What a time to be a St. Louis sports fan. We've been through some tough times recently. The Rams went from the Greatest Show to "now selecting with the Number 2 pick in the Draft" territory. The Blues got screwed during the strike and haven't seen the playoffs since. The Cardinals have been solid, but aren't the dominating team they were for most of the decade. But things are looking up....way up for all of St. Louis sports.
St. Louis Cardinals: It has been only 2 seasons since we won it all, but it hasn't been all that great since. Although we won more games last season than in '06, watching the Cubs (briefly) in Oct. still hurts. But hope isn't just at the horizon, it's at the front door. Young pitching (Motte) and young hitting (Rasmus) is showing that we are in for a long term overhaul, not just patching up with free agents. And our minor leagues look great too (This Wallace guy sounds like a power hitting 3B...can't wait to see him.) If the kids learn on the job we could win this year. I think it will come down to who gets more injuries between the Cubs and Cards. But whether it is '09 or '10, Cardinal baseball will yet again be a joy to watch.
As for my predictions, I have the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians and Angels in the AL. The Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers and Mets in the NL. Give me the Red Sox over the Dodgers in the series. I know it isn't original, but it's not my fault the Sox are solid. As for the Cards, I will say a second place finish with 89 wins. 94 wins if Carp gets 30 starts and Motte is the real deal.
The St. Louis Blues: It is true. I have yet to recover from the strike. The Blues had made the playoffs every year of my life before the strike. We were a shell of ourselves when the NHL restarted, and I am still bitter. However, I hear about the Blues everyday on the radio. About the work ethic and smart drafting. Now, without our best defensemen the Blues are almost in the playoffs against all odds. Frankly, the Blues have been playing like it is the playoffs for the last month. So even though they might not make it, they have shown great integrity for a young team. A young team that will make some noise next season.
The St. Louis Rams: How craptastic was it to watch the Rams last year? I am a solid fan, and even I didn't bother to watch most games on TiVo. But then we promote Billy Devaney to GM and hire Steve Spagnuolo, and anything is possible. Think about it, our blundering Rams hired the number 1 head coach prospect. Huge. He then hires staff based on talent, not friendship. Huge. He then gathers players based on heart, not name. Huge. My only regret is we cut Holt and Pace. But I think that regret will be short lived. We will win 5-7 games this year, and compete for years to come. This will be a dynasty for the Rams. We may not win Superbowls, but we will make playoffs.
St. Louis Athletica: So the WPS started up this month with the St. Louis Athletica being an inaugural team in the 7 team league. While it is hard to judge one expansion team, let alone 7, I am excited for the Athletica. We have the best keeper in the world in Hope Solo, a world class defender in Lori Chalupny and 2 up and coming strikers. And then some Brazilians including the Brazilian coach. I expect the Athlectica to make the playoffs and truthfully they should be in the finals.
MLS? Yeah, I could tell a sad story about how St. Louis has been passed up for 4 expansion spots now since we passed a stadium plan in Collinsville. But here is why I am still hopeful: They are looking at using Soccer Park for the soccer stadium plan. This would be awesome, because most soccer fans think of 2 places in St. Louis to watch soccer: SLU and Soccer Park. If this happens we should get an expansion team for 2012. But even beyond that, St. Louis is coming up as a possible relocation destination for some troubled MLS squads, including the 4 time champs DC United. While I would hate to get a relocated team, it would be super awesome to watch the quality of DC United for years to come. It could happen!