Continuing the maddening, lurching, schizophrenic path this season has taken, the Cardinals lose 5 of 6 to the two worst teams in the NL, and turn right around to take 3 of 4 from the best pitching staff in baseball - the Padres.
I got to think the Padres must dread playing in St. Louis. It's been a house of horrors for them for years. Only since they moved into Petco Park have they been able to consistently beat the Cardinals in San Diego. Why, in the last salad days of Jack Murphy/Qualcomm, we OWNED the boys in Brown and Yellow. I used to loove going to games there. Saw my only in person no-hitter there. Not so anymore; now the Cardinals lose 2 of 3 every year here.
But in St Louis, they always seem to get ambushed. Which is, even in this lost year (which still finds the team only 5.5 out and 6 under), they still own the Padres at home.
But I don't want to talk about that. I want to discuss Chris Young. And to do that, I'll start with Rick Ankiel.
As you may (and if you read this blog, probably do) know, Rick was the #1 pitching prospect in baseball from 1999-2000. Made the majors in 1999. Second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2000. Forgot where the strike zone was in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves, knocked around for 5 years before hanging them up as a pitcher and trying to make the majors as a hitter.
Well, he's back. Called up today, started in RF tonight and batted second, hit a 3-R HR in the seventh. Storybook stuff.
Cardinals fans have long memories. This is why they booed Rickey Henderson 16 years after he broke Lou Brock's single season steals record. So they know all about what Rick's gone through these last 7 years. So as he strode to the batter's box in the top of the first inning, they gave him a standing ovation.
Chris Young then stepped off the rubber to allow the applause to build.
He didn't have to do that. He's trying to win. He spent the first 6 innings allowing only 3 hits, 2 walks and 1 run to the Cardinals. But he felt it important to recognize the effort Ankiel's put in in trying to make it back to the majors. And that's the definition of a class act.
I am a Cardinals fan. Have been since I was 7, will be (barring the team moving to Mexico) for the rest of my natural life. But I have always reserved the right to cheer for the guys who play the game right, or who are examples of the kind of men we should all strive to be.
Chris Young is one of those men.
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