Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Tribute to Jimmy Baseball

Change is inevitable and usually necessary, so it was with sad resignation that I read about the Cardinals' trade of Jim Edmonds to San Diego this morning. Edmonds has been hobbled for several years with leg injuries and doesn't have the magic bat that once thrilled us in those dramatic playoff games.

He'll be remembered as a Cardinal hero, a spectacular Gold Glove center fielder who made unbelievable running catches that were tailor-made for SportsCenter highlights. His greatest catches include two against Cincinnati—home and away—where he took away a home run to dead center field, and the running, diving, desperate grab that killed off a Houston rally in game seven of the NLCS in 2004.

Speaking of that series, there might not have been a game seven if not for his most dramatic home run, a walk-off blast in the 12th inning (I think...I'm going on memory and not research, so don't skewer me if I'm off a bit) that sent us to game seven and ultimately, a four-game loss to Boston.

It's fitting that Jimmy Baseball was part of the magical 2006 World Series run, albeit not as integral a part as he had been in the past. It would have been a shame if all those Octobers he spent wearing the birds on the bat had not resulted in a championship. We'll remember him with the long line of other Cardinals heroes from the past, and rightly so.

Edmonds probably only has a year or two left in the tank, if that, and it's doubtful he'll play every game this season in San Diego. But he does get to go home to SoCal, and the Padres are usually contenders in the NL West. I wish him well. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are clearly moving into salary-dump, let's-get-younger rebuilding mode, and this is just the beginning. As Cardinals fans, we have to hold on to our memories, because that's probably as good as it will get in 2008.

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