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Announcing the 2012 Viva El Birdos Baseball Annual

Step two in my ongoing quest to see how much self-promotion I'm comfortable with is available today, for $2.99 on Kindle, Nook, iPad/iPhone, Android, or anything else that can read an EPUB file, including your web browser: The 2012 Viva El Birdos Baseball Annual, brought to you by some of the writers and editors of the sadly defunct Maple Street Press annuals.

Edited by Larry Borowsky (you might know him, without capital letters, as lboros) and I, this year's edition features a long interview with Mike Matheny, an extended season preview—complete with even longer and more passive-aggressive player capsules than usual—from me, and the following articles from some people you will recognize:

  • Larry's "On the Brink: A Brief History of World Series Last Chances" is a not-actually-that-brief look at how and how often players have found themselves in the situation in which David Freese and Lance Berkman both excelled in Game 6.

    It includes more and more interesting words about Debs "Tex" Garms, the ex-retired 36-year-old who had the misfortune of coming up in the 1943 World Series with nothing standing between his Cardinals and elimination, than you are likely to have read before.
  • "Two Piece: Just STFU About GIDPs," by Aaron Schafer (you might know him, with a weekly playlist, as the red baron), takes a look at the 2011 Cardinals' proclivity for grounding into double plays, and reminds us just how lucky we are that the Cardinals made the postseason, thereby keeping us from an offseason in which those double plays were imagined to be a problem that needed correcting.
  • "Coming to Power: Yadi Muscles Up" is a timely look at Yadier Molina's sudden surge in slugging percentage, and whether it will help, say, make him worth $75 million between 2013 and 2017, including an attempt to find similarly punchless hitters who permanently found the line-drive gospel.
  • "Rising Tide: Rah, Rah for the Farm System," also by Aaron (you may know him as the guy I identified as the red baron), looks at the best farm system the Cardinals have had since Rick Ankiel was—I'm sorry, I just started crying. Anyway, it, it—it goes farm-team-by-farm-team, looking for future contributors.
  • Kary Booher of the Springfield News-Leader talks to and about Matt Adams, who explains why he chose baseball over football, and goes as far afield as Adams's school district's athletic director to paint a full picture of the Cardinals' most football-sized hitting prospect.
  • Meanwhile, Tim McCullough, who programmed VEB and Future Redbirds prospect-sifting robot azruavatar (you may know him, inaccurately, as the red baron), does the same trick with teenaged pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins, combining an interview, a scouting report, and a look at the way the Johnson City Cardinals do things to give us a fuller picture of the Cardinals' best pitching prospect not named Shelby or Carlos.
  • "The Shortstops of Futures Past," which might well be a cautionary tale to Ryan Jackson, traces the Cardinals' failed and foiled homegrown shortstop prospects all the way back to Garry Templeton, from 1975 second-rounder Kelly Paris to Tripp Cromer and Aaron Holbert to Pete Kozma.
  • Finally, as the Steve Carlton trade turns 40, a look back at what turned out to be one of the most ill-advised trades in Cardinals history—and an attempt to see it, one more time, without the benefit of hindsight (and with the benefit of Marcel projections.)

All that runs you $2.99; you can order one directly from us here. If you don't own an e-reader or tablet, you can download the free Epub Reader plug-in for Firefox and read the magazine on your computer. As Larry writes in the introduction, this is an experiment, one we were thrown into without time or warning. But we think it's turned out well, and I know the content's great—and I can say that because I didn't write most of it.

A more conventional morning/game thread will run in this space at noon. (I can say that because, for once, I've actually written it already!)