Making Sense of the MLB Trade Deadline

Whoa. Ok. That was a lot of movement. Between the new players on new teams in the NFL and now MLB, my head is spinning.

Naturally, when there is any sort of mass player movement in any of the major sports leagues in the United States, we must pick ourselves some winners and losers. So, why should we be any different?

We will break this down into three categories: winners, losers and those in limbo. That’s right. You came for two, and we’re giving you a third on top of that. Take that, ESPN!

WINNERS:

Texas Rangers:

-Acquired RP Koji Uehara from BAL for SP Tommy Hunter and 1B Chris Davis

-Acquired RP Mike Adams from SD for 2 pitching prospects

The Texas Rangers are the best team in the American League not playing in the East. They had a clear weakness on their ballclub: the bullpen. They can mash with the best of them and they have solid starting pitching thanks to All-Stars C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando. However, their bullpen ranked 11th in the league and outside of Arthur Rhodes, the unit was under-performing.

One American League official went as far to say that if the Rangers were able to trade for Uehara (1.71 ERA, 62 Ks in 47.0 innings), they would play in the World Series. Ok, maybe that guy got ahead of himself. But, the Rangers did pick up the most dominate reliever available for their eighth inning, then got Mike Adams (1.13 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 49 Ks in 48.0 innings) to shorten the game even more. Starters need only to go six innings with Adams, Uehara and Neftali Feliz to round out the ‘pen.

The Rangers did part with a youthful arm in Tommy Hunter (13 wins as a 23-year old in 2010), but the team had given up on fixing Chris Davis (24 Ks in 76 at bats this season). As for the pitching prospects, they weren’t the best the team had to offer, which is always good to hear from an organizational stand point. The Texas Rangers had the best deadline, dare I say.

New York Mets:

-Acquired two players to be named later from MIL for RP Francisco Rodriguez

-Acquired SP Zack Wheeler from SF for OF Carlos Beltran

Whoa! Before you go calling me a homer, understand something. First, the Mets escaped from what was going to become a vesting option of $17.5 million to Francisco Rodriguez if he finished 55 games this season. Emphasis on finished. He could’ve lost 55 games this year and it wouldn’t have mattered, the option would’ve kicked. All he had to do was be the last pitcher to appear in the game. Literally, my grandmothers could be the players to be named later in that deal with Milwaukee, and it won’t matter. That money is going right to Jose Reyes, thankfully.

Second, you need to realize that had the Mets held onto Carlos Beltran, they would not have been able to offer him salary arbitration. In fancy talk, that means the Mets wouldn’t have gotten any draft pick compensation for Beltran had he left in free agency. He would qualify as a Type A free agent, which normally means the team that signs him surrenders their first round pick to the Mets, plus a compensation pick at the end of the first round. But, none of that would’ve gone to the Mets due to a loophole in his contract (damn you, Scott Boars!).

Third, while the Mets had offers from teams to either A) bring home a truck of B-level prospects, B) pay off Beltran’s remaining $6 million+ or C) both, Sandy Alderson and company held firm on getting the best available player they could. And, you know what? They did just that. Wheeler was the Giants’ best pitching prospect (out of a system that has produced Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, among others) and Baseball America had recently rated Wheeler as high as 35th out of all prospects in baseball. Wheeler immediately slots into one of the top four Mets pitching prospect slots (along with Matt Harvey, Jenrry Meija and Jeurys Familia) and projects to be a power, top-rotation type pitcher.

Getting value for Beltran was key for Alderson. He accomplished that, and that makes the Mets winners at the deadline even though they probably aren’t competing for a playoff spot. Hooray!

Houston Astros:

-Acquired OF Jordan Schafer and 3 pitching prospects from ATL for OF Michael Bourn and cash

-Acquired SP Jarred Cosart, 1B Jonathan Singleton and 2 prospects from PHI for OF Hunter Pence

Alright, another team that isn’t competing for a playoff spot. You think I’m crazy. Hey, you may be right. But, you need to look long-term here.

Remember, the Astros are stuck in the king of rebuilding projects and have a new owner coming into office. They need a franchise makeover. Does it hurt to trade away the face of the franchise and the one productive player on the team? Absolutely.

But, what does that say about your franchise if Hunter Pence is your keystone guy? Is he a good player? Absolutely. Should he be the best player on your team? No way.

In Cosart and Singleton, the Astros got the Phillies two best prospects not named Dominic Brown. That’s a win right there. From the Braves, they got 3 pitchers that project into productive parts, but not necessarily stars. However, they sold Bourn when his stock was highest, so that should be commended.

San Francisco Giants:

-Acquired OF Carlos Beltran from NYM for SP Zack Wheeler

-Acquired INF Orlando Cabrera from CLE for player to be named later

We already covered the Beltran trade from the Mets angle. The Giants angle is a lot easier to understand. They needed immediate pop in the middle of their order. Well, that’s Beltran.

What I love even more is the acquisition of Orlando Cabrera. This man IS playoff baseball. I understand the Indians traded him because their second baseman of the future has been playing well, but Cabrera is a lock to make the playoffs on whatever team he is on. I don’t know why, it’s just the truth. Expect Cabrera to play the 2010 Edgar Renteria role on this team.

Oh, and by the way, remember that it was Renteria who was named World Series MVP last year.

Team that went in the right direction, but didn’t impress: Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks

LOSERS:

New York Yankees:

-No major acquisitions

Absorb that sentence for a little bit, Yankee fans. Your general manager has pretty much informed you that he feels the mix of Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes will be good enough for a long run in the October. To me, that seems a little bit optimistic. And by optimistic, I mean delusional.

This team needed a starting pitcher in the worst way. C.C. Sabathia would be the likely Cy Young Award winner for the American League if Justin Verlander didn’t exist. But, after him, A.J. Burnett? And that’s really all you can trust? Wait, we’re trusting A.J. Burnett now? Oh, brother.

Hey, in their defense, it’s not like the Yankees didn’t try. They really wanted Hiroki Kuroda, but he refused to waive his no-trade clause and chose to stay in Los Angeles. They tried to get Ubaldo Jiminez (I’m not done with him) from Colorado before the Indians package trumped the Yankees. And, its not like the Red Sox and the Rays broke the bank in their trades either. But, the Red Sox did improve their rotation (Erik Bedard) and they added infield depth (Mike Aviles).

The Yankees didn’t do anything, and that hurts.

Cleveland Indians:

Acquired SP Ubaldo Jiminez from COL for SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Alex White and 3 prospects

-Acquired OF Kosuke Fukudome from CHI for 2 prospects

-Acquired a player to be named later from SF for INF Orlando Cabrera

The Cleveland Indians feel that they are in the thick of the race for the AL Central. And, less than three games out of first certainly means they are in the race. The Twins held firm at the deadline, the White Sox appeared to be sellers, and the Detroit Tigers added a nice piece in SP Doug Fister, but he doesn’t necessarily put them over the edge.

So, kudos to the Indians for putting in the effort to try and win this division. Now, time for my problems with both of these trades. Starting with Fukudome.

Ok, I understand their offense needed a bit of an upgrade. Not a full upgrade like the Giants needed, but enough of one where the Indians offered to pay Beltran’s entire remaining salary to the Mets plus prospects. So, why did they go after a guy that is ranked behind the likes of Ryan Theriot and Brian Schneider in terms of his career production rate on BaseballReference.com? Fukudome’s beautiful triple slash (average/on-base/slugging) for 2011? .273/.374/.369

Yikes. Not sure where I should be seeing an upgrade. Luckily, I’m not overly impressed with the prospects they gave up for the aging outfielder. So there’s that.

But, believe it or not, I had a bigger problem with their trade for Rockies ace Ubaldo Jiminez. In his first 16 decisions of 2010, Jiminez went 15-1 and looked like the shoe-in for NL Cy Young. Since then, however, Jiminez has gone 10-17. This year, he sat at 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA, a far cry from his 2.88 in 2010, and that was even lower in the first half of 2010.

Furthermore, does anybody else find it strange that the Rockies were so quick to trade Ubaldo Jiminez? He’s under team control until 2014, and its not like the Rockies are cheap when it comes to locking down their home grown talent (see: Tulowitzki, Troy and Gonzalez, Carlos). So, I smell something that the Rockies are seeing that maybe the Indians are not. The shine on Jiminez seems to be fading in the sense that Francisco Liriano is not the pitcher we all thought he’d be, either.

Also, the Rockies made out like bandits here. They acquired two of the Indians last three first round picks (Pomeranz and White). In fact, those two picks were both Top-10 selections. Pomeranz was such a recent selection that you see his name in the transaction column as “player to be named later” because the Indians aren’t allowed to trade him since he hasn’t been a member of the organization for a full calender year yet.

The Rockies are exceptionally good at rebuilding on the fly. They now have two controllable power arms that may be ready by next year or 2013. And the Indians? They traded for the market’s largest questionmark. You can be aggressive to a fault at the trade deadline. Unfortunately, that’s what the Indians were.

San Diego Padres:

-Acquired a prospect from PIT for OF Ryan Ludwick

-Acquired two prospects from TEX for RP Mike Adams

Ok, the Padres got the most out of what they could for the players they traded. The problem in San Diego is more of who they didn’t trade: closer Heath Bell.

Bell is a very good closer and a huge fan favorite in San Diego (as he was at Shea Stadium when he was the conductor of the old Norfolk Shuttle). But, the Padres probably did themselves a disservice by not trading him away. This was the highest his trade value would ever be, and now the team has put themselves in a situation where they will have to pay the big bucks to keep their stopper long-term.

Now, hindsight is always 20-20. This non-move could turn out to be great for the franchise. But, I honestly do not like it when teams invest in relievers not named Rivera. So, I will let this one play out a little bit. I just don’t understand why a team in full fledged rebuild mode wouldn’t move their most valuable asset that could be replaced rather quickly from within.

Other teams that disappointed, but not as poorly: Oakland A’s, Washington Nationals

Teams in Limbo

Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals:

Basically I group all three teams together because they conducted the largest, craziest trade of the deadline period. Stay with me here:

White Sox acquired RP Jason Frasor and SP Zach Stewart from the Blue Jays

Blue Jays acquired INF Mark Teahan from the White Sox, OF Colby Rasmus, SP Brian Tallet, RP Trevor Miller and RP P.J. Walters from the Cardinals

Cardinals acquired SP Edwin Jackson from White Sox, RP Octavio Dotel, RP Marc Rzepczynski, OF Corey Patterson and three players to be named later from Blue Jays

Have you digested all that? So, how do three teams conduct a huge trade and seemingly stay in the same place they were pre-trade? I’ll explain.

For the White Sox, General Manager Kenny Williams just confuses me to no end. When the team should be sellers, he buys. When the team should be buyers, he sells. He gave Adam Dunn a four-year contract when no team was willing to go more than two. He picked up Alexis Rios from the Blue Jays when the team was bound to release him anyway. I don’t get it.

Edwin Jackson was having a good year, and the White Sox did well to sell him when his value was high because Jackson has been an up-and-down talent his entire career, hence why he’s played for six teams in eight years. Mostly, the White Sox stay in limbo with this trade because while Zach Stewart is a promising pitching prospect from Toronto, he is no Daniel Hudson, who is the player the White Sox traded to get Jackson in the first place.

For the Blue Jays, I think I understand this trade. I think. The big prize they picked up is OF Colby Rasmus, who was once one of the best prospects in all of baseball while he was maturing in the St. Louis farm system. He hit .276 with 23 home runs for the Cardinals in 2010 as a 23-year old, but has been marred in a season-long slump in 2011, dipping his average to .240 with only 11 home runs. Apparently, Rasmus wore out his welcome with manager Tony LaRussa for seeking outside help for his hitting woes, which is a no-no for the Cardinals. When push came to shove, the team stuck with management and not Rasmus.

 However, he’s still young (24). He could easily figure out this funk and blossom into the well-rounded centerfielder experts had predicted he’d become. Here’s my problem with the trade: the Blue Jays didn’t need the help with their offense.

In the American League East, you will not win with a powerful line-up. Look at the Rays. Their line-up is below average for the American League, but they’re constantly competitive in the East because they have pitching depth very few other teams have. The Blue Jays dealt Stewart, one of their better pitching prospects, to get Jackson who enabled them to get Rasmus. In their system, they still have Kyle Drabek, their prize in the Roy Halladay trade. But, he struggled in his first stint of Major League action. The Jays will need a massive amount of pitching to catch up to the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox. I don’t see how this trade helps them, at all, in the long run.

Lastly, for the Cardinals, here’s why I don’t quite get it. I believe they are a team that has become in love with the notion that pitching coach Dave Duncan can fix any pitching problem. Edwin Jackson shows flashes of brilliance, and the Cardinals will try to harness those flashes into sustained excellence. And with Duncan’s track record, that very well could happen.

The team’s biggest hole was at shortstop, which they feel they answered by acquiring Rafael Furcal from the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, we will see if Furcal can stay healthy for any long period of time to actually help the team. They felt they could afford to trade Rasmus now because Lance Berkman has played so well in right field, and Jon Jay has exceeded expectations from all outfield positions.

My problem with this deal really comes back to Rasmus. I feel the team gave up on him much too early. He was their youngest player starting every day and, more importantly, was under team control on the cheap for at least another two years. With Albert Pujols soon to get a new contract, cheap, reliable talent is a major point of salary relief the team will need. Jon Jay has hit over .300 in his 600+ Major League at-bats thus far in his career. But, is he really your long-term centerfielder in St. Louis? I’m just not certain.

For me, the Cardinals will have to show me they have a viable solution in center before I move them out of limbo.

Other teams who tried to improve, and may have improved, but didn’t impress: Pittsburgh Pirates

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Down Goes Sir Albert

I’ll save you from the “Machine is broken” talk. Albert is human and has feelings. Now, what does this non-displaced fracture of Albert Pujols’ left wrist mean for his future? The St. Louis Cardinals’ future? Baseball’s future?

Why, I do not know, but I cannot find any video of the injury. It would be right here.

Anyways, right off the bat (oh boy, puns), not much for baseball’s future. The League will miss Albert, but no rule changes or any of that baloney (ahem Buster Posey). Albert was out of position and was making an effort to get an out (Buster was out of position, off-balance) and an accident happened. I wouldn’t want to be in the wrong position at the wrong time this season, stars are falling. No rule changes here, no fuss.

Now for Sir Albert’s future, there are some legitimate question marks. Will his wrist and forearm properly heal? To his former strength? Will his swing be affected? The wrist is a joint, where the two bones of the forearm connect to the metacarpal hand bones. A non-displaced fracture of the wrist is most often a fracture of the radius, the bone that rotates with your thumb side. Of the two bones, the radius is larger and is more important in the wrist joint. Pujols bats and throws right-handed, which helps. As seen in the play where the injury occurred, his left and gloved hand was jammed into the base runner; aside from that play, no other future concerns in the field. Hitting may be a different story, but this is Albert Pujols people. His left arm is leading toward the pitcher as the hitter and takes care of the downward motion of the swing and the pull through. His broken wrist will have some short-term effect on his power, but he’s a good enough hitter to hit line drives and conserve some of the energy in that wrist. It will be sore of course, but with good rest and rehabilitation his wrist should heal, I expect it to be 100% for the 2012 season. Once he returns after the 4-6 weeks the Cardinals staff set, he’ll be good, but not his usual self. The majority of his power comes from his incredible hitting ability, and hand-eye-coordination, giving him all the power and skill in the world. If St. Louis makes the playoffs, Albert will find a way to be his dominant self.

Things aren’t so awful for the Cardinals, either. Tony LaRussa is an excellent manager, and this years team, is special for LaRussa. Nearly all of the position players play multiple positions, allowing LaRussa to plug-in different lineups, and they’re all playing well. Lance Berkman has played left, right and first and is having an incredible comeback season. The pitching staff has been able to plug and chug new pitchers, and maintain a high level of play. Pujols’ contract is up after this year, after not resigning this off-season. As I’m writing this, St. Louis is half a game up on the Brewers for 1st in the N.L. Central. Even with Pujols in a “slump”. For Albert, a .279 batting average is no bueno; but his 17 homeruns and 45 RBI are decent. Albert’s injury is a chance for the Cards to see what they have as a team, and potential see what life without Pujols could be like. Will Pujols resign with the Cards after the season? He most likely won’t get the 10 years he was asking for, but chances are he’ll be back in St. Louis next year. The Cards will be more than willing to bring their star back, with fewer questions than other clubs. If Albert Pujols gets away, shame on them.

St. Louis Update: Holliday Requires Appendectomy

One day after the St. Louis Cardinals opened their 2011 season with a 5-3 defeat against the San Diego Padres, the team announced that star left fielder Matt Holliday underwent an appendectomy Friday afternoon, rendering the left fielder out of action indefinitely (ESPN News link).

Holliday went 3-4 with a home run in yesterday’s loss. Last season, his first full season in St. Louis after agreeing to a seven-year contract extension in the off-season, Holliday hit .312 with 28 home runs and 103 runs batted in batting behind first baseman Albert Pujols. The four-time All-Star finished second in the Most Valuable Player voting back in 2007 after he led his Colorado Rockies on a late surge into post-season play and a surprise World Series appearance.

The immediate effect on the Cardinals line-up will be dramatic. The purpose in the Cardinals acquiring Holliday at the trade deadline in 2009 was to serve as a buffer to force pitchers to pitch to Pujols ahead of him while providing pop of his own. Outfielders John Jay and Allen Craig are likely to split time in Holliday’s absence, but neither provide the offensive power that is now missing from Tony LaRussa’s squad. Right fielder Lance Berkman is the likeliest candidate to move into the clean-up slot to hit behind Pujols, but Berkman is no longer the player that averaged 33 home runs and 109 runs batted in over his 13-year career.

Though the team hasn’t placed a timetable on Holliday’s return, the recovery time for an appendectomy is usually between four to six weeks. With that in mind, it is likely that Holliday won’t be able to return to the Cardinals everyday line-up until mid-May, at the earliest.

The Cardinals have been hampered by injuries already this season, having lost ace pitcher Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery early on in Spring Training. This latest road block will definitely hurt the Cardinals chances of keeping pace with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers at the top of the National League Central.

Home Field Advantage on CardsDiaspora.com

Many thanks to both Aaron Hooks and Julie Adelsberger for the great insight into the St. Louis sports culture and helping us out with our project.

Make sure you check out CardsDiaspora.com in your spare time. Its a hysterical read from die-hard Cardinals fans. Everybody over there does a great job and every day is an adventure on their blog.

Here’s our link picked up by Aaron and company:

St. Louis HFA Radio Show w/ Julie Adelsberger

The St. Louis Show: featuring Julie Adelsberger, writer for CardsDiaspora.com

Julie Adelsberger, or as she’s known on CardsDiaspora.com, “The Mad Librarian”, is a long-time writer and fan of all St. Louis are sports teams.

Julie helped us cover the likes of the Cardinals, Rams and Blues.

The St. Louis Show: featuring Julie Adelsberger, writer for CardsDiaspora.com.

St. Louis Update: Carpenter Suffers Hamstring Injury

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter left his Spring Training debut appearance today with what has been reported as a left hamstring injury (ESPN News Link).

Carpenter said after that game that he doesn’t believe his injury is significant, but it caused enough concern for him to be pulled after completing 2 2/3 innings of work. The team is already without pitcher Adam Wainwright, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday and is out for the next 12-15 months while he recovers.

Last year, Carpenter posted a 16-9 record with a 3.22 ERA, and is the true ace of this rotation with the absence of Wainwright. However, at age 35 and with a long list of injuries on his resume, there is considerable concern in Cardinals camp that Carpenter might not be able to carry the load he has been asked to in the past. Last year, Carpenter recorded 235 innings, the first year in which he’s eclipsed the 200 innings threshold since 2006.

As we covered last week, there is a plethora of pitching in the National League Central. The Cardinals have a strong enough line-up to compete in the division, even without Wainwright’s 20 wins from the previous season. But, this team will be lost if Carpenter were to go down at any point during the 2011 campaign. So, while Carpenter has said the injury isn’t too worrisome currently, any injury to the injury-plagued righty should cause ample concern in what is turning out to be a bleak perspective on a complicated 2011 Cardinals team.

Week Three Summary: St. Louis Sports Culture

Week Three here at Home Field Advantage led us to explore some of the best in the Midwest, in St. Louis. Our city selection this week was originally revolving around the media frenzy surrounding Albert Pujols’ contract, but as the week progressed, our selection ended up being even more topical that we had originally intended. On Tuesday morning, news broke of Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury, and as the week continued, suspicions of Tommy John surgery were confirmed. This big hit to the Cards’ bullpen, as well as the sports hernia that will leave utility infielder Nick Punto out for two to three months, was big news on the national level, and even more so within the lives of our interviewees. We had two interviews this week, one with writer Julie Adelsberger of CardsDiaspora.com, and the other with Doug Couch, a lifelong St. Louis sports fan and enthusiast. We would like to thank both Julie and Doug for their time and insight this week! Both interviews helped answer many questions regarding the teams, fans, and overall culture in St. Louis.

Cardinals news was obviously atop our interview agenda, as the approaching season in combination with the recent injuries within the roster makes it on the tip of every St. Louis fan’s tongue. Julie Adelsberger, when asked about the fans’ mentality going into the 2011 season, asserted that there were hesitations, both in the short term and in the long term. The short term concerns concern the loss of Wainwright for the season to Tommy John surgery, as he is the “linchpin” of the Cardinals’ offense, and his impending surgery leaves many questions regarding the capacity of the bullpen to fill the void. Long term concerns are heavily rooted in the Albert Pujols situation, as his hesitation to agree to a contract extension have caused a lot of “heartburn” for the Cards’ front office, media reps, and fans alike. With his extension deadline passing last week, Pujols won’t negotiate another contract until the end of the season, which will inevitably cause a lot of anxiety as St. Louis wonders whether or not he will return in the red and white come next season. However, we were surprised to hear from Adelsberger that although the Pujols situation has generated a ton of media hype, many people don’t think he truly wants to leave the Cardinals organization. Adelsberger also suspects that releasing Pujols at the end of the season to see what his value in the free agency market would be may be part of the Cards’ strategy. Although this could be seen as a risky move, a “hometown discount” is not in consideration either, as Adelsberger asserts that the Cardinals have enough money to outbid any other interested organizations looking to fill off-season gaps with Pujols. Although Pujols’ situation is on virtually every show on ESPN, she contends that it is mostly media hype, and that nobody is truly worried about Pujols’ future, but more so about the future of the rotation given the recent loss of Wainwright for the entire season.

Another issue contributing to the St. Louis Cardinals news in the city is the growing uncertainty about Tony LaRussa’s leadership. Adelsberger stresses that his presence in the dugout is a “love him or hate him” kind of relationship with Cards fans, with more fans recently deflecting to the latter mentality. Although he is a storied and successful manager in both the NL and AL, he primarily favors veteran players, and operates under a number of “quirks” that are not “cute anymore,” Adelsberger contends. As more uncertainties are unearthed regarding this season’s roster, fans are starting to fear the divisional competition and their rotations more, looking to avoid “ending up like the Cubs.” If this season ends on a downhearted and dismal note, just like it appears to be starting on, LaRussa’s future with the Cards could be one of the first relationships to be called into question.

In Rams news, as the NFC West competition was so drab last season, the Rams ended the season tied for first with a record of 7-9. Adelsberger stated in the interview that she is amazed at the “unfettered optimism” within fans, but is still skeptical regarding the turnaround of the recently subpar team. With the off-season addition of Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator, Adelsberger asserts that if he can naturally “click” with head coach Spagnuolo, it would benefit the team tremendously. And with many fans expecting a lot from the NFL draft and off-season trades, there is a large amount of enthusiasm regarding the Rams’ push to return to a level close to the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

With the absence of an NBA team in St. Louis, Blues hockey is paramount come wintertime. They have a fantastic and loyal fanbase, and most games in the Scottrade Center are sold out. Recent “gutsy” trades, including Eric Johnson to the Avalanche last week, have surprised the whole hockey following, but given recent challenges brought on by injuries and low payroll numbers due to recent financial crises within the front office, these moves are part of a long term plan to realistically “transform” the team over the next few seasons. Adelsberger called the Blues the “greatest tease” for fans, as the franchise made it to the playoffs every season from 1980-2004, the third longest streak in North American pro sports history, but have no Stanley Cups to their name. Regardless of the inevitable annual playoff disappointments, which Adelsberger asserts is “part of the allure,” Blue fans remain loyal regardless, holding on for change to come, hopefully bringing a Stanley Cup with it.

A big story in the St. Louis sports culture is the heavy presence of Missouri Tigers athletics, particularly the football culture. Gameday in Columbia is almost a religious affair, as Tigers football generally supersedes any other events happening that day. A big story in Mizzou recently is that of hometown talent Blaine Gabbert, the quarterback for the Tigers who is looking to position himself atop the NFL draft in April. Although he still has one more season of eligibility and Mizzou fans are questionable about second string QB James Franklin’s efficiency in the upcoming season, fans are still proud of their hometown boy asserting himself atop draft predictions.

This fan support is something that we have found as distinguishing of virtually all St. Louis sports franchises and college programs alike. St. Louis is a one newspaper town, making it much different and closer-knit of a market than the two cities we have covered prior to this week. As interviewee Doug Couch stated, “there are three seasons in St. Louis. Football season, hockey season, and baseball season.” Couch also testified to the fact that conversations almost always end up on the topic of sports, and if one is not knowledgeable, then they are inevitably left out. Sport is so engrained in the life of the people in this week’s city of the week, and it often dictates the emotion and mood of the people who follow it. Hence why the recent hits to the Cardinals’ roster were emulated as despair and disappointment in the perspectives of the two St. Louis residents we spoke to this week.

Another noticeable trend in St. Louis fanhood is the classiness of the fans in the city, as well as the actions of the franchises that operate there. The moves made by front offices, as well as the fan outreach to each situation show that the fan culture is so important, but is approached with refinement, politeness, and respect. History and personal affiliation with the teams in St. Louis is essentially a family affair, as going to games and following the teams is something that people do as children, and then continue with their own children. The high personal value of sport in St. Louis is reflected in the rich sports culture there, where the pride and tradition is so very evident.

Podcasts of the entire radio show, as well as our interviews will be available by the end of the weekend. Stay tuned next week as we cover the historical city of Chicago, and the sports culture there, from the historically successful Bulls to the recent Stanley Cup champ Blackhawks to the century long championship drought of the Cubs to the White Sox to the Bears! It’ll be a busy week, and we can’t wait! Thanks as always for your support!