weekend discussion --- recycled "Ode to the Cardinals"

[Promoted from the diaries section --- L.B.]
(P.S.: today's Tournament of Champions results (including a Game 7) are right below this post.)

For your wintertime pleasure, I submit the following ramble from Oct 2006 that was awarded with publication in the Wall Street Journal (Daily Fix) the week before the Cards squared off against the Tigers in 2006 World Series. A tip ot the hat to die-hard Met fans at The Daily Fix who graciously published this the morning after the 2006 NLCS clincher.

Ode to the Cardinals
October 20, 2006 12:31 p.m.

The Daily Fix asked readers who are fans of the Tigers and Cardinals to write an ode to their club, explaining why they're a fan and what characteristics their team seems to have year-in and year-out, even as the cast of characters changes. Here's Dave Hinkle on the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinal baseball is a multi-generational mosaic of love, passion and loyalty. Cardinal baseball is decades of sandlot kids from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas who are now adults in all parts of the world -- and still wearing red. We are Cardinal Nation -- the Sea of Red.

Cardinal baseball is heroes blazing through the record books: Hornsby, Frisch, and Mize, Pepper, Marty, Kenny and Stan the Man. Oh, the splendid memories of Flood, Maxvill, Forsch, Sutter, McGee, Tudor, Worrell, Clark, Rolen, Edmonds, Lankford, Kile and Tommy Herr. Cardinals have captured more titles than any other team except that team up north that we knocked off in the '64 series.

But Redbird Passion is about more than winning. It's the Gashouse Gang, Birds on a Bat and good ol' Gussie sipping a cold, frosty Budweiser. We're Ernie Hays at the organ, the Wagon Gate and Fred Bird. We're the Clydesdales, the Arch and three Busch Stadiums. We already had Jack Buck, Mike Shannon and 'ol Abner so we gave the world our spares -- Harry Carey, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. We're the hometown of Garagiola, Costas and Berra. Need more proof we're the Kings? We make all the beer. Now, THAT'S a winner!

The Cards are tough, in-your-face competitors like Cox, Stottlemyre and Matheny. We are Gibby pitching on a broken leg and Albert smashing sliders into orbit. Oh, and for toughness, don't forget we got a Frazier, a Spinks and a shortstop named Mike Tyson.

The Cardinals are speedy and daring -- suicide squeeze, first to third and stealing home. There goes Enos, Lou, Vince, and Bake McBride -- the Calloway Kid. We are loveable super-subs like Lawless, Iorg, Brummer, Tito, Rex and the Secret Weapon.

We are the Mad Hungarian, Silent George, Skates, Mudcat, Simba, Cha Cha and the Zamboni. We got a Rat, a Cat and Harry the Hat. We got a Ducky, a Woody, a Yadi, an Obie, a Stubby, a Nellie and a Belli. We got So, Bo and Little Joe. We got Matty, Moe and Matty Mo. We got Soup, Pags, Hub, Tewks and Uke. We got Ozzie, Izzy, Dizzy and Daffy. We even have the coolest sports name ever -- Julian Javier. (Silent J's please.) We got Coopers, Simmons, Benes, Cedenos, Duncs, Ecks, half the Guerreros, a lot of Perez, a bunch of Penas and most every Cruz that ever wore a glove. We have our very own Reggies -- Smith and Sanders. And they are all happily ours -- Cardinals forever.

We've got a Henke, a Heinkel and me -- just an ordinary Hinkle who started a lifetime love affair when Dad and Grandpa took me to Busch and taught me to keep a scorecard just the way I do now with my son. We watched Torre as a Cardinal -- before he was cool. We launched the 27-team career of Todd Zeile.

We survived Don Denkinger. We're the nicest, most-knowledgeable bunch of baseball fans you'll ever meet. Heck, we even let Lefty, Rollie, Keith, Andy and TP go elsewhere so others could have heroes too.

St. Louis Cardinal baseball is the best. But don't trust my opinion -- ask baseball legends who got some serious Cardinal love at the end of their careers. Roger, Quiz, Lee Arthur, Larry Walker, Sutcliffe the Cub, Eric the Red, Will the Thrill and Big Mac.

This year? Maybe this is not our best team ever -- but who knows? From Red to Whitey to Tony, we always win in even-number decades. (You can look it up.) Who cares if we only won 83 games this year and nearly completed an epic collapse? We hadn't won back-to-back road games in a month then promptly won two in a row in San Diego. Go figure. We're sorry that Met injuries left them with a starting rotation of Darren Oliver, Oliver Perez and Oliver Wendell Douglas but, hey, that's the way it goes sometimes -- just ask Coleman, Clark, Pendleton and Carpenter who all sat injured while the Birds battled on.

So bring on the Tigers! We can't wait to see our ol' buddies Jimmy Leyland and Placido Polanco (the second-best name in all of sports). But, we'd like a little revenge for '68 -- thank you please. And we'd love to be able to follow Jack's advice to "go crazy folks! Go crazy!"

We've got Scotty and Jimmy. We've got the Speez, the son of a Cardinal champion, who sports that lucky red chin thingy. We've got Albert, Carp and hopefully no killer tarp. We've got red-hot rookies and the (step)son of Mookie. Joaquin Andujar, one tough Dominican and a Cardinal forever, would assess the possibilities with one word, his personal favorite: "Youneverknow."

Viva El Birdos!

Dave Hinkle grew up with a transistor radio under his pillow and Kentucky parents who taught him about the Redbirds, beginning with the 1968 Series against the Tigers. The transistor is now a momento on the bookcase, but the Hinkles will be gathered around the television again this year. Write to Dave at

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