Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why the Cardinals are the Best Team in Baseball

With one month of baseball season almost behind us, I have decided to do a bear/anti-bear status update on the coolest team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals. In doing so, I will compare men on their roster to members of the coolest team of all-time, and by that I undoubtedly am referring to the kids from The Sandlot, which is my favorite baseball movie. Without further ado….


In the leadoff spot is Skip Schumaker. He started off the season a little slowly but has become red-hot as of late. He’s one of those players that is a bit squirrelly and he plays pretty well in right field, too.



His Sandlot equivalent: Michael “Squints” Palledorous. This guy is a classic top of the lineup kind of player. He is small and confidently calls his shot in the batter’s box, but we all know he only gets line drive base-hits. These guys are quick and fast and can always slide into the base and beat the tag. Plus, on top of everything, despite their size they have the guts to feign drowning and kiss Wendy Peffercorn. And that’s really everything you can ask for from a leadoff guy.

Next is Chris Duncan. Chris Duncan is a converted outfielder and it is always an adventure for him out there. The other night he made a routine fly into a heart-pounding, run-into-the-wall-at-the-warning-track-and-fall-down type of grab. Furthermore, he always has the biggest wad of tobacco in his mouth. I know most ballplayers chew but they do it a lot more inconspicuously than Chris does. I don’t know if you remember but Duncan reminds me of the guy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles who comes to give them a ride in Wichita, and is always snorting and spits juice on his palm before shaking hands.

His Sandlot equivalent: Bertram Grover Weeks. I think this one is pretty obvious here, people. The redhead kid who introduces everyone to “Chaw!” at the amusement park, resulting in them all puking and getting sick. Bertram actually reminded me of a guy on my own little league team, who instead of throwing a foul ball back to the pitcher he “accidentally” launched it into right field, and when he was running the bases he’d knock over the other team’s players, claiming they were in the way. These guys are always a bit of a wild card, but usually solid ballplayers out on the ‘lot.

Third we have Pujols. Day in, day out, Pujols is there for the Cards. He’s got power (the other night he cranked one into Big Mac Land) and he is also a gold glover at first. He hit the most fantastic home run I have ever seen against the Astros in the 2005 NLCS. We all know who he is.

His Sandlot equivalent: I feel somewhat bad about this one, but it is Allan “Yeah-Yeah” McKlennan. I know, you all thought it would be Benny, but it didn’t play out that way. Pujols is an all-star and the most flash that the Cardinals possess. “Yeah-Yeah” was the most glamorous Sandlot player and the best dressed, with his slicked hair and button down shirt worn open over his white T. He’s the one we all wanted to look like from 1950’s Americana and summer baseball. He’s the James Dean of the sandlot; the Pujols of the Cards.

Batting clean-up is Rick Ankiel, who has become my new favorite player with the team after Rolen went to Toronto. Ankiel started as a pitching prodigy back 8-9 years ago, and was just starting his way to Hall of Fame stardom until he couldn’t find the strike zone (or anywhere close to it) in the playoffs. He disappeared, vanished, the dreams were dashed. Until last year, when he came back as a position player and started cracking homers out of the park. He’s now the starting centerfielder, and don’t try to get an extra base on him, folks, he’s got one of the best arms in baseball. He’s also been in the HGH controversies for a few years ago when he was in the minors, but his journey is incredible, inspirational, and I’m sold on him. I love his half-sarcastic smirk that’s on his face most of the time.

His Sandlot equivalent: Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez. Benny never made it big in the pro’s- at the end of the movie he is a pinch-runner for the Dodgers. But he is the hopes and dreams of the sandlot guys, the only one to ever even get close to the pros. Ankiel and Benny are equivalent because they each possess a mystique, a lore about them that makes them great despite probably never making the Hall. Pujols is the best but we all know that and expect it. When Ankiel hits a dinger or when Benny steals home, I get tears in my eyes.

Next on our line-up card is Yadier Molina. You have to love this guy- he’s got this perpetual grin going for him (except, coincidentally, in this picture). Like when he gets a single and rounds first, he’s beaming like he’s never been there before. He’s got two other brothers that are also catchers in the pro’s, so it runs in the family.

His Sandlot equivalent: Hamilton “Ham” Porter. They’re both catchers and the larger-bodied players of the team, so the resemblance begins there. I’m also going to infer that they both “don’t run well.” This phrase seems to be used a lot in baseball as a polite way to say a player is extremely slow and you panic if they take more than a two step lead. And hey, I like to picture Yadier wanting a “quick game” so he can get back to the dugout and grin over some hot dogs for lunch.

Following is Aaron Miles and Adam Kennedy. These guys play second/short and are in LaRussa’s rotation for the infield. They are pretty solid guys who can come up big at the plate as well, but it’s likely that sometimes they don’t get enough credit and fall under the radar as compared to bigger names in the league like a Jeter or a Polanco. They probably are two of the straighter-laced players of the bunch. They probably don’t get into trouble with LaRussa.

Their Sandlot equivalent: Timmy and Tommy Timmons. They look alike and sometimes you have to confess to getting them confused. But the Timmon’s brothers come up big for you and they don’t beat around the bush. They’ll holler “The Colossus of Clout!” in your face as many times as you want until you finally realize who Babe Ruth really is.

In the eight-spot is Brian Barton. Seemingly a fan favorite in the ‘Lou, he has got great speed and a terrific batting average. Just the other night he stretched a single into a double in the top of the ninth and ended up scoring the go-ahead and winning run. He’s got some great dreads to boot, which gives him tremendous aesthetic appeal.
Q: Why did Brian Barton make the starting roster?
A: Because he’s a rosterfarian.

His Sandlot equivalent: Kenny DeNunez. He’s a quality sandlot player but he’s got unknown talent because he’s not exhibited much in the movie. Likewise, we’ll have to see how Barton’s ability progresses over the course of the season in St. Louis after he gets more playing time. Plus Kenny is the only black player in the movie, so this is a good match.

Lastly, the Cardinal’s pitcher- Anthony Reyes. This guy is my favorite, though he’s not even in the starting rotation. Just look at him. He gets some flak for not bending his hat bill but c’mon, that’s style man. He’s got an old-school pitching delivery and usually wears his socks high, too. I don’t know when he’ll pitch again; sometimes he’s good, sometimes he gets lit up. He’s still young and learning, though.

His Sandlot equivalent: Scotty Smalls. Remember when Smalls first goes out to play and he wears that fishing cap with the extra long bill? Well that’s right down Reyes’ alley. I won’t be surprised if Reyes steps out on the mound with one of those sometime soon. But then Benny gives Smalls a new cap to wear. I’m sure Reyes would take a new cap but he’d probably still straighten out the bill.

A final comparison: Tony LaRussa. His Sandlot equivalent is obviously James Earl Jones. They both are the only ones who are always wearing sunglasses, even at night. Sure, James Earl Jones’ character was blind in The Sandlot, but maybe LaRussa is blind, blind to the fact that he is the coach of the coolest team in baseball. Both he and James Earl Jones take a ragtag bunch of ballplayers and turn them into something special.
Anti-bears- 4.0. Most of these guys are home-grown in the St. Louis minor league organizations, and I have tried to convince you that the Cardinals are the most inspiring team in the game. If direct, empirical comparisons to Sandlot characters don’t justify this claim for you, then nothing will.

Bears- 2.0. I still am on the edge of my seat as to whether these guys will actually make the playoffs.

33 comments:

Danny said...

Hell of an article. That's high praise coming from an Astros fan. And Anthony Reyes has the coolest socks in baseball. Not only are they worn high, they have those cool little flair stripes too.

Eric said...

I know I'm not Sean, but I'd say you knocked that article out of the park. We just have to get that ball back without waking the BEAST.

Danny said...

Yeah, I kind of low-balled it earlier...this is probably my favorite charz2k article ever. Good job, J

Sam said...

I'd say LaRussa's more of a Morris Buttermaker.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ckcw8hhwgE

Adam said...

I don't know that I would agree with putting Miles/Kennedy anywhere near the same league as Jeter/Polanco, but overall this was a fun read.

Adam said...

I don't know that I would agree with putting Miles/Kennedy anywhere near the same league as Jeter/Polanco, but overall this was a fun read.

charz said...

Seriously, way to go. A lot of effort in this article. But have you abandoned bobby cox, corky, jojo and the gang??

Anonymous said...

This article makes me want to buy a pair of PF Flyers and pickle The Beast.

Squish said...

I want to get a hat with a fish on it and a large brim. and get a pack of Big Chief.

Squish said...

i want a pack of big chief and a hat with a large brim.

Squish said...

i want to prevent multiple posts.

Eric said...

Jared, who wrote this, owns a pair of PF Flyers.

Cardinal John said...

Hat's off on a great article. I disagree with several of your pics--but the premise rules.

J said...

hey thanks guys for the kind words on the article. i'm just honored to be part of the charz2k family!

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