St. Louis Sports: 12 things to be thankful for

As Thanksgiving came and went, here are 12 St. Louis athletes to be thankful for.

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It’s Thanksgiving and since we all know the importance of being thankful for the family that surround our dinner tables every November, we need to remember the talent that surrounds us in this city. It’s not all greatness or flat failure but the dying of the light is far from us in this great town. Here are 12 people or things to be thankful for in St. Louis sports. In no logical order…

Alex Pietrangelo

The young captain of the St. Louis Blues is a workhouse and under-appreciated in this city(even from me in the past). He may not score a ton of goals and has problems finding the net with his shot at times(how easy is it really?), but Pietro is the backbone of this team. He faces the top line of the opposition for 30 minutes every game and has played in 97% of the games for the past six seasons. He may show up on every trade fan forum, but they just don’t get it. Be thankful for this kid. He’s only 25 by the way.

Matt Carpenter

He scared us last season with his swoon at the plate, but in the end he led the team in vital areas like home runs, on base percentage and versatile awesomeness. The only thing that can stop this guy is his own intensity and drive. Carpenter’s career .828 OPS and 128 OPS+ is very very good.

Vladimir Tarasenko

You may see defenders get in this Russian’s way but it doesn’t matter. He is awesome. He fits that word to a tee. Every time Vladimir hits the ice, the other team goes on high alert. I asked for a game changer two years ago and got one in this kid. He’s freakishly lethal with the puck and also knows how to dish it to his teammates. He also has a smart head on his shoulders. He’s ours for a long time. Stan Kroenke can take our Rams but he can’t take Tarasenko.

Yadier Molina

His bat is declining and his thumb has betrayed him two seasons in a row, but he is still the most important player on this team. He won his 8th Gold Glove this past season and did it with a patch work staff and ever changing crew in front of him. The world knows he is a God and he meets the hype. His bat may not slug much, but it can still produce runs when needed. Yadier is getting older. Father time is undefeated but Molina isn’t done yet. He has a few more seasons left in him. He also threw out Billy Hamilton this season. Props.

Adam Wainwright

The horse went missing for most of the 2015 season, but wasn’t it so essential when he returned in late September. It’s an arguably theory of whether a team plays harder for a certain pitcher but the Cards definitely rest easier behind the mound with Waino out there. He’s still a potent competitor and has been slowed by unique injuries(Tommy John, Achilles) the past two extended DL stops. Expect a robust season from him in 2016. For those who think he can’t do it, revisit his last full season in 2014.

David Backes

Should he be captain? Should he be traded? Please. Backes is still an essential asset to the Blues. He is a leader of men, a trusted ally and someone these guys look up to. He can still score 25 goals and play the top line minutes against the fiercest opponent. He has underrated hands for a big guy and kills penalties as good as anyone. Is his spot on this team guaranteed next year? Who knows? Stop complaining and appreciate.

Todd Gurley

Remember when people couldn’t figure out why the Rams drafted Gurley? Yeah, me too. Out of all the misery on the Rams offense this season, Gurley has been a positive. He leaps over defenders. He runs through a block better than most. He has an offday and still finds the end zone. When he’s on, the man carries the team on his back. Gurley is a reason to want the Rams to stay. He will only get better with age. Looking like a sneaky steal from the Rams 2015 draft.

Jake Allen

The young goaltender isn’t making Ken Hitchcock’s choices in net too hard this season. While Brian Elliott deserves more starts, it’s hard to deny what Allen brings to the ice. He’s got a unique talent and an ability to make huge saves. Seven games this season, he has posted a save % of .950 or greater. He is atop the leaderboard in shutouts. He is the future(and the present) of this team’s face in net. Get used to it.

Robert Quinn

A sack artist isn’t too easy to find. Anybody can rush the corner and grab a few. Players like Quinn change the other team’s game plan and affect the entire field. Take him away and the team operates differently. His loss has been felt this month and that is because Quinn is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He’s collected 50 sacks and 16 forced fumbles in just 47 starts. He’s also 25. Be thankful.

Aaron Donald

This guy is a beast and is so young and raw. He doesn’t just deny the run game. He abolishes it on every snap. Together with Michael Brockers, Chris Long and Quinn, Donald gives the Rams the best front four in the NFL. A worthy defender capable of big plays and a big part of this team’s future.

Matt Holliday

He is like David Backes to Cards fans. Trade him? Move him? Do this. Do that. Holliday’s 73 games in 2015 were the least amount of games in the regular season in the Stillwater, Oklahoma native’s long career. For the people who complain about home runs and RBI, please don’t forget OPS. As in on base percentage and slugging percentage combined. Holliday’s last three full season OPS’ are .877, 879, and .811. He’s still got a lot of value to this team.

Carlos Martinez

El Gallo to most fans, Martinez went from “maybe 5 inning starter” to probable ace in one season. He was dynamite on the road or at home, and was mean to hitters with runners in scoring position. His injury at the end of September hurt the team the most. Soon enough, Martinez will lead this rotation. He’s something else.

I probably forgot some players. Maybe I didn’t. Either way, be thankful for these 12. Have some turkey, smile a bit and enjoy the family.

-DLB

Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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