And soon, that yearly custom became an annual tradition. I speak, of course, of the story of the very first caramel cod.
Wait. No, that's not right. Oh, yes, now I remember! I'm doing yet another of my irritating year-end lists! Thrill to me droning on and on about thing I like! Chill to the spectre of those things I fail to include! And drill to the, um, shit. Sorry, guys. I don't really have anything to go along with 'drill'; I just needed a third word that rhymed with thrill and chill. Let's see, what would have worked better there... Kill? Maybe. Ill? Not so much. Will? Well now that just doesn't make any sense. Ah, to hell with it.
It is indeed that time of the year, everyone, when your pal the Baron sifts through the year completed and picks out the very best of everything. (Or, at least, the very best of what he happens to recall in the hour or so it takes him to write one of these things. What, you want research? Pshaw, I say!)
So let's begin at the beginning, shall we? (I would say we should begin at the beguine, but seeing as how I am neither Bunny Berrigan nor a person who knows what a beguine actually is, we'll just move right along.) This is a St. Louis Cardinal blog, and so the most important category of all is my favourite Cardinal moments of the year.
25th May, Cardinals at Brewers: Okay, so the game maybe didn't end quite the way we wanted. The Brewers ended up winning the game 1-0 in the tenth inning off of Kyle McClellan. And sure, it just so happened that this game put the Brewers in first place, a single game better than the Cardinals. But if you really want to know when the Legend of Chris Carpenter kicked into that next gear, there's no better place to start than here.
That day in Milwaukee, Carp was making his second start since returning from his oblique injury. His first start back had been against the Cubs, a five inning, three hit, shutout affair, and it was encouraging, to say the least. Still, when a guy is fresh off the DL, you don't expect miracles, right?
Carpenter's line for the day: 8IP, 0R, 2H, 0BB, 10K. He faced one over the minimum and threw just 93 pitches, 61 for strikes. His game score was 88, his second best of the season. Of course, he was saddled with a no-decision, thanks to the work of Yovani Gallardo on the other side, but it was a powerful reminder of something we should all remember: it doesn't matter if he's been hurt. It doesn't matter if he's supposedly over the hill. It doesn't matter if the other team's young turk is standing there on the mound. Don't ever, ever bet against Chris Carpenter.
7th September, Cardinals at Brewers - The Luggaging of Miller Park: Chris Carpenter is not fucking around. That's the lesson.
Revenging himself upon the Brewers for spoiling his best outing of the year, Carp actually managed to one-up his May self, turning in a performance for the ages. He went the distance, beating the Brew Crew 3-0 while allowing only a single hit. He walked two and struck out ten Milwaukee hitters, marking the third time in the 2009 season he recorded a double digit strikeout total. It took him only 99 pitches, 64 of which went for strikes.
And best of all, he simply refused to let the by then porous Cardinal bullpen blow the game for him. He just grabbed his favourite Samsonite hard shell and closed that bitch out himself.
23rd August, Cardinals at Padres - Smoltzy Comes Alive: I was excited when the Cardinals brought John Smoltz on board; he's one of my all-time favourite pitchers and a surefire Hall of Famer. Even better, there was plenty of reason to believe he still had something in the tank even after his disastrous stint with the Boston Red Sox to open the '09 season. Still, my expectations were fairly low.
So what does John Smoltz do in his very first appearance with the Cardinals? He strikes out 9 Padres over 5 shutout innings and gets the win. Oh, and seven of those strikeouts just happened to be in a row.
Please Mo, don't take my Smoltzy away. How about we give it one more go-round, huh? What do you say? Sign him up and let's do this thing.
21st May, Cubs at Cardinals - No 'I' in Team, Bg Mac, or Anythng Else: That's rght, ths s the nfamous game n whch Albert Pujols fnally runed everyone's fun be puttng out someone's eye. To be far, t dd get a lttle annoyng when the Cardnals refused to fx t for lke a month, but stll. T was ncredble. You can't overstate just how lucky we are to be able to watch ths player n the prme of hs career.
16th August, Padres at Cardinals - Colby's Homer in the Gloaming: The game started promptly at 2:15 pm and ended five hours later, after two extended rain delays, when Colby 'Burning in the Outfield' Rasmus decided he had been at the ballpark long enough. Heath Bell never knew what hit him. Come to think of it, neither did Jay Randolph, who very nearly died during the call.
29th July, Dodgers at Cardinals - The Game of the Year: This was the night Blake Hawksworth turned us all into believers in the power of his knife. What can I really say about this game? It was, easily, the most fun I had all season, sitting up into the wee hours of the morning, posting thread after thread as the game just kept going.
In fact, forget me trying to tell you how it was. Just take a look for yourself.
- The day's main post
- ???? (Strangely, I can't seem to find a game thread for that date. Weird.)
- Still Overflowin'
- Flowing Oh So Freely Now
- Weaver Time
- And Finally, The End
Let's see, what else was awesome this year? Seeing Matt Holliday in Cardinal red for the first time. (Even though I was against the trade and still sort of am, he's pretty damned awesome all the same.) Albert hitting Grand Slams as if he was trying to use them up. Julio Lugo's eyes. Brendan Ryan's glove. Jason Motte's tics. Adam Wainwright. 'Nuff said.
the Best Records of 2009
Embryonic, the Flaming Lips
I freely admit, it took me a while to warm up to this one. I didn't like the first few things I heard off it. Too loud, too distorted, it sounded as if someone had just taken all the knobs on the mixing board and willy-nilly turned them to eleven. Of course, that really only goes to show you shouldn't judge too much based on what you hear coming through the factory speakers in your AMC Eagle. It's dark, it's dense, it's explosive, and it's genius.
Recommended Listening: Silver Trembling Hands, Evil, Worm Mountain
Horehound, The Dead Weather
Really, the one truly troubling thing about Jack White continuing to make incredible records with musicians, non-musicians, and transients he picks up on the side of the road is that gnawing, creeping feeling I have that we may never see another White Stripes record.
Recommended Listening: 60 feet Tall, Treat Me Like Your Mother, Will There Be Enough Water?
The Ecstatic, Mos Def
Hey, remember when Mos Def was the one everyone knew in Black Star?
Recommended Listening: Quiet Dog, Pistola, Supermagic
I don't know exactly why this album is so fucking good, but it most defintely is. Equal parts Jesus and Mary Chain retro wall of sound production, Brian Wilson wistfulness, and Jarvis Cocker specificity, this is a brilliant, brilliant record.
Recommended Listening: Ghost Mouth, Hellhole Ratrace, Lauren Marie
Other Stuff That Was Good in '09
Elvis Costello and Steven Colbert duetting on Cheap Reward.
Left for Dead 2. Now if only someone would make a Dead Rising sequel.
Goodbye Mark Mangino. Brett Wallace can only aspire to deserve the nickname as much as Mangino did.
Pantera's Pizza. Still in love after all these years.
Little King's Cream Ale. Possibly the only worthwhile thing to ever come out of Cincinatti.
Boobs. Just saying, they're pretty cool.
My favourite joke I heard this year:
Q: Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella?
A: For drizzle.
Isn't that just the stupidest thing you've ever heard in your life?
Inglorious Basterds is amazing. Watchmen was pretty good. The Hangover was funny. Oddly enough, Funny People really wasn't. Up In the Air may be the best movie I saw all year. Maybe. Or maybe it was Where the Wild Things Are. Tough to say, really.
Finally, on this final Wednesday of 2009, I just want to say how very much I've enjoyed our time together this year, and I look forward to many, many more.
Oh, and just in case you need a little optimism to close out the year, just remember: no matter how bad your year was, it was probably better than Tiger Woods'. So there's always that.