for selection.
OK, after the jump, we'll get started.
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Award 1: Player of the Year
For the last four years, this has been automatic. You write down Albert Pujols
's name and you move on to the next one on the list. This year, Pujols probably would only come in third on an average ballot. His slump at the beginning of the year overshadowed a strong finishing kick, but there's no doubt it wasn't one of his best years.
Instead, it comes down to Yadier Molina
and Lance Berkman
, and as much as I love Yadi and he had an outstanding year (though his defense was a bit shakier than normal), I have to give it to Berkman. Without Berkman, this team likely digs itself a hole early in the year that it was unable to get out of. John Mozeliak's $8 million investment paid off handsomely.
Award 2: Pitcher of the Year
He's dominated this award in the past and again I'll have to be unoriginal and go with Chris Carpenter
. Jason Motte
and some of the other young guns in the bullpen did some outstanding work as well, but Carpenter is the one that drug this team into the playoffs to some degree. Throwing two shutouts in the span of five weeks and eight scoreless innings in another is enough to get a lot of respect, but his postseason work was outstanding (for the most part) as well.
Award 3: Regular Season Game of the Year
There really were some amazing games this year. I've got a fondness for April 3, where Jaime Garcia
threw a shutout while the UCB looked on from their suite seats as part of the Cards' first Blogger Event. Most of the month of September should be included in the discussion, from Carp's shutouts of Milwaukee and Houston to the Carlos Marmol
game against the Cubs. All very, very fine choices.
For me, though, I'm going to go with one a little bit stranger, a little bit wilder, that helped sum up this team. August 2, 2011
found St. Louis in Milwaukee, a inhospitable place for most team. Garcia started this one and struggled early. The Cards got behind 3-1, but scored five (including a home run by Jaime) to take a 6-3 lead. They almost immediately blew it, giving up four in the fifth to trail by one. After tying the game, they wound up winning it in the 11th.
All of that was crazy enough, but then you had Yadier Molina
taking a borderline third strike and going ballistic, the umpire's over-the-top acting like Yadi had drenched him in spit, Pujols being hit and then Motte coming out--in a tie game!--and throwing not one but two pitches at Ryan Braun
, finally putting him on. Lance Lynn
showed that he was a force in the bullpen and Matt Holliday
and Berkman combined to win the game. There's very little that happened in the Cardinal season that wasn't encapsulated in that game. (Plus, it doesn't hurt that this all happened on my birthday!)
Award 4: Post-Season Game of the Year
Game 6 of the World Series is going to win this award and I've got no problem with that. It was an historic, amazing game and it deserves every accolade it is given. However, remember that it was a sloppy game for the first half of the night as well. For my money, the most incredible, outstanding postseason game was Game 5 of the NLDS. Carpenter vs. Roy Halladay
. A run scored before the first out, then nothing else all night long. I spent that game pacing a square of my carpet in front of the TV and interacting with my Twitter friends that were as stressed as I was. It was an outstanding experience and a game that will get overshadowed some with the rest of the postseason run but one that deserves the spotlight.
Award 5: Surprise Player of the Year
I was really surprised that Lance Berkman
came back the way that he did, I'm not going to lie. However, I think more surprising was the impact that Jon Jay
made on this squad. With his tailspin after the trade of Ryan Ludwick
in 2010, I really thought that the league might have caught on to Jay and we'd seen the best that we were going to see out of him. Instead, he came out and played well enough that the Cards felt comfortable trading Colby Rasmus
, a deal that saved the season.
Award 6: Disappointing Player of the Year
You could throw a stone into the pre-July bullpen and most likely hit a solid candidate for this award. That said, I have to give the tag to Ryan Franklin
. I felt like he'd been living on borrowed time the last couple of years, but I didn't expect that the note would be called due quite this quickly. A gradual decline would have been expected, but to have one save all year long and not even be able to contribute much when moved out of the closer role was nothing we saw coming back in the spring.
Award 7: Cardinal Rookie of the Year
Wasn't the best year for the young guns, as a lot of them had already lost rookie status. I really liked what we saw out of Lynn, but he was hurt a good portion of the stretch run. Adron Chambers
brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team, but really wasn't around very much. I think I'll go with a guy that technically was a rookie, having only pitched 30 innings the year before. Fernando Salas
stepped in and stabilized the late innings before turning the closer role over to Motte and did some great work in the setup role as well. Without him, the Cards might have gone with Franklin or Miguel Batista
longer than they did, which would have been disastrous.
Award 8: Pre-Season Acquisition of the Year
There's no doubt that this one as well, as only one of Mozeliak's moves last winter really paid big dividends. Lance Berkman
made that offseason a good one, no matter what anyone else did.
Award 9: Mid-Season Acquisition of the Year
Most everyone (well, not really Corey Patterson
) that Mozeliak acquired around the July trade deadline paid off handsomely and even his August acquisition of Arthur Rhodes
worked out as well. I'm excited to see what Marc Rzepczynski
can do in the future with the Redbirds, but my choice on this one has to be Octavio Dotel
. I never thought that it would be when the trade was made, thinking Dotel to be an veteran well past his prime, but he impressed me with his strikeout ability and his solid work. Very rarely was he tagged with anything or have a bad outing and his arm helped put that bullpen into some sort of order.
Award 10: Most Anticipated Cardinal
I'm a pitching guy through and through, which means I'm just counting the days until Shelby Miller
takes the mound at Busch Stadium. He's still got some work to do, but I wouldn't be surprised if August or September of 2012 doesn't have him in the bigs and the UCB looking for a new name to give this award to next season.
Award 11: Best Individual Cardinal Blog
The ranks of active Cardinal blogs written by one individual expanded some this year and there is quality work going on throughout the whole Cardinal blogosphere. Naming just one is a tough chore and I want to thank all of my friends in the UCB that have cast a ballot for me in this category because there are so many very good ones to choose from.
That said, I'll cast my vote for Bob over at On The Outside Corner
. Bob's got a grand way of tying current day to historical precedent (like Mark at RetroSimba
does as well) and he's also often got great information about the guys coming up through the farm. If he's not on your regular reading, he should be.
Award 12: Best Team Cardinal Blog
There are really some amazing team blogs in our group as well, blogs that tend to work together almost seamlessly to put up quality content. I love what Bill does at I70 Baseball
and there's not a bigger supporter of the guys at Pitchers Hit Eighth
than me either. That said, this year I'm going to go with Aaron Miles' Fastball
. Due to limitations at work, AMF was a site I was able to read through our firewall pretty often and I enjoy their regular postings and discussions about the game.
Award 13: Best Professional Blog
I'm going to give this to Obviously, You're Not A Golfer
, but I'm cheating just a bit. There's no doubt that Matthew Leach puts up some great stuff over at his blog, but I'm giving him the edge due to his active and engaging Twitter presence and his great support of the blogging community over the years. Plus, while he constantly destroyed me in Words With Friends, he was generous enough to keep playing (and destroying) me for quite some time.
Award 14: Best Rookie Cardinal Blog
Looking at the list of blogs that started work between December 1, 2010 and when we put this list together, it's a very impressive body. Aaron Miles
' Fastball is on there. El Maquino
is on there. Redbird Dugout
is on there. STL: Fear The Red
is on there. The blog that really piqued my curiosity this year, though, was The Redbird Menace
. Malcolm writes some really interesting stuff in a manner that's fairly unique. He had to set the blog aside for a while to focus on passing the bar (and it's always good to have a lawyer in a group like this) but he's back and I'd say you should add it to your bookmarks.
Award 15: Post of the Year
Let me say up front that I'm really proud of my submission to this category. Obviously I am or I wouldn't have submitted it! However, it's very tough not to go with Bill's post "Backyard Dreams
". To be able to tie in what David Freese
did in Game 6 to what Jim Edmonds
had done years before to what all kids practice in their backyard made for a wonderful, touching read.
Award 16: Best UCB Project
Since I'm the one that comes up with the UCB schedule, I hate to choose one project over another. That doesn't mean I won't do it, just that I hate doing it. I'm very proud of the Progressive Game Blog, because I think it's a one of a kind project that's never been done anywhere else before, but all in all the roundtables--both in February/March and October/November (/December this year!)--give the most fun for the longest period of time.
Award 17: Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
If you're blue/and you don't know where to go to/why don't you go where upbeat sits/Diamond Diaries
fits. The girls may not post quite as much anymore, but there's no doubt they have a very sunny view of whatever situation the Cardinals might find themselves in. I have a feeling that will be even stronger after what we saw the team do in 2011!
Award 18: Best UCB Podcast
You could call me a producer of the UCB Radio Hour, being the guy that lines up the hosts and makes sure everything is going OK, plus I sit in the big chair once every couple of months. You hear me and Bill every Sunday on Gateway to Baseball Heaven and obviously Conversations With C70 is mine as well. So I'm limited in what I can vote for, being that I'm not going to vote for anything I've got my hand in.
However, that preceding paragraph should not be construed as any slight against my actual selection, the Pitchers Hit Eighth podcast
. I've repeatedly expressed my admiration both here and to both Nick and Josh at how well that podcast is done. They've lined up incredible guests and, even though time constraints have no meaning when these guys get together, the shows never feel long, drawn-out, or tired at all. In all honestly, their work and the conversational style of Nick and Josh just sitting down talking is what inspired me to go about trying the medium out and I'm still trying to get my show to those standards.
Award 19: Best UCB Twitterer
If you aren't following basically everyone in the UCB on Twitter, you need to. There's no better way to spend a day (especially during the off-season when you need to talk baseball) than following all of these guys and girls and engaging them in conversations. If you could only follow just one, though---man, that'd be a tough call. You'd miss out on @throatwarbler
's Twitter tales or @poisonwilliam
's shameless self promotions or @MattSebek
's cutting humor, but I think you'd have to go with @gr33nazn
. Dennis brings it all--good discussions, insightful commentary and humor to boot. If you aren't following him (or any of these guys) you've got to get to it.
Award 20: Best Fake Twitter Account
There were a lot of Twitter accounts that sprung up during the stretch run. The rally squirrel had one. Motte's glove had one. Even the Cardinal bullpen got one after the Game 5 miscommunications. However, the best one, hands down, was @TortyCraig
. Written from the perspective of Allen Craig's pet tortoise, it was a well-written account that stayed true to its own universe and was completely believable (if you accepted the premise, of course). After the Series, the account was shut down, but I raise a sprinkled doughnut in honor of the creativity of that account.
Twenty awards. That's a lot of excellence. And there were so many that didn't get recognized because, with the nature of awards, you can only pick one to take home the hardware, no matter how many were deserving. We'll tabulate the results at the end of the week and you'll find them over at the official site when we do. Until then, though, get your vote in and let your voice be heard!