The Battle of the Post-World Series Cardinals Caravans
Frankly, we have no clue how long the Cardinals Caravan has been an offseason event. Our earliest knowledge of it was 1992, a notable year because it finally gave fans an opportunity to confirm with their own eyes whether or not Milt Thompson was in fact a minotaur. Meeting Rheal Cormier was just a bonus.
What we do know is that five caravans are headed out to various regions this week and each will include some legit big league names. Not always the case. The same event in 2005 featured Bo Hart, Mike Lincoln, Carmen Cali, Ray King and John Mabry as the big league talent – not exactly a murderers row.
If ever there was a time to line up some serious talent to hit the road, it’s after a World Series when the fans are drooling at the thought of attending any team related event. With that in mind, we pulled the event roster from the last post-World Series Caravan and compared it to this year’s in some key categories to test our theory that the Cardinals road trip has stepped up its game the last few years…
Major League Talent
2012: The World Series MVP, the guy who recorded the final out of the World Series, the team’s #2 starter last season, that lefty whose name you can’t spell or pronounce, heck even the newly hired manager will be out on the road mingling with Cardinals fans. Head to any of the Caravan stops and you’ll run into some names you watched last season – Motte, Rzepczynski, Boggs, Jay, Descalso, Freese, Garcia, Salas are amongst those who will be in attendance.
2007: Well, hey at least J-Rod was there teaching middle America how to act like an extra on an episode of Jersey Shore. Outside of him you had names like Randy Flores, Brendan Ryan, Anthony Reyes, Brad Thompson, Josh Kinney, Tyler Johnson and Aaron Miles. Not much star power in that bunch.
World Series Hero Factor:
2012: For a kid to have pen in hand, standing in front of the guy who made Game 6 one of the greatest of all time would be a pretty good reason to meet up with Caravan 3 in Columbia this year. David Freese is a solid draw these days – just ask Jay Leno.
2007: Jeff Weaver wasn’t invited and David Eckstein was probably rescuing puppies from a burning building or something equally charming, so of the lineup the 2007 Caravan offered, the name taking the role of World Series hero had to be Anthony Reyes, who led the Birds to a big Game 1 victory in Detroit.
Edge: 2012. That is of course unless you just really wanted to ask Anthony Reyes what hair product he used (looking at Sebek right now).
2012: Going into the 2011 season, Shelby Miller checked in at the #13 spot on the Baseball America prospect list. But in addition to that, fans now get to interact with him on Twitter which means we get to respond when he solicits input about his hair. It’s like they already know each other!
2007: When the 2007 Caravan headed out, Colby Rasmus was #29 on the list, but quickly jumped into the Top 5 the following year. So everyone who got his signature had it stored away waiting for him to become the star he was destined to become. Then he got shipped to Toronto and everyone headed to eBay.
2012: Official listings have Shane Robinson coming in at 5’9″, 160lbs, so he’s got the measurables to be considered a scrapper. But with only 20 games to this point in his career, he’s sorely lacking in the head first slides into first base category. We’ll see what he can do this season.
2007: Skip Schumaker and Aaron Miles were involved. Say no more.
2012: The list of veterans in 2012 has expanded to the point where the only ones there in 2007 that aren’t going again this year are Ken Dayley and Kenny Reitz. That said, they’re also adding on names like Kerry Robinson and John Costello to tag along. Apparently retired Cardinals players love them some free bus rides through the Midwest.
2007: Unless Ken Dayley and Kenny Reitz have significantly more drawing power than we would suspect, this is an uphill battle for the 2007 crew.
Retired Veteran Scrappers
2012: As mentioned earlier, Rex Hudler is going on this trip and, despite only playing three seasons in St. Louis, he may get a standing ovation which is the ultimate payoff for a scrapper.
2007: If someone else flipped their bat like Tom Lawless after he hit a homerun in the ’87 World Series it probably would have been categorized as completely disrespectful to the Twins pitcher. But Lawless was short and white, hit .080 during the season and played in St. Louis. The bat flip is legendary.
2012: Guarantee that someone in Mattoon, IL sees the lineup for their Caravan stop, reads the name “Carpenter” and is freaking pumped that the Game 7 winner is headed to their city to sign autographs and radiate intensity. Then they arrive and see the nameplate reading “Matt Carpenter”. No offense, Matt, but getting the wrong Carpenter can sting.
2007: We’re positive that someone introduced themselves to Randy Flores by saying “Hi, Ron”. Even more confusing was that the Cardinals signed Ron Flores a few years later.
So its official - with more big name talent, more retired star-power, the hero factor, prospect hype and Rex Hudler all working in its favor, it’s clear that 2012′s Caravan will be a notch above the last time it headed out after a World Series victory.
If only they can get Carmen Cali to come aboard, it might match the 2005 version.