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A Few of My Favourite Things- 2008

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So I look around this morning, surveying all that i behold, and I am forced to conclude that there is very, very little actually happening in the Cardinals' world- or the baseball world in general- at the moment. They remain in a holding pattern for the services of Brian Fuentes; I won't go down that road of how I feel about big money deals for 'proven' closers when you already have a stable of young talent that could step and take over the role for league minimum, rather than paying $10 million a year for it, but no, we don't believe in our players until they've had success, preferably elsewhere, and are on the wrong side of thirty, that way they may not have the talent, but at least they know how to play the game right, whatever the hell that mea-

Ah, see, you almost got me there. Almost had me going, guys. NIce try, El Vivi. But not today. Not today. There are some other interesting tidbits in that article, including speculation that the Cardinals may be interested in the services of one of the two big Japanese pitchers on the market this year, so I recommend you checking it out. 

Still, what there mostly is in Cardinal Land today is a whole bunch of nothing. The Cards did sign a couple of minor leaguers, including a guy who is probably a utility infielder. Me, I'm still a fan of using Brian Barden as a utility guy, but hey, a little competition is always a good thing, no? 

So like DanUp yesterday, I refuse to simply give in to the MidWinter Doldrums of baseball. Rather, I shall use this space to once again subject you all to my own ramblings about a bunch of crap that I enjoy. Hopefully, writing about crap I enjoy will turn into crap you enjoy. However, I suppose that remains to be seen. 

And so, without further ado, I present to you, the Red Baron's Best Stuff of the Year for 2008. This particular list has the distinction of being a Second Annual; I'm very excited, as I've never before done anything that lasted long enough to qualify for annual status. 

My favourite Cardinal moments of the year: 

Have gun, will travel: the game against the Rockies in which Rick Ankiel threw out two baserunners at third base. Those throws have both been discussed plenty 'round these here parts, but they really were that good. Of the two, I think I probably liked the first throw best, when Ank nailed Willy Taveras. Why that one? Because I'll never forget the look on ol' Willy's face when he was called out. I'm pretty sure he was surprised the throw was even attempted, much less finding the ball there waiting for him. Just simply glorious. 

He's more machine now than man: Albert continuing to put up ridiculous numbers with terrifying, mechanical consistency. It might be monotonous, in fact, if it weren't so awesome. Plus, as an added bonus, we got to see the Baseball Writers make the right call this season and give Albert the award he deserved. It was a good year for the Mang, but then again, when is it not? 

Happy... for now: The Mark Worrell grand slam. What can I say? Yeah, things turned out ugly between Worrell and the Cardinals, and yeah, that sucks. But when Mark Worrell hit a grand slam in his first major league at bat, while pitching the best relief work of his tenure in St. Louis, all was right with the world, at least for a little while. I remember my friend Chris texted me something about Worrell that night, as it was the first time Chris was seeing him pitch. He wanted a scouting report, and so asked, "Who is this Worrell guy? He looks pretty good." About three minutes later, after the ball had arced off into the Washington night, I answered, "Apparently, the greatest ballplayer in the world." 

That's Mr. Bombs to you: the debut of Joe Mather was, in a word, awesome. Within the first three innings of his first game, against the Pirates, Joey Bombs had made an amazing diving catch, collected his first hit and RBI as a major leaguer, and probably made your girlfriend reassess what she might be able to get on the open market. Just saying. I must admit to having a bit of a mancrush on Bombs myself, as I think he could very well be one of the true breakout stars of the Cardinals in 2009 if he's still here after the dust settles. 

The Heat is on: I love relievers that just come in throwing gas. I was a huge fan of Cincinnati's Nasty Boys back in the late 80s/early 90s, and the Cardinals look like they just might have the beginnings of their own scary backend combination in Jason Motte and Chris Perez. Now, if they could just find a lefty who can throw 97, 98 mph and stop all this talk of bringing in- nope, see, still not going to go down that road. I remember the game that Perez closed out in particular against the Dodgers, when he finished it off by blowing away local boy made good Blake DeWitt on three pitches. A freezing slider, and then two swinging strikes on fastballs at 96 and 98 and it was time to go home. I still get shivers. 

I think five is enough. Keep it manageable, at least. How's about yous guys? What will you remember about the '08 Cardinals. 

***

My favourite records this year: 

The Walkmen, You & Me- okay, let's face it. If you like the Walkmen, you're going to looooove this. If you don't like the sound of jangly, badly tuned guitars weeping for all manking, then this may not be your thing. Still, it may be the most soulful release of their career, and the most powerful. Rec'd listening: In the New Year, If Only it Were True

The Buena Vista Social Club, Live at Carnegie Hall- I'm sure the story of the Buena Vista is fairly well known by now: Cuban musicians from before Castro's time, lost in obscurity, brought in to make an all star record by a producer, album gets huge, reknown soon follows in the twilight of each man's life. I won't rehash entirely here, but I will say that this follow up to their 1998 debut is magic. All of it. Many of the members of the Buena Vista are gone now, but thankfully, we have this one last great document to celebrate. Rec'd listening: All of it. Seriously. 

The Airborne Toxic Event, Self Titled- We've all heard the story before. Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses mother, boy discovers he has incurable, eventually fatal genetic disorder, boy loses girl, boy begins writing terrifyingly honest, heart-rending poetry, boy decides terrifyingly honest, hear-rending poetry needs to rock more ass, boy hires local crew of musicians, ass-rocking ensues. That old chestnut. With possibly the best backstory of any album since the Eels' "Electro Shock Blues", it's not hard to find something to like, or at least love, here. Rec'd listening: Sometime Around Midnight

British Sea Power, Do You Like Rock Music?- Surprisingly, an album that indeed lives up to its name, being mostly rock music, and less of the twee, fragile, precious and clever songsmithing of previous BSP records. Not that that's a bad thing, but this album is certainly something special. It does, however, still feel like a BBC documentary of an Arctic expedition. Somehow. Rec'd listening: All In It, A Trip Out

Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping- Another one that, quite honestly, if you don't like the artist, you probably won't like the record. But for whatever it may be worth, if you want to hear the sound of funky chaos, this is the record for you. Also, it's incredibly filthy. So there's that. Rec'd listening: For Our Elegant Caste, Women's Studies Victims

Rafael Saadiq, The Way I See It- So you want to make your very own version of this at home? Well, it's easy! Here's the formula: 

Amy Winehouse minus 

Crazy Bitch plus

D'Angelo plus

A shirt 

See? It's just that easy! Rec'd listening: Sure Hope You Mean It, Kelly Ray

***

The best movie of the year? Well, honestly, that's not really a question, in my mind. Has to be The Dark Knight. It's the effing Godfather with capes! No, I'm not being facetious. At. All. 

Favourite desert: for the twenty sixth straight year (I didn't try it until I was two), the pistachio concrete from Ted Drewes'. Percy Shelley would fail to describe the perfection of this concoction, so I won't even try. 

Favourite local publication: the River Front Times. Ha! Eat it, everyone who doesn't like shameless self-promotion and free advertising! 

Favourite non Cardinal baseball player: Tim Lincecum. Remember when you used to watch Bugs Bunny wind up to throw his changeup against the Gas House Gorillas and laugh, because it was obvious no human would ever throw a ball that way? Well, Mr. Lincecum is on line one, and he is pissed. 

Favourite television show: Bleach. It's anime, so, you know, whatever, but it's been many a year since I became this obsessed with something. Alright, so it hasn't been all that long; I fall madly in and out of love with completely random things all the time. Still, it's really cool. 

Favourite tiny little Mexican Restaurant: Chava's, in Soulard. They deep fry everything. I'm sure there are other good qualities here, but who cares? 

Favourite local sportswriter: Joe Strauss. 'Cause there's always something interesting coming out when Joe's a-talkin'. 

Favourite- oh,what the hell. I can't really think of anything else at the moment, and I'm sure you're all tired of listening to me anyway. Take care of yourselves, everyone, and enjoy the holiday season. I'll see you all next week.