By Rob Rains
It’s always a fun assignment as the end of the year approaches to look back on the previous 12 months and select our favorite stories of the year from STLSportsPage.com, and doing so for 2018 was no different.
The stories which emerged as our favorites ran the baseball gamut. We wrote about a player selected by the Cardinals on the third day of the amateur draft who had to quit playing baseball as a senior in high school to help care for his family, and about their top draft pick, a player with star potential, just as he was beginning to make the transition from high school to rookie ball.
We told the stories of other prospects and about a player who rose to the majors after a two-year stop in independent league baseball. We wrote about a coach with a lifetime in the game, Mike Maddux, and about one, Jeff Albert, whose major-league career is just getting started.
We profiled two managers – something the Cardinals have not had in the same season in a long time. A candid Mike Matheny discussed the challenges of his job as he approached 1,000 career games as the team’s manager, just a couple of months before that job was turned over to Mike Shildt.
One other story stood out as well – thanks to a tip from a reader, we were able to find the two times 15 years ago when Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were opponents instead of teammates.
In case you missed any of those stories, here is a chronological look back at our favorite stories from 2018, with links to the stories:
On March 12, we profiled Cardinals pitching prospect Ryan Helsley, who literally has a tribe, from the Cherokee Nation, supporting him back at his home in Oklahoma.
New pitching coach Mike Maddux was the subject of our profile on March 22.
On April 7, we told the story of reliever John Brebbia, who found himself in the major leagues after many points in his career when he could have quit.
On April 30, as he neared his 1,000th game as the Cardinals manager, a candid Mike Matheny discussed the challenges of his job.
Also on April 30, we told the story of pitching prospect Sam Tewes, then at Double A Springfield, and how baseball had reunited him with his two brothers.
May 9 marked the 15th anniversary of the first of two games that Adam Wainwright played against Yadier Molina, when the two future teammates were opponents in Double A.
There are always good stories which come out of the amateur draft, especially on the third day, and the Cardinals selection of pitcher Francisco Justo from a junior college in New York was the latest example.
One of the Cardinals’ rising prospects, pitcher Dakota Hudson, was profiled on July 10 before he started the Triple A All-Star game and appeared in the Futures game.
We went to Johnson City, Tenn., a month after the draft to check in on the Cardinals’ top pick, third baseman Nolan Gorman, and told his story in a profile published on July 18.
Aug. 14 marked the one month anniversary of Mike Shildt becoming the Cardinals’ interim manager, and before he was given the full-time job. Interviews with those who have known him the longest described how the change in his job title would not change who he was as a person.
The newest Cardinals’ coach, hitting coach Jeff Albert, was the subject of a profile on Dec. 3.
Once again we owe a debt of gratitude to the readers of STLSportsPage and to our sponsors for allowing us to write these types of stories as well as provide complete daily coverage of the Cardinals. We already are looking forward to doing it again in 2019.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains