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Giving Thanks

What can I say, it’s the reason for the season!

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Hey everybody, hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving. Hopefully you were able to do your “Black Friday“ shopping online as to forego the madness. I’m just enjoying some downtime. I had Wednesday through Friday off from school, and since my real job doesn’t schedule me those days because of school, I get a little break from my 60 hour/week schedule before gearing up for the last three weeks of the semester. So basically, I’m enjoying a rare chance to do nothing, which is just great for me.

I really enjoyed Lil Scooter’s (or Heather’s, if you prefer IRL names) Thanksgiving note on Wednesday. She talked about how much she has enjoyed this community over the years. I also noticed that she joined this place right around the same time as me, the summer of 2013.

I thought she was right on the money, so I want to echo her sentiments. This has basically been my favorite website over the last three and a half years, and spending the last year as a writer here has only increased that feeling.

I started watching baseball in the mid-90’s, near the end of Ozzie Smith’s marvelous career. I was lucky enough to be a fan during the great MV3 years of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds. Around 2007 though, I began a baseball hiatus of sorts. It wasn’t really that I stopped liking baseball, or the Cardinals. My life was just changing a lot (for the better) and baseball was one of the things that fell by the wayside. I’m sure the fact that the Cardinals had (relatively speaking) lean years affected it somewhat, but it probably was mostly to do with getting rid of cable.

Of course, I didn’t just completely ignore baseball, that’s hard to do when living in St. Louis. I still was aware of the hype around Colby Rasmus, the second coming of Rick Ankiel, the rental and subsequent signing of Matt Holliday. The continued excellence of Albert Pujols and the impending doom that was him nearing the end of his contract. My biggest fan-related regret is that October was the only month I watched baseball in 2011. I paid attention to playoffs at least.

Anyway, we moved out to Colorado Springs, which strange enough eventually made it easier to follow the Cardinals. I was shopping on my phone for some e-books one day - a search that also yielded The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, which I highly recommend to everyone who enjoys humor - and was thinking I might buy a book or two about baseball. My Dad had recommended Three Days in August, and there were a few others I was considering as well.

That’s when I happened upon Moneyball, the story of how Billy Beane put together a competitive team on a shoestring budget. That was instantly interesting to me, as while the Cardinals were always my team, the A’s were one of the teams that I allowed myself to root for as a secondary interest.

Anyway, Moneyball hooked me back into baseball. I didn’t need advanced stats to enjoy baseball when I was younger. Playing in two competitive leagues plus tournaments most weekends for most of my adolescence is all I really needed. But after being out of the game, advanced statistics offered me a deeper understanding of it, and a new angle by which to appreciate it. That’s why I describe myself as a “Baseball Fanalyst”. Analysis increases my enjoyment of the game.

Anyway, after having to tread through some sorry excuses for baseball analysis, (special shout-out to Bleacher Report!) I eventually found my way here, and it was exactly what I was looking for. A community with lots of love for the Cardinals, but also an enjoyment of looking at the game through a more analytical lens. I learned a lot through both the writers and the commenters here. Living in Colorado made it an easy decision to get a package and enjoy the large majority of Cardinals games without needing a cable package that included Fox Sports Midwest.

And of course, 2013 was a great season to get back into Cardinals baseball. Matt Carpenter had a season that should have merited MVP votes. We saw the debuts of Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and - as underwhelming as it may have been - Kolten Wong. Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal had fantastic follow ups on their cups of coffee in 2012. Yadi, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, and Matt Holliday, and “Marp” all had qualifying seasons and hit at least 30% better than the average player. Matt Adams filled in for again-injured Allen Craig admirably.

A 97 win campaign was enough to win an incredible three-way division race over the Pirates and the Reds. It was also enough to pace the National League as a whole. Two unforgettable playoff series later, and the Cards were back in the World Series for the second time in three years.

I don’t need to go over all the details, I’m sure most of you remember. The point is, I want to thank the community here for being you. Being a member of this community has been a big part of the joy of watching the Cardinals, and I’m not sure if I’m as big of a fan as I am today had I not found this place. There’s not many baseball fans in Colorado Springs, let alone Cardinals fans, so having people to discuss it with meaningfully is a big deal for me. The fact that I get to write for this site as well is just the icing on the cake.