Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Jim Edmonds

From Hollywood to Comeback Kid to… Blah

Ankiel newspaper ad (h/t Derrick Goold)

I was thinking the other day about a post I did last year about Colby Rasmus and JD Drew. (We randomly still get hits on the site from google using search terms such as “Colby Rasmus Tony LaRussa feud.” Those are my favorite!) With the Nationals currently in town and Rick Ankiel currently roaming the grass of Busch Stadium, I find myself pondering the centerfield position again. Now, I planned on doing this piece for today over the weekend, having absolutely no idea that the Nationals and Rick Ankiel were about to swing in to town. Now, after Ankiel took out a half-page ad in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I feel slightly clairvoyant, and a little less original in my deciding to talk about centerfielders.

So I’ve been thinking over the past few centerfielders that the Cardinals have had. We’ve had Hollywood. We’ve had the Comeback Kid. Now we have… umm… Colby.

I have very fond memories of the man they call Hollywood in Jim Edmonds. He made ridiculous catches, flying over the wall, diving across the grass, and making jaws drop with his latest Sportscenter highlight. People were in awe of his flashy plays. His shelf is full of Gold Gloves, and his reckless abandon with how he played the game will not be forgotten for a long time throughout Cardinal Nation.

On the offensive side of the ball, Edmonds was a strong presence, hitting in a crucial part of the order, either behind Mark McGwire or behind Albert Pujols. He could hit home runs, work a walk, and strike out like nobody’s business. He was also a clubhouse guy – a cheerleader even. I will never forget the pure joy in his face back in 2004 when he hit the home run to extend NLCS on to game 7. It was a perfect baseball moment. Jimmy brought the joy.

When Edmonds left the Cardinals for the greener pastures of Wrigley Field, Miller Park and finally Great American Ballpark (still can’t believe he did all those things), he was replaced by a pitcher. Okay, a former pitcher. Okay, it was Rick the Stick.

Rick Ankiel was a pitcher, who had a historic collapse in his first postseason appearance in 2000, where he set actual records for wild pitches thrown in a postseason game. He kind of vanished from baseball, and was ready to quit altogether, when he decided to become an outfielder. He battled his way back up through the minors and made an incredible burst back into the majors in 2007, where he hit .285/.328/.535 with 11 home runs over the final third of the season. He was the Comeback Kid in every way.

Ankiel was not the defensive prowess that Edmonds was. He made the plays, yes, but by all appearances he did not have the range of an Edmonds. Fox Sports Midwest still loves showing the clips from when he threw out two Rockies baserunners in a game, and we knew he had a cannon of an arm, but there was a difference in his style from the flair that Edmonds had. He had a reckless abandon, something that became abundantly clear when he crashed headfirst into the walls of Busch about two years ago (yes, the video is included in that link, and no, I can’t watch it again).

Something Ank wasn’t, however, was a media darling. He was adored by fans, but he was a media pariah. When he left the team at the end of 2009, he deked the scribes waiting for closing statements while the players were cleaning out their stuff and snuck out without saying anything. He wasn’t a big clubhouse guy. He got along with teammates, but wasn’t a leader. The fact that he put out that half page ad in the P-D completely shocked me (and probably most of Cardinal Nation). It was a classy move from the Comeback Kid.

When Ankiel left, it was for greener pastures, and by pastures I mean dollar bills. No matter, people were ready for the next big thing. Colby Rasmus had been the heir apparent centerfielder ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft. Minor league fans were begging to see him at Busch, and major league fans weren’t always sure what all the fuss was about, but they liked having someone to fuss about.

Leave me alone... please?

Then Colby made it. He played solid. He kept his head down. He was… blah. We have a blah centerfielder. Don’t get me wrong – he’s good. He’s really good. He’s very quietly leading the team in several offensive categories. While he was at first too anxious at the plate, he is patient now, leading the team with 9 walks. He’s focused on getting on base, putting the ball in play, and getting into a good position to scamper across home plate. He has the most at-bats, hits, and total bases on the team, a welcome relief for the prospect geeks that screamed into the ethers of the internets for Tony to use Colby more consistently. Yet… he’s blah.

He’s not the face of the team. He truly doesn’t want to be. He looks scared to death with a microphone in front of his face and most of his quotes sound like a combination between a surfer and a hick. Don’t get me wrong – I’m becoming a bigger Colby fan by the minute right now, but gosh, this kid is just flat out boring!

I’m absolutely pulling for him though. He can hide from the media all he wants, and hang out in the shadows. He can be one of the most underrated players on the team. It’s what he wants. Cardinal Nation just doesn’t know what to do with him.

The Return of Jimmy Ballgame!

The news hit twitter like a wildfire this afternoon.  Jim Edmonds has signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals.  Nothing better on a cold, snowy afternoon than seeing Cardinal Nation get all heated up about Jimmy Edmonds coming back to the nest.
We are so tired of no news that suddenly Jimmy’s new minor league contract comeback is sparking conversations that include all corners of the Cardinal roster.  Will he replace Colby Rasmus?  Is he the Cardinals next batting coach?  Ugh, another old veteran signing?  and my personal favorite:  Does this mean the Cardinals aren’t signing Pujols?
The way I see it… let’s just relax and enjoy the fun with this one.  Jimmy’s coming to Spring Training.  He might now (finally) get to retire a Cardinal.  I’m not reading too much into this yet…
Welcome back Jimmy!!!!  Thanks for heating up the baseball talk.  It warms my heart to see all the Cardinals fans come out of hibernation to chatter about our newest returning Redbird.
Pitchers and Catchers in less than two weeks?  Spring Training right around the corner?  Fantabulous!!
Go Cards  =)

Trade Time Trepidation

This is the first year that I have known enough about the mid season trade period to be interested in the process.  Well, interested may be too mild of a word.  Anxiety-ridden may be closer to the truth. Hearing rumors that one of my favorite players is about to be traded makes me a tad nervous. 
(Brendan Ryan did survive the Roy Oswalt trade circus, so I am breathing easier again.)
Yesterday the trade gates opened and players started shuffling. The Cardinals did not grab pitcher Roy Oswalt even though reports made it seem that Roy would have preferred St. Louis.  No, he ended up in Philadelphia, moving young Phillies pitcher J.A.Happ (and two other minor league prospects) to Houston.  The Astros then turned right around and traded one of those prospects to Toronto in exchange for…. Brett Wallace. 
That trade would have passed by quietly for me except that I recognized Brett Wallace from 2009 when I watched him play as a then-Cardinals prospect with the AAA Memphis Redbirds.  Last year Wallace left the nest in the trade for one of my new favorite Cardinals, Matt Holliday. So, I did not hold a grudge very long.
In the grand scheme of things, this shuffling around of players has actually increased my love of baseball – much to the dismay of my husband.  (He married a gal who could not have cared less about sports and now has a DVR’d program list full of nothing but baseball.)
Thanks to trades and waivers and all the baseball musical chairs,  I have quite a few “step-teams” merely because they have my former Cardinals on the roster.  Rick Ankiel now wears a Kansas City Royals uniform.  Jimmy Edmonds is a Milwaukee Brewer.  Troy Glaus plays for the Braves. The Toronto Blue Jays ended up with our spunky shortstop David Eckstein back in 2008, took our Gold Glove third baseman Scott Rolen in 2009 and then snatched Jarrett Hoffpauir off waivers back in November.  Now Eckstein plays for the San Diego Padres, and Scotty is my only bright side of watching highlights from our current rival, the Cincinnati Reds. 

For those of us without years of baseball history under our belts, all this moving around of players can certainly be shocking and frustrating as we start to love a team. 
However now I am learning it is fun, as a new baseball fan, when I recognize an ‘old’ name from the 2006- 2009 Cardinals.  Mostly it’s the pitchers who have been traded away and pop up in random games or baseball news, names like Marquis, Weaver, Reyes, Piniero, Wellemeyer, Isringhausen, and Flores; but also former players like Adam Kennedy, Cesar Izturis, Julio Lugo, Mark DeRosa, and Ronnie Belliard. 


What this constant shuffling of players has taught me is that baseball is a small world.  The more I watch, the more I learn and the more players and teams I develop a connection to. 
So, IF the unspeakable happens and one of my dear Cardinals (or Memphis ‘BabyBirds’) is suddenly shipped off in exchange for some brand new face in the next 48 hours, I will try to remember I may be losing a Cardinal, but I will also be gaining a new step-team.

Who am I kidding, that won’t help!  😉


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