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the hand that made us devine

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Update [2007-1-29 17:15:49 by lboros]: preston wilson re-signs with the cards; 1-yr deal. here's the official press release. [end update]

the only real news this morning is bing devine's passing; tom wheatley wrote yesterday and again today about devine's career and his weighty impact on st louis baseball, and erik's post yesterday listed some of devine's most famous trades; i'd also recommend this old article from the Hardball Times naming the 1960s cardinals as perhaps the greatest trade-built team in history. and of course there are devine's memoirs, ghostwritten by the p-d's wheatley.

i had an opportunity to interview devine a year and a half ago, in the very early days of this blog; here are the links (part 1 and part 2) if you want to read or re-read that Q+A. i just looked back over the transcript, and a couple of his statements jumped out. first, i asked for his opinion of what qualities made walt jocketty so successful as a gm. devine's answer:

he relates well to people -- not only his own employees and associates, but other people. I think he's well liked and has good rapport with people. people trust him -- not only his own people, but the other teams trust him. they feel they will get a pretty honest opinion if they ask him about a ballplayer.
devine might as well have been talking about himself; he had a million friends and not many enemies. at the end of the interview, i asked him if he was still learning new things about baseball, even after having spent 65 years in the game. here's his answer:
i didn't realize how important it was down through the years until watching successful teams in maybe the last 15 or 20 years -- is how important it is to have a good relationship among the players. and i mean on the road and in the clubhouse, not just in the game itself. i think it's important to have some kind of a feeling of camaraderie, where each player is impressed with the others and all the players recognize the importance of all of them together as opposed to any one of them as individual. that's so important on a team, and i think it's usually what you find when you look back and think about what are the marks of a good team. and that, to me, is something i keep learning more about as time goes on. . . . . we're talking about something that comes down from the ownership, leadership, the loyalty of the fans, the general manager, the manager -- and when we mention all those things, they don't have anything to do really with what actually goes on on the playing field. not directly. but they can be a very important part of a team's success.
to me, that answer kind of sums up sports fandom in general, and cardinal fandom in particular: it's all about intimacy. i don't subscribe to the "best fans in baseball" line, but i do believe each fan base is unique and that each develops its own form of worship --- its own rituals and codes. it's like they're 30 denominations of the same religion. devine understood --- indeed, helped to create --- the sense of close identification with the team, the unconditional bond, that largely defines our sect. he helped build not only great teams but also a great culture --- one that st louisans take great pride in and have drawn great rewards from over the generations. devine inherited much of that tradition, but he was an excellent steward; he left the flock in better shape than he found it.

peace on ya, sir.

a few other small items of note:

  • los venados son muertos: troy cate's mazatlan team got swept out of the mexican pacific league finals. he never took the mound again after his rough outing in game 1 of the series (described here). overall this winter (including playoffs), cate went 3-2 in 8 starts; he threw 56.1 innings overall and had the same number of strikeouts as baserunners allowed (51). his era was 1.92. cate turned 26 in october --- he's older than wainwright and reyes --- so if he's gonna have a career he'd better get on with it. if he keeps pitching like he did over the last 12 months, the guy's still got a shot.
  • get ready for VEB fantasy baseball. the call for owners just went up on saturday, and already there's enough interest for nearly two full leagues. i'm very tempted to join, but i know myself too well --- if i own a team i won't get a lick of work done, and eventually i'll go broke and they'll cut off my internet service. however, i will see if i can come up with some worthwhile swag for the league winner(s).
  • frequent VEB commenter sjoshi hates all 30 major league teams, beginning with the cardinals.
  • miklasz adds some stray details about the weaver talks --- the cards' top one-year offer was $5m of guaranteed money, plus (unspecified) incentives. no words from weaver himself in the article, although scott boras chimes in. [shaking head] scott boras . . . . oh, by the way: i am reminded that Rev Halofan, my SB Nation brother over at Halos Heaven, called the outcome of the weaver "drama" nearly a month ago; details here.
  • just last week we had some lively discussion at VEB about lary sorensen; yesterday the detroit news wrote about his battle with alcoholism. dude has paid a high price; you gotta root for him to put things back together. as you might recall, the player for whom sorenson was once traded, lonnie smith, had some demons of his own --- chronicled just a couple months ago.
  • new york is still aching from yadi molina's homer three months ago --- but no hard feelings. the new york times writes lovingly of the molina family manse in vega alta, puerto rico.
  • mark buehrle is tired of hearing about his future with the cardinals, and tired of people talking sh*t about him on the internet.