Tim McKernan, Tue, 29 Dec 2015 13:00:00 GMT
The Best Moments of The 2015 St. Louis Sports Year
in 2010, it was gahn mcgaffie’s kickoff return to begin what would wind up being missouri’s first ever win over a #1 team when gary pinkel’s bunch beat bob stoops’ oklahoma sooners.
In 2011, it was David Freese’s game-tying triple with two strikes, two outs, and the Cardinals about to lose to the Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series.
In 2012, it was Pete Kozma’s base hit completing yet another miraculous comeback, this time against the Nationals in the NLDS.
In 2013, it was Trevor Rosenthal striking out Mark Ellis to win the National League Pennant as the Cardinals beat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.
And in 2014, it was Matt Adams saving the Cardinal season, unless you thought the Cardinals were going to go back to Dodger Stadium and beat Zack Greinke, by sending Kershaw on his way once again, this time with a dramatic home run in Game 4 of the NLDS.
When I think of everyone of those moments, I get a charge. I can picture where I was when each one happened, and they were all so damn incredible.
Not so much.
We had some moves made that may lead to memorable, holy shit moments, but the incredible energy the moments from 2010 through 2014 created weren’t duplicated in 2015.
We had two consistent themes from those of you who submitted your Top 5 Best Moments of The 2015 St. Louis Sports Year:
-Most of you selected the same moments
-Most of you said, Man, this wasn’t a really good year.
Now, when you look at the moments listed above, you’re looking at two (Freese and Kozma) that you will likely never see anything similar again. Game Six of The 2011 World Series is in a class by itself around the country, not just St. Louis. And the comeback of 2012 against the Nationals would get talked about around here much more if a) it would’ve led to a pennant and b) Cardinal fans hadn’t experienced the best sports cocaine anyone could ever have with what took place in the aforementioned Game Six.
But, Faurot Field shook when McGaffie returned that kick, and the best pitcher of our generation had to walk off in shock in both 2013 and 2014 following the Cardinals serving him kryptonite yet again.
The point is those were some once-in-a-lifetime kind of moments as well. The issue here, with reviewing 2015, is that we didn’t have one of those this year, and we had five straight years of them, so the bar is set awfully high.
With that all said, we did have some good moments in St. Louis. Here are the ones that received honorable mention:
The Rams Draft Todd Gurley
In the moment, this wasn’t met with the excitement that many Rams’ fans feel now. But, a number of the moments listed are either results-oriented or could be more significant down the line than they are now.
However, if the Rams stay,
, and if Gurley continues on the trajectory he displayed in his rookie season,
..the selection of Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick could be a franchise-defining moment.
Mack Rhoades Introduces Barry Odom To The Team As The New Head Coach
This moment fulfills both needs and by that I mean it has the now impact that people such as myself focus on when voting on best moment, and it has the potential long-term impact that people who voted for Todd Gurley seek.
No matter what camp you would fall into, the moment Mack Rhoades introduced Odom to his team as the new head coach—all captured on video—was one of the most dramatic of the year.
Odom could wind up being a great leader. That is to be determined, of course. But, from those who are close to him and/or played for or with him, they are expecting him to deliver success to his alma mater.
The Missouri Football Team Threatens A Boycott of The BYU Game
This appeared on the worst moment list as well.
That speaks to the polarization of this topic.
We’ve never seen that happen before, and I’m not sure we’ll ever see it happen again.
It all started with an Anthony Sherrils’ tweet on a Saturday night, and it ended with the resignation of the University of Missouri President’s resignation. When Tim Wolfe stepped down less than 48 hours later, much of the national discussion focused on what student-athletes could accomplish if they decided to take up a cause. Locally, the discussion divided the community on the worthiness of the cause itself or specifically, the man, Jonathan Butler, leading the cause and whether or not Gary Pinkel should have aligned himself with him.
Many thought Pinkel made a huge mistake. Many thought Pinkel did all that he could realistically do. And, finally, many thought Gary Pinkel made a huge statement by standing up with his players against racial discrimination.
The variety of perspectives is what makes this story the first one to ever appear on the best moment and worst moment list.
The Cardinals Clinch The National League Central
The Cardinals made it four straight division titles with a win in Pittsburgh in September.
Things had gotten a little tight there at the end, but the Cardinals were able to hold off the Pirates in one of the best divisions in the history of the game statistically.
Of course, as it played out, none of the three teams from the Central made it to the World Series. But, to not only win the division, but to win 100 games while playing with half of a roster for most of the season was an incredible accomplishment.
The 2015 Cardinals won’t go down in history as one of the greatest teams of this ridiculous run of success that began in 2000, but I’m not sure a team exhibited more resilience in dealing with injury-related adversity than this team.
The win in Pittsburgh that gave them the division championship was their crowning moment on what was a six-month long brutal grind.
Aaron Donald And Michael Brockers Stuff Marshawn Lynch For The Win
Stripping away all of the off-the-field discussion that owned the 2015 Rams’ story for fans, this was one hell of a moment.
The two-time defending NFC Champions were on the ropes at The Edward Jones Dome trailing the Rams 34-31 in overtime. With 4th and 1 at the Rams’ 43, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks did what they didn’t do against the Patriots in the Super Bowl: hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch.
However, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers were ready, and they delivered.
“I don’t know how they got the penetration, but they did,” Carroll said.
Lynch not only failed to pick up the first down, but he got driven back a yard by the force of Donald and Brockers.
And with that, the Rams started off the season with a stunning 34-31 overtime victory over the Seahawks.
Fun fact: the passing leader, rushing leader, and receiving leader for the Rams that day? Nick Foles, Benny Cunningham, and Jared Cook, respectively.
In the Week 16 win at Seattle, the answer was Case Keenum, Todd Gurley, and Kenny Britt. Foles didn’t play. Cunningham had one carry for zero yards. And Cook had one catch for five yards.
But, even though the cast changed on offense in between Week One and Week 16, the foundation of that defensive line didn’t. And Donald and Brockers started the season off right by stopping Lynch at The Dome.
Joe Buck’s Twitter Rant
It came out of nowhere, but when it started, it didn’t stop for a long time.
Joe Buck had had enough, and he took to Twitter to vent.
What was he tired of?
Well, Stan Kroenke, in a broad sense. But, more specifically, the label that the fans of St. Louis have something to do with what is happening in the NFL’s relocation saga.
He went after Kroenke. He went after the Rams. He laid out facts. And he did so in a passionate manner.
It was like a scene in a 1980’s movie when the underdog finally landed some punches on the high school bully.
And now, The Top Five Moments of The 2015 St. Louis Sports Year as voted on by you, the readers and listeners of CBS Sports 920 and insideSTL.com.
5. Jhonny Peralta Shocks The Cubs
Down 5-4 in the top of the 9th inning, the Cardinals were on the verge of losing three of four to the Cubs after blowing a 4-0 lead.
All hell had broken loose earlier, as Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny were ejected in the 6th inning. The Cubs were sensing momentum, both in the game, and in the season.
The Cardinals were slipping.
With one on and two out, Strop had two strikes on Peralta.
Wrigley was rowdy.
Cubs’ fans smelled blood.
And then, on a 1-2 pitch, Peralta unloaded.
The two-run shot gave the Cardinals a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish in moving 25 games over .500.
“Man, I just love when these guys don’t give up,” Matheny said. “I don’t know if I get any more charge out of this game than to see guys get knocked down and watch how they respond. … That would have been a tough one to lose.”
It was, for the Cubs.
“That’s the team ahead in our division and we’re trying to beat those guys,” Strop said. “Ninth inning, two outs, two strikes. It’s really tough. That’s one of the times when baseball is tough; it’s not as easy as it looks on TV.”
4. Gary Pinkel Dances With His Players Following Win Over BYU
Imagine if you would’ve read this at the start of 2015 with no context.
Gary Pinkel’s dancing?
Following a win over BYU?
With two regular seasons left?
What in the world?
Of course, with knowing what had taken place during the week leading up to Pinkel dancing midfield at Arrowhead Stadium following the victory over BYU, the celebration was quite warranted.
No matter where one lined up on the #ConcernedStudent1950 discussion that owned headlines throughout the State of Missouri that week, the story changed when Pinkel announced the day before the game that he was stepping down at the end of the year because of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in May.
Many of Pinkel’s players danced with him, because the coach stood with them. And many Missouri fans smiled or even cried tears of joy—even if they didn’t agree with what had happened the previous week—because the football coach who had built the program saw his team respond in the most trying of circumstances, and just 24 hours after they found out their coach had cancer.
The scene carried over to the locker room, where Pinkel addressed his team in an emotional proclamation of gratitude and love.
What a week, huh? Pinkel asked.
Look what you did. You overcame all that stuff. Then yesterday, things I was forced to do that we were going to do Sunday because it got out, which broke my heart. You focused through all that crap, and you made a great statement. We’re a great team and a great family.
When things get tough, and they were really freaking tough, we freaking battled. Every guy out there battled. The offense did, the defense did, the coaches did, kicking people did, everybody did. That’s how you win big games like that. I’m proud as hell of you. I’m overwhelmed,
At that point, Pinkel was overcome with emotions and one player yelled out “We love you, coach!”
3. Tommy Pham’s Home Run In Game 1 of The NLDS
If your vote for Best Moment of The 2015 St. Louis Sports Year is rooted in which moment gave you the biggest rush, I would imagine this would be your pick.
Now, with the benefit of knowing what wound up happening, it loses some significance, but in the moment, it was the biggest rush of the year.
The Cardinals led the Cubs 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th of Game 1 of the NLDS. Jon Lester was still out there dealing. The Cardinals had rode John Lackey to a lead, but it was in the hands of the bullpen now.
And, that gave Tommy Pham the opportunity to pinch hit.
Facing Lester and a 3-1 count, Pham got a fast ball out over the plate, and he launched it.
The solo home run sent Busch Stadium into a frenzy.
“Lester is a really good pitcher, and he has a lot of weapons, big arsenal, and I felt like tonight I saw him really well,” Pham said. “I laid off his changeup, the ball off the plate, you know, to put myself in that good hitter’s count, to put myself into that position. Then when the ball was released from his hands, I just saw it well and I got lucky.”
Whether it was luck or not, Stephen Piscotty said Pham’s home run inspired his two-run home run later in the inning.
“When Tommy hit his, we were so fired up when he came across, I think we broke his necklace or something,” Piscotty said. “I don’t know what happened. His home run took a tremendous amount of pressure off me in my at-bat, and who knows? Maybe I don’t hit that home run if he doesn’t come through with that one.”
2. Blues Sign Vladimir Tarasenko To An Eight-Year Deal
If the Blues are going to have that parade down Market Street within the next eight years, you can comfortably wager that the day they signed Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year, 60 million dollar deal set the stage.
The day was July 7th, usually a quiet time for hockey fans. But, the Blues made noise by locking down one of the best players to ever wear the note, and one of the three best players in the game, per the words of Brett Hull.
Tarasenko put on a clinic in the first round series against Minnesota, becoming the first Blue since 2004 to record a hat trick. He already had 135 points in 179 regular season games.
The Blues couldn’t let him get away. And they made sure that he stayed.
It’s a great day in Blues history to get a player of Vladi’s caliber locked into the organization through the prime of his career, General Manager Doug Armstrong said. I think we saw just the tip of the iceberg of what he can do in the League. A highlight-reel goal in New York, again against Minnesota in the playoffs, scoring from distance, scoring from in tight, at such a young age, to show these skills, it really made it a priority for us to see if we could work with him to a long-term extension.
“We talk with Doug a lot about it and my role on the team. I like everything that he told me and he told to my agent,” Tarasenko said. “I talked with my family, I talked with my wife and we make a good decision together.”
1. The St. Louis Stadium Task Force Unveils Plans To Build A New Stadium
Dave Peacock threw down the gauntlet on January 9th when he said, This is about the future , and that we need to fight for what is rightfully ours.
And with that, Peacock, Bob Blitz, and Governor Jay Nixon unveiled plans for a 64,000 seat riverfront stadium.
The next 12 months featured ups and downs for Rams/NFL fans in St. Louis. Many started the year thinking that there was no chance the Rams would be in St. Louis in 2016. Many finish the year thinking there’s a chance the Rams aren’t going anywhere.
The unique element of this selection for Best Moment of The 2015 St. Louis Sports Year is that in less than three weeks, it could be rendered useless.
NFL owners will meet in Houston on January 12th and 13th, and the future of the NFL in St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland, and Los Angeles could be determined.
What will happen in mid-January is still to be determined, but with great confidence, I can say that without The Task Force’s efforts not just on January 9th but in the years leading up to 2015 and the work throughout 2015, the NFL would be on its way out of St. Louis.
The announcement of the St. Louis Stadium Task Force joins the following moments in insideSTL Year-End Awards History:
So there it all is. From the voters. From the staff of CBS Sports 920 and insideSTL.com. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Log-in and give your thoughts on the Best Moments in the comments section. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.