Cardinal baseball, from the girls
2011 UCB Awards
Every year the United Cardinal Bloggers have what is known as the UCB Awards – a way to not only recognize what the team has done in the past year, but also recognize the fact that the UCB is one group of people that are all here together writing about this crazy team we love. This year we have even had the joy of following our boys all the way to the top! But now that the champagne has all been sprayed, the confetti cleaned up and the championship swag all hitting the shelves, it is time to look back and recognize the year that was.
As an added bonus, this year everyone is invited to check out the ballot and vote for their favorites! If you are so inclined, you can head over here to see what’s what and have your say in the awards. As for our team, we decided that we would make one collective vote, so our thoughts are all sprinkled throughout.
On to the ballot!
1 – Cardinal Player of the Year: Lance Berkman. This was a unanimous decision, and Erika said it best, “Berkman won me over early, picked up a clubhouse leadership roll, slugged and walked his way on base and hit in more than his fair share of baserunners. When the Cardinals signed Berkman, I was warned I would love him – and I do.” Make that we do!
2 – Cardinal Pitcher of the Year: Chris Carpenter, without a doubt! His horrific start to the year left us all scratching our heads and wringing our hands, trying to figure out what was left of our co-Ace since Adam Wainwright went down for the year and we had no one else to turn to. He then buckled down and became the bulldog starter we all hoped he still could be. After several shut down performances – shutouts, out-dueling aces, big game wins and locker room speeches – he was the leader the boys needed on the mound.
3 – Regular Season Game of the Year: September 7 – Cards vs. Brewers. Carp throws a shutout, Nyjer Morgan throws a temper tantrum, the Cardinals gain momentum and scribes and fans everywhere go into a frenzy. What more could a die-hard fan ask for?
4 – Postseason Game of the Year: Diane summed it up when she called game 6 of the World Series a game for the ages. What else could happen? The boys were down to their last strike twice. The hometown hero – David Freese – came through, and we all found ourselves cheering and hugging our loved ones to the bitter end.
5 – Surprise Player of the Year: Lance Berkman. Why? Umm… did you see his 2010? It was ugly, to put it gently. He was an absolute wildcard signing. It could be great or it could be a bust, but most of us were just kind of hoping for a shade above mediocrity. Lance turned us all into believers and even worked his way into some chatter for MVP awards. We’re excited to see the Puma again next year!
6 – Disappointing Player of the Year: It’s a tie that I’m not going to break between Ryan Franklin and Colby Rasmus. Franklin just had to go. Had. To. Go. Where he went we honestly didn’t care, but as long as no one let him in to the bullpen where he could try to sneak on to the field and snatch another defeat from the jaws of victory, we were not sad to see him go. As for Colby… he had been built up for such great things, but just could not overcome daddy drama, TLR issues and streakiness to be the effective centerfielder the team needed. Enjoy Canada, Colby!
7 – Cardinal Rookie of the Year: Daniel Descalso. HOW could you argue against Dirty Danny D here? For awhile he was Mr. Clutch, coming up with timely hits over and over. Despite a relatively low batting average, you cannot argue with the facts: he appeared in more games than just about any other Cardinal this year, despite having fewer than normal innings for a regular third baseman his glovework earned him a finalist nod for a Gold Glove, and he became the first ever relief third baseman, inexplicably coming in game after game in roughly the 7th or 8th inning to relieve Freese. There’s just something about this kid you have to love!
8 – Pre-Season Acquisition of the Year: Lance Berkman (What, like you thought were were going to say Ryan Theriot?!). Diane notes that the Cards got him for a bargain. He was the leadership spark the team needed.
9 – Mid-Season Acquisition of the Year: I was kind of leaning towards Marc Rzepczynski, if for no other reason than because he has an awesome name, and TLR still can’t pronounce it (never mind how poor Mike Shannon bungled the thing repeatedly). However, the girls outvoted me and went with Rafael Furcal! Erika? “Finally, I love our shortstop again. Diving, spinning, range — and a bat (just not a postseason bat.) ;)”
10 – Most Anticipated Cardinal: Shelby Miller. A lot of hype has been built up for this kid, and he honestly didn’t help his cause by getting himself suspended from the Springfield Cardinals (AA) for a time this year. Our hope is that he takes the winter to grow up enough to handle the pressure that he’s going to face in the next few years.
11 – Best Individual Blog: On the Outside Corner is informative, historical, and always timely. Bob will find a way to relate something that happened in 1967 to the random obscure play we witnessed last night that left us all scratching our heads and you will suddenly realize that you know absolutely NOTHING about the history of the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re always thankful for his Twitter tales too!
12 – Best Team Blog: i70 Baseball might be about those blue clad baseball players on the other side of the state too, but they never fail to bring new content about our Redbirds. Their hard work does not go unnoticed!
13 – Best Professional Blog: Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer from Matthew Leach is always informative, usually the first to report the news, and written by a writer that is always 100% classy, no matter what venom is being thrown around the twitterverse. Bravo, Mr. Leach.
14 – Best Rookie Cardinal Blog: El Maquino is one of many new kids on the block for this year. He’s a good writer, aspiring sportswriter, and we might not always agree with him, but he is always informative.
15 – Post of the Year: We had a split vote here… If Backyard Dreams by Bill Ivie over at i70 Baseball doesn’t either bring a tear to your eye or a wistful smile to your face, there is seriously something wrong with you. SERIOUSLY. Erika sent her vote over to Pip at Fungoes for his post called Why the Cardinals Will Still Beat the Brewers, and Diane tipped a nod my direction (with a note that she might be biased) by selecting my post commemorating Darryl Kile’s death entitled 9 Years Later. It is obvious to see that there were some incredible posts out there this year (and I wasn’t about to choose my own post or break the tie on this one – there were a lot of great ones to choose from!).
16 – Best UCB Project: The roundtables are a great way to not only clog up our email inboxes for a month and a half, but also hear a lot of thoughts and opinions getting floated around the various sites. If you haven’t been catching them all head over to the UCB site to check out the list!
17 – Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog: That one is easy for us – Bob with On the Outside Corner takes this one as well. No matter what happens, Bob always knows that a) it could always get worse, b) “Remember that one time in 196<fill in the blank> when this happened? Yeah, we could have that.” and c) tomorrow is a new game. Thanks for reminding us Bob!
18 – Best UCB Podcast: UCB Radio Hour takes the cake here. All of the unique voices and opinions bring us back every week. We enjoy hearing all of them!
19 – Best UCB Twitter-er(-er-er-er): Erika and Diane left this one to me, so I’ll say it: @gr33nazn. Do you laugh every day? Do you want to? Follow Dennis. Learn about sporks, 8 lb. chalupas, the Sing Off, brain bleach, and random other topics… oh yeah, and baseball. He does that too.
20 – Best Fake Twitter Account: @TortyCraig might have retired from the scene, but we still had a blast hearing what he had to say about Master Allen, sprinkles and the like. I’m told he will now graze off during the sunset from Allen Craig’s backyard. Enjoy retirement Torty.