Tag Archive | "1980s"

Time Capsule: Cardinals Videos From The 1980s

Spring Training games are in full effect with all 30 teams,  including the St. Louis Cardinals, took to the field to start getting ready for the season.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has opened the vaults and given the world access to video clips that were previously locked away.

The Cardinals were a powerhouse team in the National League in the 1980’s.  Three appearances in the World Series, including winning the championship in 1982, as well as some key moments throughout the decade had many people watching the team very closely.

Today, i70baseball brings you nine classic moments from the Cardinals in the 1980’s, courtesy of Major League Baseball.

Use the navigation controls below to take a look at each of the videos.  Leave us some comments and tell us the moments you most remember from the 1980’s in St. Louis.

<b>Bruce Sutter Closes Out 1982 World Series</b>

Picture 1 of 9

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, ClassicComments (0)

Waiting No More

The season is finally here.  No more what ifs, no more predictions, just statistics and results.  All the fans can do now is sit and watch what happens on the field.  Many predictions have been made over the last six months about the Kansas City Royals yet like everything else in life all the assumptions account for nothing just the results. All the excitement about the Royals in 2012 can continue with the team having a good productive start to the season or the excitement could taper off like seasons in the past.  Kansas City has not been this excited about their hometown team for a long time, the 1970s and 1980s to be exact.  But this time it is different.  This team wants to win not only for themselves but for the city itself.  Also, not only do they want to win but they want to do it here in Kansas City.  The future is still the future but the present is now and nothing feels greater than to have our team playing in our town right now.

In years past, the city has always been excited about the fact that baseball season has started but that was because they had another option for a night out on the town that started at Kauffman Stadium.  Now, fans have the excitement on the field drawing them in.  They are not just going for Garth Brooks in the sixth inning or hot dogs or over priced cold beverages. Now for the first time in years they are going to watch the likes of first basemen Eric Hosmer, 2011 Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon out in left field, a young gun pitching staff along with the whole cast of Royals.  The team is finally the attraction and they want nothing more than to be the talk of the town.  In years past teams that the Royals organization put out of the field were there to make their money and get on to the next thing.  But this time it is different.  Winning is now the only thing.  Not many people outside of Kansas City are truly giving this team a chance.  Reasons like they are young, they won’t spend the money needed to field a winner, they are breeding the next big New York Yankee or Oakland A, but that is exactly what some of the players on this team want the outside media to say.  The underdog mentality will fuel this young ball club to do what I believe to be great things not only in years to come but this season as well.

The clubhouse has never looked as tight nit as they do now.  This team of young guys who have grown up differently, gotten their shot in the Major Leagues in many ways, have come together to join as a team.  Talent only can get a team so far but if these guys can stick together and be the family that a team needs to be success will come.  All of this aside, what do we do now?  All we can do is sit, wait, and hope that the team the Royals are putting out on the field is what we all think it can be.  Royals teams of the past had their time but for now, like the season slogan states, this is the 2012 Royals time to shine.  And shine they will.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Yadier Molina is this generation’s Ozzie Smith

The St. Louis Cardinals confirmed Thursday that Yadier Molina will be the franchise’s catcher for at least the next five seasons, marking the second time the team has kept the best defensive player in the game.

The Cardinals signed Molina to a $75 million contract extension that will keep him in St. Louis until at least 2017. However, unlike most big-money contracts dished out around the league these days, Molina will receive the bulk of that money because of his glove, not his bat.

Molina’s deal also harkens back to the 1980s when the Cardinals paid a shortstop named Ozzie Smith to often-miraculously cover the middle of the infield. Smith never made more than $3.5 million in a single year, but that is more because of the different eras than because of talent. From 1978 to 1996, $3.5 million was still considered a lot of money, especially for someone with a .262 career batting average.

During his career, Smith reshaped how defensive players were valued. He averaged just two homeruns during his 19-year career, but he saved countless runs with his dazzling glovework.

Sure, other eras also had terrific defensive players, but Smith made defense exciting to watch. The crowd at Busch Stadium would actually cheer when a ball was hit toward Smith’s shortstop position because there was a pretty good chance it might be the most memorable moment of the game.

Molina is the same way behind the plate. He’s not the first catcher to receive a big contract. Catchers such as Joe Mauer, Jorge Posada and Mike Piazza also received huge paydays, but the difference between those catchers and Molina is how well they hit. Each of the three previously mentioned players were paid because of what they could do standing next to the plate more than what they could do behind it.

That’s not the case with Molina. He has a .274 career batting average and hits about nine homeruns each season. But, he leads a pitching staff as well as anybody and has gunned down 44 percent of the baserunners who dare to try and steal second base when Molina is in the game.

Molina gets a similar reaction at Busch Stadium III when he throws out a baserunner as Smith did at Busch Stadium II for making a diving play or leaping grab.

Defense is often undervalued in Major League Baseball. Teams pay more for homerun hitters because the stats are more black and white. A batting average will show how good a hitter is, but fielding percentage is much more subjective and misses a large part of the defensive game. Sure, there are new defensive sabermetrics coming out each year, but defense is still tougher to value than offense.

Given the holes in the statistics, defensive prowess must be defined by observation. Regardless of how many baserunners Molina throws out, the intangibles he brings to the field are vital to the success of the team. He is the lynchpin that holds the team together, even more so than Pujols when he was a Cardinal.

Smith was the same way. He played on all three of the Cardinals World Series teams in the 1980s and provided stability at one of the most important positions on the field.

Cardinals fans should appreciate watching Molina play defense. It is an art form that is often overlooked until it is gone.
Defense will likely never be valued as much as offense, but players such as Molina and Smith show that terrific defense wins a lot of ballgames, and quite a few championships, as well.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Rob Rains’ Inside Baseball: Cardinals Need Speed

Vince Coleman will celebrate his 50th birthday in September, and he is still confident that he could lead this year’s Cardinals in stolen bases.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I could do it,” Coleman said by phone this week from his home in San Diego. “Have them call me. I’d be glad to go out there and steal a base or two.”

It would not take many more than that for Coleman to become the team’s leader in stolen bases, which has dramatically become a lost art to anyone wearing a St. Louis uniform.

They came within three games of setting a franchise record for the most consecutive games without a stolen base earlier this year, going 33 games in a row without a steal, and since June 4, have stolen a combined five bases as a team in 55 games – with 13 caught stealing. Their season total of 39 steals in 115 games is only one more than the Cubs, but add in the fact that they have had 28 runners thrown out trying to steal, and their success rate of 58 percent is the lowest in the National League.

The last stolen bases they have had out of the leadoff spot in the order came on May 6. The team has a combined seven steals out of that spot, the lowest total in the league, and has had six runners caught stealing.

The individual leader on the team, Tyler Greene with nine steals, has spent almost as much time in Triple A as he has on the major league roster. Of the players on the current roster, Albert Pujols leads the team with six steals. There are 57 players in the NL with a higher total.

What in the name of Coleman and Lou Brock is going on here? A franchise which once stole 314 bases in a season, and had those two players top 100 by themselves, can’t steal more bases than this?

Coleman thinks part of the reason is that the art of stealing bases is not taught in the minor leagues, as it was in his day in the 1980s, and that baserunners in the major leagues do not study the pitchers as and his teammates did in the 1980s.

“If Don Blasingame had not been an instructor in the minor leagues I wouldn’t have learned how to read pitchers as well as I did,” said Coleman, who stole 549 bases in his six years as a Cardinal between 1985-1990. “I knew what to look for and passed that knowledge on to my teammates. Whitey (Herzog) gave us the freedom and the green light to run at will. 

“Every pitcher has a flaw, and I don’t think today they study that and see what the flaw is.”

Coleman disputes the notion that the development of a “quick-step” move by pitchers slowed down the running game in the majors. He said pitchers who try that generally fall behind in the count, and then have to change to try to throw strikes in order to not walk the next batter.

“It just meant I would steal on the third or fourth pitch instead of the first or second,” Coleman said.

The Cardinals have had successful teams which did not steal many bases in the past. The World Champion 2006 squad stole only 59 bases for the season, and the next year’s total fell to 56 – the fewest by any team managed by Tony La Russa in the last 33 years. This year’s team already is ahead of the franchise record for fewest steals in a season – a meager 17 by the 1949 Cardinals.

Despite their lack of steals, which also includes the inability of going from first to third base on a single to the outfield, the Cardinals still lead the NL in runs and hits. Just think how much better off they would be even if they were at least average in the baserunning department? Think they might have grounded into a fewer double plays if they had players who could steal second?

To their credit, the scouting and player development personnel identified speed as an area they would like to improve in this year’s draft. Three of their first 10 picks in the June draft were described as speedy, athletic outfielders with a chance to develop as basestealers.

In addition to the lack of speed on the major-league club, there are only seven players (eight if you add Tyler Greene’s major league and minor-league totals together) out of the close to 200 in the minor league system with more than 10 stolen bases this season. Tied for the organization lead through Saturday’s games were Memphis outfielder Adron Chambers and Johnson City outfielder Steven Ramos, each with 17 steals.

Coleman, who worked briefly as a base running instructor in the minor leagues for the Cubs after his playing career, believes if a player doesn’t learn how to steal bases in the minors he is not going to be able to do it successfully in the majors. 

The lack of players who have the ability to steal bases also makes it hard for Coleman to watch games these days.

“There is no one out there who excites me,” Coleman said. “When fans came to watch the Cardinals in the 1980s the one thing they knew they were going to see was stolen bases, if they didn’t see anything else.

“I patterned myself after Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. Those guys excited me when I watched them play and steal bases. I learned from watching guys like Joe Morgan when I was growing up. I don’t see that many complete ballplayers in baseball today. When we got on base it was exciting.”

As the Cardinals attempt to add more speed to their lineup, the question is where it will come from – with the two corner outfield spots, the two corner infield spots and the catcher position all unlikely sources – there are really only three choices, shortstop, second base and centerfield.

Newly acquired shortstop and leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal was supposed to add that dimension to the team, but he has not even attempted a stolen base in his first eight games as Cardinal. Jon Jay, now the regular centerfielder, has five steals but also has been thrown out four times. Now splitting time at second base, Skip Schumaker has no steals and two caught stealing, and Ryan Theriot has four steals and has been thrown out attempting to steal five times.

Head over to Rob Rains website to check out Rob’s thoughts on the National League Central race coming down to two teams and his notes on Major League and Minor League baseball.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Writers Wanted
PSA Banner