Today is Thanksgiving, a day when everyone reflects on what they are thankful for in their life. Whether it is your family, friends, God, children, a job….or for me; sports. Today I want to talk about what I am thankful for in sports this year.
1. The Cardinal Way- This phrase was thrown around abundantly this past fall during the St. Louis Cardinals run to the World Series; and much of the attention was backlash. But you know what. I am thankful there is a “Cardinal Way”. Can the fans be a little over the top with their publicizing of being the best fans in baseball? Sure. But you know what, we didn’t dub ourselves that without a reason. It was begun by the media and the ballplayers and we have run with it. So forgive me if I am proud to be part of a fan base that will forever remember a diminutive, hard nosed player such as David Eckstein for carrying his team to a World Series. Or be grateful for the intensity of a Chris Carpenter. But I would much rather be part of the Cardinal Way than be part of a Miami Marlins or Seattle Mariners Way.
2. Mike Alden’s gusto- Last winter after an downright disappointing debut by the Missouri Football team in the SEC, many people were calling for Alden to fire Gary Pinkel. Others were even blaming Alden for moving into the SEC itself. What a difference one year makes. Gary Pinkel should be on the short list of Coach of the Year candidates and has his team in position to do something no one thought possible, claim an SEC Title. Mike Alden stuck with Gary Pinkel and it has paid off. The Tigers are healthy this year and now amazingly the move to the conference looks wonderful. I will admit that I was not a big fan of the move to SEC, but that stems more from my being an old-school person and believing in conferences and geographic alignment. But those beliefs have quickly gone away in the new business model of the NCAA. Mike Alden’s gusto has helped put the school and their programs in a position to be power players.
3. NFL on Thanksgiving- I mean all I really have to say on this one is three football games while stuffing my face full of food. Yes please.
4. Jeff Fisher- This really goes out to all of the coaching staff and executives at Rams Park. Who else remembers the years when the Rams were completely devoid of talent and drive. Since Fisher has arrived the Rams are a drastically different team. Yes there have been some maddening moments and games when they looked like a poor, poor team. But overall the Rams are competing in every game. The best comparison of what Fisher has brought is occurring with a team that will forever be linked to his time in St. Louis, the Washington Redskins. While the Rams had a pitiful three game losing streak, Fisher was able to rally the team and bring them back and they now are playing some of the best ball in years. The Redskins, under Coach Mike Shanahan, are giving up on the season and their coach, quarterback, and team. Fisher has a way of getting the players to play and not give up.
5. St. Louis- I am born, raised and live in St. Louis so yes this is probably a little biased. But I love St. Louis. I have traveled quite a bit and there is no other city I have found like it. We are blessed to be part of a wonderful sports town. The long history of the Cardinals, the die-hard tenacity of the Blues fans and the epic and magical moments provided by the Rams. Mix in two large colleges (Mizzou and SLU) and this is a great place to be a fan of sports.