ACKERMAN: 'The Heat Is On'

Take a listen to the song which was released in 1985, when the Cardinals were headed to the World Series

Tom Ackerman
September 05, 2019 - 6:55 am

This column was originally posted on Jan. 16, 2019.*

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The boys are back in town.

No, wait ... wrong song. The one you want is below this column. But don't stop reading yet! Let me share something real quick before you go back to 1985 ...

... this Cardinals team has a chance to be really good.

Can they win the NL pennant, like Whitey Herzog's club did three times in six years? That's a tall order, especially considering the Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, Rockies and Braves all seem ready to challenge for a playoff spot again. And we don't even know where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are going to play in 2019.

But ...

Paul Goldschmidt is a Cardinal. He'll make the entire lineup better just by buttoning up his jersey. Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina, Harrison Bader and Kolten Wong all figure to benefit from the presence of one of the best hitters in baseball. Jose Martinez, as long as the Cardinals keep him, becomes one of the most dangerous pinch-hitters in the game (Tyler O'Neill's power can't be ignored, either).

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Of course, questions remain. Will Fowler ever recapture the talent that made him a coveted free agent? Is Ozuna healthy... and will he explode offensively, like in 2017 with the Marlins? Can Bader, DeJong and O'Neill cut down on strikeouts?

But let's face it: the Cardinals haven't had a regular No. 3 hitter since Matt Holliday owned that spot. Heck, since Albert Pujols played first base at Busch Stadium. That's another thing - the defense is immediately better with "Goldy" flashing a three-time Gold Glove at first. Wong and Goldschmidt create arguably the best right side of the infield in the National League.

Andrew Miller is a Cardinal. One of the best postseason pitchers in recent memory, he's the lefty arm (and multiple innings reliever) the Redbirds have been seeking. Miller makes a difference. The Cards need to find out who their closer will be, but there are candidates. The rotation looks strong. Mike Maddux is back for another year of creativity and guidance.

Mike Shildt is a Cardinal. We get to see the longtime scout, coach and minor league manager organize his first spring training. Under his watch, the team put on an entertaining style of baseball and nearly rallied to a playoff spot before, basically, getting tired and fizzling out. Fans loved Shildt's team and for good reason. Speed, defense, timely hitting, solid pitching? Sounds familiar.

So does this, courtesy of former KMOX production whiz Casey Van Allen. It was released in 1985, when the Cardinals were headed to the World Series. Wherever it takes you, I hope it includes sunny days, hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, good friends and a cold, frosty one...

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