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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red Scare: 10 Unforgettable Cardinal Killers

In the wake of a season that showcased one of the worst starting staffs in Cardinal history, and looking into the quagmire of a potentially disastrous 2008 campaign, it seems agonizingly appropriate to highlight some of the most crucial Cardinal killers in recent memory. Some of these players have the uncanny ability to repeatedly destroy Cardinal pitching or, on the flip side, completely shut down a Redbird lineup… seemingly elevating their level of talent to otherworldly status when facing the birds on the bat. Others seem to have a penchant for backbreaking clutch plays or on-field incidents, ultimately burned into the memories of heartbroken members of Cardinal Nation. Fans loathe them, players audibly gulp when they see them on the opposing lineup card and they have the rare ability to give even the unflappable Tony LaRussa nightmares. In no particular order, here are 10 of the most notable Cardinal killers. Get ready for cold sweats, skip.

Jim Thome
The epitome of a slugger, this hulking, corn-fed good ‘ol boy absolutely annihilates Redbird pitching. In exactly 100 career at bats he has ripped St. Louis hurlers to the tune of 18 homeruns, 40 RBI and a .430 batting average.

Carlos Beltran
No surprise he makes the cut, because Beltran burns the Cards when it counts. In two postseason series (2004, 2006) he went yard 7 times to compliment his .353 average and 9 RBI. Rumor has it the source of Gross. How did this swarthy, gold chain wearing pile of man-meat inflict so much damage on the Cardinals?his power is derived from the hideous mole on the side of his head.

Craig Counsell
Most notably known for his game-winning 3-run bomb in the 2001 NLDS and a batting stance that would instantly get him into Magnolia without paying a cover, Counsell is the ultimate fly in the ointment. It’s probably because no one expects him to do anything at all, so when he does it stings all the more.

Carlos Zambrano
This triangle toothed Chicago Cub’s stuff is almost as nasty as his attitude, and he loves working over Cardinal hitters. Since 2005 he is 7-0 with a 1.48 ERA against St. Louis. Plus he looks like a demon, and Cards fans will never forgive him for plunking Edmonds twice in one game.

Alex Cintron
No introduction necessary. The man solely responsible for turning Scott Rolen’s shoulder into a Jello mold and squashing the Cardinals World Series hopes in 2002, is actually a terrible baseball player. And that just makes the grapes even more sour.

Tom Glavine
This old man never seems to go away. He mowed down Cardinal hitters in his glory days as a Brave and his senile days as a Met (most notably in the 2006 NLCS), and has complied a 20-6 record against the Birds since he came into the league some 300 odd years ago.

Matt Holliday
The NL’s best hitter last season loves playing against the birds on the bat. In less than 80 at bats Holliday hit .418, swatted 9 dingers and complied a 1.331 OPS. A few more games against the Cardinals and he might not have gotten robbed of the MVP last year.

Brad Lidge*
For 2 years no closer had ever shut down a Redbird lineup like Brad Lidge. His 99 mph fastball, knee buckling slider and stupid sole patch haunted Cardinal hitters. In 15 regular season games in 2004-05 and 4 postseason games in 2004 he allowed 0 runs and only 4 hits.

Lance Berkman, Cardinal Killer, seen here with dorky family.Lance Berkman
Cardinal fans hate Lance Berkman because he is the best hitter on the Astros and it seems like they play against him 50 times a year… and because his name is Lance. Over the years Berkman has torched the Birds for 27 homeruns and 96 RBI at a .317 clip. Here’s hoping he gets traded.

Kip Wells
The Kipper cost the Cardinals almost as many wins last year as the rest of these guys combined. Ok, maybe that’s a bit irrational, but how else can you interpret 17 losses and a 5.70 ERA. And the fact that he looks like KD Lang made it even harder to stomach.

The Cardinals are going to have enough problems this season. If the road back to .500 is a realistic possibility, they definitely have a few speed bumps to avoid.

*All statistics are prior to Albert Pujols’ destruction of Lidge’s career with one swing in the 2005 NLCS.

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