Friday, February 22, 2013

A Pair of Pumas

Baseball starts tomorrow for my Cardinals tomorrow when they play their first spring training game.  In a few weeks they will begin their regular season and a quest for the 12th World Series Championship in the franchise's illustrious history.  The last championship for the team occurred in 2011 and last season the team came within a game of returning to the World Series falling to the Giants in the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals have generally left the roster alone this off-season making a few small moves to add or subtract players.  In my opinion, the biggest move this year was the the subtraction of first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman.  Understandably, Allen Craig has established himself as the everyday first baseman and the outfield is crowded with Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and uber prospect Oscar Taveras.

While the team is in good hands for the future and Berkman only played one healthy season, with the 2011 World Series team, during his time in St. Louis, the presence of the Big Puma will be missed.  My favorite Berkman moment came during the sixth game of the 2011 World Series.  While many people remember the show that David Freese put on tying the game in the 9th inning with two outs and two strikes, and then later winning the game on a walk off home run, I will always remember the Berkman at-bats that made it possible.

First, in the ninth inning Berkman walked in front of Freese and scored from first base when the Cardinals third baseman tripled to left field.  The Rangers came back in the tenth and took a two run lead when Josh Hamilton hit a two run home run.  That home run set the stage for the Cardinals second at-bat of the night taken with two outs and two strikes.  My favorite Berkman highlight:

Of course, I also knew Berkman for the many years he played on the Astros as the Cardinals rival.  While I was not pulling for the Astros to win, their teams featured classy players and were much easier to watch and enjoy than the mid 80s Mets teams, or frankly any Cubs team from any year.  So, even though the Big Puma has taken his talents to the Rangers for the 2013 season, I am still going to add more Berkman cards to my collection.  Especially ones where he is wearing the birds on the bat.  

2013 Topps Chasing History Lance Berkman Jersey

First up this evening is a Lance Berkman from the newly released 2013 Topps series one set.  The card hails from the Chasing History set which features a small piece of Cardinals road jersey and a blurb about a record the player has, or is chasing.  In this case, the card recognizes Berkman as the National League's all-time OPS record holder for a switch hitter.  I was quite surprised that he ranks ahead of Chipper Jones, but he does indeed hold the record.  

2012 Topps Triple Threads Lance Berkman Jersey

Last one for the day.  I also picked up a 2012 Topps Triple Threads Lance Berkman jersey card.  This is my second Lance Berkman Triple Threads jersey card from the 2012 set, but I like this one since Lance is sporting his shades.  Look through a stack of Lance cards, or just watch him the next time you see a Rangers game on and chances are good that Lance might be rocking some really cool sun glasses.  

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