Part of my job is being in front of the camera and microphones, way more than any one person should be. With that, there is an ever increasing likelihood of saying something wrong, or having something interpreted incorrectly, or offending someone. I try to keep this in mind, as I approach the mic everyday, but inevitably I will fail, like most.
I recently had this happen, as I was being interviewed at the Baseball Writers dinner in St Louis. It was an impressive event that honored some of the game's greatest heroes from each decade, reaching back to the powerhouse teams of the 60’s. All I need to tell you is who I was privileged to sit with, to explain the kind of night I had. Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson, Chris Carpenter, and Paul DeJong joined myself and Joe Ostermeier, former sports Editor of the Belleville News Democrat at a round table for the evening...priceless.
My mistake came at the part of the evening when the teams from the 2000’s were honored, and Tony LaRussa insisted that I join, since I spent 5 seasons as a player during that period. I was asked by our MC, Tom Ackerman from KMOX, what my thoughts were about the history that had been on the stage and the challenge ahead of us this upcoming season. My answer was sincere, but I left out one point. My answer was that I was the only person on the stage that had not won the Big Ring, and that was always something I would set my eyes on this season, and as long as I am blessed to be in uniform. I was reminded after our event by Derrick Gould, of the Post Dispatch that I was given a ring after the 2011 championship, since I was a member of the organization, helping with the catchers and serving in the minor leagues. Not that I needed reminding, since that ring is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I have ever seen, but I realized how my words and thoughts didn’t properly line up.
The truth of the matter, is that I am beyond grateful for the generosity of the St Louis Cardinals, and Mr. Bill DeWitt, for gifting me such an amazing piece of history, that I will always cherish. But, I will also be relentlessly driven to do what I can to help any team I am a part of, to be one of the rare few who are the last men standing, after months of sacrifice, sweat and tears. The ones who get to lift the prized trophy overhead and celebrate with a community that rode the ups and downs of a Major League season, and collectively be dubbed the reigning World Champions. This memory, I don’t have yet, and can’t wait for the opportunity to pursue it again in 2018.