In any other season that does not end with a parade down Market Street and a new championship flag to fly, the record-setting 17-game winning streak or the acquisition of an all-world, All-Star $250-million third baseman would easily be the biggest story.
And then the Cardinals went and fired their manager, suddenly, abruptly.
As sports columnist Ben Frederickson and I discussed on this week’s Best Podcast in Baseball, choosing the top story on the Cardinals’ beat in 2021 comes down to the one that changed our view of 2021 and shaped the expectations for 2022. Within days of firing Mike Shildt due to irreparable personality clashes, the Cardinals held a press conference where they offered no substantive answers and the former manager had a press conference where he took no questions. What precisely he said one day that undid 18 years of philosophical harmony is not yet known, but the Cardinals’ tectonic decision sets the tone for the year ahead.
Beyond the biggest story and the ongoing lockout story, there were many stories that were memorable to report and write — and, I hope, to read — from the back fields of Jupiter, Fla., to outside a Starbucks in Jacksonville, Fla.
From the ballparks and ballgames on the baseball beat in 2021, here are five stories that stayed with me (OK, maybe, six):
1. Sometimes the opportunity to tell a story begins with location, location, location. When the…