Remember, there’s only nine days left to like Baseblog on Facebook, follow on Twitter or Tumblr and be entered to win ten free months of Sports Illustrated. As of Sunday night, 36 are following on Twitter, 22 on Facebook, and 4 on Tumblr. Keep spreading the word and at the end of January we’ll find out who wins! Here’s the first post in the “Reliving SI Covers” mini-series.
Sports Illustrated magazines contain some great articles and graphics, but one of my favorite parts is the cover. It’s always exciting to see which athlete or event gets their face(s) on the newsstand or in the mailbox each week. As Baseblog counts down the days until the SI Giveaway, I’ll post some of my favorite covers from the NL Central division since 2000. First, we begin with the reigning World Series Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. The top five covers are:
5. Jim Edmonds, “Pennant Fever” – October 16th, 2000
“Jimmy Baseball” spent majority of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals after coming up with the Angels. The year this cover was printed, Edmonds was traded to the Cards for Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy. His career high 42 home runs helped his new team win 95 games and finish in first place. After his time in St. Louis, the center fielder bounced around the NL Central Division. Upon being cut by the San Diego Padres, Edmonds became the second center fielder along with Reed Johnson in the Cubs’ “two headed monster”, then took a year off before splitting his final season between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds. He hit 271 homers in the division during his career. I love Jim Edmonds, and I think it’s cool he’s been on a majority of the teams in the division, no matter how short some of those tenures might have been.
4. Albert Pujols, “Smashing in St. Louis” – October 4th, 2004
By my count, including special commemorative issues, Albert Pujols has been featured on nine different Sports Illustrated covers throughout his career so far, and this was the one that started it all. The 24 year old first baseman was coming off a season in which he blasted 46 home runs with a .331 batting average and a 1.072 OPS, while his team won 105 games. Were they the best team? Not quite, they were swept by the Boston Red Sox in four games. Pujols’ first SI cover appearance was memorable.
3. David Eckstein, “That’s Right” – November 6th, 2006
Any time the World Series is involved, it has to make the best of the best list. After a disappointment in the 2004 World Series and missing out on the 2005 classic, Pujols and the gang finally got their ring in 2006. Eckstein was 8-for-22 during the series and made the only cover of his career a short time later. Eckstein just retired officially this offseason.
2. Albert Pujols and Rafael Furcal, “Arch Madness” – November 7th, 2011
The 2011 World Series was a joy to watch. The Cardinals truly battled their way to glory, including a stunning and memorable Game 6 followed by the clinching Game 7. This is also Pujols’ last cover as a St. Louis Cardinal, signing a blockbuster 10 year mega-deal with the Los Angeles Angels this offseason.
1. Albert Pujols, “Don’t Be Afraid To Believe In Me” – March 16th, 2009
This issue came out exactly a month to the day as the “Latest and Greatest to Fall,” featuring a story connecting the star Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees to steroid use. Many people in the game (including those organizations that threw tons of money at the promising player) viewed Rodriguez in a positive light, a player who might one day break Barry Bonds‘ home run record. That image has since been tainted. My first thoughts when hearing the A-Rod story were literally “well, at least we still have Pujols.” For all we know, Pujols is clean and still a great player. For the sake of baseball, let’s hope it stays that way. It’s a great cover, story, and probably my favorite featuring the Cardinals in the new millenia.