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The 10.5: Busch Stadium, old Cardinals, Ozzie Smith and strikeouts

Busch Stadium

Listening to the broadcast last Friday, someone in the booth made a casual reference to Busch III, which, of course, is the current iteration of Busch Stadium since Sportsman's Park was re-named Busch Stadium during its final 13 years of existence and was then followed by the cookie-cutter version and what I consider the original Busch Stadium. I don't care for Busch III, or Busch II for that matter, and let it be known in a tweet that seemed to be widely accepted (minus a few scalawags) by the fan base.

Thoughts? Will also accept Busch Memorial Stadium for Old Busch and New Busch for Busch.

Old, successful Cardinals

Hey, today is Yadier Molina's 36th birthday. Some of us have chosen to celebrate by asking incredibly confounding questions on Twitter. Others, like myself, are harkening back to other old, successful Cardinals. Using Baseball Reference's Play Index, here is the WAR leaderboard for Cardinals age-36 or older.

For all of Ozzie Smith's accolades, the one that is most often overlooked is how good he was after the age of 30, and, as shown here, age-36 even. I had the pleasure to interview Ozzie over the phone a little over a year ago when I was at Viva El Birdos, and this is what he had to say on the matter:

Question: One of the things that I think is overlooked about your career, and I was looking at some of these stats not that long ago, is how good you were for so long after the age of 30. Is there any advice you give to players, particularly shortstops because I imagine it can be a grueling position?
Ozzie Smith: It was real simple, Alex, it was about striving to continue to get better. If I signed a longterm contract, I wanted everyone to know that I was worthy of that, and the only way to do that was to continue to improve and continue to get better. That was my goal. Money was never really my driving force, my driving force was to make sure I gave my all every day, and if I did that then the other things would take care of themselves.
It was also to prove to myself that I could push off that point of diminishing returns. I wanted to play well into my 40s, I think when I retired I was 41, but I wanted to prove that players with the right work ethic could play beyond 40, which was the number put on guys as to when they could no longer contribute and I don’t think that’s true. There have been a handful of guys who have proven that.

Pretty cool, huh?

Ozzie Smith and strike outs

Speaking of Ozzie, did anyone else happen to catch the following headline in the Baltimore Sun a week or two ago?

This is likely more commentary on Chris Davis than it is Cal Ripken, Jr., but focusing on Ripken for a second - he struck out in approximately one for every ten plate appearances and that's pretty good for a hitter of his acumen. Ozzie Smith was not the hitter Ripken was, not even close, but he was much harder to strikeout (he rivaled Tony Gwynn in this regard), and went down on strikes about one for every 18 plate appearances and totaled only 589 Ks for his 19-year careers. Distill it to his time with the Cardinals, and he had only 423 strikeouts, or one per every 19.5 plate appearances.

Inspired by the above-headline, and turning again to the Play Index, here are the players who struck out more times than Ozzie Smith while in a Cardinals uniform while accumulating fewer than 3,500 plate appearances.

This might be worth a BotB Short or Play Index deeper look down the road.

Recent words written about baseball that are worth reading

  • The best of photographer Chris Lee from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Not exactly "words written" but there are some wonderful photos here from the archives of Post-Dispatch photographer Chris Lee. From Mark McGwire to Jack Buck to the St. Louis Rams (if you care about such a thing). My favorite might be the one that captures Albert Pujols fixing Stan Musial's collar.

  • When writers get weary and fans get fatigued by Tanner Puckett of Viva El Birdos. I don't agree with every point made in this column - I echo what Bernie Miklasz asked yesterday in that if the team is using a veteran to monitor and possibly rat on other players not holding up their end, why the hell is Bud Norris filling that role, a guy who has been a Cardinal for less than a season and who doesn't have the greatest history with Latin players? - but this is very well written and is applicable to not just this situation but countless others. And I also agree that if the Cardinals weren't toiling away in mediocrity that some of these dust-ups would not be magnetized to the degree that they are. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be - certainly if John Mozeliak is calling into question the effort of a player on the team, we should all hear about it and minus some crazy-circumstances, excoriate Mozeliak in the process - but right or wrong, people care way less about this stuff when the team is in first place.

That's all for this week. If you see an article or blog that you think deserves a mention here, please feel free to send it my way at alcrisafulli @ gmail.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


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