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As the 2010 season begins to wind down, I thought it was a good time to reminisce. So, I pulled out my “Yo, MTV Raps” greatest hits and put together my own personal Top 10 Rap & Hip Hop Hits: 2010 Cardinals Edition.
So, Party People, here we go …
- Fight the Power (Public Enemy)
The 2010 Cardinals seem to have been defined by an underlying power struggle … between the front office and the field manager. And of course Colby Rasmus’ dad seems to have inserted himself in that power struggle as well (see greatest hit #8 below). Whether or not that struggle actually exists or will manifest itself isn’t really known — but the perception was/is certainly there. And perception is reality, as they say. My friend Jeff Gentry spoke about this yesterday when he listed the 5 Pressing Questions for the Cardinals, including “Whose team is it anyway?”. Check out his post for a more thorough (and better written) analysis.
- Nuthin’ but a “GD” Thing (Dr. Dre)
With apologies to Dr. Dre (“Nuthin’ but a G Thing”) … The 2010 Cardinals entered the season seemingly answering some of the offensive questions from last year. They signed Matt Holliday, had Colby Rasmus from Opening Day, and had a healthy David Freese chillin’ at the hot corner. And there were few defensive questions. However, the defense seemed to let them down – most notably in the middle infield. Furthermore, a few of the moves the Cardinals made were apparently for defensive reasons– they certainly didn’t sign Pedro Feliz for his bat, and Lopez isn’t an offensive threat — and those moves didn’t really help with the defense either. There are some offensive holes to fill for next year. And the 2011 Cardinals will need to address the defense as well.
- I Used to Love H.E.R. TLR (Common)
Okay, this time with apologies to Common (“I used to love H.E.R.) … There is nobody Cardinals scribes & media gurus (and Cubs fans) love to hate more than Tony LaRussa. A few Cardinals fans are on that bandwagon as well. They seem to have forgotten that he brought the Cardinals up from the abyss of the mid-90’s (see SoeBeck’s piece here). Certainly a time comes when a change in manager is necessary. And it is possible that time has arrived (or passed, or will arrive in the near future). The common refrain from many in the know (or who like to sound as if they are) is “I used to love TLR”. For the record, despite the times he frustrates me, I still love TLR. And I’m not afraid to admit it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it might be best for the Cardinals to go in a new direction now or in the near future. However, I think he deserves to go on his terms and in his time. He’s earned it.
- It Takes Two (Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock)
There are several things the Cardinals needs to address this off-season (see #10 below). But, there are two primary questions they must answer — and likely before any other questions are addressed. First, they must answer the Pujols question. Will he stay? And what will it take to keep him? Secondly, they must address the manager question. Is TLR going to be back? And if not, who will replace him? Those two primary issues must be answered. And quickly. Every other move the Cardinals make likely revolved around the answers to those two questions.
- Stan (Eminem)
Cardinals fans were reminded again this year of the amazing history we are part of — an there are no goats orcurses to be found. Every day El Hombre reminds us of The Man by his consistency and character. And this season we were reminded of Stan the Man through the “Stand for Stan” campaign. If you haven’t already, you should consider Standing for Stan as well. You can find out more at the official Stand For Stan site.
- Shed So Many Tears (2 Pac)
It’s been a tough year for Cardinals fans. What should have been an exciting season has turned into an excruciating one. And I admit, we’re a spoiled bunch. We can be whiny and annoying. We’ve become accustomed to playing in the postseason and competing for championships. It’s hard to watch your team implode when you’re not used to it. Which leads us to …
- Keep Ya Head Up (2 Pac)
While the 2010 Cardinals were consistently inconsistent … there is promise for the future. The foundation of the team is strong, with Wainwright, Carpenter and Garcia at the top of the rotation and (assuming) Pujols and Holliday at the heart of the order. The front office has already announced a plan to increase payroll the next two seasons and the team drew 3 million fans again. It was a frustrating year, but the future looks bright. While there may be some payroll baggage (Kyle Lohse) there are no Soriano’s to worry about. And Garcia, Rasmus, a healthy Freese and success in the farm system all bode well for the Cardinals in 2011 and beyond.
- Parents Just Don’t Understand (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince)
Colby Rasmus is either going to be the next great National League center fielder or the next outfielder that should have been great but never really was (J.D. Drew anyone?). It’s anyone’s guess. But if he wants any chance of being his best, daddy is gonna have to back off. No one can serve two masters. And, once you make it to the big leagues, it’s time to let daddy stay at home or sit in the stands. Read Gentry’s take on Colby in “My Two Dads”
- O.P.P. (Naughty By Nature)
Dating back to the Jocketty era in St. Louis, the Cardinals have a history of building teams with O.P.P (Other People’s Players and Other People’s Pitchers). But the 2010 version of O.P.P. didn’t include the likes of Will Clark, Big Mac and Larry Walker or Dennis Eckersley and Jeff Suppan circa 2006. Instead it included the likes of Randy Winn, Felipe Lopez, Aaron Miles (not circa 2006) and an injured Brad Penny. It might be time for the Cardinals to focus more on developing a strong farm system and winning with their own rather than relying on O.P.P.
- Bust A Move (Young MC)
We finish with a classic. And for the Cardinals perhaps the most important. They must first sign Pujols. But soon after, if the postseason is the plan, they need to get busy this off-season and bust a move. Or two or three. With Pujols signed, the core is there. But they have to build around the core with more than retreads and has-beens. Another big bat or two, an upgrade at middle infield and a solid back end of the rotation and bullpen are crutial for the 2011 Cardinals to outperform the 2010 edition.
As of today, there are two tight races in the National League involving Cincinnati and St. Louis.
The Cardinals are chasing the Reds to be champs of the Central.
And Votto is chasing Pujols for National League MVP.
The Reds have been consistent. The Cardinals have been consistently inconsistent. And, as much as I hate to say it, I think that’s likely going to lead to a division championship for the Reds. The Cardinals best hope may be to eek out a Wild Card win by coming on strong in the coming weeks (and their schedule should allow for it).
Meanwhile, Pujols has been having what many consider to be a “down year”. While Votto is having, well, a career-year.
Check out their stats so far for 2010 (from rototimes.com):
2010 Year-To-Date Comparison
|2010 Year-To-Date Comparison|
Certainly what makes an “MVP” is debatable. And, it seems the arguments change based on players and situations. Some claim an MVP must come from a playoff team. And while it typically ends up being based on offensive production numbers, there are those who would claim it should really be about more than just offensive production.
Based on these numbers so far for 2010, it could easily be a toss-up. Pujols and Votto have nearly identical numbers.
One could certainly argue that Pujols is a better all-around player (I would). His defensive numbers seem to indicate that. And then there are the intangibles …. Pujols gets intentionally walked significantly more, gets far fewer pitches to hit, is a right-handed hitter, and plays in a less-friendly park for hitters than does Votto.
In other words … I think Pujols is better than Votto, and I think he’s more valuable than Votto. But, it would not surprise me in the least to see Votto win the MVP. It wouldn’t be the first time Albert was robbed of the award.
In fact, it will be interesting to see if the “MVP needs to be on a playoff team” argument rises again. If so, the National League MVP could very well go to the player whose team wins the Division.
And that’s looking more and more like it could be Votto and the Reds.
Back during the 2000 Presidential campaign, I’ll admit I fell in love with John McCain. Finally, a candidate that seemed to care more about people and less about partisan politics. I didn’t agree with him on everything, but I did always believe he was about as honest as they come. The “Straight Talk” seemed to really be that.
Over the course of the next several years, I still , for the most part, counted him among the elected officials I respected … and I always enjoyed the way he could laugh at himself during appearances on The Daily Show, for example.
Then came the 2008 Presidential campaign. The John McCain we all witnessed was not the John McCain so many knew. He apparently had allowed himself to be handled by the wrong people. His mistakes seemed to culminate in choosing as a running mate one of the most polarizing individuals American politics has seen in recent times. Apparently her qualification was that she was conservative. At least everyone I talked to who said they liked her seemed to like her for that reason. Which I guess means ones idealogy is more important for some than one’s ideas about making America better for the people.
If you, like me, watched the 2008 Presidential campaign closely, you saw John McCain over and over again referred to as a “Maverick”, often by John McCain himself.
So, was the John McCain of 2008 being dishonest? Or is the John McCain of 2010, fighting for his political life, being dishonest? And will we ever know for sure?
Is the McCain of the 2008 campaign and beyond the latest victim of hyper-partisan politics? Does he believe he can no longer win on a platform of doing the right thing for people and fighting corruption on both sides of the aisle? Has he bought into the idea that it’s all about idealogy and not ideas, all about partisan politics and not people and their problems? Has he forgotten who he works for?
If he has, then we’ve lost another statesmen.
After watching the Dayton Flyers dismantle the North Carolina Tar Heels last night in the Men’s NIT Championship, it became obvious that the Flyers did more than expose the Illinois State Redbirds a couple weeks ago.
Turns out Dayton’s 21-point win over ISU might not have been such a big deal. They followed that victory with impressive and commanding victories over Cincinnati and Illinois. They then won a hard-fought game over Ole’ Miss before fairly easily handling North Carolina to win the NIT Championship. Certainly it was not the same UNC that won the Big Dance last year, but still Roy Williams and North Carolina — a team that beat the likes of Ohio State (on the road), and Michigan State … and battled hard in several ACC conference games.
Randy Kindred wrote following the Dayton victory over Illinois State that “except for a three-minute stretch of the second half, the Redbirds were outmanned and, in every way, out of their league in a first-round National Invitation Tournament game at Dayton’s UD Arena”.
Certainly it’s true that the Redbirds took a beating from Dayton. But, in hindsight, it perhaps said more about the ability of the team from Dayton than it did about the failings of the team from Normal.
I usually really appreciate Kindred’s words, like these following the ISU women’s loss in the Final Four of the Women’s NIT, and certainly it’s not his job to only write glowing stories about local teams or athelets. But, in this case, I think his article was perhaps a bit narrow-minded and short-sighted. Going so far as to essentially mock coach Tim Jankovich when he said the loss showed them a lot of the weaknesses they need to improve and that they’ll be back next year a better team migt have been too much.
Sure, the Redbirds have a lot to work on, and a lot of pieces to replace. But, as Northern Iowa showed the Nation, well-coached teams that work hard, play together, and do the little things well can beat the best at the Big Dance when given the opportunity.
Afterall, Dayton did more than expose the Redbird men in the first round of the NIT. They were simply making a statement … a statement they continued to make against Cincinnati, Illinois, Ole’ Miss and even North Carolina.
What Dayton really did was expose themselves as a better team than anyone, including Randy Kindred, gave them credit for, a team that likely should have been dancing at the Big Dance.