As surely you are aware, iconic pop/rock/funk/R&B/every other genre in the world musician Prince died on Thursday. Although Prince was not a sports figure, his passing nevertheless stopped the sports world in its tracks. Notably, his hometown baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, a team who has made it a tradition since the 1980s to make rookies learning the lyrics to Prince's 1982 hit "Little Red Corvette", posted several tributes to His Royal Badness, including this one.
Fitting that it's raining in Minneapolis today. pic.twitter.com/s5KFurDhHi— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) April 21, 2016
Prince was a unique cultural force, but reading the countless tributes to him over the last two days got me thinking about who comes the closest to his stature. To be clear, there is no "Prince of the St. Louis Cardinals", but just for fun, here are some players who I think come the closest.
- Prince was born on June 7, 1958. The player in Cardinals history who is the closest in age to Prince is Bill Lyons, who played in 88 games in 1983 and 1984 for the Cardinals. Lyons was an area native, born in Alton, IL before attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
- Although he is roughly 3 1/2 years Prince's senior, Ozzie Smith perhaps best epitomizes Prince. The relatively small Smith (who, nevertheless, is nine inches taller than Prince, if we go by his 5'11" listed height on Baseball Reference) was a flashy and dazzling entertainer who had his breakthrough in 1982 (MVP votes and a World Series title in his first year with the Cardinals; 1999) and his critical peak in 1987 (2nd in MVP voting; Sign o' the Times).
- The Cardinals never had a player who was 5'2" or shorter. The closest was Cub Stricker, who was 5'3". Three quick fun facts about Cub Stricker: his given name was John Streaker, he was on the Cardinals in 1892, and his Baseball Reference page reveals a truly fantastic mustache.
- Prince was famously versatile: although most known for his songwriting, singing, and guitar playing, he played every instrument under the Sun and would record entire albums in which he was the only performer. Four Cardinals have played every position with the team, three of whom played in the Dead Ball Era or before and with whom I was unfamiliar until researching this fun fact (with all due respect to the descendants of Yank Robinson, Art Hoelskoetter, and Gene Paulette). The fourth is a player with whom you are likely familiar and whose versatility is famous. Consider this a mini-test for you. Click here for the answer.
- There's also this comparison I made several months ago.
Matt Carpenter is the Prince of baseball: every year he changes up his style but he slays regardless #stlcards— John (@johnjf125) October 10, 2015
I wrote about the Cardinals' 2016 bench and how it appears to be significantly improved from the last two seasons. Although there are plenty of clearly unsustainable hot starts among the performances, there does appear to be enough substance in there to comfortably conclude that the bench will have some solid performers.
Randal Grichuk as a walking master
Lil scooter, noted fan of players who walk a lot, is embracing Randal Grichuk's recently rising bases on balls rate. By adding plate discipline to his repertoire, Grichuk is positioning himself to be an even more valuable player in 2016. Although I would personally disagree with scoot's position of preferring to see a ten-pitch full cont walk to a 450 home run, I think both are pretty good. In fact, I'd dare say that a player hitting a 450 foot home run after a ten-pitch plate appearance would be pretty ideal. Please continue to read my writing for such baseball analysis as this.
Ebo handled the prospect report. And apparently, it is now a thing to call center field prospect Charlie Tilson "Chuck Tilson." You learn something new every day.
The Padres series preview and recaps
Craig Edwards previewed this weekend's edition of Late Nite Baseball, in which the Cardinals play the San Diego Padres. The piece is titled "Cardinals should destroy the Padres", which is 100% true if we treat "should" in a philosophical, right vs. wrong sense. It's also possibly true in a "what baseball thing is going to happen?" sense.
Also, the first game happened, and here is the recap. You can click the recap to see the result of the game, which I am consciously opting to not spoil and it has nothing to do with the fact that I want to pre-write this post and go to bed. Absolutely not related at all.
In non-VEB baseball writing, for those who did not read this terrific piece from Double Birds about how national baseball media got duped into false accusations against Cardinals fans about Jason Heyward, or its follow-up piece posted last night, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The pieces are a terrific look at the sociopolitical ramifications of anti-Cardinals sentiment and how it goes beyond the silly sports grudge it is supposed to be.
Hey, the Cardinals play tonight. And tomorrow. And every day the rest of the month. So that's cool and good.