By Rob Rains
For the ninth consecutive year, STLSportsPage.com has spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve counting down the top seven stories in St. Louis sports this year.
It’s safe to say the top story of the past eight years was far different than what ranked as the biggest story in St. Louis sports in the past 12 months.
Never before had the Cardinals dealt with the effects of a pandemic, which was felt around the world not just throughout major league baseball. What happened the Cardinals, with having their season interrupted by outbreaks of the coronavirus, became the longest-running story of the summer.
The issue began in March, when MLB closed spring training camps and sent the players home. Finally in July, “summer” camps opened in advance of a 60-game condensed season but the Cardinals played only five games before the first virus outbreak on their roster forced the players and staff to spend six days stuck in hotel rooms in Milwaukee.
Then just as they were ready to resume their season, another outbreak forced another delay. Finally after 17 days the season resumed in Chicago with a series against the White Sox.
To read our coverage as the season resumed, CLICK HERE
The resumption of the season brought with it the promotion of top prospect Dylan Carlson to the majors. To read that story CLICK HERE
Despite the challenges created by the unprecedented schedule, including 11 doubleheaders, the Cardinals earned a spot in the playoffs on the final day of the season. That gave manager Mike Shildt and the players a chance to reflect on everything they had experienced over the previous three months. CLICK HERE to read that story.
The Cardinals season ended a week later with their first-round loss to the Padres.
Stories which were revealed earlier this week:
Number 2 – Deaths of four St. Louis sports legends
We lost Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Larry Wilson and Jim Hanifan in 2020, among the greatest sports figures in our town’s history.
Number 3 – Pietrangelo leaves Blues to sign with Las Vegas
Pietrangelo, the captain of the Blues who had helped the team win its first Stanley Cup in 2019, became a free agent after the season and signed a seven-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Pietrangelo had played for the Blues since being a first-round pick by the team in the 2008 draft, He took over as the team captain in 2016 following the free-agent departure of David Backes.
The Blues offer to Pietrangelo reportedly was for an eight-year deal but he was asking for both a no-trade clause and a signing bonus and the two sides were not able to come to terms on a new agreement
Number 4 – Cardinals decline Wong’s option for 2021
Following a season in which the Cardinals were not able to have fans in the stadium, even for the shortened season, and the financial uncertainty of what 2021 revenues will be like prompted the team’s decision.
Instead of paying Wong $12.5 million for next season, the team elected to pay just a $1 million buyout on his contract and allow the two-time Gold Glove second baseman to become a free agent.
To read our story on that decision, CLICK HERE.
Number 5 – Wainwright throws complete game on 39th birthday
Finishing fifth on our list was a game on Aug. 30 at Busch Stadium which will be remembered as one of the most fitting games of Adam Wainwright’s career and his long relationship with Yadier Molina.
Pitching on his 39th birthday, Wainwright turned in a complete game, defeating the Cleveland Indians and accomplishing a feat that had done been done in the major leagues since 1961.
CLICK HERE to read our story from that game.
On Monday we will reveal the story which finished fourth on the list of the top stories in St. Louis sports in 2020.
Stories which were revealed earlier this week:
Number 6 – Surgery forces Miles Mikolas to miss season
The Cardinals had hoped that the delayed start of the season because of the pandemic would help Mikolas recover from a shoulder injury which affected him in spring training. He did pitch in the team’s training camp at Busch Stadium before the season began, but it was announced on July 28 that he needed surgery and would miss the season, leaving a hole in the team’s starting rotation.
CLICK HERE to read our story about that announcement.
Number 7 – The NHL All-Star Game weekend
Coming just seven months after the Blues won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the star-studded weekend continued a remarkable run of success for the Blues. It was the first time the Blues hosted the annual event since 1988.
The All-Stars representing the Pacfic Division defeated the Atlantic Division All-Stars 5-4 in the championship game. David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains