It’s been a tough year, and many people are struggling to find things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. This year, however, when the family goes around the table listing their blessings, there’s no reason to resort to clichés. Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals have many items to be thankful for that even the most cynical fan can embrace.
Thankful for Former Cardinals Staying Involved
Fans attending the August 28th game next year will receive either a Willie McGee or Jim Edmonds bobblehead. Giveaways featuring former players aren’t a rarity in baseball, but it’s important to note that McGee serves as a coach for the team, and Edmonds is part of the broadcast team. Former players are around the club and visible to fans. When the Cardinals celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1982 World Series team, many former players will be on hand to make it special. The opening day ceremonies will continue to feature many Baseball and Cardinal Hall of Famers, donning red jackets and interacting with the media. The ownership does an excellent job of connecting current fans to the franchise’s storied past.
Thankful for a Gold Glove Cardinals Defense
The only thing better than taking in the nostalgia of great Cardinal teams of yesteryear is doing it while enjoying a great product on the field. Fans love a team that handles the fundamentals, and the defense looks to be as strong as ever moving forward. Nolan Arenado was once again honored with a platinum glove. Two other infielders, Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt, received gold gloves. Outfielders Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill were also selected. All five players are under contract for 2022, and there is no reason to believe the defense will falter.
Thankful for Expired Contracts
The players who take the field are the ones who win and lose the ballgames, but sometimes the players that aren’t paid make a significant difference on the final roster. As many contributions as Matt Carpenter and Carlos Martinez made during their careers in St. Louis, no longer covering their salaries gives the team a lot of flexibility this off-season. The team has already used some of that flexibility to sign lefty Steven Matz. They are well-positioned to add another starter, explore options at shortstop, and acquire reinforcements for the bullpen.
Thankful for an Unexercised Opt-Out
The lone criticism of the trade for Nolan Arenado last off-season was that there was no guarantee that he would stay after one season. Fortunately, Arenado decided not to exercise his opt-out and will stay with the team at least another year. His bat combines with Goldschmidt and O’Neill to form an elite middle of the order. Arenado is the anchor of both the offense and the defense. Cardinals fans should remain thankful for years to come, assuming he doesn’t opt out after the 2022 season.
Thankful for an All-time Great Battery
Plenty of fans are predicting diminished performances from Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina next year. They may very well be right, but the fact that Cardinals fans will get to experience one more year of them together is something to be very thankful for. It seemed unlikely a few years ago that the two would remain productive for this long, but they just continue to produce.
In short, Cardinal fans may have legitimate complaints, but they are perennial contenders who almost always find a way to stay relevant deep into the season. Perhaps that’s worth mentioning this Thursday instead of pretending to be grateful that Aunt Gertie brought her Jell-O salad.
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