Why hate on the Yankees?

Unless you are a Red Sox fan, “The Evil Empire” is only evil because of one thing: jealousy.

Why hate someone or something because they have the resources to get the biggest and best things?

That is the American way after all,  we always want the biggest and best of everything. The second we get an iPhone 4 we are already looking ahead to the iPhone 5. We get a 32-inch television, we suddenly decide that we should have purchased the 42-inch or 50-inch. So in that aspect, I do not see how any can hate the Yankees because of their money and ability to purchase top notch free agents.

Sure, we are a vulture culture, so it can be comical to see the team that invests the most money in its players lose because they may not play as a “team.”

But do not hate the Yankees because they have the money to spend. Do you honestly think if your favorite team had that kind of money they would just sit on it and put it in the bank? Would they spend it on extra Dubble Bubble and Skoal for the players? Should they invest the money into building a new parking garage adjacent to the stadium?

Hell no.

Money cannot buy you love, or sometimes a World Series, so do not waste your time Yankee-hating. It is pointless and makes you look ignorant.

If you think your team would not jump on free agents like Mark Texeira and CC Sabathia, you are crazy.

They should drive up the cost of free agents, that is just the way the world is today, especially if the player involved is Carl Crawford and they are trying to doop their rival Red Sox.

I do not have a problem with it, it is not as if they are the only franchise that has overpaid for a few players.

Improbable. Incredible. Unreal. Who would have guessed?

All the above can appropriately describe the Cardinals’ September surge to the postseason.

But should we really be surprised?

Actually with both teams that miraculously clinched the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season, the Rays and Cardinals, there is one common denominator.

The best managers in baseball, Tony LaRussa and Joe Maddon.

The debacle that is going down up in Beantown right now proves that fact a little more.

I am one that counted the Cardinals out a little over a month ago, but I am now surprised with the run the team went on and one of the main reasons is because of the man who holds the reigns of the team.

He never undermines his players, he thinks about everything he says while behind a microphone and he is a proven winner. He is disciplined and whether or not you agree with the moves he makes in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, he makes every move in an attempt to win.

He is a motivator and when you are down and out in September, I believe that is what you ultimately want and that is what the Cardinals got.

Second guessing a major league manager is something that has been around for decades and will never leave, but to those that second guess: you would not last a day in the bigs.

I believe the surge also has to do with the members of the clubhouse. So much was made in Spring Training about the team ridding themselves of certain players that may be detrimental to the team, or just not where they should be between their ears.

The additions of veterans like Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman and Gerald Laird were big reasons for the Redbirds making the playoffs. Forget their statistics, what they do behind closed doors is huge. Not hanging their heads, taking younger guys under their wings to show them what it means to be a professional and how to deal with such a long season. Keeping the team spirit high when they were nearly 10 games out a few weeks ago helped sparked the September run.

Another thing Cardinals fans can look forward to: the Cardinals are red hot right now, at the right time. Anyone else remember what happens when a team gets hot at the right time?

Picture perfect memories turned to tragedy

The shocking and tragic death of Texas Rangers’ fan Shannon Stone Thursday evening certainly raised the eyebrows of millions, myself included.

It was such an innocent play, actually the foul ball that Conor Jackson smashed off a seat down the left field line was the most dangerous part.

I watched the video on YouTube later that night when it had around 300 views. When I looked later this afternoon, some 14 hours later, it had already eclipsed over 315,000.

Baseball players throw thousands of baseballs into the stands every season from spring training to batting practice to what Josh Hamilton did Thursday night during the game.

They never think the worst will happen. Perhaps a throw goes astray and plunks a fan not paying attention in the back, but never someone falling 20 feet to their death.

The part that really sticks out to me is the story of Stone’s six-year-old son, Cooper.

It was his first baseball game. I read that his father’s and his goal was to catch a foul ball at the game so much that they purchased a glove prior to the game in hopes of doing so.

To boot, Cooper’s favorite player is Hamilton, the man who tossed his father the ball that turned fatal.

It was a story written so perfect, a boy and his father going to their first baseball game together and the player whose jersey the kid wears tosses a foul ball their way.

Their local newspaper may have even picked it up even if it did not take a tragic turn. Instead the whole nation has found the story.

I have caught dozens of baseballs and been very fortunate to take in probably more than 100 baseball games with my father, memories I will cherish for the duration of my life.

To see the look on innocent Cooper’s face as his father lunged for a foul ball to ensure his son gets his wish is one that nearly brings tears to my eyes.

I hope this is not the last we hear of the Stones, barring any possible lawsuit now-widow Suzann may decide to file.

Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP, who has had a well-documented, colorful past, hopefully will reach out to the youngster who undoubtedly is now scarred for life after watching his father plunge to his death.

I am not applying the kid should get tickets for life, I am sure The Ballpark in Arlington may not be the best place for him to be, but Hamilton has been in his shoes before.

He once needed people to reach out to him as he battled substance abuse among other drugs, now someone needs him more than ever.

It’s time for Mr. Hamilton to step up to the plate.

There are injuries among us…

I really want to know who in St. Louis has upset the injury gods because the last 10 months or so have been pretty rough.

Immediately after Albert Pujols was went down last week, I had a gut feeling it was not going to be good, meaning the 15-day disabled list would have been the best case scenario.

He never shows that much pain. Then speculation became reality. The team is fresh off getting swept by the Blue Jays and has only won one game since Pujols went down. Of course the bullpen, starting pitching and (lack of) defense have played major roles in this skid, but losing the player the nation most identifies your team, city and region with is a huge psychological blow.

But shouldn’t we be used to it by now?

When Adam Wainwright went down for the season before spring training really got kick started, some started to wave the white flag. Losing Waino almost guaranteed the Cardinals lost 15-18 games before the season started.

Not to mention, the cards have also been without David Freese for the majority of the year, one of the players targeted by many as a major role player in this 2011 season.

What would have the Blues done if David Perron would not have been knocked out cold by Joe Thornton causing Perron to miss the remainder of the season just 10 games and five goals in?

TJ Oshie missed nearly half the season with a broken foot as well. Perron and Oshie combined for 95 points the year before, but both figured to improve drastically on that mark this past year, especially Perron.

The Blues also had to endure injuries to Barret Jackman, Andy McDonald and Roman Polak this past season, all major players on the squad.

Remember, St. Louis is a three-sport city so there is one more team left that had to fight the injury bug this past season.

You remember, those resurgent Rams that sparked some interest in the city and nation-wide because of that quarterback they have?

Thanks to injuries he was essentially throwing passes to kids from the playground.

If Donnie Avery did not tear up his knee in training camp, I think it is pretty safe to say Sam Bradford’s numbers would have been a bit better.

But they weathered the storm and signed fellow Oklahoma alumnus Mark Clayton for Bradford to chuck the pig skin to, a move that showed me the team was committed to building around their young quarterback.

Clayton did great, amassing more than 300 yards receiving and catching two touchdowns in the season’s first five weeks.

Oh yeah, then he got hurt and missed the rest of the season.

Then former Mizzou stand out Denario Alexander, believed by many to be the top of the class as far as receivers go in the 2010 draft, but went undrafted thanks to multiple knee surgeries, signed on with the team.

He made perhaps the play of the year, with a Jim Edmonds-esque over the shoulder touchdown catch at home against the Chargers, but then had play sparingly thanks to re-occurring knee issues.

I see the theme here. It is a little like the weather. No one hears about an F-5 tornado going through Joe Schmo’s farmland in western Kansas, but when they hit an airport, a college town and a relatively large town in southern Missouri, then it is a big deal.

An injury here and there happens over the course of a season in any sport. But when it’s players like Pujols, Oshie, Perron and Avery, then your teams begin the path up a certain creek without a paddle.

So if there ever is an NFL season this year, I pray to the health gods that Mr. Bradford remains healthy, because with this recent trend it would seem he could be next.

Honoring Jack Buck

Let’s break away from the opinionated sports blogging genre and take some time to reflect and remember.

As I sit at my internship in the sports office of KMOX this Father’s Day, I cannot help but imagine what this place was like just nine years ago today, the day after Jack Buck passed away.

It was the first in what was a rough week for the Cardinals back in 2002, just four days after Buck passed away, as Cardinals ace Darryl Kile unexpectedly passed away in his Chicago hotel room.

And as we all know, the day of Buck’s death, Kile pitched the Cardinals in first place, which they held throughout the rest of that 2002 season.

Millions identified with Buck and KMOX and both of those reasons can be attributed to why the Cardinals’ popularity was always pretty high amongst Americans.

But what made Buck and even Kile so special was the type of people they were.

Buck was widely respected, trusted and loved by those who knew him, worked with him and went to bed with his voice in their ear every night.

Believe it or not, in this new age of technology where computers run everything, I was one of those who listened to Buck and the Cardinals thanks to KMOX’s signal strength and ability to come in crystal clear—even in Conyers, Ga.

Buck represented the city, the team and the station with his uncanny ability to connect with everyone and take the time to get to know those who he encountered. He is and always will be the voice of St. Louis.

The personal accounts, especially from those here at KMOX, can go on for days about Buck’s personality and presence.

Especially Scott Warmann, who wrote for Buck at KMOX back in the day. Warmann tells a story of Buck walking out once and dropping a $100 bill on the floor. When Warmann informed Buck he dropped the money Buck retorted “No I didn’t, I appreciate your efforts this week. Take your girlfriend out tonight on me.”

He was a man that truly could light up a room.

There are plenty of stories such as Warmann’s, but they all have the same angle. I am thankful and honored I can say one day that I interned for the same station Buck made known nation-wide. Although it has been nine years and the Cardinals have since left the mighty MOX, only to return this season, his fingerprints are everywhere.

Whether it is his call of Ozzie Smith’s walk-off in the 1985 playoffs, listening to him stand up and applaud after Mark McGwire hit number 61 in 1998 or listening to him read his poem after 9/11 just months before he passed away, he will always be loved and missed.

There will be no other quite like Jack, so pardon me while I stand up and applaud- the life of the greatest ever behind the mic.

Rams, Bradford should stay in St. Louis

Let’s be honest, the St. Louis Rams stock is probably the highest it has been since “The Greatest Show on Turf” days.

So I do not know how to take this rumor that the franchise may be heading back west to its roots in Los Angeles, if and when there is ever football to be played again.

For one, there are five other teams that have apparently been contacted about possibly moving to the City of the Angels, so the odds are not exactly high.

Secondly, why would the team want to move? Their attendance is up, interest amongst those in the city is on the rise and they nearly made the playoffs a year after winning one game.

Plus, what else can be done with the Edwards Jones Dome? Unless Lumiere Place decides to expand their poker room across the street, there is not much you can do with a building of that size.

Maybe the Cardinals can offer the building to Albert Pujols as terms of his new contract, I don’t know.

Mr. Kroenke has not expressed interest to sell the team either and why would he? He loves St. Louis and he loves the Rams being a part of the city.

Yet the biggest reason the Rams should not pack up the trucks and head west lies beneath the center.

Sam Bradford is not only a player you want to build your team around, but one who you market your franchise, city, surrounding neighborhoods and rest of your life after.

If Pujols decides to leave the cardinals, guess who gets the keys to the city? It is not going to be TJ Oshie, sorry folks.

Bradford can only get better with a better team around him and that is scary for a person already drawing parallels to Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning, pretty good company I would say.

Rams upper-level management would catch flak for decades if they decide to let the team move west with Bradford at the helm.

He has a chance to give this city memories reminiscent of Warner and Bruce back in the late 90s.

And if he does it in Los Angeles, this will be one very upset Rams fan.