St. Louis Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna, Magneuris Sierra, and the requiem for Whiteyball

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 4: St. Louis Cardinals hall of fame shortstop Ozzie Smith
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 4: St. Louis Cardinals hall of fame shortstop Ozzie Smith /

The trade of Magneuris Sierra to the Miami Marlins for Marcell Ozuna should finally show St. Louis Cardinals fans that Whiteyball is dead and not returning.  It’s time to perform the Requiem and move on.

That’s right, Whiteyball is dead and never coming back to St. Louis. Nor in general to Major League Baseball.  This is hard news for some of us to accept, but it’s time.  The St. Louis Cardinals trade of speedster Magneuris Sierra for the “big bat” Marcell Ozuna woke me up to this hard fact after an exchange on twitter with another blogger.

Magneuris Sierra’s style of play reminded many of us of a Whiteyball style player with his Impressive speed and defensive potential.  Although he had yet shown any power, his ability to get on base made him seem like a top-of-the-lineup Whiteyball-style hitter.  But that was the problem.

Baseball has moved on from Whiteyball.  It should have occurred to us during the 1998 season, because that was when Whiteyball went on life support.

Mark McGwire‘s chase of Roger’s Maris’ home run record during the 1998 season captivated not only St. Louis Cardinals fans, but all MLB fans.  In fact, it captivated the nation as a whole.  It is this event that actually killed Whiteyball, though some of us didn’t realize it for several years.

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Whiteyball was coined during the 1982 World Series by the media to describe the style of play used by the St. Louis Cardinals.  Developed by then Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog, it emphasized speed on the base paths, solid pitching, and excellent defense.  It was also power hitting with line drive base hits that was suited to the astro turf of spacious Busch Stadium.

Whiteyball well described the St. Louis Cardinals of the 80s. With players such as Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Tommy Herr, Vince Coleman, Terry Pendleton, Jose Oquendo, and others, the St. Louis Cardinals won three National League Pennants and a World Series.

With the arrival of Tony La Russa  as manager in 1996, the Cardinals started moving away from Whiteyball.  Although, La Russa’s teams still emphasized pitching and defense, speed on the base paths wasn’t as important.

For instance, the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals stole a total of 314 bases, led by Vince Coleman’s 110.  The 2004 NL Champ Cardinals stole at total of 111 bases, led by Tony Womack‘s 26.  By the 2017 season, the Cardinals stole a total of 81 bases, led by Tommy Pham‘s 25.

A trivia question for Cardinal fans: Who was the second leading base stealer for the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals?  Kolten Wong? Wrong.  Dexter Fowler? Wrong again.  It was the quick footed Yadier Molina with nine.

This trend is not only reflective of the St. Louis Cardinals, but MLB as a whole. In 1987, a total of 1,851 bases were stolen in the National League.  By 2017, that number had dropped to 1,255.  The American League numbers reflect the same.

So there it is.  Goodbye Ricky Henderson.  So long Tim Raines.  It was nice knowing you Vince Coleman.  We will not meet again.

Next: Three targets to win the winter

Lower the 1980’s championship banners to half mask.  Whiteyball is dead.