As bloggers, we spend a lot of time writing about players, coaches, and the sport in general – but much of what we do is informed, influenced, or simply colored by what we read through the major Cardinals media outlets. The St. Louis Post Dispatch is a favorite of mine. The Globe Democrat seems to be trying to get in the game. And the ‘ol tried and true Official St. Louis Cardinals website is always informative and reliable.
But what if TLR had to construct a lineup of the various writers that routinely cover the St. Louis Cardinals? What would it look like? Who would play short? Who would play third? Who would hit seventh? Who would hit third? I know, I know…it’s a question that’s kept you up at night. Lucky for you, I also wonder these random things. So, the subject of today’s off-day post is simple: If I had to fill out a lineup card of Cardinals scribes, what would it look like and why? You’ll find the results of such valued musings below. Enjoy!
1. Derrick Goold (2B)
Goold is a clear-cut favorite for the leadoff spot. When I hear Cardinals news, I typically hear it from him first. He gets things started and moving in the right direction. It’s not always pretty (I think his Native American name is “He-Who-Writes-With-Typos”), but he finds a way to get the job done. His casual style is both conversational and informative. His stories are flavored with statistics but well-grounded in simple, direct language that speaks to the fans as a fan. You won’t find yourself overwhelmed with sabermetrics or drowned in obscure references (although he does seem to have a love for the deep history of the game), but you will find yourself informed, entertained, and even a bit educated. Of course, I have to give him extra credit for embracing the fan mediums of communication and interaction (Twitter, blogging, etc.). Finally, I gotta’ throw him in the game at second base because of his agility, quick hands, and his ability to work well with others. He’s not the best defender on the team, but he’s up there.
You can read Goold’s work at www.stltoday.com or interact with him on Twitter as @dgoold.
2. Matthew Leach (SS)
Matt is a favorite of mine. He’s the official mlb.com writer for the St. Louis Cardinals’ website. His stories are well-written, based in facts, and tend to be “the source” for my reliable Cardinals news. When conflicting reports are circulating around the team, I always return to what Matt has to say. This, combined with his excellent grasp of the game of baseball in general, gives him the best hands on the team and earns him the starting shortstop position.
Matt’s strength seems to be in finding fresh, original ways to write “the same ‘ol story” over and over again (although I find myself wondering how many times the phrase “Not in the Cards” has appeared in the headlines for his stories). His efforts to take daily game recaps and turn them into engaging stories are much appreciated. Of course, it’s not all about consistent and accurate reporting. His ability to occasionally “do some damage” in the order has earned him the coveted number two spot in the order. Although many may call him a “company man,” Leach finds a way to communicate his opinion and perspective. Also, like Goold, Matt earns extra credit for his presence and approachability on Twitter and his well-read blog (OYNAG).
3. Rick Hummel (1B)
What more can you say about “The Commish” that hasn’t already been said in one form or another? Rick Hummel is a Hall of Famer. His years and years of reliable baseball coverage spans multiple generations and demographics. Cardinal fans across Cardinal Nation love, adore, and respect The Commish. In an age of Twitter, blogging, and interactive chats, Rick Hummel needs none of that. His reputation and his work stands alone. As I considered what position and order to assign him, I could think of none other than a one-to-one match with Albert Pujols. He sets the tone for the young and athletic infield, his very presence in the media room demands respect, and like any good number three hitter, this is the guy you want to get as many at-bats as possible. I just can’t get enough Hummel.
You can enjoy the work of The Commish at www.stltoday.com.
4. Joe Strauss (C)
Strauss is a personal favorite of mine. He’s become the go-to guy for hot stories and tough questions. You won’t find Joe reporting on any and every thing Cardinals. You won’t even find his story first when news breaks. But when you do find yourself reading a Strauss report, it is in-depth, multi-dimensional, and often barely restrained within the confines of what we’ve come to know as “major media outlets.” Strauss is one of the few scribes that makes me stop and read a story just because it was written by him. His fearless reporting and biting wit qualifies him for the rarely earned title of Sports Journalist. Personally, I find myself drawn to writers who are willing to go a little too far once in a while. In my opinion, Joe is the heir apparent to the mighty Commish (if such a thing is truly possible) and well-deserving of the clean-up spot in the order as well as the tough, tone-setting position of catcher.
It should be noted that as I write this, I find myself picturing Joe reading it and nearly tipping over in his chair as his head swells larger and larger. You can find Strauss’ stories (as well as his popular interactive JSL!!! fan chats) at www.stltoday.com and assault him mercilessly as @JoeStrauss on Twitter.
5. Bernie Miklasz (3B)
Bernie is a different breed. He plays the Hot Corner because, in a way, that’s what he does for the Post Dispatch. Bernie has set himself apart from other scribes by positioning himself as the “opinion guy.” In other words, his stories aren’t so much reports as they are commentary. You’ll find him voicing the seldom heard opinion of the fans as often as you’ll find him berating the fans for what he deems inappropriate behavior. I admire that. I really do. But I don’t always like it. Bernie’s stance is often in line with my own, but when it’s off…it’s irritating. His attitude is well-received when fans agree, but he alienates as many or more when they don’t. In short, he’s an acquired taste. He’s deserving of the fifth spot in the order (still a slugger but noticeably behind the three and four guys) but he’s no $100 million talent.
You can read Bernie’s good but irregular commentary at www.stltoday.com and lock horns with him on Twitter as @miklasz.
6. Bryan Burwell (RF)
There are days when I just can’t decide on this guy. Burwell is certainly a rare bird. His columns get more philosophical than I’m used to (and I’m a mildly philosophical guy), trying to capture a moment, an atmosphere, or a perspective in print. He’s definitely talented and good at what he does…it’s just not necessarily my mug of beer. Still, he deserves respect.
Every once in a while, Burwell really runs into one and spits out a story that grabs me and pulls me in (these are the type of stories you find yourself emailing around to friends and co-workers). He carries the potential of a number six hitter to really knock one out of the park – but he also carries a high strike out rate to go with those majestic long balls. In addition, he draws the right field position because – unlike any other outfielder in our “scribe lineup” – he has the ability to really get to the heart of a story and drive it home (read: Able to throw a strike at the plate from the warning track…it’s a stretch, but it’s getting late).
You can find his old-school yarn-spinning at www.stltoday.com.
7. BJ Rains (CF)
BJ is the new kid on the block. After apprenticing under our shortstop (Matthew Leach), the young Rains struck out on his own in what appears to be a Post Dispatch knock off, the Globe Democrat. As any young whipper snapper will do, BJ can sometimes come off as trying too hard to be original and not relying on tried and true methods quite enough. Still, the kid has what it takes – at least at this stage of his career. I like his coverage – so much so that he gets the center field spot because of his ability to cover so much more territory than our other two outfielders. However, he gets the seven spot in the order for a couple reasons. One, he’s got a long way to go to enter the ranks of “slugger” and crack a higher spot in the order. Two, he’s still learning. The last thing we want to do is put him in a high pressure situation. We’ll let him cool his heels at this nice, cushy, respectable seven spot for a while. Maybe next year he can try his hand with the big boys.
You can find BJ’s blossoming talent on display at www.globe-democrat.com and just plain ‘ol “throw him a beatin’” on Twitter as @BJRains.
8. Jeff Gordon (LF)
Jeff “Gordo” Gordon fills the eighth spot in the order and plants himself firmly in left field. Gordon is…adequate. He’s a simple read, but his stories seem to barely scratch the surface of Cardinals news. Maybe the guy is a genius in other sports, but when it comes to baseball – he just fills a spot. His reports are superficial and, at times, dubious. I can’t help but wonder if he simply read yesterday’s stories by the other scribes and started typing away. He’s well-written enough, but his efforts often have the feel of a man randomly blogging from his couch (hey…that sounds like me!). He does get a bit of consideration, however, for his interactive fan chats and sporadically entertaining “Tip Sheet.”
You can review his work and decide for yourself by going to www.stltoday.com.
9. United Cardinal Bloggers (Pitching Staff, Bench, etc.)
Any good roster needs pinch hitters, utility infielders, and a well-stocked bullpen…right? That’s where your friendly neighborhood UCB (United Cardinal Bloggers) writers step in. The UCB is a motley collection of Cardinal fans so highly devoted – so manic in their obsession – that we rant, rave, honk, and holler whenever the mood strikes us. The result? Well…I don’t think any of us would claim the moniker of journalist (or even “hack” if the truth be told), but we do fill a role. We round out the excellent coverage provided by the Cardinal scribes. We fill in the holes, add color and texture, and just overall make Cardinal discussions fun.
You can find our work on various sites just like this one, but more information about the UCB can be found at www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com. Also, much much MUCH credit is due the big man himself, C70 (of “C70 at the Bat” located at www.cardinal70.com).
Before anyone gets their Chicago Cubs panties in a bunch, remember…this is just my opinion. It’s all based on my own personal preferences as a reader. You got a different opinion? Write your own post! In the meantime, keep in mind…to even MAKE the list, I had to like a writer enough to read them on a regular basis.