Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Top 10 St. Louis Sports moments of the Decade

It has been a crazy decade for St. Louis sports. For the Blues and Rams it has been the best of times (2000) and the worst of times (2007). For the Cardinals it has been the decade of Pujols and La Russa and has been constantly great. Mizzou Football started as a floor mat to the Big 12 and has emerged as a consistent North contender. And Mizzou Basketball has survived Ricky Clemons and Coach Q to rebuild itself under Mike Anderson. With all that said, here are my top 10 "moments" of the last decade in St. Louis sports.

1. The Tackle '00: In the most exciting and probably most underrated Superbowl, the Rams defeated the Titans by 1 yard. When Mike Jones made the tackle, I was in disbelief. We didn't blow it. The clock struck midnight, but Cinderella still danced. This is my number one moment because of the excellence the Rams gave all season. The '99/2000 season was as special as we'll ever know, and it was all preserved by "The Tackle."

2. Wainwright wins the World Series 'o6: Wow. Clutch. Huge. Just some words of how great Adam Wainwright was in the '06 postseason. The Cardinals limped into the playoffs and when Izzy got injured we turned to a rookie starting pitcher as our closer. Not only did he buckle Carlos Beltran's knee, but he got the job done in the World Series. It is an image I will not forget.

3. Warner to Bruce '00: You know, watching the second half of the Superbowl in 2000 was REALLY distressing. The Rams weren't scoring touchdowns and Eddie George had rushed his way back into the game. Late in the 4th quarter the Rams needed some magic. And got it. Warner took a huge hit delivering the ball, and Isaac Bruce made the adjustment to make the winning score.

4. Yadi's home run '06: With the game tied 1-1 in the ninth I was getting nervous. I was really afraid the Met were gonna hit a walk-off home run. Especially because I didn't think the bottom of our lineup was gonna score. Then Yadi hit a long fly ball. My first reaction was "It's just a fly out." It turned into "I swear on everything Holy if Endy Chavez catches ANOTHER homer I will break a wall!!" When it cleared the wall it was jubilation. Out of the entire '06 playoff run this play made me yell the loudest.

5. Eat Turf Kansas '07: What turned out to be the height of Mizzou's football program this decade gave us a lasting image. In 2007 Mizzou came into the Border War the ranked #4 team with the Kansas Jayhawks ranked #2 on a nationally televised game (ESPN Gameday was there too!) It was a great game, but the defining moment was when KU's quarterback Todd Reesing was sacked for a safety, only to emerge with the turf still in his grill. Mizzou won the game and woke up on Monday the #1 team in the land.

6. Touchdown Rams: Ricky Proehl '00: The road to the Superbowl wasn't a total cakewalk. Although we demolished the Vikings, the Buccaneers and their dominant defense posed a great challenge. In fact, late in the 4th quarter the Rams found themselves trailing 6-5. A strange place for the greatest show on turf to be. Until Warner threw one up and Ricky Proehl came down with it. I was at that game, and it still is the greatest moment I have ever been in attendance.

7. Jim Edmonds walk-off '04: Despite how the '04 ended, the NLCS was classic. The Cardinals and Astros had battled often in previous years and this was the first meeting in the playoffs. After Jeff Kent hit a walk-off in Houston, it was easy to think the 'stros would finish the job in St. Louis. In extra innings game 6 remained tied until Jimmy Ballgame came up big. We all knew it when it came off his bat. A great moment in Cardinals history.

8. Pujols shocks Houston '05: It was looking depressing in game 5 of the '05 NLCS. The Cardinals were going to lose in Houston, losing a chance to give Old Busch one last game. 2 outs and Eckstein hits a gritty single. Ok. Edmonds works a great walk, to bring up Pujols. If only hit could hit one. CRACK. Silence. The best silence you will ever hear. I personally was running around the house about to explode because I was trying not to wake up my wife. It was a great moment, but it would be one of the greatest in baseball history if the Cards could have won the series. Turns out the mojo was lost and all Pujols gave St. Louis was a proper good bye to Busch. A great gift indeed.

9. Great 8 in '02 and '09: Ok, not so much a moment but an accomplishment. Mizzou basketball had two Elite 8 seasons this decade, but they couldn't have looked different. In '02 the Tigers were ranked high in the pre-season polls, but stumbled out of the gates and snuck into the tournament as a 12 seed. Well Kareem Rush and company put it together to make a run that nearly ended with a Final Four. In contrast, the '09 season was a "make it or break it" season for Mike Anderson in his third year. A team that got better as the season went on, nobody wanted to play the Tigers in the tournament. It took a tree in Thabeet and UCONN to take out the Tigers, but not after revitalizing a long historic program.

10. USA vs Mexico '02 World Cup: Alright, it's not technically a St. Louis team. But when US Soccer plays we should all be fans you know? US v Mexico is as great of a rivalry as there is. Cards/Cubs, MU/KU, it is just as passionate. Add to it that these two rivals met in the World Cup and extreme bragging rights were up for grabs. A great performance by the US put them into the quarter finals against Germany (and if it weren't for a non-call on a handball we might have made the semi's?) Here is a clip if you don't remember.

Honorable Mention: Presidents Trophy 2000: What a long, difficult decade for the Blues. It started with such great promise. Captained by Chris Pronger, the Blues had the best record in the NHL in 2000, only to be knocked out in the first round. It was a painful end to the season, and while the Blues did make the Conference Finals the next season it really wasn't the same after that. Hopefully the current management and roster will make this next decade more memorable!

Ok, those are my moments. Comment on the order or if I left any out! I will admit up front, I left out some of the more painful moments so I could include the success of the Blues and US Soccer. That's why you don't see anything about the '02 Superbowl. Still too painful.

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